Sesquicentennial Highlights

Excerpts from the Plain Talk

By Cleo Erickson

$2,799 Cash Obtained by Quartet From Citizens
Bank Monday
Is First Stickup in
Sixty Years of Banking
History Here

The first bank holdup in Vermilion's 60 years of banking history occurred here Monday afternoon at 2:20 when four unmasked, youthful bandits carrying sawed-off shotguns strolled into the Citizens' Bank & Trust Co. and escaped a few minutes later with nearly $2,800.00.

Indications are the holdup was perpetrated by a group of Omaha ex-convicts.  Talking with several local men Monday night, Sioux City's Chief of Detectives Green said the descriptions of the bandits who did the job here tally with those of an Omaha gang.  Efforts will be made to have local persons who saw the bandits view police photos of the Omaha suspects.

Some sort of identification may result from photos of fingerprints taken at the bank Tuesday night by D. V. Baker, of the Merchant's Mutual Alliance, of Sioux Falls.  Those who went to Sioux City to look at the rogue's gallery Monday were Chief of Police Fowler, Lawrence Huetson, an old station attendant who sold gas to the bandits just before the robbery, C. T. Bolstad, who was in the bank at the time of the holdup, and George Russell, who has been assisting his brother, William Russell, in the sheriff's office.  Examination of the Sioux City rogue's gallery was futile.


A temporary kidnapping of three of the bank's officials featured the holdup.  After the men had gathered up the loot, the bank president, M. J. Chaney, and the two assistant cashiers, Miss Maud Sloan and Lester Lloyd, were taken along in the bandits' car as protection.  They were released without harm in front of the Episcopal Church on Dakota street.

This holdup was so neatly and quietly performed that pedestrians chatting near the bank did not notice anything unusual until it was all over with.  Rev. W. C. Deer, pastor of the Baptist church, walked in front of the bank while the holdup was in progress, glanced in the window and saw nothing to arouse his curiosity; in fact, he went on into the bank to look for C. E. Prentis.

Across the street, standing in the Gunderson Hardware store, a Standard Oil Co. representative saw the bandits enter the bank and leave a short time later with their hostages, but his curiosity was not aroused until a crowd began to gather.  In this same store, his attention diverted elsewhere, was Morris Chaney, cashier of the bank.


The bandits, all neatly dressed and wearing long overcoats, under which they concealed their "artillery", nonchalantly entered the bank's front door a step or two behind Plain Talk's editor, Mr. Bolstad.  Having almost shut the door in their faces, Bolstad turned about, said:  "Pardon me."  Before he knew what was happening, one of the bandits was escorting him towards the customer's room in the rear.

Two of the three bandits up front then leaned against the counter with the noses of their guns barely showing. 

"Shhh!" said one of them.

Lester Lloyd, who, with Miss Sloan, was the only one behind the counter, looked up and started to arise from his desk, saying: "Beg pardon?"

"Shhh!" again cautioned one of the bandits.  A swear word or two and then:  "This is serious! This is a stickup!"

In a flash the two men at the counter were behind the counter, one leaping over and the other hurrying around a front opening.  The third man remained just inside the front door.

In the customer's room into which Bolstad had been hurried were the bank's president, Mr. Chaney, and a Greenfield farmer, A. D. Erickson, with whom he was conferring.  The lone bandit lined these three men near the wall and told them to keep still.

In the meantime the two bandits behind the counter were busy searching counter drawers.  Miss Sloan was commanded to lie on the floor and Lloyd was taken into the bank vault to help round up money.


While the lone bandit was behind the counter, Rev. Deer passed by and looked in.  He saw the strange man behind the counter, but thought it might be a bank official from outside of town.  The bandit behind the counter whispered to the bandit near the front door:  "Bring that fellow in here".  Just then Rev. Deer turned, entered the bank.  He started to put his hands on the counter when the bandit by the door, who had escaped Rev. Deer's notice, said "Keep your hands down!"

Thinking someone was kidding him; Rev. Deer looked at the young man and smiled. The bandit then held open his coat and pointed to a sawed-off shotgun hanging inside.  Following instructions, Rev. Deer hurried to the customer's room and was lined up beside Bolstad, Chaney and Erickson.

The thug who had rushed Lloyd into the vault learned, much to his surprise, the inside safe was locked.  Lloyd explained, he could not open this safe as it was on time lock. 

"He's lying" said a bandit outside the vault.  "Bump him off".

Another of the b bandits turned to Chaney and asked him about the safe.  He simply shook his head.  Asked about the lower part of the safe, Lloyd said he could open that and did.  In it was several hundred dollars in silver which was dumped into sack procured by Lloyd.
Continued next week.

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