Harvey Logan: Wildest of the Wild Bunch

6/12/2006 • Butch Cassidy, Outlaws, Wild West

The Pinkerton Detective Agency knew just how dangerous he could be. Near the bottom of a 1903 wanted poster issued by the agency, it says, ‘Officers attempting to arrest Logan are warned that he always carries firearms and will not hesitate to use them.’ Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry or Harvey Curry, was the most violent member of the loosely knit criminal band known as the Wild Bunch. He was involved in more robberies and killings than any other outlaw of his time. The Pinkertons considered him ‘one of the most remarkable criminals of modern time.’ He was called evil, treacherous and a coldblooded murderer. His friends, though, claimed that he was a good cowboy who became a wanted man through many injustices and unfortunate circumstances.

Harvey Alexander Logan was born in 1867 in Tama County, Iowa, just northeast of Des Moines to William A. and Eliza J. Logan, the third of six children. His siblings were James W. (born in 1860), Denver Henry ‘Hank’ (1862), Arda A. ‘Allie’ (1868), John A. (1870) and Lorango ‘Lonnie’ Dow (1872). Harvey was in his teens when his father died and the family moved to Dodson, Mo., just outside Kansas City, to live with his aunt and uncle, Lizzie and Hiram Lee. Not long after that, his mother died, too, and he and three of his brothers decided to stake their future farther west. By 1886 Harvey and all his brothers except James were homesteading a Rock Creek horse ranch just south of the Landusky mining camp in the Little Rockies of Montana. They registered the ‘4 T’ brand and, in partnership with Jim Thornhill, the ‘Cover C Y.’

Jim was actually Frank Jackson, the only surviving member of the Sam Bass outlaw gang from Texas. Twenty-year-old Jackson was already a respected, capable rancher when the Logan boys arrived in Landusky. But given his bank- and train-robbing past with Bass, he was not exactly the best influence for Harvey. Jackson’s partners in crime had died bloody, set up by a former gang member, in Round Rock, Texas, in July 1878 (see ‘Bold Train Bandit Sam Bass’ in the August 2001 Wild West). Jim eventually filed on five homesteads, all within range of Harvey’s Rock Creek horse ranch, and registered them under his ‘7 Up’ brand.

Using the ranch at Rock Creek as a base, Harvey and his brothers worked with the McNamara and Marlow Ranch in Montana Territory, running their own horses on a share basis. They would break horses for McNamara and Marlow and earn one of the horses in payment, thus building up their own herd.

Although the Logan brothers ranched peaceably for a number of years, Harvey, his brother John and his brother-in-law Lee Self had a confrontation on October 2, 1894, with a local tough named James Ross. They were arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Judge Dudley DuBose fixed bail at $500, which was met by Robert Coburn of the Circle C Ranch. Harvey Logan had developed a close friendship with Coburn, a friendship that was cemented when Harvey saved Bob’s life. According to Coburn, the two men were part of a roundup crew working Circle C cattle when Bob’s horse was spooked. The horse fell and pinned its rider underneath. When the crew finally freed Coburn, he was unconscious and seemed near death. Logan took it upon himself to ride 85 miles to Malta to fetch the doctor, who reached Coburn in time to save him.

The 1894 charges stated that Harvey ‘with a deadly weapon, to wit, a shot gun, in and upon James Ross did make an assault with intent then and there to inflict a bodily injury…having no considerable provocation for said assault and the circumstances of said assault showing the said Harvey Curry [had] a malignant and abandoned heart.’ In defense, Harvey and John asked for a continuance so that eyewitness Jacob Launze could appear on their behalf. As a witness, Launze would testify that ‘when Self first attacked Ross, Harvey Curry pulled him [Self] back; when he [Self] attacked Lou Simmons, John Curry then took hold of Lee Self, and pulled him away from Simmons, when he again struck at Ross. That Ross then placed his hand behind him under his suit, in the act of drawing a revolver, when Harvey Curry drew a revolver, and told him to stop; that John Curry had no weapon of any kind with him on that night, and that neither of the defendants Harvey or John Curry struck or attempted to strike Ross.’

