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Chapter 10: Deadwood and Escape

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub


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

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Chapter 13

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press PDF


Finis of the Ketchum Gang


bout 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

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Chapter 12: Train Robbers Syndicate

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub


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

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Chapter 29: Kid Curry in His Grave?

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub


Kid Curry in His Grave?

A great crowd came to view Curry’s body when it arrived at Glenwood Springs Thursday evening, June 9, 1904. Several people recognized the dead man, including Globe Express Company agent Otto Barton. It was the same man who gave his name as J. H. Ross on Tuesday morning, and asked to have his valise sent to Pueblo.1 After viewing the body, Barton checked his files for a circular he had recently received from Wells Fargo Express Company on one George W. Hendricks (or Kendrick), alias James Keith, George W. Kayser, George Hess, and A. S. Keith. He was wanted for robbing their office at Sparkill, N.Y., and the United States Express Company office in Bernardsville, N.J., both in April 1904. There was a reward of $500 for his capture. Barton, accompanied by a Dr. Hotopp, “examined the body very minutely and found it to tally to the smallest particular with” the description of Hendricks. Although the general physical characteristics really weren’t a close match, and the comparison was never considered seriously, it is interesting that the tally included a “small scar above right wrist.”2 The significance of this scar will be seen in the subsequent controversy that occurred over the identification of the bandit’s body. For some reason, researchers have failed to observe the importance of Dr. Hotopp noting this scar in an early examination of the body before serious decomposition began.

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Chapter 11: Various Endeavors

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub


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.

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