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He Rode with Butch and Sundance: The Story of Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan

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Pinned down by a posse, the wounded outlaw's companions urged him to escape through the gulch. "Don't wait for me," he replied, "I’m all in and might as well end it right here." Placing his revolver to his right temple, he pulled the trigger for the last time, thus ending the life of the notorious "Kid Curry" of the Wild Bunch. It is long past time for the publication of a well-researched, definitive biography of the infamous western outlaw Harvey Alexander Logan, better known by his alias Kid Curry. In Wyoming he became involved in rustling and eventually graduated to bank and train robbing as a member--and soon leader--of the Wild Bunch. The core members of the gang came to be Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, George "Flatnose" Currie, Elzy Lay, Ben "the Tall Texan" Kilpatrick, Will Carver, and Kid Curry. Kid Curry has been portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, without any compassion or conscience and possessed of limited intelligence. Curry indeed was a dangerous man with a violent temperament, which was aggravated by alcoholic drink. However, Smokov shows that Curry's record of kills is highly exaggerated, and that he was not the blood-thirsty killer as many have claimed. Mark Smokov has researched extensively in areas significant to Curry's story and corrects the many false statements that have been written about him in the past. Curry was a cunning outlaw who planned and executed robberies on par with anything Butch Cassidy is reported to have pulled off. Smokov contends that Curry was the actual train robbing leader of the Wild Bunch--there is no concrete evidence that Cassidy ever robbed a train. He also presents new evidence that is virtually conclusive in resolving whether or not Curry was the "unknown bandit" who was killed after robbing a train near Parachute, Colorado, in 1904.

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Chapter 1: Family Matters

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CHAPTER 1

Family Matters

Harvey Alexander Logan was born to William Henry Neville and Eliza Jane (Johnson) Logan in Richland Township, Tama County, Iowa (not Rowan County, Kentucky, as written by some) in 1867, according to 1870 U.S. census records.1 The Logan ancestors have been traced back to Harvey’s great-grandparents James and Caroline Elizabeth Logan. James Logan was born in 1767 in Lewis County, Kentucky, and died in the same county in 1838.2 Logan descendents had been living in Fleming County, Kentucky, as early as 1795, and that is where Harvey’s grandparents, William Logan and Elizabeth Ray Powers, were married on August 24, 1815. Elizabeth was born to Jacob Powers and Ann (Shelton) Crosthwait on May 7, 1798.3 The Fleming County census record of 1850 shows William to have been born in 1792 in Pennsylvania. Harvey’s father and mother were both born and raised in Fleming County, Kentucky, in the vicinity of Morehead. William Henry Neville Logan was born in 1834 and Eliza Jane Johnson in 1838. They were married on October 5, 1856, being twenty-two and eighteen years of age respectively. Eliza Jane was the daughter of Zachariah R. Johnson and Delilah Evans.4 According to one writer/researcher, Harvey’s dark skin coloring can be attributed to his Grandmother Delilah’s Welsh descent. This trait was not owing to an infusion of Cherokee Indian blood as has been so often stated by contemporaries of Harvey and later historians.5

 

Chapter 2: Cowboys in Montana

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CHAPTER 2

Cowboys in Montana

Whether they came up the trails from Kansas City, Missouri, a starting point for the Westward Movement, or by trailing a herd from Texas, to New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming, the brothers were in north-central Montana Territory by early fall of 1884.1 It is really just conjecture as to the route they took, since there are only a few cryptic references in the available literature. The latter route can be inferred in part from a statement by Pinkerton Detective Charles A. Siringo. Kid Curry, “at an early age drifted to Texas and Colorado to become a cowboy. In 1884 he got into a ‘jackpot’ in Pueblo, Colorado, and had to hit the high places to escape the officers of the law, several bullets striking the buggy in which he made his getaway.”2 This is in reference to Harvey supposedly being involved in a brawl or shooting at a roadhouse outside of Pueblo.

