Emmett Dalton (May 3, 1871 – July 13, 1937) was an American outlaw, train robber and member of the Dalton Gang in the American Old West. Part of a gang that attempted to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892, he was the only member of five to survive, despite receiving 23 gunshot wounds. Two of his brothers were killed. After serving 14 years in prison for the crime, Dalton was pardoned.
He moved to California, where he capitalized on his notoriety to publish books and become an actor in Hollywood. His first book, Beyond the Law (1918) was adapted as a film in which he played himself. His second book, When the Daltons Rode (1931), co-written with Jack Jungmeyer, Sr, was adapted after Dalton’s death as a 1940 film of the same name.
Dalton was born in 1871 in Missouri to Lewis (16 Feb 1826–16 Jul 1890) and Adeline (née Younger) Dalton (15 Sep 1835–24 Jan 1925). He was the eighth born of nine brothers. They also had three sisters.
His siblings were:
Emmett’s older brothers Bob and Grat briefly worked as US deputy marshals in Indian Territory, sharing a position held by their older brother Frank Dalton after he was killed in the line of duty. They hired Emmett to serve as a guard at the jail at Fort Smith, in present-day Arkansas. The elder two started working for the Osage Nation to help them set up a police force, but fled after being pursued for stealing horses.
They began to conduct robberies of banks, stagecoaches, and trains. Emmett joined them, along with two other men. The Dalton Gang ended on October 5, 1892 when they attempted to rob two banks the same day in Coffeyville, Kansas. They had hoped to make enough money to flee the country. Four of the gang were killed in a gun fight with law enforcement and townsmen. Emmett Dalton was severely wounded, receiving 23 gunshot wounds, but survived. Tried and convicted, he was sentenced to life in the penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. After fourteen years, he was pardoned by the state governor.
Dalton moved to Southern California that year, in 1907. He married Julia Johnson the following year, who survived him. During his California years, he wrote two books and did some acting in Hollywood. Later he sold real estate, as Southern California was developing rapidly with migrants from across the country. He died in 1937 at the age of sixty-six.
In 1918, Dalton portrayed himself in the movie version of his first book, Beyond the Law. In 1931, he published When the Daltons Rode, co-written with Jack Jungmeyer, Sr., a Los Angeles journalist. It was adapted as a 1940 movie of the same name. It starred Randolph Scott, Kay Francis and Brian Donlevy. Emmett Dalton was portrayed by Frank Albertson.