The picture at: http://www.treasurenet.com/images/americanwest/WEST086.JPG
is identified as John Sontag of the firm of Evans & Sontag of CA fame, killed Sept 14, 1904. I believe that this picture is misidentified. (The picture is with a group of Oklahoma history pictures. Place is left blank.)
The man 3rd from the left is clearly Heck Thomas. He was the leader and is basically positioned in the center in an authoritative manner,one hand in his pocket and his Winchester hanging from his hip. The man 2nd from the right is, I think, James Wallace. I believe that the dead man is most probably William Towery. He killed 2 deputy US marshals. I think that would warrant a picture of the deceased. He killed Frank Dalton and Ed Stokely. If this picture is of Bill Towery it was taken about December 1887, not 1904. By 1904 James Wallace was retired from his deputy marshal's position.
I don't know who the other men are. One could be John McAllister, one could W.A. Moody. They were both present the day Bill Towery was killed.
If you compare pictures of Heck Thomas to the person 3rd from the left, it is clearly him. The person 2nd from the right is James Wallace. I have a picture of him taken about 1889 and he is wearing the same suit right down to the ascot. I am pretty sure that he couldn't afford more than one suit. He also was a somewhat short man giving the impression of height. This man is definitely shorter than the others. Being a descendant of James Wallace, I also recongnize that stance. It was inherited by some of my male cousins.
What does everyone else think??This message has been edited. Last edited by: karlec,
Which of these individuals do you think is McAlester? The only photo I have of him, taken several years after the shooting of Towery, doesn't really match any of these dudes. But, you may be on to something.
I have no idea which one would be McAllister. I have never seen a picture of Moody or McAllister. I ordered the court records and it states that McAllister, Moody and Wallace were among the deputies and possemen that were present. Stokely placed Wallace and McAllister in a thicket to wait. Stokely and Moody were down by the corn crib. Thomas was delivering another writ elsewhere. The only two I recognize are Thomas and Wallace. I may be all wet, but sometimes you just have a gut feeling about something.
I have seen a series of photos from this killing of Sontag in California. This is not a Oklahoma or Indian Territory photo. The clothing is not what one would see in the territory in the 1880s and the person third from the left is not a photo of Heck Thomas. This was shot in California. You can locate other photos in relationship to the killing of outlaw Sontag and see that this is what this is.
You are absolutely right, but wasn't that fun. Thanks.............Connie
I have done some reading since my last post on this subject:
"Evans & Sontag The Famous Bandits of California" by Hu Maxwell
"California Deperadoes, Stories of Early California Outlaws in Their Own Words" by William B. Secrest
I met Bill Secrest, by the way, and he is a very interesting and knowledgeable fellow. I have lived in Central California since I was 2 yrs of age and had never heard of Evans & Sontag. I live between Visalia and Fresno which is the area they were most active. I know you're wondering what this has to do with Oklahoma. Be patient. It appears that there is a connection. The Dalton's (from Oklahoma) were active in California and were linked to Evans & Sontag.
"Some weeks before the Collis robbery in the summer of 1892, a train robbery occurred in Minnesota. Strange as it may seem, George Sontag and Chris Evans were traced to that place, and back again to Fresno. But still the crime could not be fastened upon them. There was a veil covering their movements which could not be torn away. They glided like ghosts from one place to another and the dynamiting of trains always happened in the community where they were found. No doubt the Daltons had something to do with some of the robberies, as they held forth at Visalia and Fresno; but the work of robbing continued after the Daltons had gone." from: Evans & Sontag by Hu Maxwell
"A holdup near Ceres in September 1891 was unsuccessful. In the hunt for the robbers and the resulting hard riding by posses, only Grat Dalton had been rounded up. Convicted of the Alila robbery, Grat escaped the Visalia jail and fled to Oklahoma where he was killed with brother Bob and two others during the foolhardy 1892 attempt to rob two banks at Coffeyville, Kansas. Badly wounded during the aborted raid, Emmett admitted that his brothers had done the Alila job." from: California Desperadoes by William B. Secrest
My question is since there is a definite connection between the Daltons of Oklahoma and Evans & Sontag of California, would it have been farfetched to think that perhaps some deputies from Oklahoma may have ridden to California to help in the round up of the two gangs?..........Connie
Thanks for an interesting post.
Whether the Daltons were involved in the Alila train robbery remains an unsettled question. Certainly, in the court of public opinion they were thought to have been involved. And it seems that at the time of their death the state of California had outstanding rewards posted for them presumably for this crime. This is why USDM Ransom Payne showed up in Coffeyville shortly after the shootout, as he intended to claim the bodies and return them to California for the bounty (so suggested US Marshal Grimes in the letter in which he fired Payne).
However, my information (which of course may be mistaken) is that Emmett did not confess, when he was thought to be on his deathbed, to the Alila robbery. And he surely would have been asked just this question. He did confess to train robberies at Wagoner, Leliaetta, Red Rock, and Adair--but not Alila. I tend to believe him, as I can not think of a reason one would confess to four robberies but not five. If Emmett had confessed to Alila, his brother Ben would surely have known this, in which case he would not have said (as he did in an interview with the Saint Louis Globe Democrat, 16 October 1892) that "There was no claim that Grat Dalton was at Alila . . . Now, this is the true story of that Alila business . . .My brothers had nothing to do with it, but the crime was sworn on them by bribery and perjury, and then they entered on a life which ended here at Coffeyville. I haven't a word to say against the people of Coffeyville--not a word, but those two men who hired a perjurer in California to swear that train robbery on the boys I believe are responsible for what has happened since."
Look very close at the fellow 4th from the right. He is San Diego Detective Tom Burns.What is rare about the image is that it is an image of someone wearing a "Bridgeport" rig. A steel clip attached to a cartridge belt that allowed a sidearm to be hooked into the carrier and supposedly drawn fast or just swiveled and fired. The device patened in 1882 by Louis S. Flatau never caught on. The rigs command a premium among collectors today. However as with anything of value there are fakes or reproductions of the rig.This message has been edited. Last edited by: lawandorder,
"I wasn't but 145 pounds but I had a good pistol" T.W."Buckshot" Lane, Sheriff Warton County Texas
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