Another brief mention is from A. V. “Kid Amby” Cheney who said he worked with Kid Curry as a “rep” with the Circle C outfit late in the season in 1890. “The . . . Curry brothers . . . were southern cowboys who had come north and settled on a ranch near Landusky in the Little Rockies.”3

 

Chapter 3: The Man from Pike County, MO

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CHAPTER 3

The Man from Pike County, MO

Powell “Pike” Landusky and family owned a ranch on Rock Creek a few miles from the Curry brothers’ ranch. His nickname was derived from the county he hailed from in Missouri. Landusky, of Polish-French descent, was a lanky six feet tall with exceptionally long arms. His nearly 200-pound frame possessed phenomenal strength and endurance. He had the reputation of a battler and brawler, and was famous for his volatile temper, especially when he was drinking.1

Landusky was nineteen when he left his home in Missouri to travel to the goldfields at Last Chance Gulch (Helena) and Alder Gulch (Virginia City) in Montana Territory. The River Press later reported that he took passage with several friends on the steamboat Henry Adkins to Fort Benton. “Landusky displayed pugilistic propensities, and just before Fort Benton was reached he and some of his associates started a melee, terrorizing the passengers.” They left the boat peacefully at Fort Benton after the captain received support from a group of vigilantes who were in town. Another account says he rode a horse all the way from St. Louis, sometimes with a wagon train, but mostly alone.2

 

Chapter 4: Pay Back

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CHAPTER 4

Pay Back

There was a light snowfall the morning of December 27, 1894, and the cold was keeping several men inside the Clothing Store and Saloon run by Jake Harris. Harris’ left leg had been amputated close to the hip after a gun battle with City Marshal George Treat of Great Falls in November 1891.1 He used a shotgun for a crutch if he expected any trouble in his saloon. Harris and Landusky were friends, and Landusky had put up the money for the building with the status of silent partner. There was a counter in the back of the saloon where cheap clothing and some food items were sold. Harris had sent to Anaconda for a friend of his named Charles Annis, who went by the name Hogan, to be his clerk. Despite being frail and tubercular, he was reputed to be a gunman. It was understood that, besides minding the store, another duty of Hogan’s was to keep the wild cowboy element, such as the Currys, in line.2

 

Chapter 5: Hiding Out and Future Associates

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CHAPTER 5

Hiding Out and Future Associates

The Kid had many friends all over northeastern Montana who were loyal to him and he could turn to for help. In fact, in order to grubstake his departure from the Little Rockies, the Coburns of the Circle C bought Kid Curry’s cattle and his 4T brand, and delivered the money to the hideaway.1 Curry may have been visiting the surrounding ranches when, in about January 1895, he ran into his friend Sid Willis at the mouth of the Musselshell River. Now sheriff of Valley County, Willis was chasing three escaped convicts from the Glasgow, Montana, jail. Curry had him covered, but let him go upon learning that he was not wanted by the sheriff. Supposedly he asked Willis to extend an invitation to Chouteau County Sheriff George McLaughlin to come get him.2

Curry and Thornhill stayed at and around the hideaway for the better part of six months before Curry quit the country and Thornhill finally came in and asked for a trial.3 Robert Coburn of the Circle C put up bond for Thornhill, and he retained Donnelly and Knox for his counsel. Although some sources state that Thornhill’s case was dismissed without trial, he was actually tried and found not guilty on August 27, 1895.4 Curry headed for the famous outlaw enclave known as Hole-in-the-Wall, southwest of the present town of Kaycee, in Johnson County, Wyoming.

 

Chapter 6: Kid Curry Loses Another Brother

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CHAPTER 6

Kid Curry Loses Another Brother

About the time Kid Curry left the hideaway in the Missouri Breaks and headed for Wyoming, younger brother John Curry became involved in a water rights dispute and took up with another man’s wife, not necessarily in that order.

