1937 - Future bright when they marry in 1858, saloon keeper and handy man Lewis Dalton and Adeline Younger (she is an aunt of the notorious Younger Brothers that ride with Frank and Jesse James) never dream that they will eventually have 15 children together (two die in infancy) ... or that five of them will forever link the family name to America's Wild West frontier days ... a bloody adventure that ends in Hollywood, California with the death of the youngest family gunslinger, and the luckiest one, Emmett, at the age of 66.
Emmett At 60
With the example of oldest brother Frank to follow, Emmett joins older brothers Grat and Bob in also going into law enforcement, but when 28-year-old Frank is killed in 1888 (riding for "The Hanging Judge," Judge Isaac Parker, as a U.S. Deputy Marshal in the Indian Territory, he is killed in a gun battle with horse thieves), and the boys do not receive reward money they believe they are entitled to, they step over the line and becoming outlaws themselves ... first rustling horses and sneaking whiskey into the territory, before moving up to armed robbery in 1890 (brother Bill at this time is in California, trying to become a successful rancher and politician, after the fatal Coffeyville raid, he will return to the region and become a member of the Oklahombres, a gang of cut-throats and bandits he helps lead, along with Bill Doolin, until his death at the hands of a posse in 1894).
Frank & Grat
Bill & Bob
Decision made to become bandits, while Bob is the leader of what will soon be known as the Dalton Gang, it is Emmett's days as a cowboy at the Bar X Bar Ranch that provide introductions to the bad hombres that join up with the brothers ... Doolin and Bill Power from the Bar X Bar, and from other ranches in the region, cowboy acquaintances Charlie Pierce, George "Bittercreek" Newcomb, "Black Face" Charlie Bryant (so nicknamed for the pistol powder burn permanently scorched on his cheek), and Dick Broadwell.
Outlaw band formed, a year-and-a-half of mayhem ensues in which Emmett is there when the group, thinking it has been cheated, robs a gambling parlor in Silver City, New Mexico, robs a Santa Fe train near the town of Wharton, Oklahoma (now the town of Perry), the brothers are accused of robbing a train in California while visiting their brother Bill (a crime they did not commit), takes $10,000 off a train near the town of Lillietta, assaults another train at the town of Red Rock, and near the Arkansas border, hits a Missouri-Kansas-Texas train while engaging in a gun battle with eight railroad guards, led by the railroad's chief of detectives, J. J. Kinney, and the chief of the Cherokee Indian police, Captain J. H. LaFlore (both men will be wounded, along with a third guard, while Dr. W. L. Goff is killed by a stray round while he is sitting on the porch of the local drug store with his friend, Dr. T. S. Youngblood, who will lose part of his right foot to a different stray slug). And of course, Emmett is beside his brother Bob's side when the decision is made to out-do Jesse James by robbing two banks at the same time ... two banks in the town the Dalton's grew up in, Coffeyville, Kansas.
The Dalton Gang By J. N. Marchand - 1902
A message to the town of "Look at us now!" from boys that grew up dirt poor in Coffeyville, and a last job to attain funds for retirement to Mexico, Bob takes Emmett with him for the robbery of First National Bank, while Grat, Dick Broadwell, and Bill Power hit the C.M. Condon & Company Bank across the street. When the citizens respond to the outlaw affront, Emmett carries a burlap sack containing over $20,000 to the horses the outlaws have hitched in a nearby alley, while Bob offers covering support by targeting any Coffeyville citizen he can see holding a gun (deadly accurate with his Winchester, Bob will kill 23-year-old store clerk Lucius Baldwin, 35-year-old shoemaker George Cubine, and 52-year-old shoemaker Charles Brown, and wounds 50-year-old bank cashier Thomas G. Ayres, and 32-year-old freighter Charley Gump, the man who first shouts the Daltons are robbing the bank).
