Horrell Gang
Bill Crabtree was a Texas cowboy who wanted to be a great outlaw. And, try as he would, he constantly failed. It seems as if every time he turned around he was being arrested for something… from unlawfully carrying a pistol to murder, from which he was acquitted. In 1878, he got involved with the Horrell brothers. In May of that year, the Horrell gang, without the brothers, attempted to pull off a major-league robbery. In the process, the owner of the store that also operated as a bank, was killed. The outlaws got out of town in a hail of bullets. But, about a mile out of town Bill Crabtree’s horse fell dead. It had been hit by a bullet.  
 
Now, here is where 1800’s forensics comes into the picture. The posse cut off one of the horse’s feet and took it to blacksmiths in the area. It was identified by a blacksmith as belonging to Bill Crabtree. Crabtree was arrested, and he talked like a mynah bird. Even though the Horrell brothers weren’t on the robbery, they were arrested as accessories. The rest of the gang hightailed it to Mexico.  
 
On November 28, 1878, Bill Crabtree testified against the Horrell gang. That evening Crabtree was walking the streets a free man. But, his freedom didn’t last long, because as he was walking along the Bosque River, the blast of a shotgun almost cut him in half. Obviously, some member of the gang had returned from Mexico.
 
Incidentally, the Horrell brothers didn’t get a chance to serve their prison time. A short time after the death of Crabtree, vigilantes shot them dead.

Filed under: Old West History

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