Sesquicentennial Highlights

Excerpts from the Plain Talk

By Cleo Erickson
1933 Citizens Bank Robbery

Miss Sloan then was ordered to get up from the floor and follow one of the bandits out the front door.  She was led around the bank corner to a waiting black sedan parked on Prospect Street near the rear of the bank of the bank building.  The bandit got behind the wheel and Miss Sloan stepped on the running board as directed.  The other holdup artists came out of the front door of the bank immediately afterward, escorting Chaney, Lloyd and Rev. Deer. The thugs could have escaped by a rear entrance to the bank, but they were not sure enough of this exit to try it.

Mr. Chaney was seated in the rear of the sedan, a bandit on each side of him.  A bandit took his place beside the driver and Lloyd was ordered to stand on the running board opposite Miss Sloan. With these three bank officials on the car for protection from any shooting, Rev. Deer was ignored and left standing near the car. The car then shot north on Prospect Street, turned east on Clark and then north on Dakota, stopping near the Episcopal Church to let the hostages go.

Before the car came to a stop, the bandit seated beside the driver said: "I've got a notion to bump this guy (meaning  Lloyd) off for lying to us."  One of the men seated beside Chaney turned to the banker and said:  "Could anyone have opened that safe in the vault?"  Chaney replied:  "No, no one could." "Lay off him" was Chaney's interrogator's advice to the man in the front seat.

When the car was coming to a stop near the church, Lloyd stepped off and fell into a muddy gutter.  Miss Sloan stepped off safely and Chaney was ushered from the car politely.  The car then whisked north on Dakota Street but not before a university student, Paul King, had run a block to get the license number.

The license number, 97-1696, Iowa, 1932, was issued originally to G. S. Eyer, of Sioux City, for a dodge car.  The sedan the bandits had was thought to be an Oldsmobile six.  The plates either were stolen or discarded ones.

When the bandits and the others went around the bank corner, they left Bolstad and Erickson to do as they pleased.  The two rushed into the Ross grocery, gave an alarm to the telephone office over the bank. Two of the telephone girls, Miss Vivian Chamberlain and Miss Georgia Chaussee, looked out the upstairs window just in time to see the bandit car, with Miss Sloan and Lloyd on the running boards, being driven away.  The girls notified the police and sheriff's offices and a short time later put in alarms to all nearby towns and cities.

Henry Roscamp, employee of the telephone company, telephoned WNAX at Yankton and an announcement of the stickup was on the air before the bandits had reached the city limits.

Morris Chaney, who hurried to his car when he saw what was up, and the telephone company manager, L. C. Hunt, accompanied by Policeman Fowler, soon were in hot pursuit of the bandits but, due to mistaken direction given by a pedestrian, turned west at Dartmouth instead of east.

Soon realizing an error, Chaney and Hunt turned their cars back east.  Chaney joined Fowler and Hunt drove north of the university.  Near the golf links Hunt spied a car loitering west of the highway.  Apparently Hunt's car was seen for the other car suddenly spurted out of sight.  Hunt attempted to catch up, but lost track of the car near the Wakonda road.

Other officials scoured the country side, but no trace of the bandits could be found.  It is claimed the robbers' car was seen in the Hub City vicinity.

Catching a ride back downtown, the three "kidnapped" bank officials soon were checking over the amount stolen.  They found the four thugs had taken $2,799.40, including $800 in silver.  The silver came from the bottom of the safe, while the currency was taken from a counter drawer.  Three hundred dollars in silver in plain sight on the counter and a fairly large sum in small change in the bottom of the safe were ignored.  A $100 Canadian bond with coupons in the counter cash drawer was overlooked.

It is the belief of officials that the bandits had several sets of license plates and more than likely more than the one car.  It is suspected the quartet ditched their sedan, split up and went different ways in the two other cars.

Officials at the courthouse report that a big grey sedan, with five men inside, drove up and down West Main Street Monday morning.  The car had Yankton county license plates.  Very early Monday morning four young men drove into Vermillion in two cars.  They ate light lunches at the Kale café and signed up for rooms at the Waldorf hotel.  Their names appear on the register as follows: W. B. Reiner, Chicago, C. B. Hummel, Chicago, T. P. Israel, Detroit, C. Reiner, Detroit.  The descriptions seem to tally with those of the bandits.

About 10 o'clock Monday morning the four men came downstairs, ate breakfast in the grill.  Later they ate lunch and then checked out about 1:30, according to the clerk, Frank Valentine.  Valentine observed their cars in front of the hotel, one a Chevrolet coach with wire wheels and the other a larger car. After shaking hands, the men got into their autos, both being driven west.

A little after 2:00 o'clock, four men drove up to the Shell oil station on West Main in a six cylinder sedan.  They purchased 10 gallons of gasoline, some oil and had the radiator filled with water before continuing east.  Lawrence Huetson, the attendant, gives descriptions of the men which tally with those of the bandits.

The bank loss was fully covered by insurance with the National Surety Co.  A man from the U. S. department of justice was here Tuesday to investigate the stickup.

Continued Next Week

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