TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1600 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Captain lived criminal highlife

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

My recent column about "No Man's Land" in the Oklahoma Panhandle brought in a great true story from Roy McClellam of Spearman. Reading like a novel by Louis L'amour, this tale tells of a Robber's Roost located right here in the Panhandle area.

No Man's Land was created after Kansas, Texas and New Mexico were admitted to the Union of States. This little corner, 35 miles wide by 168 miles long, was not included in any state and was left without law and order, for years making it a Mecca for outlaws.

One of the earliest and most notorious was Captain William Coe, who established his Robber's Roost in the late 1860s. Located strategically on a long high ridge jutting southwest from a large mesa near the town of today's Kenton, Okla., the outlaw headquarters was large, made of rock walls three feet thick, was topped with a thick sod roof, had portholes instead of windows, sported a fully stocked bar, a piano and bevy of sporting ladies.

Little is known about Coe's early life except that he was from the South. He had military experience and was an intelligent leader of men. He was also an experienced carpenter and stonemason which was shown in the building and design of his rock fortress sanctuary.

His gang of outlaws numbered 30 to 50 members who pillaged and raided from Fort Union to the south, Denver to the north and Taos to the west. They stole both civilian and military mules and horses, changed the brands, then sold them in Missouri to settlers. A special canyon still exists today named Blacksmith Canyon, where the stolen stock were rested, the brands changed and their feet shod with equipment and supplies stolen from wagons raided along the nearby Santa Fe Trail.

In 1867, the gang attacked a large sheep operation from Las Vegas, N.M., killing the men then driving the herds of sheep to Pueblo, Colo., to sell. This brutal outrage brought complaints to the U.S. Army at Fort Lyons located on the Arkansas River near Las Animas, Colo. No doubt the Army did intervene but the stories vary.

Several versions exist telling of what happened when the Army attacked Robber's Roost. Military records tell only of following a band of Indians during this time, but somehow a six-inch cannon bombarded the rock fortress, crumbling the walls killing and wounding several outlaws. Coe and some of his gang escaped into the hills but several survivors of the fight were hung on the spot.

Coe was captured twice, escaped and was hidden at a remote ranch. The lady there sent her 14-year-old son to report the location of Coe, who was captured and placed in handcuffs and leg shackles and held in jail for indictment and trial.

On the night of July 20, 1868, Vigilantes removed Coe from jail and loaded him - handcuffs, shackles and all - into a wagon. He was hung and the body buried under the tree. (The sites mentioned here exist today but are located on private property.)


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
January 16, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

See Outlaws
More stories:
Texas | Online Magazine | Texas Towns | Features | Columns | "It's All Trew" |



 
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters |
Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us
Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
Website Content Copyright 1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: January 16, 2008