Kid Curry kills stranger just to keep in practice

by BARTEE HAILE

Passing through a West Texas town on March 27, 1901, the most dangerous member of the Wild Bunch shot a stranger for no reason at all and left him to die.

Orphaned at an early age, the three Logan boys were raised by a loving aunt in Missouri. But Harvey, the oldest and least receptive to her Christian teachings, eventually led brothers Lonie and Johnny astray.

In 1884 the teenagers ran away from home to the wilds of Wyoming, where they learned the rustling racket from the hoof up. In four years, the Logans had enough cash and stolen cattle to start their own ranch.

But the youths soon learned that hard work was not nearly as much fun or as profitable as the outlaw life. Using the ranch only as a hideout, they resumed their criminal careers.

By the savage standards of the times, the Logans were strictly small fry in a land teeming with cutthroats. But the brothers suddenly lost their amateur status in 1894, when hot-tempered Harvey killed his former father-in-law.

While on a Christmas Eve drunk in Landusky, Montana, the boys crashed a party at a local saloon. Harvey spotted Pike Landusky, town founder and father of his ex-wife, and the fight was on. Fists gave way to guns, and Landusky took a fatal slug in the chest.

Full-fledged fugitives with a price on their heads, the Logans headed straight for the Hole in the Wall, the impregnable headquarters of the Wild Bunch. Although leader Butch Cassidy prided himself on having never taken a life, he always had a place for a cold-blooded gunhand and instinct told him Harvey Logan filled the bill.

The Logans had been riding with the Wild Bunch for a couple years, when they heard that a rancher named Winters had snitched on them to the authorities. Well-prepared for his uninvited company, the cowman put a bullet through Johnny Logan. Harvey and Lonie briefly returned fire before retreating with the body of their dead brother.

Following a bank robbery at Belle Fourche, Montana, a posse captured Kid Curry, Harvey’s new alias, and two accomplices. The three spent six weeks behind bars before breaking jail and making a clean getaway.

In the summer of 1899, the Wild Bunch looted a train, divided the proceeds and split into small groups to confuse pursuers. Despite this clever strategy, lawmen surrounded the camp of Harvey Logan and the Sundance Kid. In the ensuing battle, Logan dropped his first sheriff and escaped again.

The Wild Bunch fled to Texas in 1900 and wintered in the red-light district of San Antonio. While Harvey was letting his hair down, brother Lonie was slain by the Pinkertons at the Missouri homestead.

Returning to the Rockies ahead of Butch and Sundance, Harvey went on a one-man rampage. He refused to be taken alive, and two more sheriffs died in the line of duty.

Cutting short a second vacation in Texas, Logan was in his usual ugly mood when a hapless stranger crossed his murderous path in Paint Rock east of San Angelo. Without even pausing to ask the victim’s name, the callous killer added another notch to his smoking six-gun.

After five long years, the rancher who sent Johnny Logan to an early grave thought he was safe from harm. But Harvey secretly slipped into Montana, caught Winters by surprise and took his revenge.

For old time’s sake and traveling money, the Wild Bunch pulled one last train robbery in 1901 before breaking up for good. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid headed south for their date with destiny in South America, while Harvey Logan went into hiding in Tennessee.

Wherever he ran, however, trouble was never far behind. Venturing out of his Knoxville hotel room for a quiet game of poker, he was soon embroiled in a barroom brawl. The sudden appearance of three policemen activated Logan’s hair-trigger reflexes, and he shot the trio down at the door.

Slowed by a serious shoulder wound, Harvey Logan was caught, convicted and sentenced to a long prison term. But a not so funny thing happened on the way to the penitentiary, and once more he was on the loose.

Recruiting a pair of rank amateurs, Logan tried to organize his own gang. But when it came to planning, the gunslinger was no Butch Cassidy. A daylight train job barely covered expenses, and the ill-conceived escape wound up in a steep-walled canyon with the outlaws pinned down by a Colorado posse.

Hearing Logan cry out in pain, a sidekick shouted, “Are you hit?”

“Yes,” he answered in agony. “And I’m going to end it right here.” Seconds later the sound of a single gunshot echoed across the canyon.

Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry, was his own last victim.

Interested in collections of Bartee Haile’s columns? Visit the “General Store” at twith.com or request a list from P.O. Box 152, Friendswood, TX 77549

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