Sunday, December 11, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Posey Bank Bandits Get $10,000

Source: Evansville Courier, Evansville, Indiana March 11, 1925 page 1.



Four Unmasked Men Loot Trust Company of Cash and Bonds


Four Occupants of Building Locked In Vault; Robbers Flee in Auto

New Harmony March 10 - Four unmasked men held up the New Harmony Bank and Trust company shortly before four o'clock this afternoon, beat one of the officials of the company with the butt end of an automatic pistol, locked the four occupants of the bank in the vault, and escaped with $10,000 in cash and bonds.  The men fled in a large grey sedan, going in the general direction of Evansville on the Wadesville road.

So quietly did the bandits work that the quiet little town was unaware a bank holdup had occurred until an hour after the happening.

Four persons, Frank Steelman, secretary and treasurer, Mrs. Greg Schultz, assistant cashier, the Rev. J.A. Sumwalt, and John Watson were in the bank at the time.

Driving quietly up to the building, the four men left the motor of their car running and walked into the bank.  Three of them entered the cashier's room while one stood guard at the door.  With guns drawn, the bandits commanded the occupants of the bank to hold up their hands, then forced them to lie on the floor, face downward, while they scooped up all available cash in the cash drawer and on the counter.

Locked in Safe

Steelman was then ordered to open the steel safe in the vault, and when he refused was struck over the head with the butt of a revolver in the hands of one of the bandits.  He sustained a severe scalp wound.

Mrs. Schultz, assistant cashier, opened the door of the safe, which contained $4,000 in bonds.  The robbers emptied the safe.

All four were then ordered into the vault and the doors closed behind them.  Mrs. Schultz, overcome by the excitement, fainted and has been in a serious condition since, being under the care of a physician.

On leaving the bank, the bandits encountered Leslie Steelman, son of the secretary-treasurer, at the door.  The youth was forced at the point of a gun to enter a room at the rear of the building.  The bandits then fled in the awaiting machine, going in the direction of Evansville.

Young Steelman, within a minute after the bandits departed, opened the vault and released those imprisoned and telephones and telegraphs flashed the news to police authorities in adjoining cities and towns.

Frank Steelman, secretary and treasurer of the bank, said: "There were only four of us in the bank when the bandits entered.  Mrs. Schultz and I, and two patrons.  I was at the window of one of the cages and Mrs. Schultz was at the window of another.  The Rev. Mr. Sumwalt was at a counter.  The other patron in the bank was John Watson, ferryman.

Tells Story of Robbery

"I noticed a young man walk into the bank and enter my private office.  I walked to the door to see what he wanted and found myself covered with two automatics.  Another young man was behind him.  He immediately covered Mrs. Schultz.  The third covered the two customers while the fourth stood guard at the entrance.

"We were all forced to lie down on the floor, face downward, while the men rifled the cash drawer and took all the money on the counter.  There was about $6,000 in cash there at the time.

"They then told me to open the steel safe in the vault.  I replied that I couldn't do it and one of them struck me with the butt of an automatic causing a severe scalp wound.  Mrs. Schultz then opened the safe and then dropped to the floor in a faint.

"In the safe was about $4,000 in bonds.

"The four of us were then commanded to enter the vault.  They took the keys from us and locked the gates.  On leaving, they met my son, Leslie, at the door.  One of them covered him and took him to the rear of the building where they locked him in a room.  They then left the building, entered their car, and sped away.

"We called to Leslie and he opened the gates behind which we were locked.  I don't believe the bandits car could have been out of town by the time we got busy on the telephones calling the authorities of neighboring towns.

Escape In Grey Sedan

The car they were driving was a large grey sedan and was seen near Wadesville a few minutes after the robbery.

The story of the robbery, told by the Rev. Mr. Sumwalt coincides with that of Steelman.  The pastor said he was a customer in the bank when the robbers entered.  He said he did not see them enter the building.

"The first thing I knew of the affair was when I felt a gun punched into my ribs.  I looked up and the man holding the gun on me commanded me to hold up my hands.  I then saw the others in the bank covered.  I was forced to lie down on the floor with my face downward as were the others.  After the cash had been scooped up we were all locked up in the vault.  We were released by Leslie Steelman, son of Frank Steelman.

The loss is fully covered by insurance, Steelman said last night.

"We carried ____ insurance", Steelman said.  "I always provided for to cover _____ [last sentences illegible copy]

This article is another in a series of stories of Indiana bank robberies by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

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