FROM ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS PAGES 298, 299:
STILES, WILLIAM LARKIN
(died January 1908, Nevada, Law Officer, Train Robber).Billy Stiles was a young gunman (rumored to have killed his father at the age of twelve) who gained notoriety in the Southwest at the turn of the century. After assisting lawman Jeff Milton, he was hired by Burt Alvord, Marshall of Wilcox, Arizona. The two law officers soon organized a gang of train robbers, however including Three Fingered Jack Dunlap, George and Louis Owens, Bravo Juan Yoas and Bob Brown.
Stiles and Alvord eventually were exposed and the next few years brought a series of chases, arrests, and escapes. In 1904 Alvord was captured, but Stiles fled the country and worked his was finally to China. He soon returned to the United Stiles, where he was killed while working as a Nevada Deputy Sheriff under the alias “William Larkin.”
Gunfights: April 8, 1900 Tombstone, Arizona, Stiles recently released because of his confession entered the Cochise County Courthouse at noon and asked jailer George Bravin if he could see Burt Alvord and the other members of his gang. After talking with Alvord, Stiles was escorted back outside the cell by Bravin. Stiles then pulled a revolver and demanded the keys. Bravin resisted, and in the subsequent scuffle Stiles shot him in the leg, then demanded then released all of the prisoners.
February 17, 1904, Ni-ger Head Gap, Mexico. While hiding in Mexico, Stiles and Alvord were challenged by two Arizona Rangers who had crossed the border and located the outlaws at Ni-ger Head Gap. The fugitives tried to shoot their way to freedom, but both were wounded. Alvord hit twice, surrendered, but Stiles, despite a bullet in the arm, managed to escape.
January 1908, Nevada: Stiles serving as a deputy sheriff attempted to arrest a man and the trigger-happy former outlaw shot his prey to death. Shortly thereafter Stiles rode back to his victim's house where the killing had taken place. The victim's grief-stricken twelve years old son seized a shotgun and before Stiles could dismount, killed him wit a double blast from the Weapon.
Book Sources: Erwin, John H. Slaughter, 232-36, 242-47; Haley, Jeff Milton, 271, 302-12, 316-17; 343
BILL SITLES (A.K.A BILL CHADWELL) RIDER WITH THE NOTORIOUS JAMES GANG.
From Journal: “Violent Kin!” code: AMVK;Vol: – No: 25; January 1995
From Allen County Library Title: “Bill Stiles Chadwell, With James Gang”
Ordered by postal mail February 20, 2008 for $7.50.
Bill Stiles is the mystery man killed on the streets of Northfield, Minnesota when the James and Younger brothers attempted to rob the bank. Practically nothing is known about him to this day but the indomitable Emmett Hoctor of Nebraska (aka the Plattsmouth Tornado)is still in diligent pursuit between speaking engagements and floods. He graciously forwards and interesting newspaper article from “The Fairbault (Minnesota) Republican” of 13 Sept 1876.
The article reports that a man from Cannon Falls, MN showed up in Northfield the day after the robbery. He said that if the dead Stiles was his brother-in-law the body would have a scar under the left arm. This proved to be the true. He said Stiles went to California in 1873, but he received a letter from him in Texas about Dec. 1875 saying he should be back in Cannon Falls soon – with plenty of money.
This confirms Minnesota roots for Stiles, rather than NY ties, which some have claimed. Various writers have said that Stiles had been in the mining camps around Joplin, MO, and probably met members of the James Gang there.
The Texas location for Stiles ca. 1874-1876 is of interest. Stiles has long been suspected of riding with the James Gang in the train robbery at Otterville, MO, in July, 1876. The James and Younger brothers had friends in Texas dating back to the Quantrill days, and sojourned there among friends in later years when they were wanted men. The “Liberty Tribune” (MO) of 06 Oct 1876 said the Northfield bandits were believed to have left from Sherman, Texas for Minnesota on 23 August, traveling by train. Stiles may have met the James and Younger Gangs brothers in Texas, rather than Missouri which some writers have stated.
Another interesting aspect of the newspaper article is in the details of the pursuit of the surviving outlaws who were still at large. Many writers have marveled how the James and Youngers were able to survive in a countryside literally teeming with posses out to get them. They tend to forget that the outlaws were experienced guerrilla fighters, who had kept alive by being resourceful.
The robbers were also resourceful in other ways. The article relates how Levi Sager was riding on horseback about dusk on the road to Seth H. Kenny's place. He was greeted by a group of men who told him they were the sheriff's posse. Levi said a posse had just went by a short while before. The men said that they wanted to catch up with the posse, and would have to commandeer his horse. They also asked him to go with them to show them the road to Waterville. One of the men tried out Levi's horse but couldn't manage the farm animal because it was not broken to the spur. Levi went with the group for a bout a quarter-mile and showed them the way to Waterville.
He probably had a stiff drink or two after he later found out the “sheriff's posse” was actually the most notorious gang of band robbers in the world.
It is quite likely that Levi was not the only person fooled by the James Gang during the 2-week pursuit following the Northfield attempt.The search covered a wide area, volunteers came from miles around, and most of the people looking for the robbers had no idea of what they looked like.Nobody expected the outlaws to be ordinary looking fellows who would ride up to them and ask if they had seen any outlaws.
An interesting Literary Notice in the newspaper article which Mr. Hoctor sent shows that the Peters Parlor Music's latest issue includes “I Don't Care, Galop” and “Gen. Custer's Funeral March.”Single issue 25 cents annual 12 issue subscription for $2.00. direct from 843 Broadway, New York City. (Custer had made his celebrated miscalculation of the fighting ability of Sioux Indians a scant 11 weeks earlier.)
This was Mr. Hoctor's tidbit humor. Not too bad.