The Deadliest Outlaws: The Ketchum Gang and the Wild Bunch

The Deadliest Outlaws: The Ketchum Gang and the Wild Bunch

The Deadliest Outlaws: The Ketchum Gang and the Wild Bunch

The Deadliest Outlaws: The Ketchum Gang and the Wild Bunch

Excerpt

My first attempt at a narrative study of the life and criminal career of Thomas Edward Ketchum was published unobtrusively in Santa Fe at the end of 1970. It was not a finished piece of historical writing; I was all too well aware of important source materials that existed only in the original and were inaccessible to someone who, at that time, had visited the United States only once and whose direct experience of Texas was limited to a nocturnal journey across the Panhandle. Still, thanks to the intercession of friends and fortune, I had been able to draw together enough hitherto hidden data to justify publication.

With the march of time and technology, material that had been unobtainable in the 1960s became available during the following decades. Besides that, my own travels after 1970 put me on first-hand terms with research materials whose custodians could not always answer postal queries. Above all, new friends emerged with information I might never have found unaided even if I had known of its existence and whereabouts; without them, my hopes of repairing the deficiencies of the earlier book could not have been fulfilled.

Those who have read or referred to Dynamite and Six-shooter will recognize the titles of seventeen of the twenty-three chapters that comprise the present narrative. Passages of direct quotations in the earlier book also reappear, since, of course, they are just as relevant to the present volume as to its predecessor. Naturally, too, the construction of the new book has been guided by the same general lines as the older one. The most noticeable difference between the two works is that this one is more than double the length of its forebear. The text that was judged to be adequate in 1970 has nearly all gone, progressively superseded by a continuous and eventually comprehensive fusion of new writing and rewriting. Those considerations are more than enough to compel the relinquishment of the cover title upon which the idea of a biography of Tom Ketchum was founded almost forty years ago.

I owe much in both moral and material assistance to the generosity, enthusiasm, industry, and expertise of Karen Holliday Tanner and John D. Tanner, of Fallbrook, California. As correspondents, co-researchers, and hosts, over a period of nine years . . .

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