and the Devil himself...

and the Devil himself...
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Old West Outlaws

The Dodge City Gang


The Oriental Saloon, Tombstone, AZ
Hoodoo Brown



Hoodoo Brown was a man from Missouri named Hyman Neill who had left home on a frieght train as a teenager. He led an adventureous life and was among other things, a buffalo hunter, gambler, con-artist and conjure-man.

Following what seems to have been a mostly good time running an opera company in Mexico with a friend, he drifted to the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. He soon ruled the place, already notorious as the most lawless in the West. By 1879, by means natural and/or supernatural but none of them honest, Hoodoo was Justice of the Peace, Mayor and Coroner of the place.

He recruited the baddest of the bad and soon commanded a formidable band of outlaws who enforced law and committed crimes as they saw fit. The group, known as the Dodge City Gang, included men with some of the most colorful names in the West like "Mysterious Dave Mather" and "Dirty Dave" Rudebaugh. 


Acting as Hoodoo's Coroner’s Jury, they decided which murders, including ones they committed, were homicide and which self-defense. Rudebaugh later rode with Billy the Kid and is said to have been the only man he ever feared. Other gang member, Joshua Webb, owned a saloon with Doc Holiday at one time and rode with Bat Masterson.

They were obviously and rampantly corrupt. Not only that, but at least one of them turned to the 'black arts' when the broad range of other methods at his disposal failed. Hoodoo's trickery must have been fairly successful and fairly frequent, considering his nickname.

Ultimately, the gang was run out of town. Hoodoo left for Houston but was arrested and jailed upon arrival for the robbery and killing of a Vegas deputy. The deputy's widow came to see him soon after his arrest. "The meeting between the pair is said to have been affecting in the extreme, and rather more affectionate than would be expected under the circumstances." (Parsons Sun)

Another newspaper, the Parsons Eclipse, added "The offense committed at Las Vegas, as near as we can gather the facts relating to it, was murder and robbery, and the circumstances connected with the arrest here would indicate that the lesser crime of seduction and adultery was connected with it."

Hoodoo hired two local attorneys and was released. The Chicago Times soon reported, that Brown and the widow who had visited him "have been skylarking through some of the interior towns of Kansas ever since."

Descendants say the pair had one son and moved to Torreon, Mexico. When he died, relatives brought his son and his body back to Missouri.


Lizzie 'Hoodoo' Brown


Mrs. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hoodoo Brown, a widow living in Leadville, Colorado in the 1880s, was known for practicing the 'black arts'. In fact, it was often said that bad luck and death followed her wherever she went. Her husband, Hoodoo Brown, was a gambler like the man who ran the Dodge City Gang but it isn't certain that he was the notorious outlaw.

The pair travelled, gambling, conning and likely robbing to support themselves. During a high stakes poker game one night in Buena Vista, an argument erupted that Hoodoo and another gambler, "Curly" Frank, decided to settle with their six-shooters. Both were mortally wounded. They were, certainly unhappily, buried in the same grave.

Elizabeth returned to Leadville, where she worked as a prostitute and conjure woman. She's said to have drank heavily and to have been most unpleasant when she did.

“There was a time in the history of Leadville when Mrs. Brown was one of the reigning belles of Leadville’s Tenderloin District,” a Leadville paper reads. “Lizzie wore as fine dresses and big sparklers as any dame of the row.”

By 1885 rumors that she was in league with the Devil were rampant and she was accused of wrecking havoc with her witchcraft on more than one occasion. One
man went so far as to chop her black cat in half to break a spell. It's said that was the only time one of her spells was broken.

She lived in Leadville until her death in 1901 and was buried in an umarked grave in St. Joseph's cemetary.

For more: “Mining, Mayhem and Other Carbonate Excitements—Tales From a Silver Camp Called Leadville.” by Roger Pretti


Mysterious Dave Mather



Louis L'Amour said there were three types of lawmen in the Old West:

"1. the Bat Mastersons, who were concerned with your rights and would give you a chance to surrender

"2. the Wild Bills, who would "post you" out of town, putting your name on a list on a tree in public warning you to be out of town by sundown, and after that, would shoot on sight.

"3. the Mysterious Dave type. He simply killed his enemies on sight. No warnings, no postings, no talk, just shooting. While he did not garner the publicity of other famous gunmen/lawmen of the day, he is regarded as one of the most dangerous." (Wikkipedia)

So, who was that masked man?

Dave Allen Mather was born on August 10, 1851. A descendant of Increase and Cotton Mather, he come from a family of seafaring lawmen in Massachusetts, who were themselves descended from rugged English sailors.

His date of death is unknown, but suspected to have been May of 1886. He's believed to have been shot down in Dallas, TX, his body thrown on the railroad tracks. Like Hoodoo Brown, he lived on both sides of the law, going by the names Mysterious Dave and New York Dave.

