A Campfire Tale

In 1987 Billy Murl Phillips (calling himself Bill Dalton Phillips) submitted this article to the National Association for Outlaw and Lawmen History, aka NOLA. (NOLA merged into the Wild West History Association, aka WWHA, in 2008). Mark S. Pannill, Dalton researcher, received this copy from Bill in March of 1987.

While it's not great fiction, it is fiction nonetheless.

Bill Dalton Phillips, great-grandson of James Louis and Adaline Dalton, of the famous Dalton family, has joined NOLA and he says while the family kept the connection secret for years he doesn't care who knows now.

There is no Bill Dalton Phillips. His name is Billy Murl Phillips. He is not related to this Dalton family and certainly is not a great-grandson. He spells James' and Adelines' names wrong, and there's a great reason why the "connection" was kept secret for so long – because it never existed!

Bill, who resides in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, works for the Kerr-McGee Refinery. Prior to that his family ranched for 50 years near Elmore city, Oklahoma, and prior to going to work for Kerr-McGee in 1964, Bill farmed

"My grandmother – my father's mother – is the child of James Louis and Adaline Dalton. She was Bea Elizabeth Dalton Phillips, born in March 1856 somewhere around Harrisonville, Missouri. She came to Okalhoma (sic) around 1873 or 1874 and then went to Brownsville and Sherwood, Texas to meet and marry Thomas Louis Phillips who at that time was a Texas Ranger," Bill says.

Where to start? Once again he can't spell Lewis and Adeline's names correctly. He says Bea was born "somewhere around Harrisonville, MO" – that's great if you consider Texas to be "somewhere around" there, because the only evidence we have says she was born in Texas. (Please see "Finding Bea" for proof she was born in Texas.) Texas makes sense for her birth place since Tom was from Kerrville and they (supposedly) married in Texas (no proof for that either). There is no evidence she went to Oklahoma 1873-1874, but that would be required to put her in the same place as the Daltons, just like her supposed birth in Missouri. The places are problematic also. Brownsville is 470 miles SSW of Brownwood down on the Texas border with Mexico and Sherwood is 123 miles WSW of Brownwood, the other side of San Angelo.

See the page on Tom Phillips, Texas Ranger for maps of the travels of the Dalton and Phillips family and a look into the story about Tom Phillips being a Texas Ranger.

He said that was in 1880 and they came to Oklahoma around 1883 and lived at Fort Still (sic - Sill), Ardmore, and other villages in what was then Indian Territory. the Phillipses were visited a number of times by her outlaw brothers and other gang members, Bill said.

Thomas Phillips was on the 1860 and 1870 census and the 1881, 1882, 1883 and 1885 tax rolls in Kerr County, Texas. Exactly when did he go to Indian Territory – and how could he be a Texas Ranger in West Texas?

All the PHILLIPS children were born in Texas, beginning in 1882 with John, Alford in 1884, Robert in 1886 with twins Pearl and Jack (Bill's father) being born in Kerrville, Texas in 1890. It's possible they could have gone to Indian Territory around 1883, but all the evidence indicates it didn't happen.

Great fiction about his family being visited by outlaws and gang members as no Dalton family information indicates they were ever in that area. There were no railroads in Oklahoma, which is why they robbed trains in Kansas. Fort Sill was established in 1869 by Maj. Genl. Sheridan near present day Lawton, Comanche County, OK in what was then the home lands of the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache. Ardmore was in the Chickasaw Nation, both in Indian Territory.

B. Elizabeth Dalton Phillips died in December 1894 south of Elmore City. Her son, Jesse Jackson (Jack) Phillips, Bill's father was born on March 15, 1891, and died in 1974. He was four years old when his mother died and his father told him later in life about the connection to the outlaw Daltons on his mother's side.

But his father's funeral record and death certificate list his grandmother's maiden name as HARRISON? If he was only four when she died, how did he know about her alleged previous HARRISON marriage? Why would that be more memorable to him than the DALTON relationshp? This is clearly inconvenient evidence, so just create an "amended" certificate.

This researcher doubts that Bill knows where his grandmother died or, as with everything else he has done, he is lying about it. Bill's father, Bea's youngest child Jack, was born 1890 in Kerrville, Texas and it seems just as likely Bea died in Texas before the family moved to Indian Territory or perhaps on the journey there. (If this is a rare moment of truthfulness by Bill, he is the one who has cast doubt on it.)

Thanks to NOLA member Ken Butler of Oklahoma City for bringing another Dalton into the NOLA gang.

(source: NOLA Newsletter; Vol. XII, No. 1, 1987)