The Dallas – Fort Worth area has had its share of outlaws. As key cattle drive stops, and later with railroads having a strong presence throughout the area, the Metroplex became a magnet for the weary seeking some entertainment and rest from the frontier. Fort Worth’s infamous “
Hell’s Half Acre” had countless murders, gunfights, and drunken brawls, and Big D was later home to an infamous couple forever memorialized by Hollywood. Here are a nine outlaws who made the area home (at least for a while):
1. Robert Leroy Parker, a.k.a. Butch Cassidy (1866-1908).
This famous murderous outlaw, immortalized by Hollywood, often camped out in Fort Worth. He and his sidekicks regularly robbed trains and banks. He was killed in Bolivia.
2. Harry A. Longabaugh, a.k.a. the Sundance Kid (1867-1908), shown with his longtime girlfriend Etta Place.
The Sundance Kid earned his name when he was caught and convicted of horse thievery in Sundance, Wyoming. Despite his reputation as a gunfighter, historians doubt he actually killed anyone. After his release from jail in 1896, he and Butch Cassidy formed their gang. They were responsible for the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history. He was killed with Cassidy in 1908.
3. The Wild Bunch, locally known as "The Fort Worth Five."
This photo was taken in downtown Fort Worth in 1901, where the gang often hung out. The photographer John Schwartz liked the photo and displayed it in his front window, unwittingly causing the outlaws to be recognized, which led to their departure. In the 1980s, when Fort Worth was revitalizing the area, city leaders decided to name the area "Sundance Square" after the infamous outlaw who once roamed the streets. The name has stuck, and Sundance Square is a thriving part of downtown today. Shown, front row left to right: Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid, Ben Kilpatrick, alias the Tall Texan, Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy; Standing: Will Carver & Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry.
4. Sam Bass (1851-1878).
Sam Bass was born in Indiana but arrived in Denton, Texas, in 1870 and began working at a local ranch there. He also worked as a freighter, falling in with the wrong crowd and participating in one of the biggest train robberies in railroading history in 1877. He was killed in Round Rock, Texas, and is believed to have been betrayed by one of his own men who tipped off law enforcement.
5. Sam Bass Gang.
During the short history of the Sam Bass gang, its membership was fluid due to the nature of its business. Shown, from left: Jim Murphy, Sam Bass, and Seaborn Barnes.
6. Luke Short (1854-1893).
Luke Short was a gunfighter, cowboy, gambler, and most certainly an entrepreneur. He had business interest in Fort Worth's White Elephant Saloon. He survived the famous gunfight against Jim Courtright in Fort Worth and is buried here. He is known for tossing his glass of milk up at the White Elephant Saloon that had a fly had landed on, killing the fly in mid-air. He is buried in the area.
7. Bonnie Parker (1910-1934) a.k.a. "Bonnie and Clyde."
Bonnie was born in Rowena, Texas, before moving to west Dallas. She actually dropped out of school and married Roy Thornton at age 15, and never divorced. She met Clyde Barrow in 1930.
8. Clyde Barrow (1909-1934).
Clyde was born in southeast Dallas before moving to the impoverished West Dallas area then. Without Bonnie, Clyde might have dismissed as just another punk. But the media helped glorify their romance and law-breaking lifestyle.
With her feisty photographs, Bonnie showcased a certain sex-appeal — and free lifestyle — that allowed the Barrow Gang to transcend the small-scale thefts and unnecessary violence and murders that comprised their criminal lifestyle.
The car that Bonnie and Clyde were killed in during a fierce gun battle with the cops is on display in Las Vegas.
9. Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963)
While not exactly an "outlaw," he certainly is legendary. Oswald was born in Louisiana, but moved to the Dallas area in 1944. He lived there for six years before moving again, later briefly residing in Fort Worth. He served in the Marine Corps where he was dishonorably discharged and defected to the Soviet Union, before returning to live again in Dallas in 1962.
While conspiracy theories continue to exist, official reports say Oswald assassinated President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas' Dealey Plaza.
Oswald was then shot and killed at point blank range by Dallas night club owner Jack Ruby, as he was being escorted by police to the County jail on Nov. 24.
The Metroplex has certainly had a lively past and this list is by no means exhaustive. Are there other local legends or outlaws that should be added to this list? Which of these outlaws are you most familiar with, and did you know their ties into the Dallas – Fort Worth area?