Thursday, September 3, 2015


9/7/1893 - Once called Uncompahgre after the nearby river, the western Colorado town of Delta (so renamed for being located near the delta of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers) wakes to what its citizens believe will be just a normal, though hot, Thursday.  They are right about the weather, but dead wrong, literally, about the day being normal ... not when the town will have to endure a visit from the outlaw family composing the McCarty Gang.
Main Street
Delta, Colorado - Main Street - Current

Composed of a group of Mormons gone bad after their mining and ranching ventures fall apart, the gang for the Delta job consists of Tom McCarty, his younger brother Bill, and Bill's 17-year-old son, Fred. Bill and Fred are relative neophytes to the outlaw game, but big brother Tom has been a bandit for over a decade, teaching Robert LeRoy Parker the trade before the youth becomes history's Butch Cassidy, and participating in robberies which include taking down a Denver bank for over $10,000 in cash with a bottle of water he pretends is volatile nitroglycerin, hitting the San Miguel County Bank of Telluride, Colorado with Matt Warner (Tom's and Bill's brother-in-law) and Parker for over $20,000, raiding a mining camp in Sparta, Oregon, taking the receipts of a circus playing Moscow, Idaho, lifting $5,000 in cash from the bank of Summerville, Oregon, hitting the Wallowa National Bank in the town of Enterprise, Oregon, and attacking Roslyn, Washington's financial establishment.  Good scores, but when the money from their criminal endeavors peters away, and over $40,000 in loot is used to hire a lawyer to spring two other wayward family members from jail, a new caper is needed ... one that the Farmers and Merchants Bank in the town of Delta seems to fit perfectly.
Tom McCarty

Originally built in 1828 as a trading post and fort to serve the local Ute Indians, and keep them under control, Delta becomes an incorporated town in 1892 ... a town of several hundred individuals, on the day of the McCarty raid, the town is made up of three hardware stores, two saloons, three lawyers, two banks, over two dozen other businesses, an assortment of homes, and a sharp-shooting merchant from Kentucky named William Ray Simpson.
Delta, Colorado - Bank Is Just Out Of Photo To The Left

Pretending to be in the market for ranch lands, the trio of outlaws spends a few days casing the bank and region, chatting with the owner of the livery stable where the keep their hoses while in town, savoring the steaks at the Bricktop restaurant and sampling the various beverages in the Palace Sampling Rooms (otherwise known as the Steve Bailey Saloon) ... it is even said afterwards that Fred takes time out from casing the bank to play marbles with a bunch of local boys.  On the morning of the robbery, the group rides into town from their camp ground in nearby Escalante Canyon and stop in the alley behind the targeted bank.  Tom stays with the horses, taking pulls from a flask of whiskey while watching the street for trouble.  Bill and Fred pull their revolvers, step inside the bank, and announce they want all the money in the establishment.  It is approximately 10:15 a.m.
Single-shot .40 caliber Sharps rifle

Inside the bank two employees are working ... cashier Andrew Trew Blachley, and teller and assistant cashier H. H. Wolbert.  Also in the bank, using a space in the back as a law office is attorney W. R. Robinson. Greeting the outlaws when they step inside, the bank's safe stands wide open for plundering.  Wolbert and Robinson are cowed by the pistols pointed their way, but for some mysterious reason, Blachley, a founder of the bank and father of nine sons is having none of it, and instead of complying with the bandit's demands, starts screaming that the bank is being robbed.  Told to shut up, when the cashier doesn't, a nervous Fred shots the man in head, killing Blachley instantly (his widow will give music lessons to support her family ... and all nine boys grow up to be prominent businessmen in the region).  Knowing the shot has probably alerted local folks that their bank is being robbed, the thieves grab a bag of gold coins and around $1,000 in cash, and then run out of the back of the bank through the lawyer's office space.  Losing most of the money as they mount up with Tom, the trio spur their horses and head out of town at a gallop.


Across Main Street from the bank, while the robbery is taking place, Simpson is sitting in the back of his hardware store cleaning his Sharps rifle ... incredibly, the night before he has had a nightmare about the store being robbed, and just in case there might be a kernel of truth in the bad dream, he is in the process of cleaning his weapon and telling his father about the evening thoughts that came his way when shots ring out across the street.  Up in an instant, with rifle and rounds in hand, Simpson sprints outside and immediately realizes the bank is being robbed and the bandits are escaping through the alley. Loading his Sharps while running to the corner of Main Street and Third Street, the merchant arrives at the position just as the bandits ride by.  Rifle up and the nearest outlaw targeted, Robinson sends a slug Bill's way that takes off the top of the desperado's head (a major chunk of his brain is found twenty feet away from his body, and afterwards, when victory pictures are being taken of his corpse, a hat has to be placed on his head to prevent his cranium from separating into two grisly pieces).  One down, three badmen to go, Simpson runs further down the street, reloads, and fires again ... and down goes another outlaw, this time the teenager Fred, killed by a piece of lead that explodes into the base of his skull.  Tom McCarty's turn next, the distance his galloping horse is able to obtain is just enough so that the two rounds Simpson sends the gang leader's way both miss ... by an inch, McCarty feels the breeze near his brain as the bullets blow by.
Image result for delta colorado - 1893
Bill and Fred McCarty After ... "V" Under The Hat Is
Where Bill's Head Use To Be!

Robbery over, the dead father and son are taken to the Gale Brothers Undertaking Parlor for burial prep and some nice souvenir photographs (stood up against boards, Fred is stiff enough to not require holding, but Bill droops all over the place and has to be secured to his picture board with several ropes).  Pictures taken, the two men are then placed in one big box and buried in the town's Potter's Field.

Outlaw Marker

As for Tom McCarty, a change of horses gets him away from the posse of Delta Sheriff W. S. Giradet with $100 in his pocket to show for his lousy morning in town losing his brother and nephew ... and into the land of mystery, myths, and tall tales.  Criminal days over after Delta, one story has him shot to death over a game of cards in the Bitterroot country of Montana in 1900, another being shot near Green River, Utah, and he is also said to die in Skagway, Alaska during the area's gold rush, at the home of his son Lew in California, in Wallowa County, Oregon, and as a sheepherder outside of Rosebud, Montana.

Delta, Colorado - 1910

9/7/1893 ... the town of Delta learns up close and personal what the term "Wild West" really means!

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