Little Rockies pioneer Charles W. Duvall wrote that the four Curry brothers had each homesteaded their own piece of land. “The Curry ranches extended from the east boundary of the Tressler ranch down Rock Creek which swung south, just east of the Tressler homestead. As 160 acres was all one could homestead at that time these four homesteads were only about a mile and a half long. The home which the Curry’s built and where they all lived was built near a large spring which came out of the north bank of Rock Creek and the homestead joining Dan Tressler. The Curry home was in plain sight from the Dan Tressler home.”1

Tressler was building up his ranch, and he and his pretty young wife Lucy seemed to be doing well. Then a romance developed between John Curry and Lucy Tressler. When confronted by her husband Dan, she was forced to leave.2 According to Dad Marsh, Curry wasn’t the first man with whom Lucy had been intimate.3 With marriage in mind, she moved in with Curry on a ranch on the Missouri River. Tressler remained on his ranch while he decided what to do. Becoming fed up with the situation, he sold his spread to Jim Winters in 1895, and moved to the Harlem area with his children.4 In the winter of 1895/1896 Winters’ step-brother Abraham Ditmars Gill moved from the East Coast to become a partner. Gill’s father, Dr. Charles Gill of New York City, had adopted Winters after his father was killed in action in the Civil War.5

 

Chapter 7: Brave Billy Deane Dies

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CHAPTER 7

Brave Billy Deane Dies

The killing of Johnson County Deputy Sheriff William “Billy” Deane was called murder by many people, but at least one called it self-defense. “Bill Deane was a hired assassin,” wrote May (or Mae) Gardner, “shooting at the Curry gang at every chance . . . He was as coldblooded a murderer as Tom Horn. It was kill Deane or be killed.”1 At this point in time “the Curry gang” was in reference to George Currie, since Kid Curry and supposedly Lonie were known as the “Roberts brothers” in Wyoming.

Deane, a young Texan, was hired by Sheriff Al Sproal (or Sproul) specifically to help curb the rustling activity in the county. He was considered fearless, but his plan to capture the gang from Hole-in-the-Wall by himself was pure foolishness. He rode south from Buffalo in early April and spent the night of April 12, 1897, at the Brock home in Powder River country. Deane started out the next morning headed for the KC Ranch, but first arrived at the Alfred and Sarah Grigg homestead and post office on Middle Fork, where the outlaws often stopped for their mail.2

 

Chapter 8: Belle Fourche Fiasco

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CHAPTER 8

Belle Fourche Fiasco

The Castle Gate exploit was sensationalized in many newspapers of the time, and the Hole-in-the-Wall contingent was duly impressed with Butch Cassidy’s handling of the robbery. Reasoning that they should be able to do just as well as a Mormon cowboy, they decided to rob a bank. Their first choice was the bank in Dickinson, North Dakota; however, there was something about the setup they didn’t like. It was finally decided that the Butte County Bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, would be an easier and more profitable target.1 Also, both Sundance and George Currie knew the area well.

Belle Fourche is situated at the confluence of the Belle Fourche and Redwater rivers and means “beautiful fork” in French. It was a central cattle-shipping railhead for a large portion of a tri-state area (South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana). Cowboys who had accompanied the herds would celebrate in town, spending their money freely on drinking and gambling in the many saloons, and other entertainments. Additionally, the outlaws knew the town was hosting the annual reunion of Civil War veterans of the G.A.R., which was to be held from June 24 through 26. Hundreds of people would be coming from the surrounding towns such as Deadwood and Rapid City to celebrate, with the local merchants depositing all this increased revenue in the vault of the Butte County Bank by Saturday night. The time to hit the bank would be soon after it opened on Monday morning.2

 

