Home History Q&A Newton County Bank robbers caught

Newton County Bank robbers caught

Published on May 18, 2012 by in History Q&A
Question: Many years ago, Avo Brasel told of a bank robbery at Jasper. Do you have any information about this event?
Answer: Donna Dodson of the Bradley House Museum at Jasper could probably tell you more about this robbery than I, but it did happen and I’m sure Miss Avo Brasel had a vivid account of the event.
Newton County Bank in Jasper, AR A suspect in the March 29, 1927 robbery of the Newton County Bank said the group had planned the Jasper robbery while at a party in Omaha.
Masked bandits entered the Newton County Bank on the morning of March 29, 1927, and after holding up officials of the bank and locking them in a vault, they escaped and headed toward Russellville with an amount of money estimated to be $3,000.
According to stories, two customers, R.C. Arbaugh and Roy Springer, along with three bank employees, J.W. Moore, cashier; S.L. Nance, assistant cashier; and Miss Avo Brasel, bookkeeper, were in the bank when the bandits entered. After demanding that everyone put up their hands, one of the masked men entered the cashier’s cage and forced Mr. Moore to turn over cash and currency. After this was done, the trio then ushered the employees and customers into the vault and locked them in.
People on the street noticed the three men rushing from the bank to a waiting getaway car occupied by two or three men. About the same time, employees and customers in the vault escaped through a secret door and a posse was quickly formed by townspeople to give chase to what was described as a Lincoln touring car. The amount stolen quickly climbed to $6,400 in cash and several securities as soon as an inventory was taken.
Later in the afternoon, the men were surrounded on Dry Creek near Freeman Springs, but the posse was successful in catching only one of the men. A man by the name of Foreman was captured near Lurton. He admitted that their getaway car had been stolen at Fort Smith, and gave the names of other involved as “Blackie” Monroe, Joe Martin and Sandy McGehee. Foreman said the other men had left the car in the woods and were probably headed for Harrison.
This group had planned the Jasper robbery while at a party in Omaha, and traveled to Jasper the following day to hold up the bank. Foreman said he had only known the other men for a short time, but his record alone was enough to know that he was an experienced criminal. His record included time in the Oklahoma penitentiary for car theft, bootlegging and hijacking. The other bandits eluded the law for several days, and a $1,000 reward was offered for their capture.
On April 9, just eleven days after the Jasper robbery, Moore was taken to Joplin, Missouri to identify the men who had stolen a car at Lincoln. The men were listed as: Tom “Red” McCall, former convict and notorious safe cracksman, and Anderson Daughtery of Indian Territory. But Moore could not positively identify them as the robbers, so they were released. Shortly after $1,700 of the bank’s money was found in a mine dump near Joplin, warrants immediately were issued for McCall and Daughtery. Again, they were found and arrested, and along with Foreman, McGehee, Monroe and Martin, the gang had been rounded up. One old timer said that one of these men was a Newton County resident and had persuaded the others to come to Jasper “for easy pickins” – how true this is, I do not know.
Employees and customers of the Newton County Bank in 1927 were lucky they were still alive. “Red” McCall was wanted in Mountain Home for the slaying of a man, so he probably would have killed again if given a chance.
There are many stories of robberies and killings in the early years of our area, and it is fun to research this history, whether good or bad. The Boone County Heritage Museum in Harrison and the Bradley House Museum in Jasper both strive to preserve the history of this area. Please take time to visit your museum, who depend on public support for their existence.
The Boone County Heritage Museum, located on the corner of South Cherry and Central Avenue, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Come spend an afternoon with us!
This column appears Fridays in the Harrison Daily Times. Mail questions to Boone County Heritage Museum, P. O. Box 1094, Harrison, AR 72601. Marilyn Smith can be contacted at bchm@windstream.net
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