Today in 1880, outlaw “Dirty” Dave Rudabaugh participates in the murder of Antonio Lino Valdez, the
(This is not a confirmed photo of Dave, I couldn’t get my eyes on a REALLY confirmed one, but this is what my books show him, so if I am wrong, so is everyone else!)
jailer in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
The outlaw career of Dave Rudabaugh began in earnest in Arkansas in the early 1870s. He was part of a band of outlaws who robbed and he participated in cattle rustling along with Milton Yarberry and Mysterious Dave Mather.
The three were suspected to be involved in the death of a rancher and they fled the state. By some accounts all three went to Decatur, Texas, but other stories claim that Rudabaugh headed to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he be-came a stagecoach robber. Sometime around 1876, Rudabaugh joined Mike Roarke and Dan Dement to form the outlaw band known as the “Trio.” There is a disputed story from around this time that Rudabaugh taught Doc Holliday to use a pistol while Doc taught him the finer points of playing cards, but there is no recorded confirmation of this story, and Doc is often reported to have held a low opinion of ‘Dirty Dave”, so who knows for sure?
In 1877, Wyatt Earp was tracking the Trio from Dodge City to Fort Griffin,
Texas, with the plan of arresting them. He never caught up with them but he did befriend Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate while in Fort Griffin. The Trio eluded capture and built up their gang to six members, which was then known as the Rudabaugh-Roarke Gang and set about attempting to rob trains. Dave’s gang made their first attempt on a train on January 22, 1878, near Kinsley, Kansas. The robbery was a failure, and the gang came away with no loot. The next day, a posse led by Bat Masterson, including John Joshua Webb, captur-
d Rudabaugh and fellow gang member Ed West. The rest of the gang was captured shortly after. Ever the loyal friend, Rudabaugh quickly struck a deal for immunity with the prosecutor and testified against his partners.
The old saying is that it takes a thief to catch a thief. Proving this to be so, shortly following his release, Rudabaugh accepted Masterson’s offer to join a group of gunfighters to fight for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in the Railroad Wars. During this time he became a close associate of John Joshua Webb, the same John Joshua Webb who had arrested him only a short time before. whom he had met during his earlier arrest. After the railroad wars, he and Webb traveled to the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, where they became important members of the Dodge City Gang. This gang was a band of ruffians and gamblers who were dominating the political and economic life of the growing community. The leader was Hyman G. Neill (aka Hoodoo Brown). Webb was arrested for murder in the spring of 1880. Dave Rudabaugh and another gang member attempted to break him out of jail on April 5, 1880. The attempt failed, and Rudabaugh shot and killed deputy Antonio Lino Valdez in the process.
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Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com