We don't know much about his life. It seems to have been not much discussed at the time, probably part of why he was called Mysterious Dave. It is known that he was a lawman in Dodge City, Kansas, and Las Vegas, New Mexico, and that he was frequently in the company of both Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.

His father was a Conneticut sea captain descended from Increase and Cotton Mather, a lineage Mysterious Dave is said to have claimed proudly. Dave was the first of three sons born to the Mathers. His brother, Josiah "Sy" Mather went with him when he ventured west.

When another of Dave's brothers died and his own ship was lost, his father, Ulysseus, abandoned the family. He died soon after in Shanghai in 1864, stabbed by his ship's Chinese cook. Dave's mother remarried but died in 1868. Their family gone, Dave and Sy ran away to sea but jumped ship in New Orleans. (So it's possible Hoodoo Brown wasn't the only Hoodoo man in the Dodge City Gang...)

Not much is known about what he did in the 1870s. He's thought to have been an outlaw/cattle rustler in Arkansas. He's named on an 1873 warrant along with Dave Rudabaugh and Milton J. Yarberry for the murder and robbery of a prominent rancher. The three men fled to Decatur, Texas.

His brother, Sy, said that he and Dave had tried to work as buffalo hunters on the Llano Estacado around 1874 but that it hadn't lasted. It may have been during this time, that he met Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Bill Tilghman, who were also following the herds at that time, as was Hoodoo Brown.

Regardless, he ended up in Dodge City, Kansas in the early 1870s. He became close friends with the doctor there, Thomas L. McCartym who saved his life when he was badly wounded in a knife fight. Dr. McCarty was one of the earliest settlers of Dodge City and was about the only doctor in the area. He reports sewing up Dave’s stomach after it was slashed in a fight with a gambler on a table in the lobby of the Great Western Hotel with only whiskey for anesthetic. Unable to pay, Dave is said to have then forced other gamblers and buffalo hunters to seek treatment from him until his bill with the doctor was paid. (Wonder if he also gave them medical problems to take to the doctor too.)

In 1878, it's said, though the tale is suspect, that he went with Wyatt Earp to Mobeetie, Texas. Supposedly they'd worked up a scheme to sell phony gold bricks they claimed were from a lost mine dating back to the days of the conquistadores. They didn't get too far with that and were run out of town by a lawman named Jim McIntire.

More ominously, Mather is reported to have killed a man during a "difficulty" in the Texas Panhandle during this time as well. The next official mention of Mysterious Dave is in early 1879 when Bat Masterson was Sheriff of Ford County, Kansas. After the notorious horse thief Dutch Henry Borne in Trinidad, Colorado, Masterson found him in the company of Mysterious Dave and others.

Mather was back on the same side as Masterson when Bat was rounding up gunslingers for the Railroad Wars of 1879-80. The Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad was competing with the Denver and Rio Grande for the rights to build a track through two disputed areas. Dave Rudabaugh, John Joshua Webb, Doc Holliday, and Ben Thompson also worked with him there.

When all that died down in 1879, Mather joined John Joshua Webb, Dave Rudabaugh, and several others in the nearby city of Las Vegas, New Mexico. They became the "Dodge City Gang", led by Hoodoo Brown. The Santa Fe railroad had just turned Las Vegas into a boom town. (Tracks didn't run directly into Las Vegas, causing the formation of a separate town called "New Town," or East Las Vegas.)

The administration of this new community came under the control of Hoodoo Brown when he was appointed Justice of the Peace. The Dodge City Gang were basically a loose confederation of gamblers, pimps and confidence men who operated under his protection. 


They ran all the gambling and prostitution in Las Vegas and had complete political control of the town. Soon after his arrival, Dave was appointed to the police force; a "Hoodoo Feller" in good standing and an effective tool of Brown’s corrupt court. He was ultimately named deputy U.S. Marshal for the area by Governor Lew Wallace.

The reign of the "Dodge City Gang" made Las Vegas the wildest town on the frontier. "August 1879 to March 1880 was an especially bewildering parade of lynching, murder, train and stage robbery and general meanness unparalleled in the Old West. During this period the town saw the likes of Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and possibly Jesse James.

In the midst of it all stood Mysterious Dave, apparently enjoying his work as a peace officer since it was a position he sought to obtain just about anywhere he landed for the rest of his known life." (The Real Mysterious Dave). It was as a Las Vegas policeman Mysterious Dave was involved in his first documented killing. A railroad worker named Joseph Costello tried to "throw down" on Dave one night in January 1880. Costello hesitated. Dave didn’t.

The Dodge City Gang not only ran all the gambling and prostitution in Las Vegas but had complete political control of the town. Mather was ultimately named deputy U.S. Marshal for the area by Governor Lew Wallace.

