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Bad Bill Dalton, dead in Ardmore

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Bill Dalton before he was Dead Dalton.

Bill Dalton of the infamous "Dalton Gang" was born in Missouri in 1865 and died near Ardmore, Carter County, Oklahoma in 1894. How'd that happen? Read on!

Originally from Missouri and living in Kansas near the Indian Territory line, the Dalton Gang emerged from a group of 15 siblings, all cousins of the Younger Brothers. A few of the Dalton brothers shared their relatives' knack for crime.

In the 1890s, the Dalton Gang consisted of all or some of brothers Emmett, Frank, Grat, Bob, and Bill. They stole horses, sold bootleg whiskey in Indian Territory, and robbed trains in California and in today's Oklahoma. The latter robberies were committed by some of the Dalton Brothers who had met up with the Doolin Gang. The Doolin Gang robbed two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas, but then engaged in a shoot-out that killed four of the gang members and four city marshals.

Bill Dalton continued his life of crime without his brothers. Together with the Doolin Gang, he killed three U.S. marshals at Ingalls (Oklahoma Territory) and robbed the First National Bank of Longview, Texas in May of 1894. After the robbery, an award of $25,000 was issued against Bill Dalton.

Along with his wife, Jennie, and their two children, Bill Dalton found a hideout at the home of Houston Wallace southeast of today's Pooleville in Carter County, Oklahoma. On one fine June day of 1894, Houston Wallace and "two strange women" came to Ardmore and began "to spend money very freely." Wallace picked up a suspicious package at the Express Office, and he and the women were arrested. Since the box contained three jugs of illegal whiskey, they went to jail but refused to talk. One of the women was Jennie Blevin Dalton.

Deputy Lindsay of Ardmore, acting on a hunch, organized a posse: C.L. Hart, J.H. Leatherman, C.R. Denton, J.M. Reynolds, D.E. Booker, W.B. Freeman, W.H. Glover and E.W. Roberts. They knew that Bill Dalton was most likely hiding out in the area. They road to Houston Wallace's place and quietly surrounded the house. A woman spotted them and ran to the house to tell Dalton, who tried to escape out of back of house. C.L. Hart shot him dead.

Inside the house, surrounded by terrified women and screaming children, the deputies found lots of cash and a "money sack with the brand of the Longview bank." They then took the body by wagon back to Ardmore. About five miles outside of town, they met Jennie Dalton, who had been released from the jail. She "broke completely down and in a fit of weeping... bemoaned the death of her husband."

Pandemonium ensued in Ardmore upon hearing of Bill Dalton's death. Over the past year, there had been rumors of Bill's demise, but this time, the deed was real. Some thousand people congregated at "Appolla's undertaking where the body lies in state, embalmed subject to the orders of the sorrowing widow." Jennie Blevin Dalton wired for a coffin from Fakes & Company, costing $175, and then had the body shipped to California, where her family resided and where she had married Bill in 1884 while he was serving in the California legislature (!!!). Bill's now buried at Turlock Memorial Park in Turlock, Stanislaus County, California in the Blevin family plot. I don't think he has a tombstone.

Today, Bill Dalton is still known as a larger-than-life wild west outlaw. I once saw a photograph of a historical marker in Carter County explaining his death, but am unsure of its location and status. I do know that along the Poolville Road, a small, hand-made marker was placed to pay tribute to the event that took place in 1894.

The Sherman Hotel was actually "a good boarding house in the back of Whittington's"** at 109-115 South Caddo Street/ 224-222 Main Street; Appollas Undertaking was located at 108 North Caddo Street***; the jail was located behind the courthouse on 608-609 Minco Street north of Main Street; and the Express Office was between the freight andn passenger depot.

Some excitement in Ardmore!

*The description of the posse's acts stems from The Daily Ardmoreite, June 9 1894.

**Daily Ardmoreite, January 5, 1895.

***Daily Ardmoreite, January 12 1894.

The Whittington Hotel in Ardmore; in the back was the Sherman Hotel, where Jennie Dalton stayed while arranging her husband's funeral.
Man with flag and monument.
The marker commemorating Bill Dalton's take-down sits on private property near the town of Poolville, Carter County, Oklahoma (Oklahoma Historical Society).

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