As news of a “$500 reward for the capture of the robbers, dead or alive, prefer them dead,” came over the telegraph wire on February 18, Sheriff Schmick and a posse, armed with “Winchesters and plenty of ammunition,” set out after the bandits, tracking them through the snow. That same night, the Times article states that,
Marshal Thomas and part of his posse came in to-night and reported that they had trailed the robbers until 2 o’clock to-day. When Thomas left the trail they were in the sand ruffs [sic], 15 miles south of Cisco, and traveling eastward. They found the spot where the robbers built a fire, ate a lunch, divided the money, and fed their horses. The robbers have not had a change of horses or any sleep. They know the woods perfectly.
According to Marshal Thomas, the robbers didn’t split up the money until February 18, when they were about 15 miles south of Cisco. This contemporary account reported by eyewitnesses provides a credible version of the facts as to where the robbers may have divided up their “change.” According to legend, it was at some point after each man got his share that the money was cached.
The end of the Bill Whitley Gang
The Times article ends with the cliffhanger, “Sheriff Schmick is still after them.” As determined as he apparently was, Sheriff Schmick eventually lost the trail, but the gang’s marauding days reached an end on September 25, 1888, when Bill Whitley was killed and another outlaw was captured in a gunfight with U.S. Marshals at Floresville, Texas.
Brack Cornett (also known as Captain Dick) escaped but was later shot out of the saddle outside Frio, Arizona Territory, by Alfred Y. Allee, a tough Texas lawman.
Did members of the Bill Whitley gang hide a stolen treasure somewhere near Cisco, Texas?
Combine the reported facts with the legend of buried bank loot that has been passed around campfires and dinner tables for more 120 years, and you have the makings of a fascinating lost treasure story that may be worth pursuing—if you are willing to do the research. An enterprising treasure hunter might visit the town, talk with the locals, peruse the museum, newspaper archives and library and come up with more clues.
If the legend of the Bill Whitley Gang’s lost treasure is true, a cache (or caches) of silver, gold and bank notes may still lie hidden about 15 miles south, and a little east, of Cisco, Texas—somewhere, as Marshal Thomas said, “in the sand ruffs,” perhaps near a long abandoned railroad track and marked by a crude cross and arrow carved in a boulder.