On January 22, 1880, Las Vegas Marshal Joe Carson was shot and killed by four cowboys in the Close and Patterson's Variety Hall during a shootout. Whether or not Mather was actually deputized has never been confirmed. He appears to have been there with Carson, deputy or no.

What happened was this; some very rowdy cowboys, T.J. House, James West, John Dorsey, and William Randall had been going in and out of saloons making trouble all day. A "no guns in town limits" rule was in effect, (which they were ignoring), so Marshal Carson demanded that they give up their guns. Of course, they refused.

A shootout ensued and the Marshall was shot down. Myterious Dave then drew his gun and returned fire. When it died down, Mather was still standing. William "Big" Randall was mortally wounded, and James West was too badly injured to escape. The other two men, John Dorsey and T.J. House, were wounded but escaped.

The pair were captured two weeks later and brought to the Las Vegas jail to await trial. An angry mob broke into the jail, pulled them from their cell. Carson's wife opened fire on the men, killing them all before the would-be lynchers had the chance. The gunfight became known as the Variety Hall Shootout and it made Dave's reputation as a gunman. (I imagine it made Carson's wife's reputation as a gunman too.)

When the Dodge City gang broke up in March of 1880, Dave, (accused of 'promiscuous shooting' in the Variety Hall incident), seems to have spent time in various places in New Mexico and Texas before settling in Dallas, often using the alias Dave Matthews.

As with Hoodoo, there is a romance associated with Mysterious Dave. He was Assistant Marshall in El Paso, Texas and was wounded slightly in an altercation in a brothel there, after which he returned to Dodge City. I can't tell if the El Paso antecdote it is a confused account of the same incident or if these are two seperate ones.


It is also said that in Dallas he became involved with an African American woman named Georgia Morgan who worked as the madame of a brothel called the "Long Branch". It didn't last long. By 1881 he's reported to have not only left her but robbed her. She rather impressively followed him to Fort Worth, where he was working as a policeman, and tried to get her property/revenge with a butcher knife but was arrested before she could do anything much with it.

Whatever the history of Mysterious Dave's brothel injuries, in May 1883, he returned to Kansas and became Assistant Town Marshal of Dodge City during the Dodge City War. The War was a dispute between saloon owners who were friends of the mayor of Dodge City and Luke Short, owner of the Long Branch Saloon. Several gunfighters including Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp gathered to support Short. 


They backed their friends' enemies down without violence. Mather was also a Deputy Sheriff during this time and in 1883 led a posse in pursuit of train robbery suspects, capturing two the same day they tried to leave town. He also owned Dodge City's Opera House Saloon, became active in politics, and may even have gotten married to a woman named Josephine.

Ultimately, Mather became involved in a feud with a rival saloon, (the Lady Gay), owner named Tom Nixon. Tom was a former buffalo hunter and an early pioneer in the Dodge City area. No one knows the exact cause of their enmity but possible reasons include rivalry over Nixon’s appointment as Assistant Marshal, a "war" over the price of beer in the two competing saloons, and possibly Mather’s relationship with Nixon’s wife. Tom was friends with the mayor, and an ordinance had been passed that restricted all saloons in town, except the Lady Gay.

On July 18, 1884, the feud came to a head. Mysterious Dave and Tom Nixon had a gunfight in front of the Opera House Saloon. Nixon drew a pistol, fired once, and missed. Tensions boiled over on the night of July 18, 1884 when Nixon shot at Mysterious Dave as the latter was standing on the front steps of the Opera House Saloon. Mather's face was powder burned and his left hand injured by flying splinters. 


Though a bond was posted for assault with intent to kill in the sum of $800, Mather himself decided not to file a complaint. The Dodge City Democrat published an article on the shooting, saying that the situation was "by all appearances not yet at an end".

Three days later, Nixon was standing in front of the Opera House about 10 p.m. on July 21 when a voice behind him reportedly called out gently, almost sweetly "Oh, Tom."

Nixon turned to see the last thing he ever saw, Mysterious Dave pointing a Colt .45 at him. Nixon took four hits to the body, one piercing his heart. He was dead before he hit the ground. Dave then surrendered himself to authorities and was exonerated of murder. Because Nixon had tried to kill him first, he was seen as acting in self defense. Mather's said to have commented, "I ought to have killed him six months ago."

But on May 10, 1885, he was arrested again. This time he and his brother Sy were accused of killing a gambler named Dave Jones over a game of cards, inside the Junction Saloon. Mysterious Dave was wounded in the gunfight when a bullet grazed his head.

