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Leader of the Boys

Jessie Evans, allegedly, with an unknown woman

Jessie J. Evans was born in either Missouri or Texas(at different times, he claimed both as his birth state) in 1853 and was possibly half-Cherokee. He was a graduate of Washington and Lee College, Virginia before turning to outlawry. On June 26, 1871, Jessie was arrested with both his mother and father in Elk City, Kansas for passing counterfeit money. He was released, and traveled south to New Mexico Territory. He arrived in New Mexico in 1872 and may have briefly visited Silver City. If he did go to Silver City, he shortly thereafter went east into the south-eastern portion of New Mexico. There, he began working on several ranches. He eventually got a job working as a cowboy for John Chisum at Chisum's ranch. Jessie later stated that he was also hired by Chisum to rustle cattle for him. Jessie probably quit working for Chisum in 1875. After he quit Chisum, he and other former Chisum hands went west to Dona Ana County. They began hanging around the towns of Las Cruces and La Mesilla and soon met a man named John Kinney. Kinney was the leader of the biggest and most infamous gang in the territory. Jessie and his friends joined the gang and participated in several illegal acts with the gang. Jessie himself became very good friends with Kinney, who made Jessie his apprentice. On New Year's Eve of 1875, Jessie, Kinney, and two other gang members, Jim McDaniels and Pony Diehl, went to the town of Las Cruces. While there, they got into a bar-room brawl in a saloon with several soldiers from Fort Seldon. By the end of the brawl, Kinney was severely wounded. The four outlaws left the saloon, badly beaten. Later that same night, the four outlaws shot the saloon full of holes from the street. When the smoke cleared, two soldiers and a civilian lay dead, and two other soldiers and another civilian lay wounded. A short time later, on January 19, 1876, Jessie and two gang members, Samuel Blanton and a man known only as Morris shot and killed a man named Quirino Fletcher in the street in Las Cruces. Jessie went to trial for the murder, but was somehow acquitted. Around this time, Jessie felt he could break away from the John Kinney Gang and control his own gang. He left the John Kinney Gang and brought with him several other members. With these men, and several new recruits, the Jessie Evans Gang, also known as the Boys, was formed. Other core members of the Jessie Evans Gang included Billy Morton, Frank Baker, Jim McDaniels, Buffalo Bill Spawn, Dolly Graham, Tom Hill, Bob Martin, Nicholas Provencio, and Manuel Segovia. Jessie, Baker, and Provencio were arrested in Mexico shortly thereafter on charges of rustling. They eventually escaped and returned to New Mexico Territory. The Jessie Evans Gang acted as a link in what was called the chain gang. The chain gang was not one gang, but was the name given to a collected network of rustling gangs all over the country. Other links in the chain gang were the John Kinney Gang, the Clanton Gang, and the Seven Rivers Warriors. The way the chain gang worked was that one gang would steal some livestock and pass it on to another gang, who passed it on to another gang, and so on. This was done so that the original owner of the stolen livestock couldn't be determined, nor could the original theif. The Jessie Evans Gang rustled and killed mainly in Dona Ana County using a place called Shedd's Ranch as a hideout. In the fall of 1876, Jessie felt that Lincoln County would offer a better "hunting ground," with all the small ranches, the big Chisum ranches, and the Mescalero-Apache Reservation Agency all in the county, and moved his gang there. The gang was soon hired by L. G. Murphy & Co. (later Jas. J. Dolan & Co.) to rustle livestock from various people and sell them back to the Company. The gang also served as bodyguards and hired guns for Jimmy Dolan, who would soon take over the Company. Dolan's and Jessie's allegance was made perfectly clear when the Evans Gang stole horses belonging to John Tunstall, Dick Brewer, and Alex McSween in Sept. 1877. Jessie and gang members Frank Baker, Dolly Graham/George Davis, and Tom Hill were shortly after arrested and put in Lincoln's jail, but in less than a month they escaped with the aid of the rest of the gang. Jessie and several members of his gang rode in the deputized posse that killed John Tunstall. A short time later, he and gang member Tom Hill were shot at while raiding a sheep camp. Hill was killed and Jessie was wounded in the elbow, forever crippling him. He was shortly thereafter arrested and taken to Fort Stanton for medical attention. For the majority of the war, he remained at Stanton, and was indicted for the murder of John Tunstall on April 18. In mid-June, by military escourt, Jessie was taken to La Mesilla to stand trial for stealing government mules from the Mescalero-Apache Reservation Agency (a federal crime) and for the murder of John Tunstall (a territorial crime). By the first week of July, Jessie was acquitted of the mule stealing charge, and the Tunstall murder charge was carried over to the next term of court. After posting $5,000 bond, Jessie returned to Lincoln County to get in on some of the final fighting of the war. He fought in the Five-Day Battle at Lincoln and participated in the looting of the Tunstall store the day after the battle ended. After the war, Jessie was with Dolan, Billy Mathews, and new gang member Billy Campbell as they killed Huston Chapman on the night they were supposed to make peace with Billy the Kid and other ex-Regulators. Jessie and Campbell were arrested and held at Fort Stanton, but managed to escape with the help of a soldier. Jessie and his gang turned up robbing stores in Texas and he was eventually captured again after killing a Texas Ranger. He entered Hunstville Prison in 1880, and was released on March 23, 1882. Joe Hines, who told William V. Morrison of Brushy Bill Roberts, was proven to be Jessie.

Jessie Evans, allegedly

This photo came from a Mexican family in Lincoln. It is claimed to be Jessie Evans.

Jessie Evans, allegedly, with two unknown gang members

This purported photo of Jessie Evans (on the viewer's left) was taken in an unknown year. If this is Evans, the two men with him would probably be members of his gang, but their names are unknown.