Wed September 08 2004, 08:39 AMmeursault
Who Killed Bill Dalton?
If there is a consensus of opinion about this much debated question, it is probably that Loss Hart and/or Shelden Lindsay were responsible. But, for what it's worth, here's another account of the affair, in From Gun To Gavel, a biography of Oklahoma lawyer James Mathers as told to Marshall Houts (New York:William Morrow & Co., 1954):
I was with the posse that shot and killed Bill Dalton. . . .
On this particular occasion, Bill holed up in the Arbuckle Mountains, about twenty-five miles northwest of Ardmore. Word got around where he might be and the marshal's office kept its nose to the ground
About the middle of the morning, a woman and a little girl drove into Spragin's general store. She wasn't known, so everybody eyed her suspiciously; and when she ordered a dozen cases each of forty-five and thirty caliber ammunition, the eyebrows really rose and quivered. Someone slipped out the back door of the store and went after Buck Garret at the marshal's office. Buck, you know, was a nephew of Pat Garret who killed Billy the Kid, and Buck was every bit as fine an officer as his uncle Pat.
He rounded up a six- or seven man posse and went up to the store, and that's where I got into the act. I was peacefully riding my pinto pony toward my uncle's office where I was reading law when Buck yelled for me to come along and ride posse with them.
I guess we rode for four hours--maybe longer--out into the desolate scrub oak and jack pine country of the Arbuckles. We stayed way back of the wagon so the woman couldn't see us . . . .The wagon edged out into a little clearing and we stopped. Down the hill a hundred yards was a one room log cabin--the kind the Indians first built. The door was standing open and when I took a second look I saw a man out in the yard on the north side of the house. He was down on his knees playing marbles with a little boy . . . .
Buck kneed his horse and we all broke into the clearing slowly and started riding toward the house. I suppose we were within fifty yards of the cabin before the man saw us. He was startled for a moment and before he could recover enough to make a move, Buck Garret yelled we were federal officers and wanted to talk to him.
That was all that was needed. The man was in the house in a flash and we were off our horses about the same speed; and before you could tell for sure what was happening, shots were pouring in and out of that little cabin like a machine gun barrage. It didn't last long but we figured later that well over a hundred shots were fired in the melee.
After the shooting from the cabin stopped, we slowly crawled toward it and found Bill Dalton on the floor--dead--his Winchester rifle under his head. . . .
We rode on back into town and as I recall it, it was well after dark when we got there. Someone had brought Bill Dalton's body into Brown and Bridgeman's funeral parlor where it remained for a couple of days, and hundreds of people from all around came to view it. (pp. 2-4)
Wed September 08 2004, 02:25 PMTower
Garret and Mathers might have been a part of one of the several posses out looking for Dalton, but I'd say this man wasn't a part of a posse that shot Bill because I don't see any howling about how he got cheated out of the reward. Just about everybody has tried to get in on the act and dang near everybody has a slightly different tale. W. S. (Bill) Fossett, some years after the fact, allegedly said that: "I rode 75 miles to identify him (Dalton)after a couple of marshals from CHICKASHA shot him. The way it happened, Bob and a couple other fellows was living out in a cabin out of town. They had a woman with them and since they wasn't trying to raise nothing, the marshalls decided they were boot-legging and went out to see. They was a ditch that run for about 300 yards from the cabin, and when the marshals showed, Bob (not Bill)run down that to get away. The Marshals saw him and a lucky shot kilt him. They went on to the cabin and the woman come out running and hollering: 'Now you done it. You've kilt the hired man.' The marshals like to a fought right there, each claiming the other shot him. They'd done it so they decided to go in the cabin and look around. When they got there the other two men had got away but they found three or four seamless masks full of money. Then they liked to have had another fight over who shot bob. Each claiming he did so to collect the reward. That was when I was a Territorial Marshal out of Fort Smith, Arkansas." (Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project)
This by the way is the only version of the event I've seen that actually says there was physical evidence (sort of) tieing Dalton to stolen money.
Wed September 08 2004, 08:51 PM<john>
The book on Lindsay says a bunch on the tie to the money and the bank robbery.
Thu September 09 2004, 04:41 PM<M. Koch>
Loss Hart is responsible for the death of Bill Dalton, but some have stated it was Sheldon Lindsey. This debate will go on forever, but it surely was either of these two men in my opinion.
Wed September 22 2004, 09:56 AMTower
Regarding evidence that Dalton was involved in the Longview, Texas bank robbery: The Dallas Morning News, June 9, 1894 reports that "...Last Monday two men went to Duncan, I. T., ...and bought a wagon, some Winchesters, ammunition...lumber and employed a carpenter to build a house...After they had gone it was discovered that they had paid for all their purchases in bills from the looted Longview bank...A telegram was sent to the bank giving the number of the bills. An answer came promptly that they were the missing bills...