Chapter 9: Red Lodge and Capture

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CHAPTER 9

Red Lodge and Capture

It is not certain whether the Belle Fourche bank robbers were in the Hole-in-the-Wall when the famous fight occurred there between the rustlers and some invading cattlemen on July 22, 1897. The latter party consisted of twelve men, which included two Montana livestock inspectors, and was there to round up all the stolen cattle that could be found. One of the inspectors was Joe LeFors, who would later figure prominently in tracking members of the Wild Bunch.1 Bob Divine was there representing the CY, and according to Brown Waller, he had warrants in his possession for the Belle Fourche robbers.2 Waller does not cite his source for this; however, it shouldn’t be discounted since Divine stated in a January 1, 1897, letter that he wanted warrants turned over to him from Natrona County Sheriff H. L. Patton and Johnson County Sheriff Al Sproal, in order to bring in Currie, O’Day, and other members of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang for rustling.3

 

Chapter 10: Deadwood and Escape

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CHAPTER 10

Deadwood and Escape

The Deadwood Daily Pioneer-Times of September 30, 1897, reported the robbers’ arrival. Although Kid Curry and the Sundance Kid had given their names as Tom and Frank Jones in Billings, and also at their arraignment in Deadwood, the newspaper referred to them parenthetically as “the notorious Roberts brothers.” (If these two had been considered brothers all along by both the Hole-in-the-Wall residents and officers of the law, it could mean that Lonie Curry may not have been involved in any of the gang’s rustling activities or the bank robbery at Belle Fourche.) Walter Punteney did not long persist in giving his name as Charley Frost, eventually admitting his real identity, although the press spelled it as “Putney.” The report went on to say that all three men proclaimed innocence and insisted they didn’t know anyone named George Currie. It had been determined that Currie split from the rest of the gang at Red Lodge.1 Wyoming rancher Robert Tisdale later reported that the outlaw was seen in central Wyoming about late October.2 Nevertheless, the posse members quickly put in a claim for the promised reward of $625 each for the three bandits who had been caught.3

 

Chapter 11: Various Endeavors

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CHAPTER 11

Various Endeavors

The tri-state area, which included Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, was experiencing increasing activity from rustlers who found sanctuary in hideouts such as Robbers Roost, Brown’s Hole, Powder Springs, and Hole-in-the-Wall. Owing to the rising price of cattle, the problem became so great, it was reported that “The gangs have almost depopulated the ranges within 200 miles of their retreats,” with raids netting one hundred to five hundred head at a time.1 A meeting of cattlemen was held on February 15, 1898, in Rawlins, to discuss a plan of action. It was suggested that stock detectives should be hired and a reward or bounty placed on the rustlers.2

It is difficult to trace the whereabouts and activities (criminal or otherwise) of the various outlaws that rode with the Wild Bunch in 1898. The Pinkertons reported that Sundance spent the winter of 1897/1898 employed at the Frank Kelsey ranch, a neighbor of A. R. Reader, in the Little Snake River Valley.3 Within the January to March 1898 time frame, it has been stated that Kid Curry robbed a bank in Clifton, Arizona, in the company of Texas outlaw Ben Kilpatrick, and then to have taken a solo trip to Paris, France, with the proceeds.4 Both incidents would have to be considered as hearsay, since they cannot be backed up by contemporary news reports or any other tangible evidence. It is not known if Curry was acquainted with Kilpatrick at this time, and it also seems quite out of character for him to travel to Europe, especially at this time of his life.

 

Chapter 12: Train Robbers Syndicate

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CHAPTER 12

Train Robbers Syndicate

In March 1899, the trio reunited at Brown’s Hole and again traveled to northern Nevada, ending up in Elko.1 They checked into Johnny Craig’s rooming house under the names Frank Bozeman, John Hunter, and Joe Stewart. For about a week they frequented the saloons along Railroad Street, flourishing large amounts of money and breaking hundred dollar bills while gambling.2 This ostentatious display may have been part of a plan to allay suspicion from the real reason they were in town. They had made plans, probably in Brown’s Hole, to strike the Union Pacific at Wilcox, Wyoming, and needed a stake to finance the robbery.3 It was rumored that the safe in the Club Saloon contained a considerable amount of cash, and would be easier to rob than the local bank.4

