Harry Tracy

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Tracy's mugshot as an inmate in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Harry Tracy (23 October 1875[1]-6 August 1902) was an outlaw in the American Old West. His real name was Harry Severns. He is said to have run with Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang, and by the time he'd reached adulthood he was actively taking part in acts of robbery and theft. On March 1, 1898 Tracy and 3 accomplices engaged in a gunfight at Brown's Park Colorado in which posseman Valentine S. Hoy was killed.[2] Tracy and an accomplice of the Brown's Creek gunfight were captured but escaped in June 1898 from the Aspen Colorado Jail [3] In late 1901, Tracy was captured, convicted, and incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary.

With fellow convict David Merrill he escaped on June 9, 1902, shooting and killing corrections officers Thurston Jones Sr.,[4] Bailey Tiffany,[5] Frank Ferrell[6] and three civilians in the process. His claim to infamy is the size and scope of the manhunt and the extensive media coverage of same. He evaded capture for a month, mostly taking refuge in the Seattle, Washington area. On June 28, 1902 an argument broke out between him and his partner Merrill, which ended in the two hanging a duel. Tracy cheated during their duel and spun around early, and Merill was killed. His body was found in July 14. On July 3, 1902, he set up an ambush near Bothell, Washington, where he killed a detective, Charles Raymond,[7] and deputy John Williams[8] during a shootout. Tracy fled, took several hostages in a residence, and engaged other law enforcement officers in a shootout. During that shootout he killed posse members Cornelious Rowley[9] and Enoch Breece.[10] On August 6, 1902, in Creston, Washington, Tracy was cornered and shot in the leg during an ambush by a posse from Lincoln County, resulting in his having been seriously wounded. Sheriff Gardner arrived and had the field that Tracy had crawled into surrounded. Tracy committed suicide to avoid capture. The Tracy pistol can be found on display at the White River Valley Museum in Auburn, Washington. [11]

Tracy was portrayed by the actor Steve Brodie in a 1954 episode of the syndicated television series, Stories of the Century, starring and narrated by Jim Davis.[12]

Bruce Dern plays Tracy in the 1982 film Harry Tracy, Desperado.


  1. ^ The last American desperado
  2. ^ [1] (of the 3 accomplices 1 was later lynched and a second one killed a Willie Strang in Sweetwater County Wyoming before being captured); he served 2 years before being tried again and acquitted but was arrested for the killing of Hoy. For Hoy's memorial-see [2]
  3. ^ [3]{erroneously reports two men "Hoy" and "Valentine Day" as killed by Tracy{!} and gives the year after escape for Hoy killing as 1897!
  4. ^ Correctional Officer Thurston Jones Sr., Oregon Department of Corrections
  5. ^ Correctional Officer Bailey T. Tiffany, Oregon Department of Corrections
  6. ^ Correctional Officer Frank B. Ferrell, Oregon Department of Corrections
  7. ^ Detective Charles Raymond, Everett Police Department
  8. ^ Deputy Sheriff John Williams, King County Sheriff's Office
  9. ^ Posseman Cornelius Rowley, King County Sheriff's Office
  10. ^ Police Officer Enoch E. Breece, Seattle Police Department
  11. ^ http://www.wrvmuseum.org/journal/journal_0498.htm
  12. ^ "Stories of the Century: "Harry Tracy", May 27, 1954". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 

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