Emmett Dalton

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Emmett Dalton
Mugshot from 1907
Born(1871-05-03)May 3, 1871[1]
Belton, Missouri, United States
DiedJuly 13, 1937(1937-07-13) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationReal estate agent, author and actor
Political partyDemocratic
Criminal statusPardoned after 14 years served
AllegianceDalton Gang
Conviction(s)Bank robbery
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment

Emmett Dalton (May 3, 1871 – July 13, 1937) was an American outlaw, train robber and member of the Dalton Gang in the American Old West. Part of a gang that attempted to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892, he was the only member of five to survive, despite receiving 23 gunshot wounds. Two of his brothers were killed. After serving 14 years in prison for the crime, Dalton was pardoned.

He moved to California, where he capitalized on his notoriety to publish books and become an actor in Hollywood. His first book, Beyond the Law (1918) was adapted as a film in which he played himself. His second book, When the Daltons Rode (1931), co-written with Jack Jungmeyer, Sr, was adapted after Dalton's death as a 1940 film of the same name.

Early life[edit]

Dalton was born in 1871 in Missouri to Lewis (16 Feb 1826–16 Jul 1890) and Adeline (née Younger) Dalton (15 Sep 1835–24 Jan 1925). He was the eighth born of nine brothers. They also had three sisters.

His siblings were:

Outlaw years[edit]

Emmett's older brothers Bob and Grat briefly worked as US deputy marshals in Indian Territory, sharing a position held by their older brother Frank Dalton after he was killed in the line of duty. They hired Emmett to serve as a guard at the jail at Fort Smith, in present-day Arkansas. The elder two started working for the Osage Nation to help them set up a police force, but fled after being pursued for stealing horses.

They began to conduct robberies of banks, stagecoaches, and trains. Emmett joined them, along with two other men. The Dalton Gang ended on October 5, 1892 when they attempted to rob two banks the same day in Coffeyville, Kansas. They had hoped to make enough money to flee the country. Four of the gang were killed in a gun fight with law enforcement and townsmen. Emmett Dalton was severely wounded, receiving 23 gunshot wounds, but survived. Tried and convicted, he was sentenced to life in the penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. After fourteen years, he was pardoned by the state governor.

After prison[edit]

Dalton moved to Southern California that year, in 1907. He married Julia Johnson the following year, who survived him. During his California years, he wrote two books and did some acting in Hollywood. Later he sold real estate, as Southern California was developing rapidly with migrants from across the country. He died in 1937 at the age of sixty-six.

In 1918, Dalton portrayed himself in the movie version of his first book, Beyond the Law. In 1931, he published When the Daltons Rode, co-written with Jack Jungmeyer, Sr., a Los Angeles journalist. It was adapted as a 1940 movie of the same name. It starred Randolph Scott, Kay Francis and Brian Donlevy. Emmett Dalton was portrayed by Frank Albertson.


  • Dalton, Emmett (1918). Beyond the Law. OCLC 779023614.
  • Dalton, Emmett; Jungmeyer, Jack. When the Daltons Rode. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. OCLC 558748021.
  • Dalton, Emmett; Jungmeyer, Jack. West of 96. Butterick Publishing Company. OCLC 11723701.
  • Dalton, Emmett. Prison delivery. Grafton, Massachusetts: R.F. Cummings. OCLC 461740841.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 1954 film Jesse James v. the Daltons, Emmett Dalton is played by William Tannen.
  • A caricature of Dalton appeared in the Lucky Luke album Hors-la-loi (1954), in which he's depicted as the tallest of the Dalton brothers. In the album the double bank robbery of Coffeyville, Kansas is depicted. But, unlike the factual history, Emmett Dalton is portrayed as killed along with his brothers, including Bill Dalton, who did not even take part in the raid. Emmet's grave is pictured in the final panel of the story, alongside his brothers and a sign that says "The Daltons died with their boots on".
  • In 1959, Harry Harvey, Jr portrayed Dalton in an episode of the TV series Tales of Wells Fargo, entitled "The Daltons."
  • The actor Tom Skerritt played a youthful Emmett Dalton in the 1963 episode "Three Minutes to Eternity" of the syndicated western series, Death Valley Days. This dramatized the attempted double robberies in Coffeyville.
  • In 1975 Emmett Dalton was played by the actor Tim Matheson in the TV movie western The Last Day.
  • In a mid-1980s interview with Spirou Magazine, author Maurice De Bevere, also known as Morris, said that reading Emmett's book, When the Daltons Rode, inspired him to create a comic book version of the Dalton Brothers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Dalton Gang". Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  2. ^ "DALTON Family History: Old West Kansas - Dalton Gang - KS Heritage Group - www.kansasheritage.org". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Latta, Frank F. Dalton Gang Days. Santa Cruz, California: Bear State Books, 1976.

External links[edit]