It was going on midnight on Monday, April 3, 1899, when owner E. M. James Gutridge closed up after town constable Joe Triplett had left the premises. With the safe behind the bar open, Gutridge and bartender C. B. Nichols began counting the evening’s receipts, when Kid Curry, Flatnose, and Sundance entered with guns drawn. Since Triplett had left just moments earlier, Gutridge tried to yell for help, but one of the masked men hit him over the head. The robber then took Gutridge and Nichols to the front of the bar and made them sit in chairs, while a second bandit covered the front door. The third robber gathered the money in a gunny sack, the amount reported as being $550 or $3,000. The outlaws then backed out of the saloon, jumped on their horses and escaped north in the direction of Tuscarora.5

 

Chapter 13: Finis of the Ketchum Gang

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CHAPTER 13

Finis of the Ketchum Gang

About early May 1899, during the time Kid Curry was preparing for his strike at the Union Pacific near Wilcox, Elzy Lay gave notice to manager William French of his intention to quit his horse-breaking job at the WS Ranch near Alma, New Mexico.1 He was going to join Sam Ketchum and Will Carver in Cimarron for their strike at the Colorado and Southern Railway near Folsom. The latter two had recently broken with Tom Ketchum owing to his brutal and erratic behavior, and were setting up camp at their Turkey Creek Canyon hideout.2

Some authors have stated that Kid Curry participated in the robbery, or at least was onsite for the later gun battle at the hideout instead of Carver. This is easily refuted in that the Pinkertons followed Curry’s trail (Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado) for weeks after the Wilcox robbery, well into the month of July. In addition, Bob Lee stated in a deposition to authorities after his arrest, that Curry went to visit his sister Allie in Kansas City, Missouri, shortly after the Fourth of July (just before the Folsom robbery).3 The visit probably would have occurred later in the month since Siringo and Sayles were most assuredly still chasing Curry and Sundance at this time. Thus, he could not have been present at either action in New Mexico.4

 

Chapter 14: The Law Closes In

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CHAPTER 14

The Law Closes In

A reward poster issued by the Union Pacific Railroad and Pacific Express companies, dated January 12, 1900, and a Pinkerton National Detective Agency poster dated February 23, 1900, stated there was “satisfactory evidence” and it had been “definitely ascertained” that three of the robbers were Kid Curry, his brother Lonie, and their cousin Bob Lee, with the $18,000 reward still in effect. By this time the Pinkertons were publicly vacillating on the issue of whether there were more than three involved. Their poster stated there may have been five or six men in the robbery.1

“In the files of the Union Pacific Railroad,” one writer states, “Harvey Logan was listed as the leader of the gang at Wilcox. What proof the UP officials had of this fact isn’t known, though it may have been because they considered him the most callous and dangerous of the Wild Bunch.”2 Kid Curry’s leadership role should more likely be attributed to his possessing the intelligence to plan and carry out a successful train robbery.

 

Chapter 15: Arizona Rampage

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CHAPTER 15

Arizona Rampage

The Pinkerton’s Denver office sent detective Frank Murray to Alma in about early March to investigate some Wilcox money that had been deposited in the Silver City bank by the storekeeper in Alma. Murray, who was later promoted to the assistant superintendent of the Denver office, came to the WS and questioned William French concerning Jim Lowe. When he showed French a photograph of a group of men, he recognized the only man that was sitting down as Jim Lowe. Murray then asked him if he knew that Lowe was also known as Butch Cassidy. French replied that he did not, and in return, asked the detective if he was going to try to arrest him. Murray said he was not foolish enough to attempt to arrest Cassidy in that neighborhood without the backup of “a regiment of cavalry.” He was more interested in tracing the stolen money than running down Cassidy.1

The Alma storekeeper had told the detective earlier that a WS cowboy named Johnny Ward had spent the bills. To French’s surprise it turned out to be Little Johnny Ward instead of Big Johnny Ward, the latter he knew to be a member of the Wild Bunch. Little Johnny said he got the bills from a former WS cowboy named “McGonigal” in payment for two horses. This was Clay McGonagill, who had worked with Cassidy and Elzy Lay at the Erie Cattle Company in Arizona previous to the WS. Murray was determined to track him down, not knowing that McGonagill had gone back to Arizona.2

