6/27/1903 - Tired of the accommodations at the Knox County Jail in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hole-in-the-Wall outlaw, 36-year-old bandit, Harvey Alexander "Kid Curry" Logan pulls off an audacious escape that even public enemy John Dillinger would have had trouble recreating.
Logan And Girlfriend Annie Rogers
Seeking a respite from the heat authorities have placed on Logan territory in Montana after the outlaw robs the westbound Great Northern Overland Flyer #3 when it stops to take on water outside of the town of Wagner (the bandits, consisting of Logan, O.C. Hanks, Ben "The Tall Texan" Kilpatrick, and an unknown fourth gang member take between $40,000 and $80,000 off the train), and the revenge assassination of rancher James Winters for the murder of his younger brother, John, back in 1896, Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan moves his activities away from the west where he has been hunted like a dog, and sets up a new base of operations in Tennessee, in the city of Knoxville. A safe haven at first, it doesn't take long for Logan, and his girlfriend, Annie Rogers, to screw things up ... Rogers is caught exchanging money from the Wagner robbery (guilty as sin, a jury will nonetheless find her not guilty at trial), and Logan comes to the attention of authorities after foolishly letting his temper boil over and participating in a brutal bar fight.
Enjoying an evening of pool (the stakes are $20 a game) and drinking with friends in Ike Jones' Central Saloon at the junction of Commerce and Central Streets in Knoxville, on a cold December Friday in 1903, the festive mood of everyone in the bar comes apart over an argument involving the broken tip on a pool cue. Angry words exchanged about the implement and its continued use, it at first appears that Logan has been mollified by calmer heads, but after downing a shot of whiskey, the bandit suddenly grabs Luther Brady, pulls the man over to an empty sugar barrel, and sticks his former friend in, strangling him the entire time. Seeing his friend is about to run out of oxygen, another former pal, Jim Boley, rushes over to save Brady, but is prevented from striking Logan over the head with another pool stick by a bystander at the bar. A ruckus going now, the noise of the fight drifts outside to the street, where it is heard by two of Knoxville's finest, Patrolmen William M. Dinwiddie and Robert T. Saylor, both recovering from injuries they suffered six months before arresting a robbery suspect. Pushing through the crowd in the bar with their nightsticks, the two men order Logan to stop his assault on Brady ... a demand to which Logan responds to as he always does when confronted by officers of the law, by pulling a concealed pistol and firing (at this point in his career he is thought to have already killed at least nine peace officers and posse members). As bullets fly about the saloon, Saylor is hit in the right side and in the left arm just below the shoulder, wounds that do not prevent the lawman from hitting Logan over the head with his billy club, an ouch that gets him a third hit of lead to his left side, and sends him to the floor. Meanwhile, Dinwiddie is also pummeling Logan with his billy club ... the last blow breaking the billy club over Logan's head as the outlaw is knocked down to his knees ... but showing why he is known as the "Tiger of the Wild Bunch," the bandit brushes off another head shot (Dinwiddie has now grabbed Saylor's dropped billy club), stands, and places a bullet in Dinwiddie's chest (the officer's shirt will later be found to be covered in powder burns). Opponents down, bar entrance blocked by the crowd watching the fight, Logan takes the only exit he has available, out the back of the bar, where he makes a 15 foot leap down to the creek behind the drinking establishment and then stumbles off into the darkness.
Saylor & Dinwiddie
Two officers shot and a violent suspect on the loose, the bar fight makes front page news in the area and sets posses off in every direction of the compass looking for Logan. Blood on his clothes and bandaged head spotted, a week later the outlaw is finally found and arrested (without incident) outside of Jefferson City, thirty miles to northeast of Knoxville ... and excitement grabs the city as it discovers that the desperado now behind bars in the city jail is the notorious Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan on the Wild Bunch (at first, he will be thought to be Harry Longabaugh, aka the Sundance Kid). A celebrity villain (a local newspaper will describe him as the "Napoleon of Crime," which Logan considers a compliment), a large crowd greets the outlaw when he gets off the train that returns him to Knoxville, another is waiting at the jail when he arrives, and during his stay in town, there will be tours of the jail to see Logan, seats to his trial will be sold out daily, and local women will begin sending him love letters in scented envelopes, books, and food (six corn-cob pipes sent from an unknown admirer are found to also include a 23-inch long hacksaw blade inside). At the same time, Logan becomes friendly with the men guarding him, sharing whiskey and cigars he gets from his lawyers, seemingly complying with the rules of the jail, playing cards, and spending hours telling them stories of life out west (none having to do with his criminal exploits, throughout his stay in Knoxville he will claim to be an innocent named Charlie Johnson). Friendly most of the time, the ogre in Logan's personality does rear its head from time to time and there are several outbreaks in which the bandit trashes his cell and the cell block bathroom, refuses to let himself be photographed, and hides from visitors he isn't in the mood for by hanging blankets over the bars of his cell (Logan is the only prisoner on the second floor of the Knox County Jail ... the floor is roughly a square with a main entrance straddled by the sheriff's office and jailer's office at its north end, at the south end are three barred window that look out on the town and the Tennessee River ... within, an outer corridor wraps around a bar enclosed cell block, six cells on each side facing each other across an inside corridor).
