Sunday, August 07, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Police Keep On Trail Of The Bandits

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, November 27, 1924, page 1.



Many Clues, But None Had Resulted In Arrests At Early Hour Today -- Bank Is Robbed of $ 4,000 In Middle of Afternoon, Robbers Displaying Remarkable Nerve -- No One Injured, Not a Shot Fired -- Bank Fully Insured

In the middle of the afternoon yesterday, when the sidewalks in the vicinity were filled with people, none of whom knew the very unusual thing which was happening on the inside, not even the operator of the filling station, directly across the street, seven bandits, young, unmasked, well dressed, believed to be the same gang at Converse a week ago, held up the officers, and two customers of the South Marion State Bank, at Thirty-first and Washington streets, about 2:45 o'clock, robbed the bank of approximately $4,000 in currency, thereupon, in a cool and collected manner, just as if they were transacting an ordinary business affair, they jumped into their purring Nash motor car at the curbside, and drove rapidly away, less than five minutes passing from the time they entered the bank until they were on their way out of the city, followed closely by the police.

Clues galore have come in, the police are working desperately on the case, through the late afternoon and long hours of the night they scoured the countryside for miles around but no definite trace of the band had been received.

No One is Hurt

No one was injured, not a shot was fired, the employees and customers of the bank who were there at the time scarcely had an opportunity to suffer from the nervous shock, for almost before the robbery occurred, it was over.

Five of the men went inside, two stayed outside.

The first of the five, probably the leader, walked to the door of the cash room and ordered "hands up."

The other four followed closely behind.

The cashier and bookkeeper and one of the customers were ordered into the vault.  Still another customer, a woman, was forced into the back room.

No one there attempted to resist, it was realized such would be ridiculous.

The thieves talked little, little was said by anyone, the gang had evidently studied the situation, knew the surroundings and carried out their job with clockwork precision, and almost uncanny accuracy.

They failed in trying to lock up the force and one of the customers in the vault, but they raised the revolvers and eyed them closely.

Is Fully Insured

The loss is fully protected, the board of directors carrying the heavy and reliable burglar insurance.

Following a report that several men answering the description of the bandits in a car said to be a Nash, had stopped at Thirty eighth and Washington streets before the noon hour yesterday and inquired the road to Muncie, Chief of Police Frank Brandon and Captain Jake Campbell left for Muncie last night, but had not returned at a late hour.  The bandits worked so smooth and fast, that but very few clues were left to work upon.

Soon on the Trail

Immediately after the robbery the police were notified.  Chief Brandon, accompanied by Captain Campbell and Patrolmen Braden and Marsh, armed with riot guns and shot guns left the police station and reached the bank within ten minutes, where a description of the car and bandits was given.  They then drove south, in which direction the bandits left after the robbery, and for more than two hours covered many roads in every direction from Marion to Anderson and Muncie, but failed to get sight of a clue of the robbers.  They returned to the city after dark.

Many Towns Notified

Sixteen towns and cities within a fifty mile radius of Marion were notified by the police of the robbery within a short time.  A few minutes later a telephone call was received from Liberty Center, near Bluffton, that a Nash car had been driven at a fast rate of speed east through that town and was been the bandits.  Another report brought in was that a Nash car was seen going west on State Road No. 35 a short time after three o'clock.

From reports received by South Marion residents, the bandits, after leaving the bank drove south on Washington street.  At the Scientific Milling company plant at Thirty-second and Washington streets, Harry Jones, manager stated that a large car with yellow license plates, corresponding to the plates seen on the bandit car, had narrowly missed hitting a team standing at that place and were travelling at a fast rate.

Near the corner of Thirty-fourth and Washington streets, where a number of city employees were at work in a ditch, the same car narrowly escaped going into the ditch.

Employes [sic] remarked that the party in the car must be trying to get out of town for some good reason.

Residents along East Thirty-eighth street, reported a car of this description as going east on that street, near the Home corner.

Byron Baxter, cashier of the bank stated that the loss is fully covered by insurance and that no loss would be sustained by bank patrons or the bank.

When It Happened

At two forty-five, within fifteen minutes of the closing hour of the bank, Mr. Baxter, cashier, and Miss Margie Warren, assistant cashier, were in the bank, as were two customers, M.E. Pope of the Pope Grey Iron foundary [sic], and Mrs. George Van Cleave, each of whom came into the bank to make deposits.  As the patrons were at the windows, five men, none masked, entered the bank, one of whom appeared to be the leader marched ahead of the four others, who were grouped together.

They walked back to the side door leading into the bank cage, when they drew guns on the bank officers and customers and gave a command for them to turn their faces to the walls.  

An instant later, the bank officers were told to come back and walk into the vault in the rear.

Shoved Into Vault

They were shoved in, together with Mr. Pope.

An attempt was then made by the bandits to lock the vault, but their efforts failed and the three persons were ordered to obey their commands.

Mrs. Van Cleave was ordered to step into a rear room.

Two of the men then walked to the cash drawer, where they gathered all of the money in sight, including $50 which Mr. Pope had just deposited.

While they were busy at the cash drawer, the three other bandits told Cashier Baxter to open the safe, which he did.

Valuable bonds and papers, which were picked up by them were thrown down on the floor, while a box of silver money amounting to $200 was picked up and then set down again, not being taken on account of its weight.

The bandits then walked out of the bank and jumped into their auto and drove rapidly south on Washington street.

Bandits Described

Mr. Baxter described the bandits as being from 25 to 30 years old and well dressed.  He said that they worked with a system and that the robbery was completed in a little more than a minute.  According to persons outside, the bandits' car was a Nash, blue body with wire wheels and carried a yellow license plate.  No one secured the license number or the state from which it was issued, but it was stated that Michigan license plates as well as Pennsylvania are of a yellow color, while Illinois license plates of yellow lettering.

From the description given of the bandits and of the apparent circling around the county after the robbery, it is thought that they are the same robbers who held up and robbed the Farmers National Bank at Converse a week ago yesterday.

According to citizens who were in the vicinity at the time, the bandits' car came up to the bank from the north and parked in front of the bank.  The robbery was done so quickly that not one person in the community, even the persons in the filling station across the street, were aware of what was taking place until the robbers had completed their work and disappeared.

The report of the robbery spread quickly throughout the city and the news that the robbers were using a Nash car was also spread quickly and many people began to look for Nash cars.  Last night a man who resides on Thirty-eighth street, reported to the police that he was the owner of a Nash car which had a Michigan license plate on and he desired to tell the police that it was not his car which was used in the robbery.

The board of directors of the bank had just held a meeting at the bank last Monday night, when the subject of the recent bank robberies in the state was taken up and a special inquiry was made to see that the bank customers were well protected and that there was sufficient insurance carried by the bank to insure no loss to anyone.

Officers of Bank

The officers of the bank, which is located at Thirty-first and Washington streets, are Ernest Prior, president; Carl F. Barney, vice-president, and Byron W. Baxter, cashier.  The directors are Ernest Prior, Carl Barney, E.S. Townsend, J.D. Williams, William Berger, W.B. Stephenson, Guy Boots, M.A. Bartels and John Hungerford.  The bank is a member of the Indiana Bankers Association.

This account of cousin Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934) and his gang of bank robbers was located at the Marion Public Library.  In late 1924 and early 1925, Harry led a group of ex-cons in terrorizing a number of banks around Indiana.  The South Marion State Bank job, and others like it, laid the ground work for the later robberies of the Dillinger "Terror Gang."  The robbery and subsequent capture of members of the gang, generated a lot of ink in the Marion newspapers.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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