PHILLIPS COUNTY

 

Haxtun Bank Robbery

 

 

The bank was at 203 Colorado which was the northeast corner.

 

 

 On February25,1915 at 3 pm a lone bandit walked in to the bank and forced the only cashier, John Brunke a 25 year old unmarried man into the vault at gun point where he proceeded to shoot him 3 times hitting him in the temple, neck and body. He died minutes later. The bandit, pulled the window curtains, to make the bank appear closed and then began placing the banks money (approximately $5,000.00) into a gunny sack. Several minutes later he casually walked out of the bank, strolled over to the livery stable, mounted his horse and rode off in a northwesterly direction.  Most of the money the bandit had obtained for the bank was coins so as he rode, the coins rubbed together causing a hole to form in the sack. Unaware of the hole, he plotted across the snow covered prairie as the coins trickled from the bag, marking his path.

 

Minute after the robbery J. M Delander arrived at the bank to conduct some last minute business. Noticing that the curtains were closed, he cautiously opened the door and called out to the cashier, but got no response, Mr. Delander entered the bank and found Mr. Brunke, dead in the vault. Mr. Delander quickly summoned help and a posse was formed.  Within hours the posse caught up with the bandit and shot his horse out from under him and took him in to custody.  Many from the community combed the prairie form the coins and paper money, with most of it being returned to the bank.

 

The robber was identified as Wm Thompson who been working for Andy Osmond. Another man, Harry Rose was found to be an accomplice and the one who had master minded the robbery. Thompson was given a quick trail where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve a life sentence, Rose was tried and also received a life sentence.

 

At the time of the robbery, most of the towns people were at a big public sale, where the president of the bank was the auctioneer.

 

As a side note to this incident on March 15, 1915, the town people of Haxtun voted to pass an ordinance closing all the pool halls in town.  The reason.....Thompson and Rose frequently loitered around them, and the people felt that closing the pool halls would stop the ruffians from hanging around town.

 

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Last updated July 2017