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Captain Kit Dalton And The James Gang

Frank and Jesse James hold a prominent place in the history of outlaws. One member of the James gang has a Memphis connection. Captain Kit Dalton, born in Logan County, Kentucky in 1848, ran away from home during the Civil War and joined Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry.

Struck by the destruction that he witnessed when he returned home on a furlough, Dalton organized a band of guerrillas to avenge what he believed to be Union atrocities. Soon it became impossible for Dalton and his gang to return home, so he linked his fortunes with the James gang, and the rest is history. 

Dalton’s connection to Memphis was established after he had given up his criminal past and turned witness in a case against Frank James, a trial which failed to convict the elder James.

For the last thirty years of his life, Kit Dalton lived a quiet existence in Memphis. The last eight of those years were devoted to religion.

On April 3, 1920, Kit Dalton passed away in Memphis after suffering for four years due to an illness. As the New York Times proclaimed: “He did not die with his boots on.” Kit Dalton, the man once wanted by five governors “Dead or Alive” was laid to rest in the United Confederate Veterans lot in Elmwood Cemetery.

To learn more about our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or or their Facebook page, or at http://memphismuseums.org.

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