During a preliminary hearing on the shooting, it was determined that Mather never fired a shot, and that Dave Jones had fired on him only to be shot by his brother, Sy. Rumors that Sy died in the gunfight may have been circulated to exonerate him, (he's known to have lived until 1933). The shooting and the aftermath were well publicized at the time and the results of that hearing were posted in the Dodge City Democrat on May 22, 1885, along with several witness statements:

"The brothers made bail and left town, though the details of how are unclear. One account says that Marshal Bill Tilghman ran Dave out of town after an armed standoff, another says he slipped away disguised as a woman. Neither are believed to be true, and it is most likely he simply left town, and for all practical purposes disappeared from historical record."

After this, there aren't many reliable reports of Mysterious Dave's life. His friends said he left town because a vengeful mob wanted to see him hang but they wouldn't say where he went. He left town under a $3,000 bail which was never paid. One newspaper of the day reports his appointment as a Deputy Marshal in New Kiowa, Kansas, where he remained for nearly a year. 


Mather had moved there with a man called "Black Dave" and opened a saloon. "Black Dave"soon killed a soldier in a brawl and Mather raised money from the crowd for his defense. When some of the dead soldier’s friends threatened to come and lynch Dave just for being Black's partner, Dave took the money he had raised and left town.

No more is heard of him until the probable but sketchy report of his being found dead in Texas. When the body was found on the railroad tracks, whether it was him or not, the outstanding bond was dismissed. Did "Black Dave" get revenge on him for running out?

Other reports say he lived. Some say he became a bank-robber in New Mexico, going by the name Mysterious Dave Taylor, (though seems to me a likely name for a copy-cat to take). Others say he wound up in Vancouver and that he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police there. Still others said he became a US Customs officer in Blaine, Washington or that he lived out his final days in Lone Pine, Nebraska. 


Maybe it was some combination of several of the above. However, the most plausible report remains the one of the body found on the railroad tracks in Dallas. When asked, his brother and other family members claimed not to know what happened to him but said they wished they did.

Legends about Mysterious Dave abound. Most sesem to be at least based in fact. It is impossible, however, to name at which point in his career they occurred, or to what degree they are accurate.

One frequent antecdote was of a habit he had in Dodge City of getting his pistol back from bartenders off and on while drinking to fire at a bell outside. If he missed it, it meant he'd had too much to drink and he'd go home. It's said that one night a bartender replaced his bullets with blanks. Dave missed the shot and headed home. Not knowing he was firing blanks, he shot at a coyote that crossed his path on the way and became utterly unnerved when his shots failed to kill it.

Another legend has to do with a group called The Henry Bunch, who gunned down Dodge City Marshal Tom Carson in the Long Branch Saloon. Shot down by seven members of the gang, Carson staggered outside and collapsed on the street. As he lay dying, Mather is said to have mysteriously appeared from nowhere and swore to the dying lawman that he would avenge him, then entered the saloon and gunned down all seven of the outlaws. Some sources say the story is actually a distortion of the gunfight that occurred in Las Vegas in 1880, when the Dodge City Gang were at the peak of their power.

Last but not least, it's said that Mather walked into a revival in Dodge City drunk. The pastor recognized him and began to call on him to repent of his sinful ways. Dave let him carry on for a while, then stood up and announced that he had seen the light. Drawing his pistols he announced that, being assured of Heaven, he was ready to die. He invited anyone who was certain of their salvation to die with him and began to shoot out the lights. When the preacher and the crowd fled, Dave pronounced them all hypocrites and went home.

Increase and Cotton Mather's blood in his veins indeed.

Dirty Dave Rudebaugh



Continuing to look at the wildest town in the wild west, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and the wildest bunch of outlaws the frontier ever saw, The Dodge City Gang...

Born in Fulton County, Illinois in July, 1854, after his father was killed in the Civil War, Dave (born David Rodenbaugh) grew up in Kansas, then followed the cattle trail west to Colorado. At one point his family had to move from Ohio back to Illinois and it is suspected that the move was because of a train robbery committed there by Dave.

It's said he got the nickname “Dirty Dave” because he rarely bathed and wore filthy clothes, (but maybe it was because he had a tendancy to do people dirty). He gained notirity as an outlaw in the 1870s when he headed of a gang of thieves and rustlers in Texas who robbed and participated in cattle rustling along with Milton Yarberry and Mysterious Dave Mather.

The three were suspected in the death of a rancher and fled the state. By some accounts all three went to Decatur, Texas, but other accounts say Rudabaugh headed to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he became a stagecoach robber. Sometime around 1876, Rudabaugh joined Mike Roarke and Dan Dement to form the outlaw band known as the "Trio."

When he and his gang robbed a Santa Fe Railroad construction camp in Kansas in November, 1877, Wyatt Earp was issued an acting commission as a U.S. Deputy Marshal to pursue them.

