Valley View, TX Bank Robbery and Town Fire, Dec 1924
Bandits Loot and Burn Valley View
Blow Banks’ Safes, Get Large Sum, Then Set Fire To Town.
One Arrest Is Made
Citizens Helpless Against Elements, Watch Flames Do Damage of $200,000.
By The Associate Press.
Ardmore, Ok., Dec. 19.-A man is held by city police here in connection with the robbery of two banks in Valley View, Texas, early Friday morning. The name of the man who is poorly dressed, has not been ascertained. The man was said by officers to have been intoxicated when arrested and had $1,279 in cash. Citizens from Valley View are expected to arrive here early Saturday morning to try to identify the man.
Special to The News.
Gainesville, Texas, Dec.19.-Armed posses are searching Cooke County, despite near-zero weather, for bandits who early Friday morning blew safes in two banks at Valley View, ten miles south of here, secured $12,100 in cash and more that $100,000 worth of notes and securities, set the town on fire and escaped. Ten buildings in the business district were consumed with a loss of $200,000. Citizens, virtually helpless against fire and cold, fought the blaze as best they could. Then they organized posses, determined to run down the vandals.
Late Friday night there were several well-developed clues. The Sheriff’s office was busy but non-communicative. Newspaper men believe there are one or more men under surveillance in near-by cities. Sheriff Elliott and Cecil Burch, chief of the local detective force, have been out of the city all day working on the case.
One clue leads to the city of Dallas. A ten-gallon milk can, bearing the imprint of a Dallas Creamery, apparently was used to transport water for cooling the steel safes of the First National Bank and the First State Guaranty Bank, after they had been penetrated by acetylene gas torches. The sum of $4,600 was taken from the First National; the Guaranty State sustaining a loss of $7,500.
Another clue is a report that two sedans, being driven at a high rate of speed, passed through Sanger, ten miles south of Valley View, at about 3 o’clock Friday morning. Citizens of Valley View also report they heard two cars leaving at top speed during the night. The robbery was committed sometime between 2 and 4 a.m.
After looting the banks, the robbers evidently set fire to the structures before leaving the scene, as two explosions, following closely together, aroused the town.
About 1:30 o’clock Friday morning, an employee of the Valley View Drug Company, next door to the First National Bank, completed some overtime work and passed the bank, en route home. The usual light was burning in the bank. Shortly after 2 o’clock, a citizen who arose to administer medicine to a sick child was unable to turn on his electric lights. Other citizens who habitually rise early, reported the same condition, leading to the conclusion that the bandits cut the light wires.
Newspaper men are inclined to believe that the building was fired with a slow fuse, since the blaze was not discovered until shortly after 6 o’clock and at that time it could have been extinguished with a single fire hose, but the town is without equipment of that character and the meager water lines available were frozen by the blizzard that prevailed. There was nothing for the townspeople to do except stand by and witness the destruction of their property, as they have done twice within three months. On Sept. 7, every business building on the east side of the square was destroyed by fire of undetermined origin. J.F. Lowe has been the largest individual loser, eight business houses owned by him having burned in the two blazes.
Estimates of Losses.
Estimates of losses, obtained from property owners, follow: First National Bank building, and fixtures $12,000; insured against fire and burglary; Odd Fellows’ Lodge, on second floor of bank building, lodge furnishings and paraphernalia, $1,500; Dr. C.H. McQuiston, office in bank building, $500; H.K. Jones, office in bank building, $500; R.C. Odneal, owner of building occupied by Valley View Drug Company, $6,000, partially insured; Valley View Drug Company, stock and fixtures, $10,000, with approximate loss of $7,000, very little insurance; Lowe Grocery Store, building $6,000, fixtures and stock, $4,000, part of the stock removed, partially insured; Masonic Lodge, owner of the upper floor over both these buildings, loss approximately $10,000, partially insured; George Walker, household furniture in bank building, $500, partially insured; City barber shop and Tom Murray, dry cleaner, building owned by J.F. Lowe, $1,000, barber equipment, $1,000; Tom Murray, $500, no insurance on contents; Browlee Café, building owned by J.F. Lowe, $1,000, stock and fixtures $1,000; McCollum tailor shop, building owned by J.F. Lowe, $500, equipment, $500; Weisemann’s Café, building and contents property of C.E. Weisemann, $3,000, partially insured; T.B. Maddox, grocery, building just recently erected, $2,500, stock $2,500, some insurance; Home Theater, owned by E.F. Knight, recently remodeled, building and contents, $5,000, partially insured; First Guaranty State Bank, fixtures $1,500, insured.
Bank’s Records Gone.
Practically every record belonging to the two banks was stolen or burned, the vault door being left open by the robbers. More than $100,000 in notes and other securities was thus lost. The bandits took a crowbar from a near-by garage with which to roll the 3,500 pound manganese steel safe from the rear of the building almost to the front of the structure, where it was robbed and left standing.
The First Guaranty State Bank, which lost its building by fire last September, and which was temporarily quartered at the First National Bank, will soon return the favor, its new home being near completion. Both banks will use the new building, it is believed, until the National Bank secures permanent quarters.
The Valley View Drug Company has arranged for temporary location, but J.F. Lowe will discontinue to operate his grocery store until early completion of his new building, replacing one burned in September.
Friday’s loss is the third heavy disaster sustained by the Masonic Lodge, its quarters having been destroyed by fire as many times within recent months. The Maddox Grocery Store and the House Theater buildings had only recently been completed. T.G. Brownlee, who operated the hotel, sustained his second complete loss within three months.
Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 20 Dec 1924
Rangers Aiding in Valley View Case
Dallas Facilities Offered Cooke County Officers In Seeking Offenders.
Ranger Captain T.R. Hickman and Ranger Stuart Stanley have been assigned by Adjt. Gen. T.A. Barton to assist Cooke County officers in their search for bandits who Thursday night robbed the safes of two banks and then set fire to them at Valley Views, Cooke County. The two rangers, together with Sheriff M.E. Elliot and Detective Chief Cecil Burch of Gainesville, were in Dallas Saturday afternoon in conference with Detective Chief Charles Gunning, Ed Stallworth, identification expert, and Henry Juergins, assistant Bertillon operator.
The officers said that no one is now being held in jail who is believed to have been implicated in the robbery and destruction of the banks and other property.
Detective Chief Gunning invited the visiting officers to make use of the Dallas identification bureau in their search for the bandits, Stallworth and Jeurgins also volunteered their services in their department.
Captain Hickman said that he and Ranger Stanley had been assigned to aid Sheriff Elliott and other Cooke County officials at his own request.
“Cook County is my old home and I wanted to help my friends if possible,” Captain Hickman said. Hid headquarters is at Waco.
Sheriff Elliott asserted that two men who were arrested at Ardmore, Ok., Friday have been absolved from suspicion in connection with the Valley View robbery.
Using high explosives, the robbers wrecked safes in two Valley View banks and obtained more than $12,000 in currency and more than $100,000 worth of securities. They then set fire to business structures and fled in motor cars.
Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 21 Dec 1924