On Thursday September 21, 1876, fourteen days after the failed Northfield Bank robbery, the Younger Brothers and Charlie Pitts found themselves near Madelia, Minnesota, about ninety miles away from Northfield.
Having split with the James boys outside Mankato near Minneopa Falls, two of the outlaws approached seventeen year old Oscar Sorbel, who was milking cows in the field early that morning. Greeting him with a civil “Good Morning,” they then continued on to the house for breakfast.
Oscar tried to follow but couldn’t find them. When he returned home, however, he discovered two men had been there and left. Oscar rode from the farm house nine miles to Madelia, telling Sheriff James Glispin “robbers are about.”
A posse was formed, which chased the two outlaws into Hanska Slough. The fugitives were wet, cold, hungry, and badly wounded, and had settled in along Watonwan River. Sheriff Glispin placed Captain W.W. Murphy in charge of the posse because of his military experience.
Calling for volunteers, five men stepped forward: Colonel Thomas L. Vought, George Bradford, Benjamin Rice, Charles Pomeroy and S. James Severson. The posse formed a line, walking straight towards the bandits. Charles Pitts was the first to fire. Three minutes after the gun fight started, Pitts was killed. Cole Younger shot eleven times, Jim Younger fired five times and Bob Younger three times.
Madelia did not have a jail so the Younger Brothers were taken to the Flanders Hotel where they were doctored, given dry clothes and food. Women in town would bring them pies, they would pray with the Younger Brothers, and even cry with the boys. Charlie Pitts was photographed and then taken to the State Capitol where he was put on display. Visitors to see Pitts were charged 10 cents per person.