Harvey claimed that the assault charges filed by Ross were trumped up by their neighbor, Powell ‘Pike’ Landusky, with whom Harvey and his brother Lonnie already had a continuing feud. Elfie, one of Pike’s stepdaughters, was apparently pregnant by Lonnie, and Pike was enraged. Pike was a man of influence, having control over the riches and mining claims in the area and also serving as a deputy. Given the responsibility of holding Harvey during the assault arrest, Pike took the opportunity to beat the prisoner unmercifully. When the case later was heard in Fort Benton, Mont., all charges against Harvey were dismissed.

The Logan-Landusky feud continued. As soon as he returned home on October 20, Harvey signed a precinct election register listing the Rock Creek ranch as his residence. The purpose of the vote was to name the town that arose near the mines. Logan wanted it called Rock Creek, but ‘Landusky’ won out. For Harvey, seeing the town named for his hated enemy was like rubbing salt into his still-healing wounds. Feeling that justice had not been served, Harvey set out to get even with Pike. Known as a brawler with a short fuse, Pike had a face that served as evidence to some of his past fistfights. But that did not deter Harvey.

On December 27, 1894, Harvey cornered a drunken Pike, who was celebrating Christmas in the local saloon owned by Jacob (‘Jew Jake’) Harris. In spite of Pike’s large size and renowned strength, Harvey struck him in the face. Lonnie Logan and Jim Thornhill stepped between the fighters and the saloon crowd and said, ‘The first man that makes a move will be killed.’ When Harvey’s gun fell out of his coat pocket and onto the floor, Pike pulled his own gun. But Thornhill quickly picked up Harvey’s gun and tossed it to his friend. Pike’s gun misfired, and Harvey shot and killed Pike. In the meantime, Lonnie had rounded up their wagon and had it waiting outside for a quick retreat.

Shooting down Pike Landusky was the first killing attributed to Harvey Logan. Fearing local reaction, he ran. However, others indicted in the killing, including Lonnie Logan and Jim Thornhill, were later found not guilty because the shooting was deemed to be self-defense. Therefore, had Harvey allowed the law to work, one has to wonder whether he would have taken to the outlaw trail he soon traveled.

By 1899, Harvey Logan had rustled cattle, robbed the bank in Belle Fourche, S.D., escaped jail in Deadwood, S.D. (see related story, P. 18), and held up a train in Humboldt, Nev. He was an experienced thief and member of the Wild Bunch, under the leadership of Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy. On June 2, 1899, he joined with his brother Lonnie, Harry Longabaugh (alias the Sundance Kid), Ben Kilpatrick, Will Carver and ‘Flatnose’ George Currie (the man who had inspired Logan’s use of the ‘Curry’ alias) for a Union Pacific Railroad holdup at Wilcox Station, Wyo.

During the escape, the robbers split up, with Harvey, Sundance and Flatnose heading for their Hole-in-the-Wall hideout in north-central Wyoming. A posse led by Sheriff Josiah Hazen got too close, and during a gunfight near Castle Creek, Hazen was mortally wounded in the stomach. The outlaws escaped, and Harvey was soon named as the shooter by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, whose agents were busy following a trail of stolen Wilcox bank notes.

Pinkerton operative Charles Siringo arrived in Harlem, Mont., that fall to check up on a $500 deposit made by Lonnie Logan and his cousin Bob Lee through their Curry Brothers Saloon, also known as the Club Saloon. Because the bank notes had a torn corner like the Wilcox robbery bills, the bank sent them to Washington, D.C., for verification. When the deposit did not show up in their account by January, Lonnie and Bob became suspicious. With barely 24 hours’ notice, they sold their interest in the saloon to George J. Ringwald, a local businessman, on January 6, 1900.

Following the trail of Wilcox money, the Pinkertons quickly tracked Lonnie and Bob to Cripple Creek, Colo. Before the detectives could close in, however, Lonnie left town and headed home to the Lee farm in Dodson, Mo. Bob, meanwhile, found a job dealing cards at the Antlers Gambling House, where on February 28 the Pinkertons arrested him for the Wilcox train robbery. On May 5, Lee gave a deposition to U.S. Marshal Frank A. Hadsell and Pinkerton Superintendent John C. Fraser. According to his statement, Lee had a torn Wilcox bill in his possession only because Lonnie Logan had been paid a debt by the Sundance Kid, and Lonnie in turn had given the bill to Lee. Bob’s trial began on May 24 in the federal court in Cheyenne, Wyo., and on May 28 he was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary, then located at Rawlins.

