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Daltons, Secret Codes, and Poisoned Whiskey
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Sometime in the late 1930s there was a radio program called "Interesting Neighbors" hosted by NBC correspondent Jerry Belcher. One such show featured the reminiscenses of three old railroad men. Mr E. C. Ott had been an express agent during the 1890s working that stretch of track--arguably the most robbed in the entire country--from Muskogee north to the Kansas border, going through Ft. Gibson, Wagoner, Leliaetta, Chouteau, Pryor Creek, Adair, Vinita, and Blue Jacket.Mr Ott (in this undated article I have from the Kansas City Times) "started telling how Bob Dalton told him the Dalton password to use in case his train was stoppoed by members of the gang." But "when his train was stopped he couldn't remember the password.He said it was such a shock that he could never recall the safety slogan. About all he could remember exactly was that he was held up once near Pryor Creek, Ok, and once near Gibson, Ok., both in the 1890s"

Question: Does this make sense to anybody? I've never heard anything about any Dalton passwords. Was there some kind of a protection racket going on here?

Mr. Ott continues: "'The first time they didn't take anything from me,'" he said. "'I don't think I had anything. The second time I lost a jug of whisky. One of the Daltons made me take a drink first to show it was not poison. I would have drunk the whole jug if they had told me to. Buit I got just that one drink. They drank the rest of it.'"

Come to think of it, this would be a highly effective way for the railroads to deal with robbers, leaving poisoned jugs of whisky about. But I can't believe they would actually do it. Has anybody heard differently?

--meursault
 
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