Did the Dalton Boysby
Ever Visit Lavaca County
the year 1895, reports were circulating around Victoria,
Texas, that a member, or members, of the famous Dalton Gang were in the Victoria
and Lavaca County area. The Daltons were considered notorious bandits in Missouri
and Kansas, but for any of them to be sighted in Texas
was considered unlikely. For one thing, most of the gang met their demise while
attempting to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892.
The Victoria Daily Times reported on June 18, 1895, that the local sheriff
had arrested a man known as Lewis Johnson, and charged him with robbery. It was
also reported that he was helping two men who were members of the Dalton Gang.
What made the local authorities think these men were part of the Daltons
is still a mystery — but one thing is known for sure, the men were well armed.
The (Victoria) Times’ article indicated that the bandits carried “new style” Winchester
rifles (.40-82 caliber) and two six-shooters each, and they also had several hundred
rounds of ammunition.
Evidently, the desperadoes left Victoria County
and made their way to Hallettsville.
The Gonzales Inquirer picked up a story from the Hallettsville Herald
about the killing of one of these men and that entire article is reprinted below,
just as it appeared back then.
Gonzales Inquirer - June 27, 1895
[Headline: “Supposed Desperado”]
Hallettsville Herald gives the following account of the killing of a supposed
member of the Dalton gang near that city: Tuesday evening a suspicious character
carrying a Winchester appeared at the depot. He told several citizens he had met
Martin Fisher, a well-known fugitive from Lavaca County, in Nebraska; he told
of a brush with an officer at Waco
(and a scar bore him out) but he did not wait to see if the officer survived.
When our officers were put on his trail he fled. Officers O.T. East and
Frank Miller and Dr. Jesse Burford armed themselves with Winchesters and rode
after him. On the railroad trestle near Rabb’s pasture, eight miles east of here,
they overtook the desperado, who was ordered to surrender, and told he would not
be hurt. To this the man replied: “I’ll be g—d—if I do,” and throwing down his
coat he cocked his Winchester and started to raise, when Officer Miller sent a
bullet through his body.
When the men reached the wounded man he said
he had something to tell them, but he changed his mind and cursed them. He gave
his name as Moore, Doore and Gore, and then said he didn’t give a d— what his
name was but that he had relatives in San
He positively refused to say a word more, although he was
told he would die before daylight. He died at 4 o’clock yesterday morning. He
was about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed about 150 pounds, dark hair, florid
complexion, and wore a brown, sandy mustache, goatee and a very small chin beard.
Had a 12-inch scar on back and stab in breast. The ball that killed him entered
near the right kidney.
Fey & Braunig took a photograph of the corpse.
The rifle is in possession of the officers, who say if Miller had not shot when
he did one of them would no doubt have been killed. Marshal Criswell came in from
Yoakum but failed to
identify the man.
A man named Beck was shot by a gang at Hope,
Friday, and a Victoria county merchant was robbed of $250 in broad daylight, and
it is thought the man killed here was one of the Dalton gang which the Victoria
county officers claim they chased to the Lavaca river in this county. His features
were one of a desperado.
They are said to be hiding in Devil’s Pocket,
23 miles below here, and some kind of a raid is expected.
When the desperadoes
shot Beck on the Chicolete he rushed into a Mr. Hester’s house, where a young
girl was down with typhoid fever, and the shock killed her in an hour.
June 4, 2010 column