Newspaper Drawing Of Logan - Note Head Wound With
Stitch From The Fight
Bird's Eye View Of Nashville - 1886
Found guilty of ten of the nineteen counts he is charged with (after the testimony of twenty-seven prosecution and seven defense witnesses ... the jury begins their deliberations at 11:40 in the morning, and are done by 2:45 in the afternoon of the same day), Logan is sentenced to twenty years of hard labor in the federal prison in Columbus, Ohio (and ten fines of $500 each). Not happy with the verdict, the outlaw of course appeals ... and lawyers for both sides begin fighting over whether there should be another trial, where it will be, and when, while all the while, a special steel lined mail car awaits at the railroad station to take Logan to prison and the Pinkerton Detective Agency keeps telling the Knoxville authorities what a dangerous man they have in custody (they even volunteer to pay for an additional guard to keep an eye on the bandit, but the offer is turned down by Sheriff J. W. Fox). By June of 1903, Logan is again ready to show Knoxville how correct the Pinkertons are.
Arrested Logan - Belle Fourche - 1897
Duded Up Logan - Fort Worth - 1900
Rattlesnake ready, on a very pleasant 6/27/1903 Saturday afternoon, with temperatures in the 70s, sheriff absent, attending a funeral, Logan strikes. Use to chatting with the badman near the windows looking out on the Tennessee River after he completes his rounds, following five months of routine, guard Frank Irwin thinks nothing of turning his back on the outlaw to view the river when Logan points out that the Tennessee is running high and muddy. Gazing at the majestic scene, Irwin is suddenly yanked back into the bars of the interior cell area, lassoed by Logan using wire acquired from a broken broom. Then, after warning Irwin he will kill him if he utters a sound, the outlaw turns Irwin around and ties the guard's hands through the bars and gags him, using strips of material from the hammock he has destroyed during one of his "fits" of rages. That taken care of, Logan then goes to the bathroom cell and takes out a nine-foot pole he has hidden there, fashioned from broken window moldings held together with more hammock strips, and finished with a hook on the end made from the handle of a recently fractured bucket. Running to north end of the cell area, Logan uses the device to reach around the bars to an area thought to be out of reach of the jail's prisoners, where a .45 Colt and a .38 Smith & Wesson pistols are kept for guard use in a cardboard shoe box. Weapons obtained, Logan then slides the box back to its original position so that there will be nothing to give guard Tom Bell a warning of what is coming when he arrives on the second floor. Jail routine used again against his jailers, when Bell arrives at about 4:30, he finds Logan rapping an empty medicine bottle of cough syrup against the bars, demanding a refill. Reaching for the bottle, Bell suddenly finds a pistol pointing straight at his stomach, while Logan once more repeats the tale he has told Irwin, any interference with the escape will cost the guard his life Believed, Bell lets Logan out of the cell area (nervous, he takes two tries with Logan's pistol placed to his temple), unlocks the door off the second floor, and with Logan behind him with a revolver in his back, the guard takes the outlaw down the stairs, past administrative offices for the jail's staff, out the facility's kitchen and into the jail's backyard. There, Logan has Bell, and a jail worker named R. P. Swanee, saddle the sheriff's favorite mare (the sheriff, just returned from the funeral, unarmed, and just about to have something to eat, sees Logan escaping and runs up to the third floor of the jail to find a weapon, but by the time he is back down to the backyard, the bandit has escaped). Mounted, Logan exits the jail compound on to Prince Street, turns immediately right down Hill Street, and then takes another right on to Gay Street (waving at a little girl that he has spent the last few weeks waving to from his jail cell) and gallops across the bridge over the Tennessee River ... leaving Knoxville at around 5:05 in the early evening with the clothes on his back, a stolen horse, two pistols, his razor, soap, a comb, a razor strap, a small mirror, and a one dollar bill.
Next Day Headlines
Fresh rewards offered, though posses start fanning out from the city within 30 minutes of Logan's escape, the outlaw is never officially seen again. Some feel he dies trying to cross a desolate section of North Carolina called "Jeffrey's Hell," others think his end comes under the alias of Tap Duncan, when that cowboy commits suicide after being wounded by a posse following a failed train robbery outside of Parachute, Colorado in 1904 (a month in the ground, by the time it is dug up for further evaluation, rot has begun and scars known to be on Logan can not be found on the corpse), while a different frame of thought has him making his way down to Butch and Sundance in South America, or growing to old age under an alias while hiding among friends in Montana. No one knows for certain, what is known however is that despite the passage of over a hundred years, Knoxville has not yet forgotten when a member of the Wild Bunch paid a visit to the town known as the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains (and home to the University of Tennessee) ... and raised Hell there.
Corpse Identified As Kid Curry
True West Rendition Of Kid Curry
The Logan Brothers - John, Harvey, and Lonie