Taking the Dalton’s last ride

The Dalton gang's attempt to rob two banks at once in Coffeyville ended with numerous deaths, as locals stood up against them for a final showdown.

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July 12, 2021 - 9:47 AM

On Oct. 5, 1892, the Dalton Gang attempted unsuccessfully to simultaneously rob the Condon Bank and First National Bank in Coffeyville. Four gang members and multiple townspeople died there in a storm of bullets. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

The autumn air, still and breathless. 

Deathly light crept from thin clouds to illuminate Bob Dalton’s footfalls as he and the rest of the gang exited the alley near the crumbling Coffeyville jail.

They held long Winchester rifles close to their legs, dog-trotting, so despite Grat Dalton’s enormous fake mustache, a shopkeeper recognized them immediately and fled.

Others quickly divined what was happening as well, including workers attending to the city’s streets, and soon the cry went up:

“The Daltons are robbing the bank!”

Down Death Alley one can find the original Coffeyville jail, built from native limestone.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

ENTERING the Condon Bank, Grat leveled his rifle at the cashier and handed him a sack, likely accompanied by the threat to paint the walls with his brains.

However, Grat’s attention quickly turned to the bank’s vault safe filled with gold, and in what was one of his fatal errors, believed the safe was on a time-lock that couldn’t yet be opened.

At the same time, Emmett and Bob Dalton had swept into the First National Bank just across the street, and in a flash, procured a bag of gold from the cashier, Thomas Ayres.

With Ayres as cover, they moved to make a hasty escape, but instead found an American Express agent waiting for them outside with his revolver.

With bullets now cutting the air, the Daltons dropped Ayres in the street and darted back inside to find more hostages.

On Oct. 5, 1892, the Dalton Gang attempted unsuccessfully to simultaneously rob the Condon Bank and First National Bank in Coffeyville. Four gang members and multiple townspeople died there in a storm of bullets. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

BY this time, local hardware stores had armed a number of Coffeyville residents, who had begun shooting through windows at the Condon Bank.

Grat, along with Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers, returned fire from inside, wounding several locals while unwittingly waiting for the firmly-locked safe to open.

Having regained their composure, across the street Emmett and Bob decided to make a run for the First National’s back door.

A local named Lucius Baldwin was waiting for them, gun cocked and loaded, but Bob shot him dead after he refused to drop it.

Others would fall to Bob’s sharp shooting as well, including George Cubine and Charles Brown, who’d been lying in ambush at a nearby drug store.

Cashier Thomas Ayres, who’d initially been dumped in the street, was likewise given a life-long disability, when Bob put a bullet in his head from over 200 feet away.

A mural painted on the street next to the Condon Bank depicts members of the Dalton Gang after having been shot and killed.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

WITH a hail of bullets now showering the Condon Bank, escape became imperative if near-impossible.

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