I first got the idea for this book when I managed the Dalton Gang Hideout back in the 1980's for the Meade Chamber of Commerce. Thousands of people visited Meade, Kansas every year to tour this famous attraction. Since a lot of the park surrounding the Hideout, as well as the current-day tunnel, was constructed by W.P.A. crews after World War II, old timers in the area would dismiss the whole idea as being created for the purpose of tourism, so I started researching local records in an effort to "prove" that Eva Dalton Whipple actually lived there. Little did I know how evolved in that search I would become, and how intertwined my life would become with Eva's story. I had worked at the Hideout with the original curators when I was in high school, and now I was writing a book about the place and becoming somewhat of an authority on the Dalton family.
My search took me through the courthouse records where I found Eva's marriage license, deeds to property, and mortgage papers... even down to the summons the sheriff tried to serve when their little house was repossessed. This led me to the local newspapers where I became acquainted with John Whipple and Eva Dalton through the local news a century past. There I found the wonderful account of their wedding at a friend's home south of Meade... the birth of their daughter, and many tidbits of gossip about the two of them. They were a well-liked, respected members of Meade society in the late 1880's. Through the help of a friend in Arkansas I found a photograph of Eva Whipple when she lived in Siloam Springs, a real victory in the circle of Dalton family genealogist. Imagine my delight when I discovered that a building I own in downtown Meade is the very spot where John Whipple had his store!
The book contains a detailed history of the Dalton Gang Hideout, how it came to be and how it has remained for over half a century. It contains the story of John and Eva Whipple and their life in Meade, Kansas. Nancy Samuelson, a noted Dalton genealogist contributed information about every member of the Dalton family, and Bill Phillips, a Dalton descendant, contributed an article about the famous gang. This third edition of the book contains new information about Bill Dalton, his association with the Bill Doolin Gang, and a wonderful account of a train robbery they were involved in at Cimarron, Kansas... the closest to Meade any Dalton broke the law.
Much has been written about the Dalton Gang. This book does not attempt to rehash the story of the outlaw brothers, what it does is give the reader good information about the rest of the Dalton family and especially their sister, Eva. It is a small book, only 95 pages, but it contains information not found anywhere else, and a unique perspective on the family of an outlaw gang.
If you have a love for the history of the High Plains, visit our sister site: Old Meade County
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