Following Rudabaugh and his boy's trail for 400 miles to Fort Griffin, Texas, Earp met Doc Holiday for the first time when asking after Dave at Shanssey’s Saloon. There is a disputed story from around this time that Rudabaugh had taught Doc Holliday to use a pistol while Doc taught him the fine points of playing cards.

The owner told him Dave had been there earlier in the week, but didn’t know where he was. He said Doc had played cards with Dave and might know. It was well known that Doc hated lawmen, so Wyatt was reluctant to ask him. However, when Wyatt found him that evening at Shanssey’s, he was surprised by a talkative Holliday.

Doc told Wyatt that he thought Rudabaugh had headed back to Kansas. Wyatt wired this information to Bat Masterson and the news was instrumental in apprehending Rudabaugh. Nonetheless, Wyatt's time in Fort Griffen hadn't been wasted, he'd befriended Doc and his girlfriend, Big Nose Kate.

Trying to stay one step ahead of Wyatt, Rudabaugh had in fact returned to Kansas and made an unsuccessful attempt to rob another train before being caught. He and an accomplice named Edgar West were caught within days by Sheriff Bat Masterson and his posse, which included John Joshua Webb (J.J.). When Rudabaugh went for his gun, Webb stopped him and forced him to surrender.

When his four other four accomplices were arrested, Rudabaugh informed on everyone and promised to go “straight.” He was soon released and the other men were sent to prison. Dave didn't reform but went on to New Mexico and resumed robbing. 


Shortly following his release, Rudabaugh accepted an offer from Bat Masterson to join a group of gunfighters, which included Mysterious Dave Mather and Hoodoo Brown, to fight for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in the Railroad Wars. In 1879 he travelled to Las Vegas where joined the Dodge City Gang there, along with another former enemy, now City Marshal John Joshua Webb.

On October 14, 1879, a train was robbed in the Las Vegas area by masked men. The robbers made off with $2,085, three pistols, and all the lanterns on the train. Two years later, when Rudabaugh was finally arrested, he would confessed to participating in the robbery.

Rudabaugh was also involved in the gunfight that killed Marshal Joe Carson, along with the rest of the Dodge City Gang. He was part of the possee that surrounded the ranch that housed Carson's killers and called for their surrender as well. 


The men were ultimately gunned down by Carson's widow and Rudabaugh was cleared, along with other gang members, of wrongdoing. They continued to rob and commit other crimes until the murder of Mike Kelliher on March 2, 1880. A lynch mob formed to get gang member J.J. Webb but were the Dodge City Gang held them off, with "Dirty Dave" at the helm.

On April 30th, Rudabaugh, along with a man named John Allen burst through the Sheriff's office to free Webb, (again, his former enemy who got him to surrender/turn in his gang). The jail break was unsuccessful but Rudabaugh murdered jailer Antonio Lino in the process. Webb’s sentence was appealed and commuted to life in prison.

I guess figuring he'd done all he could, Rudabaugh, along with Dodge City Gang member, Tom Pickett fled to Fort Sumner and joined Billy the Kid there. According to some sources, Billy the Kid was afraid of only one man and that man was Dave Rudabaugh.

On November 30, 1880, Billy the Kid, David Anderson (aka: Billy Wilson,) and Rudabaugh rode into White Oaks, New Mexico. There they ran into Deputy Sheriff James Redman. They shot at him and, while he hid behind a saloon, several local citizens ran into the street, chasing the outlaws out of town.

As a posse gave chase, they hid out at the ranch of a man named Jim Greathouse, holding him hostage. They traded him to a posse at dawn for Deputy Sheriff James Carlyle who had been volunteered to negotiate with the outlaws in attempt to give themselves up. Surrounding the house, the posse waited for hours. 


Around midnight, they called out that they were going to storm the house. Just then a crash came through a window and a man came tumbling out. Shots ripped through the air and Carlyle lay dead. No one is sure if the bullet came from the outlaws or the posse, but it's generally suspected that the posse killed their own man. Probably because of that accident, they gave up the siege and the outlaws escaped. Whatever the truth, Billy the Kid was, of course, blamed for killing Carlyle.

Now trailed by Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid, Billy Wilson, Rudabaugh, Tom O'Folliard, Charlie Bowdre, and Tom Pickett rode into Fort Sumner, New Mexico on December 19, 1880 and were confronted by Garrett's posse. Pat Garrett, Lon Chambers, and several others leaped from cover as Garrett ordered the outlaws to halt. 


Several of the posse members didn’t wait for the outlaws to respond to Garrett's demand, and instead opened fire on Pickett and O'Folliard, who were riding in front and were shot from their saddles. Rudabaugh's horse caught a bullet and collapsed but he managed to jump onto Wilson’s horse and he and the other outlaws escaped. They hid out in an abandoned cabin near Stinking Springs, New Mexico .

