A dynasty of western outlaws by Paul Iselin Wellman

By Paul Iselin Wellman

The geared up gangs of robbers and killers who roamed the Midwest and Southwest from the 1860s to the Nineteen Thirties went to an analogous institution and have been succored by way of each one other's notoriety. So Paul I. Wellman makes a case for "the contagious nature of crime." William Quantrill and his guerrillas validated a legal culture that was once to hyperlink the James, Dalton, Doolin, Jennings, and cook dinner gangs; Belle and Henry Starr; beautiful Boy Floyd; and others in "a lengthy and crooked teach of unbroken own connections."

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G. Griffin, and his son, May 23, 1867. Later three of the outlaws were captured at various places and lynched. Russellville, Kentucky. Here the James-Younger bandits robbed a bank, May 20, 1868. Gallatin, Missouri. Here Jesse James murdered Capt. John W. Sheets while robbing the bank, Dec. 7, 1869. , the James gang held up a train and killed Conductor William Westfall and a passenger, Frank McMillan, July 15, 1881. Corydon, Iowa. Here Jesse James, as a joke, addressed a political gathering after robbing a bank, June 3, 1871.

Glenn Shirley, Belle Starr and Her Times: The Literature, the Facts, and the Legends (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982); West of Hell's Fringe: Crime, Criminals, and the Federal Peace Officer in Oklahoma Territory, 1889-1907 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978), pp. 266-70 and passim; Richard S. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla War in the West (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1958); Don R. Bowen, "Guerrilla War in Western Missouri, 1862-1865: Historical Extensions of the Relative Deprivation Hypothesis," Compara- Page 8 tive Studies in Society and History, 19 (1977): 30-51.

He was well aware that the accumulation of myth, special pleading, and controversy had created a historiographic mine field for the researcher and writer. Yet he strode ahead, knowing that some might disagree with his ''version of an instance here or an episode there in the long and complicated series of events" (p. 16) he explored in A Dynasty of Western Outlaws. A leading authority on the "Oklahombres" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Glenn Shirley, has cited mistakes by Wellman (and others) on Belle Starr and Bill Tilghman, but Wellman's treatment of two foundation stones of his narrative has been largely confirmed by the principal experts: Richard S.

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