Today In Western History: The Ocobock Bank Is Robbed!

June 3, 1871

It started off as a good day for the people of Corydon.  Everyone was at church to hear a speech promoting the railroad coming to town, which everyone knew also meant the coming of prosperity.  The speaker was to be the well-renowned orator, Henry Clay Dean.

Coincidentally, a few days ago had seen the arrival of four “cattle buyers” in the Lineville area, so people paid scant attention when those same four men, this time wearing linen dusters,  rode into town on the day of the meeting.  They happened to come in from the northeast corner of the town square, which just happened to be the location of the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office.  The office was full of money from the tax collections that had just finished earlier that week.  The lone clerk on duty was approached by one of the men, who asked him to make change for a $100 bill.  Because everyone else was at the rally, the ever helpful junior clerk suggested the men go down to the Ocobock Bank, thus unknowingly saving himself a lot of grief all the tax receipts.  The man thanked him and they left.

Very slowly and unobtrusively, the four men mounted their horse and rode down the street to the bank, where the lone clerk working there was not as lucky as his colleague in the Tax Office.   With drawn guns, the gunmen encouraged the clerk to open the safe and then helped themselves to about $10,000 

(which would be $199,738.68 in 2015 dollars)!  Because he had a very perverted sense of humor, Jesse led the gang down to the rally and interrupted the speaker with taunts of “You better check the bank!” and “Someone robbed the bank!”  The crowd thought it was a just a joke, and several minutes passed before the crowd realized it wasn’t.  Eyewitness descriptions of the bandits indicated they were Jesse and Frank James,

Jesse Woodson James and Franklin Alexander James, Missouri outlaws
Jesse Woodson James and Franklin Alexander James, Missouri outlaws

Cole Younger and Clell Miller.  Townsfolk soon realized the bank had been robbed by the infamous James-Younger Gang.  The treasurer’s clerk had given Jesse James directions to the bank!  They quickly formed a posse and pursued the bandits into Missouri, but were forced to end their search when the trail became too hard to follow, but it was too late and it is possible that knowing who they were chasing, their hearts may not have been fully in it.

 Legend says the gang leader tossed a silver dollar to a 9-year old boy, Amos Sheets, and told him to tell the crowd he had robbed the bank.  The famous Pinkerton Agency was hired to follow up on the robbery.  Clell Miller was later returned to Corydon to stand trial, but was found innocent because of an alibi placing him elsewhere on June 3.

The James-Younger Gang continued their crimes until their defeat on September 7, 1876 in Northfield, Minnesota. 



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