Soon, Garrett and his posse tracked them down there. They surrounded the hideout. Inside were Billy the Kid, Charlie Bowdre, Rudabaugh, Tom Pickett and Billy Wilson.
When Bowdre passed before an open window, he was shot in the chest. The siege continued until the next day, when Rudabaugh finally waved a white flag and Billy the Kid's gang surrendered. They were taken to Santa Fe, New Mexico .

Rudabaugh was taken to Las Vegas to stand trial. He attempted to avoid being charged with a capital offence, by pleading guilty to the Las Vegas train robbery in October, 1879. However, his attempt was unsuccessful and he was sentenced to hang for murder. He was taken to the Las Vegas Old Town Jail to await his execution, where he was united with J.J. Webb, still serving time for the offense Dave had tried to help him with.

In the meantime, Billy the Kid was jailed at Lincoln, New Mexico where he escaped on April 28, 1881 only to be tracked down and killed by Pat Garrett that July.

Rudabaugh, Webb, and two other men, Thomas Duffy and H.S. Wilson tried unsuccessfully to shoot their way out of jail on September 19, 1881. Duffy was mortally wounded in the attempt. Webb, facing life in prison, and Rudabaugh the threat of hanging, were determined to try again and to not fail the next time.

Two months later, Webb, Rudabaugh and five other men, chipped a stone out of the jail wall and escaped out of a 7"x19" hole. Rudabaugh and Webb went to Texas and then to Mexico where Webb disappeared.

Rudabaugh then fled to Arizona where he joined the Clanton faction in their feud against the Earps. Dave may have even participated in the murder of Morgan Earp and the attempted murder of Virgil Earp, and he was present at the fight in which Curly Bill Brocius was killed.

There are two stories as to what became of Rudabaugh after that, the most common is:

As the Clanton gang broke up, Rudabaugh headed down to Mexico where he worked as both a cowboy and a rustler. On February 18, 1886, Rudabaugh was involved in a gunfight with locals in Parral, Chihuahua over a card game. Rudabaugh and a Mexican man faced off and Rudabaugh shot him through the head. When another player drew and fired, Rudabaugh put a bullet into his heart. 


Having killed two men and wounded another, the then unarmed but unable to find his horse, Rudabaugh returned to the cantina, which was now in total darkness. On entering he was shot several times from the shadows and decapitated with a machete, then his head was paraded around around town on a pole.

That on February 18, 1886, Rudabaugh was involved in a cantina card game in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico which broke up after accusations of cheating. Rudabaugh and a Mexican man faced off and Rudabaugh shot him through the head. When another player drew and fired, Rudabaugh put a bullet into his heart.


 Unable to find his horse, Rudabaugh returned to the cantina, which was now in total darkness. On entering he was jumped and decapitated. For the next several days, his killers were said to have paraded through town with his head on a pole. A few photos were taken of the event, (there's one on-line of someone's head anyway). The body and head were then either buried in an unmarked grave "fit for a rabid dog", or left on a hillside for the vultures.

Another story tells that Rudabaugh finally left Mexico with a heard of cattle headed to Montana where he lived a normal life, married and fathered three daughters. Those who support this claim say that he ultimately died, a destitute alcoholic rancher in Oregon in 1928. He was the only man to have ever been captured by both Bat Masterson and Pat Garrett.

Billy Wilson



Another controversial figure associated with the Dodge City Gang is Billy Wilson or the "Mystery Rustler". Associated with Billy the Kid, there are two different accounts of his life up to that point. There are two accounts of his early life, one asserting that he was born William Harrison Wilson on October 30, 1859 in Arkansas and that he ran away from home in his mid-teens after a fight with his father. He's said to have then fallen in with some outlaws and ended up killing a man in a barfight, causing him to flee the state.

Billy is believed to have then traveled through Mississippi, Missouri, and Indian Territory. After accidentally killing a friend in a hunting accident, he moved on to Dodge City, Kansas, and met up with Dirty Dave Rudabaugh, Tom Pickett, J. J. Webb, Mysterious Dave Mather, and others. Around this time he was given the nickname "Buffalo Billy" and he followed Dave and his friends to Las Vegas, New Mexico, Wilson.

Dave and the others stayed on to join the Dodge City Gang but Wilson continued south to another boom town, White Oaks, where he opened a livery stable. In late 1879 or early 1880, Wilson sold his stable to men named Sam Dedrick and William H. "Harvey" West. They paid for the stable, however, in counterfit bills. Wilson traveled south to Lincoln, unknowingly spending the fake money.

At some point shortly thereafter, Wilson began riding regularly with Billy the Kid's gang, the Rustlers, (he had helped them from time to time in the past, but not been a full member). A few months after Wilson joined, Dave Rudabaugh, on the run from the law in Las Vegas, joined them.

