5/2/1895 - Not for the first time, nor for the last, for blood money and shorter guilty sentences, outlaws are betrayed by very people they consider to be friends and allies ... this time the history lesson of trust no one is taught to two Doolin-Dalton Gang members, 29-year-old Charley Pierce and 29-year-old George "Bittercreek" Newcomb, near Pawnee, Oklahoma.
Newcomb is born in 1866, just after the Civil War ends, to a respected Fort Scott, Kansas family ... by 12-years-old, he is on his own, working as a cowboy on the Long S Ranch in Texas for cattleman John Slaughter (where he picks up his first nickname, Slaughter's Kid). In 1883 he makes his way into Oklahoma and begins riding with the cowboys that will become the nucleus of first the Dalton Gang, and then the Doolin-Dalton Gang (it is during this period that Newcomb earns the nickname Bittercreek ... earned from driving his companions nuts by constantly singing the words to a popular current song ... "I'm a wild wolf from Bitter Creek, and it's my night to howl"). When Bob, Grat, and Emmett Dalton turn in their badges and become outlaws, good with a gun and horses, and easy to get along with, Newcomb is their first recruit and participates in the robbery of a gambling house in Silver City, Nevada, the 1891 robbery of a Santa Fe train near the town of Wharton, a train job near the town of Lillietta in the Indian Territory that nets $10,000 in loot, another Santa Fe train heist at the town of Adair in which three railroad guards are wounded and the town doctor is killed by a stray bullet. Luckily for Newcomb, Bob Dalton does not want either Newcomb or Pierce for the disastrous raid on the banks of Coffeyville, Kansas. Out of a job with the destruction of the gang, he is quick to accept Bill Doolin's offer to ride with the new band of outlaws he is forming, a group that will variously be called The Wild Bunch, The Oklahombres, or The Doolin-Dalton Gang.
10/5/1892 - Coffeyville, Kansas - L to R - Bill Powers, Bob Dalton, Grat
Dalton, and Dick Broadwell
Born in Missouri, but raised in Indiana, Pierce is another cowboy turned outlaw who is an initial member of The Dalton Gang ... and Newcomb's best friend (the two first work together at the Tulsa stockyard). Also joining up with the Oklahombres after the demise of the Daltons, with his pal, Pierce is in on the gang's robbery of the Ford County Bank of Spearville, Kansas, the taking of $1,000 in silver off of a Santa Fe train just west of Cimarron, Kansas, a shootout with a posse near Fort Supply, the Battle of Ingalls in which three US Marshals and two citizens are killed (Newcomb is the first outlaw to fire at the lawmen, and the first member of the gang to be wounded, hit in the leg), robs a store and post office in the town of Clarkson with gang member "Red Buck" Waightman, helps loot the Farmers Citizen Bank of Pawnee, takes $6,000 from the Santa Fe Railway station at the town of Woodward, is there when Bittercreek is wounded in the shoulder attempting to rob a store in the town of Sacred Heart, is one of the men that hits the bank at Southwest City, Missouri (wounding several townspeople and killing one in the process), participates in the attempted robbery (the gang is driven off with only $20 in booty) of the J.R. Pearce store in Texana, Oklahoma, and is a member of the group that robs the Rock Island train at Dover, Oklahoma, and battles a posse shortly afterwards that is led by Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Madsen.
Waightman In Death
When the gang scatters following it's escape from Madsen's posse, Newcomb and Pierce decide it is time for some R&R (each is carrying a $5,000 reward on his head), and they head to the Dunn Ranch on the Cimarron River near the town of Pawnee ... Newcomb is interesting in lying low and sparking with his 14-year-old girlfriend, Rosa Dunn (the legendary Rose of Cimarron), while Pierce plans to collect $900 the Dunn Brothers owe his partner ... neither outlaw is expecting what takes place.
Rosa Dunn - The Rose Of Cimarron
Greeted warmly by the Dunn Brothers (John, Calvin, Dal, George, and Bill), a group of low-lives that dabble in ranching, running a boarding house (from which several wealthy visitors vanish), rustling, train and bank robberies, overseeing a meat market (in which stolen cattle is sold) and bounty hunting, the outlaws relax and get hammered with their friends, then make their way to the barn to sleep off all their drinking. Out, two of the brothers also make their way out to the barn ... and fire their weapons repeatedly into the bandits ... Pierce is riddled by thirty-five bullets (most all of which would have proved fatal by themselves), including rounds that hit him in the soles of his feet, while Newcomb is struck five times about the head and neck. Bounty in the bag, the killers then go back to the house and go to bed (visiting a friend, Rose is not at the ranch when the murders take place). The next morning they load the bodies in the back of a wagon and head to Guthrie to claim their rewards, but are horrified when on the way, Newcomb starts groaning, sits up, and asks for water (a bullet that struck him in the head hadn't killed him, only knocked him unconscious). Instead of water, Bill Dunn pulls his revolver and shoots Newcomb in the skull once more, this time with a round that is instantly fatal.
Bittercreek Newcomb & Charley Pierce
Two Of The Dunns - John & Dal
Easy money, the next outlaw the Dunn Family will betray for a cash payment is the leader of the gang himself, 38-year-old Bill Doolin (riddled by Bill Dunn's shotgun, although credit for the killing usually goes to US Deputy Marshal Heck Thomas). You reap what you sow though usually when pistolero is your occupation, and sure enough, the following year, Bill Dunn talks trash about Deputy Sheriff Frank Canton, blaming him for starting talk about the methods that were used to put down Newcomb and Pierce, and stating he will kill the lawman the next time he sees him. Canton is not happy about the situation at all! Bad blood brewing, trouble takes place on the streets of Pawnee when the men encounter each other on the street. Cursing Canton, Dunn places his hand on the grip of his pistol, ready to draw, provocation which Canton doesn't wait to play out, instead, quick as a rattlesnake, the lawman pulls his revolver and sends a .45 slug into Dunn's forehead.