Born Harvey Logan in Dodson, Missouri, in 1865, he was the eldest of four boys. They were orphaned in the early 70s and went to live with an aunt, Mrs. Lee. She remembered them as "well mannered boys who regularly attended bible school every Sunday" but by the time he was nineteen Harvey had set out with two of his brothers Lonny, eighteen, and Johnny, sixteen, hoping to become cowboys.
Their association with the cattle trade was not entirely legal, however, and they fell in with a gang of rustlers in Wyoming. The leader of the gang was an ugly man with a distinctive swagger and an even more distinctive name--Big Nose George Curry. Harvey was fascinated by the man and from then on adopted the name Kid Curry.
In appearance the Kid lagged a long way behind Ben Murphy. He stood 5 feet 7 ½ inches and weighed 150 lbs. His eyes were dark brown and a heavy moustache lay like a dead rat under his prominent nose. At the end of his long thin arms two six-guns rested in their well worn holsters.
Despite his appearance the Kid had his fair of success with women, perhaps because he was invariably polite to them and always acted the gentleman. In fact it was because of a girl, a pretty young miner's daughter called Elfie, that Kid Curry shot and killed his first man--Pike Landusky, her stepfather.
Fifty-five year-old Landusky had long been critical of the Kid's association with his stepdaughter, and there was a terrible tension every time the two men were near. Finally Curry, finding Landusky half drunk in a bar, smashed him hard in the face. In the fight that followed the Kid goaded Landusky into going for his gun and then shot him down. There would be seven more entries in the murder column of his Pinkerton file.
The spring of 1898 found Kid Curry with a couple of robberies and a prison break under his belt, a hardened criminal nursing a grievous hatred for Jim Winters, a farmer who had shot Johnny when the three brothers had ridden to his farm to kill him for informing. He was hiding in the Hole-in-the-Wall territory along with the Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy and boasting Big Nose and Elza Lay in its ranks. Lonny was still with him but was soon to leave, pursed relentlessly over two years by cowboy detective Charlie Siringo and Pinkerton Agent Bill Sayles. When there was nowhere left to run Lonny fled home to Dodson and he met Sayles and a possee one snowy February morning in 1900, an incident that the Kansas City Post laconically recorded with a picture of the body and the headline "Tough here on crooks".
The Kid was set for bigger things. With the rest of the Wild Bunch he held up the Overland Flyer at Wilcox, Wyoming, and deprived the Union Pacific of 30,000 dollars. The gang shared considerably less, as in trying to open the safe they had blown up the whole mail car and scattered the haul all over the place. During the raid Cassidy had to restain the Kid from murdering Woodcock, the messenger, and W.R. Jones, the engineer. The robbery, and a later one involving Woodcock, can be seen humorously treated in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the film that inspired the Alias Smith and Jones series.
FACT AND FICTION
But the fact and the fiction are miles apart. A large possee was soon on their trail and the Kid, Elza Lay and Big Nose George Curry found themselves trapped in a gully at Teapot Creek. The Kid killed Sheriff Joe Hazen in a desperate battle that saw them driven two miles into a dead-end canyon.
Luck was with them, however, for that night the moon was hidden by clouds and after a vote they managed to slip out of the canyon on their bellies, taking all of their money with them. They walked through the night until they came to a farm where they bought horses and ammunition. They joined up with Cassidy again in a pre-arranged spot and rode three hundred miles to make good their escape.
Whereas Butch Cassidy was a genuinely likeable man, Kid Curry was not. He was cold and ruthless, spoke little and drank a lot. By the autumn of 1901, with train robbing virtually played out and with Butch and the Sundance Kid about to make off for South America, Kid Curry was one of the West's most hunted men. He had murdered two lawmen and two cowboys the year before, and with bounty hunters, Pinkerton Agents and Sheriffs following his trail of stolen bank notes he was becoming even more vicious. He gained his revenge on Winters and added Oliver Thornton and another Sheriff to his list. After a fight in a pool hall where he wounded two deputies he fell thirty feet from the building and, bleeding badly from a bullet hole in his shoulder, he crawled out of Knoxville, Tenessee, as desperate and mean as a man can be.
Thirty miles out of town he was surrounded by a possee and arrested. In November of 1902, after much legal wrangling, a jury found Kid Curry guilty of murder. An appeal was turned down and the evening of Saturday, June 27th 1903, found him waiting to be transferred from Knoxville to the escape proof' Columbus penetentiary in Ohio.
"Beautiful sight, isn't it?"
he said to his guard, a man called Irwin, and nodded casually
towards the window.
"Isn't it?" answered Irwin, turning slightly to take in the sunset.
The Kid reached through the bars in an instant, lassoing Irwin round the neck with a short piece of wire. After binding his hands he picked up a couple of pistols and, using another guard as a shield, stole the sheriff's horse and rode off.
The Kid had planned his escape well. When his appeal had been turned down he feigned uncontrollable rages, smashing up his cell and screaming. All the while he was carefully gathering together the instruments that would set him free--a broom wire to lasso the guard, and a bucket handle on a strip of bedding to hook the keys from the sheriffs desk.
END OF AN OUTLAW
But, outside, times had changed and the Kid found the going grim. He knew that the train robbing days were over and he tried to reach Butch Cassidy in South America. But the heat was on and he fled first to Montana, then to Colorado. He had shaved his moustache, and the constant running had made him thin and ragged. He formed a gang in Parachute, Colorado, and on July 7th 1903 he led them on what was to be his last raid.
They stopped a train and blew the safe, but the pickings were poor. A huge posse was sent out after them, and after a chase of two days and two nights they found themselves cornered in a small canyon. During an exchange of fire a deputy thought he hit one of the men. The posse heard another outlaw call to the wounded man.
"Are you hit?"
"Yes, and I'm going to end it here."
There was a pause and a shot, and the battle hotted up again. Two of the gang got away, but the third was found behind a rock with his gun in his hand and a hole in his temple. He was drawn, haggard, in scraggly clothes and battered hat. Nobody recognised him as Kid Curry.
In fact Lowell Spence, a Pinkerton Agent who had hunted Kid Curry, Butch Cassidy and Harry Longbaugh--the Sundance Kid--had to go to Colorado and dig up the body before official identification could be made.
And then, at last, Harvey Logan, alias
Kid Curry, the tiger of the Wild Bunch, slayer of at least eight
men, was finally laid to rest, killed by his own hand.
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