Word of the counterfeit bills in Lincoln County reached Washington, D. C., and a special agent from the U. S. Treasury Department, Azariah Wild, was sent to New Mexcio to investigate. Wild determined that Wilson was part of West, and the Dedrick brothers counterfeit ring.

Though innocent of counterfiting, on Nov. 27, 1880, Wilson was involved in the killing of Deputy James Carlyle, when a posse surrounded Billy the Kid and his gang at Jim Greathouse's ranch. Between the murder of Carlyle, and the Wild investigation's, local law enforcement was more determined than ever to catch the Rustlers.

On Dec. 19, 1880, Wilson was with Billy the Kid and other members of the Rustlers, when they rode into Fort Sumner and Pat Garrett and his posse opened fire on them from ambush. Rustler Tom O'Folliard was killed, but the rest escaped.

Wilson was again with Billy the Kid and the Rustlers on Dec. 23, when they were captured at Stinking Springs by Garrett's posse,(Rustler Charlie Bowdre was killed in the fight.)

Wilson went to trial at Santa Fe for counterfeiting and robbing the U.S. Mail, the latter a crime he committed with the Rustlers when they held up a stagecoach. He was convicted of the counterfeiting charge and sentenced to seven years in prison. 


However, he managed to escape in Sept. 1882 and became a rustler again in Mexico and along the Mexican border, falling in with another gang, which also included Tom Pickett. He left the gang after an attack on four unsuspecting Mexicans. He's believed to have gone back to Missouri, gotten married, and had a child, settling down and changing his habits under the name Robert Levi Martin. Robert Martin died on September 30, 1935.

Other researchers say Billy Wilson was born David L. Anderson in Ohio on Nov. 23, 1861, moving with his family to Texas when he was still a child. It's said that he first became a cowboy and then began rustling, changing his name to Billy Wilson and travelling to Dodge City. Those who believe this account of Billy's life think that after escaping from jail he fled to Sanderson, Texas, where married, had a child, and opened up a bar.

It's said that in 1895, by pure chance he ran into Pat Garrett and that the two talked and Garrettbecame convinced that Wilson had changed so decided to try to use his influence to have him pardoned. Sometime in 1906, Garrett achieved this and Pres. Grover Cleveland issued a full pardon for "Dave Anderson, alias Billy Wilson."

In 1905, Wilson was elected sheriff of Terrell County, and is said to have been much loved by the people of the town. On June 14, 1918, he was called to silence a disturbance. A drunk ranchhand named Ed Valentine, who Wilson knew and had been on friendly terms with, was causing trouble. Anderson tried to talk Valentine down, but Valentine shot him in the chest, killing him. Valentine was then lynched by an angry mob.

No one knows for sure if William Harrison Wilson/Robert Martin from Arkansas was THE Billy Wilson, or if it was Dave Anderson. Because of the Garrett Pardon, it is generally believed to have been the latter of the two.

J.J. Webb



Continuing to look at the wildest town in the wild west, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and the wildest bunch of outlaws the frontier ever saw, The Dodge City Gang...

J. J. Webb was born on February 14, 1847, in Keokuk County, Iowa. For most of his adult life he was a lawman but for a while he was part of the Dodge City Gang. It proved to be his undoing.

In 1862, his family moved to Nebraska and then later to Osage City, Kansas. Webb traveled west in 1871. He was a buffalo hunter and then a surveyor in Colorado. He then drifted from Deadwood, South Dakota to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Dodge City,
Kansas.

By 1875 he was a teamster in Ford County, Kansas/Dodge City. He later became a business owner and peace officer. He was also a leader of the mercenary force on the side of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad in their battle against the Denver & Rio Grande railroad for right–of–way through the Royal Gorge in Colorado.

Webb was well–respected in Dodge City and was deputized to ride in a number of posses. In September, 1877 he rode with Ford County Sheriff Charlie Bassett and Under-sheriff Bat Masterson to Lakin, Kansas in pursuit of Sam Bass and his gang who had recently robbed a Union Pacific train of $60,000 at Big Springs, Nebraska. Their

By January, 1878, Bat Masterson had been made the new Ford County Sheriff, and he deputized Webb along with two other men by the names Kinch Riley and Dave "Prairie Dog" Morrow, to help him track down six outlaws who had robbed the westbound train at Kinsley, Kansas, two days earlier, including "Dirty Dave" Rudabaugh. They were caught within days. 


During the arrest, when Rudabaugh went for his gun, Webb stopped him and forced him to surrender. The other four accomplices were arrested later. Rudabaugh then informed on his cohorts and promised to go “straight.” Rudabaugh's accomplices were sent to prison, but Dirty Dave was soon released, drifting to New Mexico and returning to thievery once again.

