Four armed bandits held up the Federal National Bank on December 10, 1924 and escaped in an automobile with $18,000. At the time, it was believed that all four of the perpetrators were identified. It led to the gathering of a posse of men from the surrounding counties, and a statewide search for the quartet of robbers.

Four armed bandits held up the Federal National Bank on December 10, 1924 and escaped in an automobile with $18,000. At the time, it was believed that all four of the perpetrators were identified. It led to the gathering of a posse of men from the surrounding counties, and a statewide search for the quartet of robbers.

Through photographs from the Oklahoma City “rogue’s gallery,” the four were identified by J.Frank Buck, president of the bank. They appeared to be “Blackie” Thompson, Ray Terrell, and R.J. Williams as the executors of the daylight bank heist. The driver of the bandit car was believed to be either Jeff Duree or H. Campbell. All were veterans of prison life. Thompson and Terrell were designated as desperadoes and killers.

Recovery of the Buick sedan used by the bandits and $754 were found about a mile and a half southwest of the Katy Depot on a creek near the unfrequented “pest house” road. It was the principal discovery of the day of the robbery. It caused the enlisting of officers from every adjoining county.

A mystery surrounding a clash and shooting Shawnee posse men encountered with a Nash touring car on the Highland highway two miles west of the city was cleared up that night. It was discovered that the occupants of the car did not heed the command of the officers to halt, and the officers then believed they were hijackers. A Ford roadster coming from the direction of Shawnee at the time did not stop and plunged down the highway, striking and injuring two of the posse men, Jim Urban and A.F. Collins.

Officers fired several shots at the fleeing automobiles in the hopes of halting the machines. Both Urban and Collins were severely injured and were rushed to the Shawnee Hospital.

However, there wounds proved not to be life-threatening.

Movements of the bandits had been traced by local and Oklahoma City officers up to the spot where the car was abandoned. Two of the bandits, believed to be Terrell and Thompson, were the duo who stole the Buick sedan that belonged to A.J. Holman, an Oklahoma City chauffeur on the night of December 9. Where the two other men were picked up was unknown.

Witnesses on the Highland highway west of Shawnee claimed they saw the four men speeding toward Shawnee. The officers said the four ate breakfast that morning at a small restaurant near the Katy Depot. At 8 A.M., the quartet proceeded towards the bank for their crime.

After the robbery, the bandits struck out to the north for Highland and then circled back to the south down Kickapoo and then east and north to a deserted spot known as “Chief” Young’s place. The loot was then buried along a small creek more than a half-mile from where the bandit car was found. Police Chief L.A. Brown headed the party that made the discovery of the hidden loot.

The police were convinced that the Sunday night filling station robbery was linked with the bank robbery. It appeared to them that both “jobs” were perpetrated by the same gang. It was also declared that the gang was believed to be responsible for the series of hijackings that occurred in Oklahoma City.

Buck, president of the Federal National Bank, said as he was opening his morning mail and the bank vaults were opened. He did not notice the entry of the bandits and was surprised with the command to “stick’em up.” When he glanced up, he was covered by two guns.

All the employees of the bank and customers were herded into the vault during the process.

When the bandits completed their task of stuffing all available currency into a big money bag, 10 people were locked inside the vault. By using a telephone inside the vault, the imprisoned officials communicated with the police. The party was released by Bob Herrington, a druggist, whose place of business was across the street from the bank.

One of the robbers acted as “chairman” of the reception committee that greeted customers as they entered the bank. Another of them stood guard at the rear door. A third guarded the prisoners at the vault, while the remaining member of the quartet scooped up all the available cash in a large money sack. There was $5,000 in currency in the rear compartment of the money tray that was overlooked by the bandits in their haste.

The man who covered Buck was a stocky-looking fellow wearing a brown raincoat. He weighed about 135 pounds and stood about 5’6” tall. The bandit who stood at the front door was about the same size. The third man in the bank was slightly larger at about 155 pounds and had on a gray suit. The fourth man, who stood at the rear door, was hidden and could not be described.

“You’re a lucky fellow,” one of the robbers told C.H. Wilhelm, a local cotton-ginner, after he was ordered to “stick’em up,” as he entered the bank. He was then asked if the money he was carrying in his pocket was insured. He told him no and was then ordered into the vault. The “Robin Hood” bandit was also very polite to the women employees of the bank.

One of the robbers displayed brutality and rough language in addressing the women and was reprimanded by another of the bandits. The women were allowed to drop their hands, but the men were commanded to keep their hands up.

Throughout the day, scores of posse men searched roads and highways in an around Shawnee. Sheriff departments of adjoining counties were added to the chase. Reports came in that farmers in every direction declared that they saw the speeding auto with four men. The police were at a loss as to which clue to follow.

The event would continue to develop through the following days. Early ideas about the robbers and their identity would eventually turn out to be wrong and misleading. Next week’s story will show that the complete investigation went another direction on the perpetrators.

 (These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. It can be purchased for $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is now at the printer’s office and is coming in October. All three volumes are more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. Volume three is priced at $35. A combination of two or three can be purchased at $30 each. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989; volume five 1990-2009; and volume six 2010-to the present, are scheduled in the next two to three years, bringing the history up to the current time of publication.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.