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Barrow, Clyde Chestnut (24 March 1909–23 May 1934), and Bonnie Parker (01 October 1910–23 May 1934), bandits known as Bonnie and Clyde, were born, respectively, in Teleco and Rowena, Texas. Clyde was the son of Henry Barrow and Cummie (maiden name unknown), farmers; Bonnie, the daughter of Charles Parker, a brick mason, and Emma (maiden name unknown). One of eight children, Clyde Barrow grew up in extreme poverty. His parents were tenant farmers until 1921, when they moved to the Dallas area, where neither his mother nor his illiterate father managed to significantly improve the family’s prospects. Never a devoted student, Clyde quit school at age sixteen and followed his older brother Ivan “Buck” Barrow into delinquency and petty theft. In 1926 the two were arrested when a police officer observed a flock of stolen turkeys jumping about in the back seat of their automobile. Buck claimed full responsibility and served several days in jail; Clyde was released. By 1929 Clyde and Buck were robbing filling stations and cafés around Dallas. That year Buck was sentenced to four years in the Huntsville State Prison for burglary, and Clyde received a suspended sentence for car theft....

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Billy the Kid (15 September 1859–14 July 1881), western outlaw and legendary figure in international folklore, was born Henry McCarty, probably in Brooklyn, New York, probably on the date given, and probably of Irish immigrants; all aspects of his origins, however, remain controversial. In 1873 his mother, Catherine, was remarried, to William Henry Antrim, whereupon the boy took his stepfather’s name and became Henry Antrim. Later, for reasons that are obscure, he adopted the sobriquet William H. Bonney. In adolescence he was called simply Kid, but not until the final few months of his life was he known as Billy the Kid....

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Black Bart (fl. 1875–1888), stagecoach robber, was born Charles E. Boles, probably in 1832 in either Norfolk, England, or upstate New York. His parents’ names are unknown. He had a wife, Mary, and probably three children. He abandoned them all after the Civil War, in which he was wounded while serving as a first sergeant in the 116th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He probably never saw any of his family again....

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Cassidy, Butch (13 April 1866–1908? or 1937?), outlaw and rancher, was born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah, the oldest of thirteen children of Maximillian Parker and Ann Gillies, small ranchers. His British-born parents were Mormons who pulled handcarts across the Great Plains to Utah in 1856. As a teenager growing up near Circleville, Utah, Parker was influenced by cowhand Mike Cassidy, who taught him to ride, shoot, rope, brand, and rustle cattle and horses. Under suspicion by local authorities, Parker and Cassidy left Utah in 1884. Parker went to Telluride, Colorado, where he found employment with a mining company. There he met Tom McCarty, a bank robber, and soon joined the McCarty Gang. On 24 June 1889, he participated in a bank robbery at Telluride, after which he drifted into Wyoming. Because he was now wanted by the law, Parker took the surname of his boyhood idol, calling himself George Cassidy. While working in a butcher’s shop in Rock Springs, Wyoming, he became Butch Cassidy....

Article

Robert K. DeArment

Dalton, Bob (13 May 1869–05 October 1892), outlaw, was born Robert Rennick Dalton in Missouri (probably Cass County), the son of James Lewis Dalton, a farmer, horse breeder, and trader, and Adeline Lee Younger. His mother was a half-sister of Henry Younger, the father of the Younger brothers of James–Younger gang notoriety, and thus the Younger brothers and the Dalton boys shared the same grandfather, Charles Lee Younger. Four of the fifteen children born to Lewis and Adeline Dalton died violent deaths. The family lived in Cass, Bates, and Clay counties in western Missouri, an area plagued before, during, and after the Civil War by border conflicts and rampant outlawry. About 1882 the family moved to Coffeyville, Kansas, and shortly thereafter into Indian Territory near present-day Vinita, Oklahoma. While still an adolescent, Dalton followed his older brothers Frank and Gratton into law enforcement; all three brothers served as deputy U.S. marshals in Indian Territory. On 27 November 1887 Frank was killed while making an arrest. In August 1888, in Indian Territory near Coffeyville, Dalton, acting as a posseman under his brother Grat, shot and killed a suspected horsethief named Charles Montgomery. He was only nineteen years old when he was sworn in as a deputy U.S. marshal in January 1889. He was also employed as a detective for the Osage Indian Agency during this period. The first recorded incident of lawbreaking by any of the Dalton boys occurred on Christmas Day 1889, when Dalton and another brother, Emmett, allegedly “introduced whiskey into Indian Territory.” Charges against Emmett were later dropped but Dalton was bound over for trial. He did not appear, his bonds were forfeited, and he never stood trial. In August 1890 Dalton, Emmett, and Grat were charged with horse stealing. Grat was jailed for a time, but eventually the charges were dropped. In a dispute over fees unpaid by the government, Dalton and Grat left the marshal’s service about this time. Late in 1890 Dalton, Grat, and Emmett went to California to visit their brother Bill. When a Southern Pacific train was held up and robbed at Alila, California, on 6 February 1891, detectives focused their investigation on the Dalton brothers. Recognized as the leader of what officers were now calling the “Dalton gang,” Dalton was described on a Southern Pacific Railroad reward poster as “about twenty-three … ; height, 6 ft. 1½ inches; well built and straight; light complexion, but florid and healthy looking; boyish beard and mustache; light hair and eyes; weight 180 to 190 lbs.; large, bony, long-fingered hands, showing no acquaintance with work; large nose and ears; white teeth; long sunburned neck, square features… . Is a good poker and card player; drinks whisky in moderation, but does not chew tobacco; smokes brown paper cigarettes occasionally.” Dalton and his brothers Emmett, Grat, and Bill were indicted on 17 March 1891 and charged with train robbery and assault with intent to murder the express car messenger. Dalton and Emmett eluded the officers and escaped back to Indian Territory, but Grat and Bill were arrested. In separate trials at Visalia, Tulare County, Bill was acquitted but Grat was convicted of train robbery. At Grat’s trial, eyewitnesses to the holdup were shown photographs of Dalton and identified him as one of the robbers....

