ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Whitley-Cornett Outlaw Gang

Updated on February 26, 2012

Brackett Cornett

Bill Whitley and Bracket Cornett were two Texas outlaw gang leaders who robbed banks and trains in the late 1880s. Cornett was from Goliad County, Texas, and virtually nothing is known about him before he met Whitley. Even his birth date is unknown.

Whitley was born September 7, 1864 in Itawamba County, Mississippi. When the two met they organized a gang of outlaws numbering about 12 members.

Whitley’s older brothers fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. One was shot and killed by a lawman in 1884. That may partially explain his choice of professions. It is said he may have killed upwards of eight men during the short life span of the gang. But some of Whitley's descendants, however, say tales of his deeds were greatly exaggerated.

Sometime in the mid 1880s he married Lucinda "Cord" Cox of Lampasas, Texas, . The marriage produced two children but it was also a rocky one. A few of Lucinda’s relatives were charged with harboring a fugitive. When the law began closing in on him he left for England, leaving his wife and children in the care of her brother. It was upon his return, he took up with Cornett.

Up to this time the gang was wanted by authorities but for the most part they were considered more of a nuisance than anything else. That all changed when they committed their first known train robbery in June 1887 near Flatonio, Texas. The haul was only about $600 and close to $1000 worth of jewelry taken from passengers. This simply wouldn’t do, their next robbery would have to be more profitable.

After the Flatonio robbery Wells Fargo put up a $1,000 reward for their capture. Not to be left out, the State of Texas kicked in another $500.

They decided a bank might net them a better return on their efforts. Their target was the bank in Cisco, Texas even though there was snow on the ground. With a string of robberies already behind them, three gang members casually strolled into the bankon February 15, 1888 just before closing and one asked cashier, C.C. Leveaux, for some change. The next thing Leveaux knew he was staring down the muzzle of a pistol.

While two of the robbers held the cashier and several other bank employees at gun point, a third looted the safe and money drawer. It was reported they stole $9,000 in gold and silver coins and bank notes. Some accounts have the amount lower or much higher. In addition they confiscated a gold watch and other valuables. Then the three hostages were hustled out the back door. The bandits climbed over a fence and hopped into a wagon they had previously hidden there.

When the outlaws got about 200 yards from the bank, they began firing their guns into the air and mocked the citizens of Cisco by shaking their bags of loot at them. Town Marshal J. T. Thomas quickly organized a posse and took out after the robbers who had headed in a northwesterly direction.

About six miles northwest of present day Lake Cisco, the posse lost sight of the robbers for the better part of an hour. When the gang began to move again, it was due east. It was speculated during the lost time the money may have been divvied up and hidden. Once they had shaken their pursuers they could return and split the loot. Rumors the outlaws buried their stolen loot nearby still persist among Cisco locals.

Feeling they were on a roll, the gang quickly struck again a few days later. They held up the Great Northern Railroad and escaped with an estimated $20,000. Despite the bounty on their heads the gang was still at large and folks were getting fed up.

The gang however, felt they were having a streak of good luck and on September 22, 1888 set their eyes on the Southern Pacific train out of Harwood, Texas. It’s not known how the law got tipped off about the robbery, but when the gang boarded the train they found U.S. Marshal John Rankin, Deputy U.S. Marshal, Duval West and several Texas Rangers waiting for them. The outlaws quickly disembarked and fled empty handed. Rankin and his crew went after them.

By this time there were also numerous other posses on the gang’s trail. A few days later on September 25, the gang was cornered by U.S. Deputy Marshals in Floresville, Texas and Whitley was killed in the gun battle that followed. Cornett however, managed to escape and made tracks for Arizona. One persistent Texas Ranger, Alfred Allee, kept after him, the state line not withstanding,.He meant to get his man.

Ranger Allee finally ran Cornett to ground in Frio, Arizona. A gunfight ensued and when it was over Cornett lay dead.

What happened to the rest of the gang remains mostly a mystery. Perhaps with their leaders dead they decided to split up and go their separate ways. However, there is an account of two gang members…Victor Queen and his Uncle Kep Queen.

Vic was born in Arkansas September 5, 1871. While still an infant his family moved to the Lampasas area ofTexas. When he was old enough, he and his uncle rode off to join the Whitley-Brackett Gang. The account reports Kep remained an active member of the gang and participated in many of their robberies. But, it’s not known how long Vic remained with the gang. Suffice it to say, at some point he left the gang and went to New Mexico with his family.

Somewhere along the line around 1890 he became involved with a shady character named Martin M’Rose, a known cattle rustler who taught him the fine art of using a running iron. Their’s became known as the “Golden Ladder brand.” It became dreaded by cattlemen since its cross bar design made it relatively easy to change almost any other brand.

With profits rolling in M’Rose bought a ranch. For a while things ran smoothly. Then the New Mexico Livestock Association heard rumors they were running a shady operation and began poking around. The two “refined gentleman” sold out feeling it was time to move on to greener pastures and headed south to Mexico.

M’Rose’s wife contracted famed outlaw John Wesley Hardin, now practicing law to represent the two rustlers. However Hardin and M’Rose’s wife fell in love with each other. The two lovers left Mexico leaving M’Rose and Queen behind.

Meanwhile, back in New Mexico a trap was being set for the rustlers. When they tried to cross back into New Mexico, M’Rose was killed in a hail of gunfire. Vic managed to escape and made it into Eddy County.

Vic decided to give up his life of crime and turn over a new leaf. He settled down and got married to a Mollie Lockwood on January 2, 1904 and found work at a mining company in Silver City, New Mexico. Apparently, not everyone believed he was now on the straight and narrow.
He was ambushed on December 17, 1904 getting shot twice in the back and taking a shotgun blast to the stomach, which killed him.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      I do love these historical bits you always put together so well.

      It amazes me how so many of these folks roamed so far on horseback. Just covering the same areas in a motorized vehicle seems to take forever, and moreso when travelling through Texas.

      I have to give them credit for having a sturdier rear-end than I've got, but I'm definitenly feeling sorry for their horses.


    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks - I always enjoy reading well written hubs.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)