The Condon Bank
In the alley where they hitched their horses, the Dalton Gang comes to a bullet riddled end. Bill Power is shot through the heart and dies trying to mount his horse, Dick Broadwell manages to mount his horse and rides off, but only for a few blocks, falling off his ride from too many wounds and bleeding to death in the street, Grat is gunned down by livery stable owner John. J. Kloehr after the outlaw kills Marshall Charles T. Connelly (dead by the time he hits the ground, the bullet hits Grat in the throat and breaks his neck ... a delightful injury that children delight in when the smokes clears as someone discovers that by shaking hands with the dead man, blood and a gurgling noise will come out of the hole in Grat's throat), and Bob is brought down by another Kloehr bullet that hits the gunman in the chest. Suddenly, Emmett is the only bandit still functional (with only a wound to his right arm ... so far), and in the midst of smoke, gunfire, screaming horses and death, he provides the morning's only moment of grace. Mounted and with the money in hand, Emmett is about to ride out of the alley to safety, but instead, wheels his horse about, leans down. and tries to pull his brother Bob up on to his saddle (dying, Bob tells his younger brother, "It's no use. Goodbye Emmett. Don't surrender, die game.") ... an act of brotherly love and bravery that barber Carey Seaman and Kloehr instantly end by firing on Emmett simultaneously ... Kloehr puts a slug through the outlaw's left hip and groin and Seaman sends a load of buckshot into Emmett's back ... when the 21-year-old desperado falls into the dirt of the alley, he is leaking blood from 23 different wounds!
Diagram Of The End - True West Magazine
Bob & Grat - Moments After The Gunfire Stops
The Dalton Gang - 10/5/1892 - Power, Bob, Grat,
"They're all down," someone yells, announcing the end of the 11-minute battle ... all down and dead, save one, somehow despite his wounds, Emmett clings to life, and he is unconscious when the doctor treating his wounds saves him from a necktie party by telling the irate mob not to waste their energy, because the outlaw won't survive the night ... but he does. Patched up, and nursed back to health by the ministrations of his childhood sweetheart, Julia Johnson, Emmett goes on trial for robbery and murder, pleads guilty to second degree murder (expecting a lighter sentence because he claims not to have fired his gun during the entire battle), and is sentenced to life in prison at Lansing's Kansas State Penitentiary. He will not however, spend his life there ... behind bars, he becomes a model prisoner and finds religion, and despite protests from much of the citizenry of Kansas, is unconditionally pardoned by Governor E. W. Hoch in 1907 after serving 15 years of his sentence.
Emmett At Lansing
Released, the last bandit Dalton does not revert to his old ways. Instead, he marries Johnson in 1907 (they will remain married for the next thirty years), the year he is set free, then begins trading in on his name and notorious past by traveling with the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show (ending his portion of each show with a rousing speech on how crime doesn't pay). Discovering he likes being in the entertainment industry, Emmett and Julia will eventually settle in Hollywood, California, where the former bandit writes two books about his days as a desperado ("Beyond the Law" and "When the Daltons Rode"), acts, gives advise on the making of several silent westerns (playing himself in two), is baptized by celebrity Pentecostal evangelist, Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, and makes money selling real estate in the Southern California area. And before he dies, in 1931, Emmett returns to Coffeyville, walking the streets where his outlaw career came to an abrupt end, giving interviews, shaking hands with folks that once shot at him, and putting a proper headstone over the grave of his brothers, Bob and Grat (previously, they were buried beneath the metal hitching rack they'd tied their horses to in the alley).
1907 - Year Of Emmett's Release
Pawnee Bill Poster
The Emmett Show
Emmett With Tom Mix
Much different from a fast bullet death, on 7/13/1937, with Julia by his side (after suffering a ruptured appendix, Julia will suffer a stroke and die in a Fresno hospital on 5/20/1943 at the age of 73), from the aftermath of a stroke, Emmett passes away in bed, with his boots most certainly NOT on ... the last of the gunslinging Daltons (three years later, Emmett's tale, "When the Daltons Rode" is made into a Universal Production starring actor Frank Albertson as Emmett, and future Highway Patrol star, Broderick Crawford as Bob).