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Deitz, John F. (03 April 1861–08 May 1924), farmer and outlaw, was born in Winneconne, Wisconsin, the son of John Deitz (also spelled Dietz), Sr., a New York farmer who moved to Wisconsin before the Civil War. His mother’s name and occupation are unknown. A few years after the war, the Deitz family moved north and west, seeking cheap farmland in the logged-over region of Wisconsin known as the Cutover. John, Jr., grew up in a log cabin, attended common school, and as a young man dabbled in real estate, ran for minor local offices, and eked out a marginal existence from a small farm. Like many another backwoods farmer, he also hunted, trapped, did odd jobs, and seasonally worked for the logging companies. In 1882 he married Hattie Young, a part-time schoolteacher, with whom he had six children....

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John Dillinger. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112142).

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Dillinger, John (22 June 1903–22 July 1934), criminal, was born John Herbert Dillinger in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of John Wilson Dillinger, a grocer, and Mary Ellen Lancaster. When he was three, his mother died, and his seventeen-year-old sister took over his care. He attended public schools in Indianapolis, disliked arithmetic, enjoyed reading, and excelled in schoolyard fights. In 1920 his father, by then remarried, moved to nearby Mooresville with his family, including two stepsons, and Dillinger quit school and began to work in a machine shop and furniture factory. In 1923 he joined the navy, was punished for being absent without leave, deserted, and was dishonorably discharged. He married Beryl Hovious in 1924; they had no children. Dillinger worked as an upholsterer in Mooresville, but he got drunk with a friend and was caught trying to rob a grocer. He served time in the Indiana reformatory at Pendleton and then the state prison at Michigan City. He attempted to escape, was ordered to serve more time, and was punished for gambling and disorderly conduct. His wife divorced him in 1929 and remarried. Though sentenced to ten to twenty years, he was paroled in May 1933 and promptly went on a crime spree, usually with accomplices who were often less lucky than he....

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Doolin, William (1858–25 August 1896), cowboy and bank and train robber, was born in Johnson County, Arkansas, the son of Michael Doolin and Artemina Beller, farmers. Bill Doolin had a normal childhood and remained on the family farm until 1881. He was a tall, slender man, lacking a formal education and barely literate but generally regarded as intelligent and personable. At twenty-three, Doolin left home to seek his fortune on the closing frontier. He quickly became a proficient cowboy for Oscar Halsell and other ranchers operating near the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers of the Oklahoma Territory. For several years Doolin worked his way across the western ranges of Wyoming, Montana, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, earning the reputation of a reliable, capable, and good-natured hand. He was considered to be a fine rider, an excellent shot, and a natural leader when he returned to the cattle ranches of Oklahoma....

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Wyatt Earp. Reproduction of a drawing by Alan Riley, c. 1949–1956. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93572).

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Earp, Wyatt (19 March 1848–13 January 1929), outlaw, gambler, and lawman, was born Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp in Monmouth, Illinois, the son of Nicholas Porter Earp, an adventurer and frontiersman, and his second wife, Virginia Ann Cooksey. After the Civil War the entire Earp family moved from Missouri to Iowa and then wandered westward until reaching California. After three years of farm life, Nicholas Earp’s sons struck out on their own....

