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The Cowley County Bank Robbed


Arkansas City, Kansas in 1872

     Thought I would share a bank robbery that happen on The border of Indian Territory 1978. How many of these things happen and the bandits used the territory for protection.

ARKANSAS CITY, AUG 1878, THE COWLEY COUNTY BANK ROBBED OF $2000

     Generally speaking, there is little to create an excitement in our town, though we live on the border of the Indian Territory, that harbor for all horse thieves and desperadoes who are fleeing from State Justice. Last Wednesday, however, our people were rudely awakened from their dreams of security from invasion by lawless characters, by the report that Cowley County Bank had been robbed in broad daylight, and that robbers were heading west with their booty as fast as their horses could carry them. The particulars as near as we can gather from thousands and one statements afloat are as follows:

     At ten minutes of ten o'clock on that morning, four horsemen rode into town, two of whom put up at Finney's livery stable, and gave orders to have their horses fed immediately, but not unsaddled, as they would want them soon. Behind each saddle were a two-bushel seamless sack and a pair over-alls, and small saddle bags were attached. They inquired particularly as to the time of day, and also were anxious to gain all the information the could concerning a herd of ponies near Caldwell, the exact location, condition of ponies, etc. The other two horses were taken to a different portion of the town, and left standing.One of these men that stopped at the stable was known Mr Finney as a person who used to herd for Mr. Smythia, several miles south of here, and went by the name of Jim Kennedy. He is about five feet, eight to nine inches in height, dark complexion, with dark brown moustache and chin whiskers trimmed short and is probably between thirty and thirty-five years of age. The other one was six feet in height, sandy complexion, with light brown moustache.

     At five minutes after 12, just after Major Sleeth, president of the bank, had gone to dinner, a man stepped into the bank and requested Mr. Fred Farrar, who , in the absence of this brother, H.P. Farrar, acts in the capacity of cashler, to change a twenty-dollar bill. Mr. Farrar seeing that the bill was genuine, turned to make change, when the man exclaimed roughly; "Here! Hand that bill back!" Naturally a little surprised, Farrar looked up. only to see the muzzle of a large six-shooter staring him in the face, and before he could recover from the shock, two men, each with their revolvers cocked and pointed at him, stepped around the counter and politely invited him to come into the back room. Realizing in a moment that resistance was more than useless, Mr. Farrar cooly replied; "All right, Sir," and walked back, when one man guarded him, while the others went thought the safe, taking all the money that he could find, the third man standing guarding the main door. By the time the money was taken, the fourth man, who was standing with the other two horses on the corner some fifty yards away, walked into the bank, and two of the robbers waited with Mr. Farrar while the other two went for the horses. Bringing the horses up to the door, they all mounted, turned to Farrar, and with a polite, "Good Day, Sir" they galloped off. The whole proceedings in the bank had not occupied over five minutes.

     Mr Farrar immediately gave the alarm, and in an instant all was confusion. Men rushed up and down the streets in search of horses and firearms, seemingly beret to their senses. C.S. Mitchell and J.R. Stafford were first in the saddle, and stated after them in the direction of Salt City. Stafford caught a glimpse of them and cutting across the country, came near enough to them to fire, which he did. The leader looked around at him and cooly remarked a few bad words, leveled his gun and returned five, the bullet singing past Stafford's ear, but not striking him. As all the party stopped, Stafford thought he better go behind a small mound of sand, and just as he dropped down, another bullet from the robbers threw sand all over his face. Mr. Stafford returned this shot, when the men touched up their horses and galloped easily off. By the time a crowd of our citizens had arrived on the spot and all joined in the chase. After they had passed the "jack oaks" northeast of town, the pursuers could find no trace of them, and concluded they were hiding in the oaks, when they turned back and sent word to town for more men and guns that they had the robbers corralled in the oaks. Here is where the great mistake was made as the thieves were still going towards Salt City and crossed the ferry at the place shortly after 1 o'clock. Our men did not discover their mistake until late to catch up with them, through the party in pursuit crossed the Salt City ferry one hour and a half behind them.

     By the time Bolton township was aroused, and Frank Lorry, with two more framers, in company with Mr. Knight, of this place, started west, keeping near the line. They soon struck the trail of the robbers, and hearing that they were not more than a mile ahead, Lorry told a Mrs Lucky to send her husband to town for reinforcements. Mrs. Lucky ran a half a miles, with a baby in her arms, to where her husband was plowing, but for some reason he did not come in. When the party arrived At a Mr. Peter's Ranch, on the Chikaskia River, some 20 miles west. Mr. Geroger Peters turned out with them and rendered most valuable assistance in the pursuit, besides furnishing feed for the worn-out horses. They followed them until Thursday night, when the robbers gave them the slips at mid-night, and got away, though the party would have chased them to Fort Sill had they had re-enforcements. But not meeting these, and their own horses being completely worn out, the party of four were compelled to return. They desired to return hearty thanks to Mr. Peters for his assistance, and enthusiastic in his praises.

     Mr. Farrar described the man that presented the bill as being 5 feet, 7 inches, light complexion and smooth face, and the fourth one was nearly 6 feet tall, and wore a moustache.

     Some think the leader was one of the notorious Jones Boys, but there is nothing reliable as to this. However that may be, it was the coolest piece of business our citizens ever witnessed, and despite the hot weather, they are not desirous of seeing another.

     A Reward of $100 each for the robbers, dead or alive, has been offered, and $500 for the return of the money, or a proportionate sum for what can be regained.

     {Arkansas City in on the Kansas/Oklahoma border about five to seven miles from the line.}