In September of 1878, Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife and his band fled their reservation in Oklahoma for their home in the Black Hills. Exaggerated reports of killing and thievery committed by the Cheyenne on their journey began to be told in Dodge City. Most of the soldiers at nearby Fort Dodge were sent out to corral the Indians, leaving only about nineteen troops to protect the area. Dodge City citizens wired the governor requesting arms and ammunition.

The weapons were received within days and Lieutenant Colonel William Henry Lewis, the Fort Dodge Commander, chose Webb and a few others to scout the area. The men soon brought back word that some 200 warriors were nearing and the rumors of their acts continued to grow. It was all smoke and mirrors, however, and things ultimately returned to normal.

Webb moved on to Las Vegas, New Mexico and found many of his aquaintances from Dodge City there, including Henry "Doc" Holliday, David "Mysterious Dave" Mather, Wyatt Earp, and his old nemisis, Dave Rudabaugh. Soon after his arrival in Vegas, Webb partnered with Doc Holliday in a saloon, where Doc spent most of his time gambling.

On July 19, 1879, the two were seated at a card table when a former army scout, Mike Gordon, began to yell at one of the saloon girls who he'd been involved with in the past. He'd tried to convince her to leave town with him and she'd refused. Gordon stormed out of the saloon shouting obscenities. Doc followed him outside and Gordon shot at him. Doc shot once. Gordon died the next day. Doc fled back to Dodge when he heard he'd be arrested for the killing.

In 1880, Webb became Marshal of Las Vegas, joining the Dodge City Gang, a criminal cartel bent on thumbing their noses at the law. For two years, the members of the Dodge City Gang participated in several stage coach and train robberies, organized cattle rustling, and were said to have been responsible for multiple murders and lynchings.

The Dodge City Gang consisted of of men formerly from Dodge City including Justice of the Peace, Hyman "Hoodoo Brown" Neill; City Marshal, Joe Carson, Deputy U. S. Marshal "Mysterious Dave" Mather, police officer John Joshua (J.J.) Webb, and a number of gunfighters and outlaws including:


 "Dirty Dave" Rudabaugh, William P. "Slap Jack Bill" Nicholson, John "Bull Shit Jack" Pierce, Selim K. "Frank" Cady, Jordan L. Webb (no relation to J.J.), and a number of other hard cases. While Rudabaugh, Jordan Webb, Cady, Nicholson, Pierce, and the rest committed acts of thievery, Neill, Mather, Carson, and J.J. Webb, helped to cover the outlaws' tracks.

On March 2, 1880, the Dodge City Gang were responsible for the murder and robbery of a freighter named Mike Kelliher. The Ford County Globe of March 9, 1880, reprinted the report from Las Vegas Daily Optic:

"About four o'clock this morning, Michael Kelliher, in company with William Brickley and another man, entered Goodlet [a member of the Dodge City Gang] & Roberts' Saloon and called for drinks. Michael Kelliher appeared to be the leader of the party and he, in violation of the law, had a pistol on his person. This was noticed by the officers, who came through a rear door, and they requested that Kelliher lay aside his revolver.

"But he refused to do so, remarking, "I won't be disarmed – everything goes," immediately placing his hand on his pistol, no doubt intending to shoot. But officer Webb was too quick for him. The man was shot before he had time to use his weapon. He was shot three times–once in each breast and once in the head... Kelliher had $1,090 [$1,900] on his person when killed."

Webb was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. On April 30th, Rudabaugh and a man named John Allen burst through the Sheriff's office to free him. The jail break was unsuccessful and Rudabaugh murdered jailer Antonio Lino in the attempt. Webb's sentence was appealed and commuted to life in prison.

It's been speculated that he was set up by Hoodoo and Dutchy, another member of the gang who left with Hoodoo soon after the incident. It's assumed the pair were motivated by both greed and a desire to get back at Webb for some undercover activities. 


Webb insisted at the time that he'd been given the impression that Kelliher wanted to kill him/it was a kill or be killed situation. The amount of money that Kelliher had on him had also been misrepresented to Webb, and Hoodoo made off with the bulk of it. The local press and townspeople seem to have had a hard time believing Webb guilty at the time.

After Dirty Dave’s conviction, he found himself in jail with Webb. Soon, the pair along with two other men tried unsuccessfully to shoot their way out of jail on September 19, 1881. One of the men was mortally wounded and the attempt was unsuccessful.

Two months later, Webb and Rudabaugh, along with five other men, chipped a stone out of the jail wall and escaped out of a 7"x19" hole. Rudabaugh and Webb raced to Texas and then to Mexico where Webb disappeared and Rudabaugh was later killed

Later Webb returned to Kansas, where he took the name "Samuel King," and worked as a teamster. Somewhere along the line he moved on to Winslow, Arkansas working for the railroad. In 1882 he died of smallpox in Arkansas. He never married.

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