ROBBERY! Vermillion Monitor 11/12/1897

  • The State Bank of Vermillion Looted Last Sunday Morning, $2,200 Secured by the Burglars.
  • Early last Sunday morning, presumably between the hours of two and three o’clock, burglars entered the State Bank building, entered the vault, blew the safe open, secured $2,200 in gold, silver and paper money, and made good their escape before the robbery was discovered, which discovery was not made until about seven o’clock the following morning, when Dr. Bullard went out to his barn to take care of his horses and found the team, harness and buggy missing, and investigation soon brought to light the fact that the bank had been looted.
  • The team, hitched to the buggy, were afterward found tied at the east side of H.F. Bashford’s corn crib, just across the alley back of his hardware store, and had evidently been placed there by the robbers as a means of escape in case they were discovered and had to get out of town hurriedly.
  • Just how entrance was gained to the building is not known, but in the morning both the front and back doors were unlocked, though both doors had been carefully closed when the burglars left the building, and neither of the locks was injured.
  • The first attempt made at entering the vault was made by pounding the combination knob on the big door with sledges which had been secured by breaking into the tool chest in the Missouri Pacific railroad yard.
  • Towels and other like articles had evidently been wrapped on the knob to deaden the noise made by the pounding, and the knob was battered all out of shape, but the combination lock stood the test and baffled entrance from this point.
  • The next move was to go through the south side of the vault by removing a portion of the brick from the wall with a pick or crowbar, or both.
  • This move was successful and a hole was made large enough for a man to crawl through.
  • After gaining entrance to the vault the lock on the front door had been taken entirely off, which can easily be done with a screw driver.
  • Then attention was given to the safe containing the cash which had a time lock, and the only way to get inside of this was to blow it open, and this they did to a queen’s taste.
  • From all appearances nitro-glycerine was the explosive used for this purpose.
  • Both the front doors of the safe were blown entirely off the interior of the safe,wrecked and the contents scattered all over the vault floor.
  • According to those who heard the reports of the explosions, it required two shots to get into the safe, presumably the first tearing off the two heavy outside doors, and the second tearing out the small steel inner door.
  • There was about $2,250.00 in cash in the safe, and about $60.00 in nickles and pennies was picked up on the vault floor after the wreck.
  • Luckily for the stockholders and depositors the bank carried insurance against burglary sufficient to almost cover the loss, and the institution will be loser to only a small amount.
  • Nothing but the cash was taken by the robbers.
  • The prompt action of President Kinney and Cashier Hybskmann enabled the bank to open its doors for business at the usual hour Monday morning, and such is the confidence in the management of the institution that we have not heard of a single call by any depositor for his money, on account of the bank’s misfortune.
  • On the other hand we did hear of some parties walking up and making deposits of what money they happened to have with them, with the remark that a little cash might come handy at opening time.
  • Such confidence speaks well for the officers and management of the institution.
  • So far as we can say positively, no clue has as yet been found which directly points to the guilt of any certain party or parties, but of course rumors have been and are still thick regarding the matter.
  • Detectives are working on the case, and the guilty parties will likely be hunted down, as the insurance company which has to stand the heavy end of the loss, will leave no stone unturned that will tend to bring the culprits to justice.
  • All day Sunday crowds of people both from home and surrounding towns filed in and out of the building to view the wreck.
  • The floor of the vault was strewn with legal papers, blanks, checks, stationery, etc. as a result of the force of the explosion.
  • It was reported that Postmaster B. F. Johnson, had on the evening previous to the robbery, placed a hundred dollars or so in the bank vault, after the safe had been locked, merely for safe keeping and not as a deposit that the money was taken, and Mr. Johnson would have to lose the amount himself.
  • This is a mistake.
  • The gentleman did not have a cent in the bank either on deposit or otherwise.
  • A half dozen or more persons living near the bank heard the report of the explosion when the safe was blown open, but as it had been thundering during the night, they thought this report was the rumble of thunder also and paid no attention to it.
  • Consequently the burglary was not discovered until morning and the parties had made their escape.
  • The only clue so far found that would give any idea as to how the burglar or burglars entered or left the town, was the track of single man running west along the street in front of the M.E. church to the west side of town, thence south through the cornfield to the railroad track, where it was evident that the party had stood and waited for a train to pass.
  • J.F. Harper followed this trail to its ending and says that the party who made it wore about a No. 6 or 7, toothpick shoe.
  • A similar track was found leading into town from the southeast.

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