TwHP Lessons

Coffeyville, Kansas: The Town That Stopped the Dalton Gang

[Photo] Condon National Bank building today.
(Coffeyville Historical Society)


hen Luther Perkins erected his new building in Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1890, a bank robbery was the farthest thing from his mind. Like his fellow citizens, he felt the town had come of age. The design of the new building would convey the permanence and elegance a proper town should display. It would house needed businesses, professional offices, and the new C. M. Condon and Company Bank.

The difficult years seemed to be over: the violence over slavery, the bloody Civil War, and the nearly 30 years of lawlessness that characterized the post-Civil War period. The legendary outlaws of the 1870s and 1880s were mostly dead, in prison, or keeping a low profile. Cole Younger was serving a 25-year sentence for his part in a bank robbery attempt. From his prison cell he warned young people against a life of violence and crime, but his Dalton cousins would not listen. These former Coffeyville residents were interested in the new bank for reasons quite different from those of Luther Perkins. Bob Dalton planned to outdo the James boys by using the town as the setting for a spectacular double bank robbery. The robbery ended, however, with four of the five outlaws dead. Coffeyville became famous all over the country as the "town that stopped the Daltons."


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Coffeyville, Kansas, and surrounding area

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Renegades and Outlaws
 2. The Dalton Gang
 3. The People of Coffeyville Say "Enough!"

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. C. M. Condon and Company Bank, 1892
 2. Condon Bank after the attempted robbery
 3. "Death Alley," Coffeyville, Kansas
 4. Bodies of the Dalton Gang
 after the shoot-out

 5. The Condon National Bank building today

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. The Myth of the Outlaw
 2. Taking the Law into Our Own Hands
 3. Locally Famous Events in the Community

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The lesson is based on the Condon National Bank, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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