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Floyd, Charles Arthur (03 February 1904–22 October 1934), bank robber and killer, commonly known as Pretty Boy Floyd, was born in Bartow County, Georgia, the son of Walter Lee Floyd and Mamie Echols, farmers. The Floyd family lived in Georgia until 1911, when they moved to Sequoyah County, near the Cookson Hills, in the new state of Oklahoma. They settled first in Hanson and five years later relocated to Akins, near Sallisaw. Charles attended school and worked on the family cotton farm, earning the reputation of a prankster and the nickname “Choc,” for illegal Choctaw beer. He was an athletic, friendly teenager who enjoyed hunting and fishing but had little interest in school....

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Vernon R. Maddux

Holliday, Doc (14 August 1851–08 November 1887), outlaw, was born John Henry Holliday in Griffin, Georgia, the son of Confederate major Henry Burroughs Holliday and Alice Jane McKey, a woman of old Georgia stock. He moved with his family to Valdosta, Lowndes County, where his father was elected mayor in 1863. When Holliday was fifteen, his mother died of tuberculosis and passed the disease to her son. Holliday’s sorrow turned to bitterness when in 1866 his father married a 23-year-old war widow. Sent the same year to Philadelphia to live with his mother’s relatives, Holliday enrolled at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in September 1870. He associated with Dr. Arthur C. Ford in Atlanta and practiced resident dentistry in Valdosta, filling and extracting teeth through October 1871. Holliday graduated with twenty-four others in March 1872 with a thesis titled “Diseases of the Teeth.”...

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Paul G. Kooistra

James, Jesse (05 September 1847–03 April 1882), outlaw, was born Jesse Woodson James in Clay County, Missouri, the son of Robert James, a Baptist minister who cofounded William Jewell college, and Zerelda Cole. His father died of cholera in 1850; his mother, after marrying and divorcing a second husband, married Reuben Samuel, a doctor, in 1855....

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Mason, Samuel (1750– July 1803), outlaw and pirate, was born in Virginia of unknown parents. Virtually nothing is known of his early life, although historian Samuel Draper noted that he was “connected by ties of consanguinity with the distinguished Mason family of Virginia, and grew up bad from his boyhood.” Mason first appeared in historical records during the American Revolution, during which he served as a captain in the Ohio County, Virginia (now West Virginia), militia. He fought in several engagements against Native Americans in 1777 and served at Fort Henry in the upper Ohio Valley until the autumn of 1779. Retiring from active service, he retained his captaincy in the militia until at least May 1781 and apparently also ran a tavern in the vicinity of present-day Wheeling, West Virginia....

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Murieta, Joaquín (1829?–1853), folk hero in Hispanic and California popular culture, was born most probably in Sonora, Mexico. The story of Murieta has been told in many versions, all based on John Rollin Ridge’s 1854 account, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta...

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See Barrow, Clyde Chestnut

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Renfroe, Stephen S. (1843–13 July 1886), noted Alabama outlaw, was born in Georgia, the son of J. G. and M. A. P. Renfroe, farmers. The family moved to Butler County, Alabama, around 1853. Poorly educated but intelligent, Renfroe was quick-tempered, handsome, powerful, and athletic. An expert shot and accomplished horseman, he served as a private in the Civil War, was wounded, and then deserted in 1864....

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Slade, Joseph Alfred (1829 or 1830–10 March 1864), reputed "bad man", was born in Carlyle, Illinois, the son of Charles W. Slade, a founder of Carlyle, an Illinois assemblyman, and a U.S. congressman, and Mary Kane. Little is known about Slade’s childhood or education. In May 1847 he joined the volunteer army and served in the Mexican War, primarily as a teamster, detailed to protect the supply lines to the Santa Fe Trail. Honorably discharged on 16 October 1848, he soon obtained a veteran’s land warrant for 160 acres and returned to Carlyle. From there he fled west, possibly to California, after killing a man with a rock in 1849. The deed may have been justified, for when he returned to Carlyle for a visit in the spring of 1863, he was not arrested....

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Paul G. Kooistra

Starr, Belle (05 February 1848–03 February 1889), outlaw, was born Myra Belle Shirley in Carthage, Missouri, the daughter of John Shirley, a wealthy innkeeper, and Eliza Hatfield. In 1863 her brother, a Confederate guerrilla, was killed by Federal troops. In 1864 she moved with her family to Scycene, Texas (near Dallas), to avoid the turmoil of the border war in Missouri. She married Jim Reed, a former Confederate guerrilla from Missouri, in 1868; the couple had a daughter in 1869 and a son in 1871. Reed engaged in various criminal enterprises, including robbery and horse theft. The family fled to Los Angeles after Belle Starr’s remaining brother was killed in a Texas gunfight and her husband murdered a man in Missouri. She returned with her family to Texas after federal agents in California began closing in on her husband’s counterfeiting operations. In April 1874 Jim Reed robbed a stagecoach, and Belle Starr was charged as an accessory to the crime (although charges were later dropped). Jim Reed was killed by a deputy sheriff near Paris, Texas, on 6 August 1874....