 

Chapter 16: Death of the Rustler King

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CHAPTER 16

Death of the Rustler King

Flatnose George Currie did not accompany Sundance and Kid Curry to southern Colorado after the Wilcox train robbery, but it was too risky to remain in the area of Hole-in-the-Wall. By December 1899 he was rustling cattle in the Green River country of Utah, and had thrown in with rustler Tom Dilley. While working for the Webster Cattle Company on Hill Creek above Thompson, Dilley had got into a fight with the manager named Fullerton, and Sam Jenkins, a cowboy. All that winter Dilley and Currie built up a herd by blotching brands, particularly on Webster cattle. In April 1900 Currie was caught in the act by an employee and ordered off the ranch. The man went for the authorities after Currie warned him off with his six-gun.1

Grand County Sheriff Jesse M. Tyler and Uintah County Sheriff William Preece combined posses, and set out to capture the rustler or rustlers. They discovered a deserted camp not far from the McPherson Ranch on the Green River. The posse searched through the hills until, about noon the next day, they came upon Currie on foot, looking for some stray horses. He answered the command to surrender by firing at the posse with his Winchester and retreating toward the Green River. He reached the river by dark, and either swam across or built a crude raft for the purpose. The morning of April 17 found Currie settled among some boulders on a hill near the river, ready for a siege. Sheriff Preece and his men tried to pick off the outlaw from across the river, while Sheriff Tyler’s posse had crossed over and was coming up behind Currie. Some time in the afternoon the answering fire from Currie had ceased. He was found dead with a bullet in the back of his head, leaning against a rock with his cocked rifle across his knees. Another bullet had gone through his cartridge belt and exited his back.2

 

Chapter 17: The Tipton Train Robbery

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CHAPTER 17

The Tipton Train Robbery

In August 1900, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were sighted in the region of Baggs and Dixon, Wyoming.1 They and other Wild Bunch members had many friends among the residents in the Little Snake River Valley area of southern Wyoming and northern Colorado. These included Mike Dunbar, John P. “Jack” Ryan, Jim Hanson, Bert Charter, Jim Ferguson, Chippy Reid, Sam Green, Charles F. Tucker, and Robert McIntosh. Consequently, they were all under surveillance from agents of the Pinkerton Detective Agency.2 Ferguson and Ryan both played important parts in helping the gang prepare for the strike on the Union Pacific near the small railroad town of Tipton, Wyoming. Jack Ryan owned a saloon in Rawlins, while Jim Ferguson had a ranch on the Little Snake River near Dixon.3 Bert Charter tended bar for Ryan, and was a good friend of “Harry Alonzo,” the Sundance Kid. They had both ridden for Ora Haley’s Two Bar and A. R. Reader, and Charter said that “Harry was an extra good cowboy with a wonderful personality.” Charter was probably introduced to Cassidy through Sundance.4

 

Chapter 18: Hiding in Plain Sight

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CHAPTER 18

Hiding in Plain Sight

Will Carver may have been in a hurry to get to Texas because he wanted to see his girlfriend, Laura Bullion, whom he had promised to marry. Laura was born in Washington County, Arkansas, in October 1876. When her father died in 1881, Laura’s mother moved her three children to their maternal grandparents’ Dove Creek ranch near Knickerbocker, Texas. Laura reportedly left home not long after her mother died in 1891, and it is believed that she worked as a prostitute in San Antonio, possibly at Fannie Porter’s Sporting House. It is known that she returned to the Knickerbocker area for visits and to attend dances over the next few years. Will had been married to Laura’s aunt, Viana Byler, for less than six months when she died of pregnancy complications on July 22, 1892. He was devastated by her death, and it is said he began courting her niece because she greatly resembled Viana. He had left Laura in San Antonio before going off to rob the bank in Winnemucca.1

 

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