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BANDITS NOT FIRST OF FAMILY BURIED IN COFFEYVILLE

   

Bob and Grat Dalton, bandit brothers, were not the first members of that ill-starred family to be buried in Coffeyville after violent death.

When aroused Coffeyville citizens shot down Bob and Grat, Coffeyville’s Elmwood Cemetery had held the body of another brother, Frank Dalton, almost four years.

The Dalton’s mother tried to have Bob and Grat buried beside Frank after the Coffeyville Raid.  Indignant Coffeyville citizens said no.

So, today in Elmwood, Frank Dalton is buried two cemetery blocks away from Bob and Grat, whose funerals, according to record still at the Skinner Mortuary, were arranged for by the then mayor of Coffeyville.

And Frank Dalton occupies a hero’s grave.  Frank was shot and killed by a bootlegger near Ft. Smith, AR, November 27, 1888, while trying to make an arrest.  The 28-year old Frank was a deputy U.S. marshal.

The line between the law and banditry was pretty thin in those pioneer days where individuals were concerned.  Both professions called for brave and venturesome men and the same person was likely to show up on either side at different times.

Emmett, Bob and Grat Dalton had served as deputy marshals before the Raid.  Another brother, Bill, accepted an appointment to a similar position after his brothers had been killed in Coffeyville-not without strong protests from citizens.

In contrast to the plain stone erected by Emmett Dalton, Kansas State Penitentiary, over the graves of Bob and Grat and Bill Powers (the body of Dick Broadwell, the fourth member of the gang killed here, was taken to Hutchinson by a brother for burial there) the Frank Dalton monument is elaborate.

“Erected by his affectionate mother,” it bears this deeply religious sentiment:  “Whose God was thy ransom, thy guardian and guide.  He gave thee; He took thee and He will restore thee.  And death has no sting for the Savior has died.”

This may well have been an expression of deep religious conviction on the part of Mrs. Dalton rather than some stock inscription which a tombstone cutter had on ready call for customers.

True, Mrs. Dalton was a Younger.  That made her the aunt of that branch of pioneer Western outlawry.  Cole, Bob and Jim Younger were her nephews.  And the Daltons had a reputation for “meanness” long before they became train and bank robbers.  But the meanness was more on the side of the father, whom Mrs. Dalton divorced before the Raid.

“Mrs. Dalton and the children came to out house to see father,” Leila Elliott, one of the three daughters of Col. D.D. Elliott, early day Coffeyville editor-lawyer, said. “Father had represented her in her divorce action.

“We children know who the Daltons were and we were thrilled and excited to peek around the door at them while Mrs. Dalton and father talked about her legal problems.  Father would not have had her for a client if he had not thought she was all right.”

Emmett recalled in his adult years that his mother did not approve of the Youngers or banditry of any degree.

When Adeline Younger married Louis Dalton, he was in the saloon business at Westport Landing near the present site of Kansas City.  She prevailed on him to get out of that business, and the couple left Westport and spent the early years of their married lives in Cass, Clay and Jackson counties in Missouri.  All 15 of the children of Louis and Adeline Dalton were born in Missouri.

Some of the older children had already left home, and some of them had had minor brushes with the law, when Mrs. Dalton moved to Vinita, Indian Territory, in 1882.  Louis Dalton was away from home most of the time following the harness racing circuit in some capacity or other.  He rejoined his family shortly before his death in 1890, two years before the Coffeyville Raid.

Mrs. Dalton moved what was left of her family at home, from Vinita to Coffeyville for a short time and then located at Kingfisher, Indian Territory.  She was living there at the time of the Raid.

Two sons, Ben and Bill Dalton and a daughter, a Mrs. Whipple, were also then living in Kingfisher with the mother.  They came to Coffeyville after the Raid to bury their dead and care for Emmett.  The only other child of Louis and Adeline Dalton, of which printed mention can be found, was Littleton.

At the time of the Raid, Emmett was just 20 years old.  Gratton was 33, and Bob was apparently between them in age.

Emmett was sentenced to life in the state prison at Lansing, KS, by Judge J.D. McCue of the Montgomery County District Court for second degree murder.  He spent 15 years in prison before winning a parole.

The remaining years of Emmett’s life were spent on the stage, writing a book on the family and the Raid and as a real estate dealer in California.  He died in Los Angeles on July 13, 1937.

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Last Updated On:  1/5/2017