Friday, November 24, 2023
This is the only known photo of The McElroy Boys Gang from left to right Luke, Clyde and Dud. It was taken on April 25, 1868 shortly before their one, only (and unsuccessful) bank robbery. Noted Texas historian, W.F. Gray has (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) given them the moniker “The Not So Wild Bunch”. Gray does record, however, in his locally award winning book, “Another 1001 Useless Facts About Texas History” that the boy’s father, Joe Henry, had walked all the way home to Texas from Virginia after The Civil War only to die on the door steps in his wife, Olivia’s arms, as their sons helplessly looked on. Olivia, stricken with grief, wandered out into the woods and died just a few hours later from a broken heart.
It was at that moment, the orphaned boys were left to fend for themselves. They eked out a minimal existence by eating wild berries and hickory nuts but soon turned to a life of petty crime. This eventually led to that fateful spring day where they walked into the Nacogdoches Wells Fargo brandishing pistols demanding all the money in the vault. Things quickly went from bad to worse as Luke dropped his rifle on the floor. The rifle misfired, shooting Dud squarely in the ass. The bank president’s hound dog woke up from a nap and with an evil glint in his eyes, lunged at Clyde and took a huge bite out of his arm. As quickly as it had begun, the bank heist was a bust.
The McElroys scattered in separate directions running across the brick paved streets into the woods just the other side of the river. The local sheriff pursued them into the forest but soon figured that a hot dinner waiting for him at the house was way more important than catching those three McElroy morons so he shrugged his shoulders and gave up pursuit. That’s where the paper trail ends on the McElroy Boys Gang.
There was however, a brief reference in a letter found in a safe deposit box in an old Fort Worth warehouse in 1933. The letter is addressed to a “J.H. McElroy Jr”. The author begins the letter “Dear Brother Dud…” and is only signed, “With Warm Regards…C.” Were we to believe that this was indeed a letter from Clyde to Dud, then it might appear that after their aborted robbery, Clyde made his way down to Galveston, stowed away on a ship and sailed half way around the world to New Zealand where apparently, he found love, lived a long life and was modestly financially successful as a gold prospector and brewer of craft beers. But, alas, we will never know for sure.