On February 28, the same day Bob Lee was captured, Pinkerton agents went to the Lee farm looking for Lonnie. Accompanied by three Kansas City detectives, the Pinkertons tried to sneak up on the farmhouse. However, the house, according to the Pinkertons, was ‘at the apex of a steep grade. No stealthy approach to it was possible, as the ground in front of it was open terrain…a strip of woods several hundred feet away.’ Having spotted the agents outside, Lonnie tried to sneak out the back door and escape into the woods at the rear of the property. The Pinkertons saw him running and shot to kill. Lonnie landed in a snowbank and died instantly. William A. Pinkerton later praised his agents’ work, saying that Superintendent Kimble of the Spokane office ‘had more to do with the killing of Logan than all of the other people who were present.’ When Harvey heard that his brother had been killed and his cousin was in jail, his anger reached its peak; he was determined to kill any and all law officers he could.

Late in March 1900, a rural postal clerk saw Harvey Logan and Will Carver near St. Johns, Arizona Territory, and reported the suspicious pair to Sheriff Edward Beeler. A posse took off after the outlaws and tracked them for days before most of them gave up. Two Mormon boys from the posse, Andrew A. Gibbons and Frank LeSeuer, stuck with the trail. Logan spotted the two young possemen, and they soon rode right into his ambush. Harvey fired just two shots and killed them both. It was March 28, just one month after Lonnie’s death.

Still on the run, Logan and Carver headed south toward the WS Ranch in Alma, New Mexico Territory, where the Wild Bunch outlaws occasionally hid. Along the way, they stopped near the San Simon River to butcher a cow, and a passing lawman discovered their handiwork. Sheriff George Scarborough and cattleman Walter Birchfield followed the trail of the suspected cattle rustlers, but rode into an ambush on April 5. Birchfield was only wounded, but Scarborough soon died in Deming, New Mexico Territory. Logan’s search for revenge had now claimed another victim. Two weeks later, on April 17, while out tracking down cattle rustlers, Sheriff Jesse M. Tyler of Grand County, Utah, shot down Flatnose George Currie. Flatnose had been one of the most important influences in Harvey Logan’s life other than his own brothers, and Harvey again set out to even the score. Bitter, enraged and bent on vengeance, Logan headed north in search of the sheriff. On May 26, he found Tyler and deputized cattleman Sam Jenkins looking for a local cattle rustler on Hill Creek, about 40 miles north of Thompson Springs, Utah. Logan shot and killed them both. The Pinkerton criminal history dossier on Harvey states, ‘Logan committed this murder for revenge because Tyler and Jenkins were of the posse that had killed George Curry [sic], April 17th preceding.’

Five murders in two months was vengeance aplenty, but whether Logan really was responsible for them can be debated. The newspapers of the day all name Tom Capehart as one of a gang of outlaws in each of the five cases, and the references further claim that the name ‘Tom Capehart’ was an alias being used by Harvey Logan. Capehart was actually a Texas cowboy who happened to work with many of Harvey’s outlaw acquaintances. So while the Pinkertons were quick to add LeSeuer, Gibbons, Scarborough, Tyler and Jenkins to the list of men murdered by Logan, he may have been innocent of those charges. The murderer may actually have been Tom Capehart. There is little question, however, that Logan would have been pleased to hear about the deaths of these lawmen.

After Tyler and Jenkins were killed, Harvey focused once again on accumulating cash at the expense of the Union Pacific Railroad. On August 29, 1900, he led a train holdup at Tipton, Wyo., that netted about $55,000. During a winter hiatus in Fort Worth, Texas, he was photographed with the Sundance Kid, Ben Kilpatrick (the ‘Tall Texan’), Will Carver and Butch Cassidy. The men in the photo, taken on November 21, became known as the Fort Worth Five. By mid-March 1901, Logan, Carver and the Tall Texan were at the Kilpatrick family ranch, located between Paint Rock and Eden in west Texas, planning their next heist. About noon on Wednesday, March 27, Logan and Carver challenged brothers Ben, George and Ed Kilpatrick to a game of croquet on the ranch lawn. Neighbor Oliver C. Thornton happened by to discuss an ongoing problem with pigs belonging to Boone Kilpatrick. Whether Thornton overheard something he should not have, or whether the pig feud just escalated, something went drastically wrong. Logan pulled his gun and killed Thornton in cold blood.

