The Dalton Gang’s Last Bank Robbery
Although Coffeyville, KS, was the hometown of famous Major League Baseball pitcher Walter Johnson, it is more famous for being where the Dalton Gang attempted a double bank robbery. On the quiet Wednesday morning of Oct. 5, 1892, the three disguised Dalton Brothers and other gang members rode into town intending to do what no other outlaws had ever accomplished: rob two banks at the same time.
Unfortunately for them, their disguises didn’t fool the townspeople, who recognized them and quickly armed themselves.
While the outlaws were in the banks, the citizenry opened fire with their shotguns and rifles. Attempting to flee back to their horses, the gang was pursued through streets and alleys during a running, 12-minute gun battle. When it was all over, four townspeople had been killed; the gang’s only survivor was Emmett Dalton. As was the custom in those days, the outlaws’ corpses were proudly arranged and photographed. At least one person even had his picture taken with the two deceased Daltons. Emmett Dalton was sentenced to life in prison, but he won parole after serving 14 years. He moved to California and leveraged his Wild West bandit fame to become a Hollywood screenwriter.
Coffeyville has preserved artifacts from this historic event. The Old Condon Bank, one of the two banks targeted, has been preserved in its original condition. A marked footpath shows the bandits’ attempted escape route. A hitching post stands at the location where the gang’s horses were tied up and the raid ended.
The Dalton Defenders Museum (814 Walnut St, Coffeyville, KS, 620-251-5944), which contains additional artifacts, is dedicated to the four townspeople who lost their lives defending Coffeyville.