The Hennessey Clipper, June 15, 1894 quoting a Paris, Texas article: ...two men went to Duncan, I. T....and made a number of purchases. They paid for the articles in bills on the looted bank... A telegram was sent to Longview giving the number of the bills, and the answer promptly came that they were the missing bills. Officers were posted at once and went on their trail." Later in the article after describing the killing of Dalton, the paper states..."The deputies who killed him wired they have positive proof that it is Bill Dalton and that he committed the robbery."
Houston Wallace was later identified by J. T. Harris, Duncan, as the man who passed the unsigned Longview bank bills... (From undated news article in: "Selden Lindsey, U. S. Deputy Marshal..." Self Published by Harrell McCullough through Paragon Publishing, 721 N. E. 21st Street, Oklahoma City, OK, 1990)
Houston Wallace, on June 7, arrived in Ardmore with two women, one of whom later proved to be Mrs. Dalton. Their activities and large purchases aroused suspicion and they were shadowed by Marshals. The State Herald reports Wallace was "known to have received an express package containing whiskey..." and the Marshals halted Wallace and party on the road, confiscating the whiskey and searched the wagon; then everybody went back to town where further questioning located the cabin and hinted at more suspects. At that point, the law did not know for sure they were after Bill Dalton or the Longview loot"”McCullough hinted at this by saying that his grandfather did not take Swain, Castleman, or Chancellor, the men he normally preferred to tackle dangerous quarry with.
As to who killed Dalton: A posse was formed and rode to the Wallace cabin near Elk. Most accounts name seven to nine men being in the posse. Harrell McCullough states his grandfather Lindsey named only four and one or more of those were drunk. According to McCullough, three men, Lindsey, Hart, and E. H. Roberts, Clerk of the Court, were positioned to watch the cabin and Roberts was spotted. Other accounts vary as to how the occupants of the cabin were alerted, but it's for sure they were because a man dressed in the rough garb of a farmer climbed clumsily out a back window. (The following is my opinion of the event based on composites of several accounts, including those attributed to Hart and Lindsey; you can take it or leave it.) Once on the ground, the man, who at that point was not known as Bill Dalton, ran toward a back fence between the house and the ravine. Lindsey called for him to halt, instead, the man pulled a pistol and fired; Lindsey returned fire with a Winchester striking the man in the left breast. As will often happen when a hard running animal is shot, the man seemed to continue flight toward a portion of the ravine, and appeared to be stooping. This attitude is exactly what Los Hart, who had heard the shooting, saw when a man came into view. Hart fired and saw dust fly in the right back, at the waistline; then watched the man fall into the weeds bordering the fence, where after a few convulsions, he lay still. I believe both men hit Dalton, in spite of what a reporter supposedly saw and reported as one wound. As to which shot killed him; probably either and both shots coulda, shoulda, and woulda, but we'll never know for sure, nor am I sure it matters anyway.
Garrett by the way, according to Lindsey's rendering to McCullough, was left in charge of guarding the two women with instruction to not release them until the following afternoon. If so, he could not have been at the shooting of Dalton.
Following the ambush, a search was made of the house. And, these are the statements found regarding the establishment of a connection between Dalton and the Longview bank robbery: During search, the Daily Ardmorite for June 9 says, "One thing is a settled fact; a money sack with the brand of the Longview Bank was captured, settling beyond any question of doubt that Dalton was one of the band." The Chickasaw Enterprise, of June 14, 1894 says that a "coin sack, such as is usually used by banks was found." The Ardmore State Herald for June 14 makes no mention of the sack or other identifiers of the Longview bank and infers that Dalton's identity and connection to the Longview job was deduced from Mrs. Dalton's letters found during the search.
An interesting side note to the shooting of Bill Dalton is that all the Deputy Marshals involved were indicted for murder by a Federal Grand Jury at Paris, Texas, and each of the accused was required to post a $1000 bond. The fact that the Marshals were charged with a crime is not that unusual. The practice of killing a fugitive "while escaping" had reached epidemic proportions and the Federal Courts were scrutinizing such incidents closely. In this instance there was ample reason for a court review. Although, no court records survive to verify it, the assumption is that since no one went to jail, all the accused were found not guilty.
Wed April 17 2013, 09:17 AMosiyo
I believe they wrote the dispositions as "defendant discharged" by the Commissioner. I know that even today, some LE agencies "try" an officer before the judge if they shoot someone, the next day. If found not guilty cannot be tried again. Good and bad to that. Just like the Deputy Marshals had to pay for the funerals of outlaws they killed if the family made no claim. In reading several hearing transcripts it is fairly evident that the cases were heard after complaint for the reason of getting "crap" out of the way. I failed to see any probable cause in the hearings I have read.
Fri May 09 2014, 08:28 PMRattlesnake Dan
I have nor real evidence that Heck Thomas or Bill Tighlman shot Dalton, but I knew their younger sister when she was in her 70's and she insisted that it was Heck Thomas, Used to listen to her talk about her BIG brothers for hours on end when I was a kid. I am 70 now so you can imagine how long ago that was. Ms. Dalton never married and she donated some of her bother's items to the State of Oklahoma.