Tilghman’s Tall Tale

Bill Tilghman
Bill Tilghman

The story goes that Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman was tracking the Doolin Gang in January 1895. He entered a dugout on the Dunn ranch, looking for the outlaws. Several gang members, hidden behind blankets, leveled Winchesters at Tilghman—but Doolin himself stopped them from shooting the lawman in the back.

It didn’t happen. Remnants of the dugout show it was too small for a man to stand in. And fellow deputy marshal Chris Madsen said Tilghman created the story in 1915. “Bill was a little inclined to be romantic,” Madsen said.

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