After their hurried exit, Logan, Carver, and Ben and George Kilpatrick were seen in Sonora, Texas, where they intended to rob the First National Bank. Around 8 p.m. on April 2, while Logan and Ben Kilpatrick held the supplies and extra horses just outside of town, Carver and George Kilpatrick rode into Sonora. From the end of a draw on the edge of town, Logan and the Tall Texan heard gunshots, and escaped as quickly as their horses could travel. The two robbers in town had been recognized and resisted when an attempt was made to arrest them for Thornton’s murder. Sheriff Lige Briant shot Carver, and George Kilpatrick was badly wounded and taken prisoner. Upon questioning, George admitted who he was but denied killing Thornton. He blamed the killing on the man he knew as ‘Walker,’ Harvey’s current alias. Carver was carried to the steps of the courthouse, where he died shortly before midnight.

For nearly three months, Logan and Ben Kilpatrick managed to evade the law, all the while heading north toward the Logan ranch in Landusky, Mont. There, the two men recruited O.C. ‘Deaf Charlie’ Hanks, who had just been released from the state penitentiary at Deer Lodge, Mont., after serving time for a train robbery. The newly formed gang successfully held up the Coast Flyer No. 3 of the Great Northern Railroad on July 3, 1901, at Wagner, Mont. Their total take included more than $40,000 in unsigned bank notes, a package of watches, a bag of silver coins and a bolt of green silk fabric.

Logan and the boys escaped across the Milk River and headed southwest for their hideout in the Missouri River Breaks, near Landusky. When Kilpatrick and Hanks left for Texas, Logan had one more chore to do before leaving Montana for good. While visiting his ex-ranching partner, Jim Thornhill, he presented the stolen bolt of green material to Jim’s wife, Lucy Tressler, in thanks for her hospitality. He also kept an old promise for retribution. Lucy had once lived with Harvey’s brother John, who had been killed by Jim Winters over a homestead feud back in February 1896. On the morning of July 26, 1901, Harvey waited for Winters to appear outside his cabin door and shot him in cold blood. The Pinkerton dossier on Harvey states, ‘Mr. Winters had some time previous taken an interest in his capture and location and had given some information to the officers in regard to him and out of revenge for this Logan killed him.’ Winters’ partner and stepbrother, Abe Gill, also disappeared about this time, and he also may have been a victim of Harvey Logan.

After leaving Montana, Logan spent time in Dodson, Mo., with his aunt and in Texas and Tennessee with a woman companion, Annie Roger. In December 1901, he got into a fight in Knoxville, Tenn., and was arrested. A Pinkerton agent identified him, and in November 1902 Logan was tried and convicted on 10 charges, including forging and passing stolen bank notes. He was sentenced to 20 to 130 years in the federal penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio. His lawyers appealed, and Logan escaped from the Knoxville jail on June 27, 1903. On July 2, the Pinkerton Detective Agency released a wanted poster for him.

A year and a half behind bars had not taken any of the starch out of Harvey Logan. On June 7, 1904, he participated in the holdup of a Denver & Rio Grande train near Parachute, Colo. Two days later he was wounded in a gunfight with a posse. Whether fearing capture and jail or a slow death, Harvey yelled to his companions: ‘I’m hit. I will put an end to it all.’ And with that he put a bullet through his brain.

Harvey Logan was accused of killing nine men, participated in at least seven robberies and escaped jail twice. He truly had been the wildest of the Wild Bunch. However, the man the Pinkertons once called ‘the most feared and dangerous outlaw’ could not seek revenge for his own death–maybe justice had finally been served.

This article was written by Donna B. Ernst and originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Wild West.

Donna B. Ernst, who has researched the Wild Bunch for 20-plus years, adapted this article from her 2003 book Harvey Logan: Wildest of the Wild Bunch. Also for further reading, see her 1992 Sundance: My Uncle, as well as Bruce Lamb’s Kid Curry: The Life and Times of Harvey Logan and the Wild Bunch.

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