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April 20, 2016     Hays Free Press
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Hays Free Press April 20, 2016 COMMUNITY Page 5(3 trier serving six years the Montana ate penitentiary, a train robber from Texas walked out of prison on April 21, 1901 a free man - free to resume a life of crime. Orland Camillo Hanks was born in DeWitt County during the Civil War and grew up around Yorktown. Little is known about his childhood and adolescence other than he preferred the initials O.C. to the tongue-twister of a name his parents gave him. Hanks was a year or two out of his teens when he hired on with a long- distance cattle drive from the Rio Grande Valley to the Montana Territory. He would not see Texas again for more than 20 years. Soon after reaching Montana, Hanks started calling himself Charley Jones. He also went by the name Charles Kinkaid and, because of a hear- ing impairment, Deaf Charlie. Those aliases suggest that like so many Lone Star exiles, he was a wanted man back home. From the mid- 1880s until well into the next decade, Hanks wandered from ranch to ranch across Montana. Many of his fellow cowboys were common criminals, but two had earned memo- rable nicknames - Harry Longabaugh, the famous Sundance Kid, and Harvey Logan, another member of the Hole- in-the-Wall Gang better known as Kid Curry. There is no telling what made O.C. Hanks try his luck at big-time crime. Money may have been the motive or maybe he was sick and tired of be- ing a saddle-sore cow- puncher. Four masked men stopped and boarded the Northern Pacific Express 20 miles east of Big Timber, Montana on the night of Aug. 26, 1893. The express car messenger guessed what was going on and stashed packets of greenbacks in his favorite hiding places before unlocking the door. When the robbers ordered him to open the safe, the messenger pleaded ignorance. The railroad did not trust him with the combination, a big lie he told convinc- ingly. That made sense to the bandits, who did not bother to blow the safe, even though they had brought along plenty of dynamite, or search the express car. Instead, the foursome looted the passenger cars relieving travelers of their cash and valuables. According to the victims, not a single person was harmed by the laid-back highwaymen, who broke PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Orland Camillo "Deaf Charlie" Hanks was a member of the Wild Bunch. Although he's not pictured in this photo, the Wild Bunch consisted of the above outlaws. 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, alias News Carver, & Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry. This photo was taken in Fort Worth, Texas in 1900. This Week in Texas History by Bartee Halle the tension by cracking jokes. If the gang was disap- pointed by the take, a few hundred dollars and a sackful of cheap jewelry, they did not show it. The outlaws rode off into the night laughing and shooting their six-guns in celebration. But their timing could not have been worse. Train robbery was bad publicity for a brand-new state trying hard to live down its Wild West repu- tation. The culprits had to be brought to justice and fast. Two county sheriffs pooled their resources and with a combined posse of 13, including U.S. Marshal Samuel Jackson, were hot on the outlaws' trail within 36 hours. However, when five days of hard riding failed to gain any ground, the Northern Pacific effectively canceled the chase by announcing it would no longer pay the posse's expenses. Marshal Jackson went on alone and gradually closed the gap. At a small settlement 175 miles northwest of the crime site, he learned the fugi- fives had purchased sup- plies and played poker with the local deputy sheriff. From all indica- tions, they had long ceased looking over their shoulders. The federal blood- hound caught up with the train robbers on Oct. 2 near the Blackfoot Indian Agency. Thirty Blackfoot police and sev- eral civilians responded to his request for rein- forcements, and the next morning they attacked the cabin containing the sleeping outlaws. After a gunbattle that left one vigilante dead, the gang fled on foot. With a fresh posse, Marshal Jackson tracked the desperadoes through the snow. In the second shoot-out in 24 hours, one bandit was killed and another mortally wounded. The dying man blamed the murder of the posseman on the Texan "Charley Jones," who had escaped into the moun- tains with the fourth gang member. Four days later on the edge of the wilderness wonderland soon to become Glacier National Park, an exhausted O.C. Hanks surrendered without a struggle. His companion once again eluded capture only to be shot and killed by a sheepherder. The deathbed dec- laration of his talkative accomplice and the testimony of a guide paid to lead the gang through the Rockies were enough to convict Hanks of manslaughter. With time off for good behavior, he served six years and four months of a 10-year term. The ex-convict did not have to think twice before accepting Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan's invitation to a train robbery three months after his re- lease. Taking his share of $40,000 in unsigned bank notes, he high-tailed it out of Montana and went on a wild cross-country spending spree. Hanks ended up back in Texas after a run-in with the law in Nashville. One night in April 1902, a San Antonio madam called the sheriff to re- move a belligerent drunk from the premises. When O.C. Hanks resisted ar- rest, he was shot dead on the spot. Bartee's three books and "Best of This Week in Texas History"column collections are available for purchase at bartee- haile.com. & 24 8 a.m.-6 p.m, I wzener 1)o2 Races .... 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