“Blackie” Thompson was tabbed as the probable leader of the gang that raided the Federal National Bank on December 10. The event netted the thieves $18,000. The officers admitted that as far as his criminal abilities were concerned, he was the “Mastermind of Crookdom.”


“Blackie” Thompson was tabbed as the probable leader of the gang that raided the Federal National Bank on December 10. The event netted the thieves $18,000. The officers admitted that as far as his criminal abilities were concerned, he was the “Mastermind of Crookdom.”

The scene was located in the heart of the business district, and no one ever thought that “bad guys” would ever try such a heist, and then be successful. Yet it apparently went off like clockwork.

Whoever was behind the robbery and the planning of it, did so with thorough familiarity of the country surrounding the city. It was suggested at the time that “Blackie” may have assistance in the way of advice about Shawnee. The theory that the money left buried in the creek bank could have been loot for a confederate who helped them to plan the robbery.

First, a planned get-away was handled with perfection. The very boldness of the raid made it successful. Timed as it was early in the morning, meant there were few loungers about the bank. While the three men went into the bank, the fourth, if there was a fourth, stayed outside and kept the motor running in the get-away car. The auto was parked at the side of the bank and protected from view by other cars. Inside the bank, the robbers acted with precision in carrying out the raid, which was a credit to “Blackie’s” 25 other raids he was accredited with.

When the robbers left the bank, there was no one inside to spread the alarm. They may have “slipped a cog” a bit by not noticing a telephone in the vault. However, they may have realized that with the escape plan, they only needed a couple or three minutes head start.

Then providence, luck of the devil, or whatever that protects bandits, took a hand. Those standing outside the bank saw the trio as they emerged with the money bag in hand. But, previously president J.Frank Buck had been carrying money out to Cromwell in exchange for checks. The observers thought they were bankers and bodyguards leaving the bank for the field.

Those who watched the car leave the bank lost view of the vehicle after one block, as it turned east. They were pursued all over most of the south part of town around the river. Then the pursuers were “crossed up.” The officers assumed that the raiders would choose a main road that would take them away from Shawnee and the pursuit of local authorities.

“Blackie” and his gang turned off the main road and entered a cotton field and began splitting their loot within 30 minutes of the heist. The road through the cotton field wound around a large hill. After traveling a short distance from the road, the car disappeared. Some cotton pickers saw the auto, but suspected the men were hunters. A few steps from the car placed the men in a ravine, where they buried cash in the amount of $754.

There were tracks around the ravine, which led to everywhere and nowhere. This caused an end to the pursuit. The gang had slipped away, even though officers continued to “beat the bushes” all day.

The one big mistake that “Blackie” made was that he did not wear a mask during the bank holdup. He was “mugged” and now his photo was out among all the law officers. There was a national search for him. It will turn out in the near future, that he was blamed for a crime that he did not commit.


Two women, giving their names as Bobby Livingston and Helen Cardwell were confined in the Shawnee city jail on the night of December 11. They were about to face charges of robbery with firearms regarding the holdup at the Pioneer Filling Station on December 7. The two girls were arrested in Oklahoma City and admitted their connection with the crime after being identified by the two men who were kidnapped during the robbery.

A “dragnet” in Oklahoma City following the discovery of the gray Cadillac that was used in the heist was located and it eventually led to the two girls. Livingston claimed at the time that she was married to a man named Martin, and they hailed from Tennessee. In speaking of the alleged “bandit flapper,” and the language she used in the presence of Ferguson and Ashford while they were kidnapped, she said was only a “bluff.” Both girls denied that they used tobacco.

Following the arrests of the two females, theories were abiding about the connection between the robbery-kidnapping and the holdup at the Federal National Bank.

(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, is scheduled for the fall of 2020; volume five 1990-2009, should be available in the fall of 2021; and volume six 2010-to the present, is scheduled for the fall of 2022. They are also available on thumb drive at the PCHS Museum. Volume Three, 1950-69 in thumb drive is currently available for purchase at Museum.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.