Northern Illinois University Press


The Brilliant Bandit of the Wabash

The Life of the Notorious Outlaw Frank Rande

Mark  Dugan with Anna  Vasconcelles

A fascinating and gruesome tale of one of the most malevolent Midwestern outlaws of the late 1800s

“Rarely in the 21st century will a ‘new’ character from the 19th century be offered to students of Wild West history, but Mark Dugan’s presentation of Frank Rande is one of those welcome rarities. This is a fascinating accounting of the life of a promising young man turning from a potential career in the field of education or religion to outright degradation and criminality.”—Roy B. Young, Editor of Journal of the Wild West History Association

This fast-paced biography tells the vivid story of a violent man who had delusional dreams of becoming a celebrated desperado along the lines of his hero, Sam Hildebrand, or Jesse James, yet he was ultimately forgotten by history. In the latter part of the 1870s, Charles Scott, alias Frank Rande, made headlines for his murderous crimes and publicity-seeking bravado. Rande tore through the Midwest, robbing citizens and shopkeepers and pawning his loot. At one point he went so far as to claim the mantle of a modern-day Robin Hood, but this was just another example of his relentless quest for fame.

Eventually burglary turned to assault, and assault escalated to murder. Rande’s spree took him through Fort Wayne, Indiana; Galesburg, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; to just outside of Peoria, Illinois, where he became a man with a price on his head—wanted for the murder of bricklayer Charles Belden. With the law in hot pursuit, Rande continued to crisscross the region, and the crime toll and body count mounted. But, unlike the dime novel heroes he idolized, Rande did not die in a blaze of gun smoke; rather, he was captured, tried for murder, sentenced to life in prison, and found hanged in a lonely prison cell in the Joliet Penitentiary.

Dugan and Vasconcelles delved deep into old newspaper archives and state prison records to recreate Rande’s brief, brutal career, chasing his faint trail through nearly four decades, multiple aliases, and several states. Rounding out this raw tale of a most heinous criminal, The Brilliant Bandit of the Wabash features dozens of compelling historical images, including Rande’s self-commissioned publicity photos, and macabre excerpts of his original poetry that had been published in newspapers of the day. This engaging volume is sure to fascinate fans of outlaws and the Old West, as well as those interested in learning more about this previously untold chapter in Midwestern history.

Mark Dugan is co-author of The Grey Fox: The True Story of Bill Miner, Last of the Old-Time Bandits and author of five other books including Knight of the Road and Cold Lead.

Anna Vasconcelles is a retired archivist who worked at the Illinois State Archives.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-424-8
The Brilliant Bandit of the Wabash $22.95