Newton Gang Robs Two Banking institutions in One Night

On January 9, 1921, the Newton Gang drove into Hondo, Texas, a smaller city 30 miles west of San Antonio, to rob a person of the two banking companies in town. It was just earlier midnight and the temperature was around freezing.

The Newtons understood the evening watchman in Hondo, and as was his pattern, they located him huddled close to a pot-bellied stove in the depot. They slice all of the phone wires and then went back again to check on the night time watchman. He experienced not budged from his location by the stove so Joe was put across the road as a lookout while the rest went to the lender.

In his 1979 interview, Willis proudly advised his version of the story:

“Someday you just get fortunate ’cause they experienced still left the vault door open. They had still left it unlocked so we did not have to have no nitro or practically nothing. We jimmied the window, walked around to the vault, tried the deal with and she opened! You would be stunned how a lot of times them financial institutions would just close the doorway so it looked locked all through the evening.

“We had the vault cleaned out in no time and went to see if the night time watchman was nonetheless in the depot. Certain ample, he was reading a magazine and ingesting espresso by the stove. Effectively hell, we figured we experienced loads of time so we’d go around to the other lender and give it a consider. I saved Joe and Doc viewing the night marshal even though Jess and I went down to the other financial institution.

“We acquired within that lender and cleaned it out. Damn, two banking institutions in a person night and the evening marshal, he never ever come out of the depot!”

The neighborhood newspaper, the Hondo Anvil Herald, carried the story with a splash headline:

Yeggs Rob Hondo Banking institutions

1 of the Most Daring Robberies Ever Staged in Texas Occurred Here Sunday Morning

The individuals of Hondo had been surprised and angered Sunday morning when it became recognized that both equally banking institutions experienced been entered by yeggs, concerning midnight and daylight, and robbed of both revenue and valuables. Entrance to the Very first Countrywide Bank was effected by forcing the entrance doors while the entrance to the Point out Bank was effected by prizing down the bars about the very last window in the alley amongst Parker’s and the bank.

The newspaper went on to give an elaborate description of the theft:

Owing to most of the cash in both of those financial institutions currently being in the dollars safes, with time locks established, the loss in funds was not really serious, the First Nationwide getting rid of a complete of $2,814 even though in the issue of real funds loss the State Bank was a small extra fortunate, its reduction becoming $1,879 each banking institutions dropping a total of $4,694 just about all of which was silver coin.

The resources of both banking institutions have been lined by burglary insurance policy, as a result neither will endure decline. [Just like Willis had assured his brothers.]

Proprietors of non-public containers, who experienced put their valuables in the vaults of the banking institutions, are the heaviest losers, and their genuine reduction will not be unquestionably recognized for some time-likely a thirty day period-as the owners of the boxes are the only types who can clear up the loss, the officers of the banking institutions not remaining recommended of the contents of the boxes.

The basic safety deposit box homeowners experienced dollars, government bonds, War Personal savings Stamps, jewelry, and other valuables in their containers so it was unattainable to ascertain the actual total taken in the robbery. Estimates of as substantial as $30,000 had been in no way verified.

The short article continued to explain the “risk-free specialists:’

… That the robbers were being industry experts is borne out by the fact that they ended up in a position to get the job done the combination on the vault of the Initial Countrywide Bank. [Willis said it was left unlocked.] They were being also experts in the use of explosive, the vault doors of the Point out Lender becoming blown open by just one of the most effective explosives recognised-TNT [ Willis swore in his interview that he never used dynamite-only nitroglycerine.]

The vaults had been extensively ransacked and the floors had been strewn with papers about two feet thick.

From the thoroughness with which the robbers designed their look for for securities it is evident that they invested two several hours or a lot more in the vaults of the banks and the non-public bins of the buyers are in a unhappy plight, most of them demonstrating that they have been conquer open by some large instrument, almost certainly with a sledgehammer that had been stolen from the blacksmith store of Mask & Co.

… That the robbers were no tyros (archaic phrase that means rookies) in the enterprise of robbing is once more borne out by the truth that they took just about every precaution versus being apprehended by the possession of jewellery, gold cash, and so forth, which may guide to their identification. The floors of the vaults were practically strewn with these types of content articles as may direct to their detection. Notes and other posts of worth that could not be turned into funds ended up cast aside and still left driving.

It is normally believed that the band was composed of from 6 to eight adult males, and that both of those banking institutions were being robbed concurrently, a gang currently being assigned to just about every bank.

A different circumstance that suggests that the robbers were not new to the activity of lender robbing is borne out by the truth that each and every phone line in city was slice, evidently, right before the financial institutions were being robbed. And this component of their ideas was carried out most successfully and by an skilled phone man.

… Cables had been severed, apparently with saws, and solitary wires had been slice with wire clippers. Only a few telephones connected with the local trade were being operating Sunday early morning.

The robbery was discovered by the night time watchman about five o’clock Sunday morning and promptly described to Deputy Sheriff C.J. Bless.

… Harry Crouch, our community telegraph operator, was summonsed and messages were being despatched east and west in an effort to intercept the robbers, but as much as the standard general public is recommended, almost nothing was discovered as to the path in which the robbers went.

Detectives from San Antonio and the encompassing space converged on the Hondo banking institutions looking for clues to the duel-heist robbery.

… A single of the most impressive coincidences of this complete organization is that these robberies could have happened right in the coronary heart of the city and not extra than 200 toes aside, and not just one between our men and women getting any the wiser right until daylight it was revealed what had transpired, and that too, it was because formulated that the evening watchman and the two other gentlemen had been in the waiting space of the depot, not a lot more than sixty yards from the entrance doorways of the To start with Countrywide Lender, whilst the theft was remaining achieved. The robbers must have carried out their function quite silently to prevent detection. [It is hard to image a “silent” explosion of nitroglycerine.]

The phrase the newspaper made use of for the night time burglars was “yeggs,” a well-known vernacular expression of the period. It is exciting to assess the newspaper reporting to Willis’ account in which the vault of the To start with Countrywide Financial institution had been left unlocked and they utilized nitroglycerine (instead than TNT) to blow the vault door on the Point out Financial institution. Even more attention-grabbing was the truth that there had been no comply with up content articles on the robbery. There was not a one point out of the multi-financial institution theft around the ensuing months-even though it contained huge ads from both banks. It was as if equally financial institutions experienced under no circumstances been robbed.

The Galveston Day-to-day Information on January 10 reported the theft describing a “clew” that proved to be a purple herring:

Robber Heel May perhaps Lead to Arrest

Telephone Connections Slash When Banks at Hondo Are Looted

San Antonio, Texas-January 10-A rubber heel, misplaced from a shoe, may lead to the identification of the bank robbers who designed a successful haul of $20,000 from the Initially Countrywide Financial institution of Hondo and the Hondo Point out Lender early Sunday early morning.

The lender robbers gained entrance to the two banking companies by prying the iron bars unfastened from rear home windows of the buildings and manipulating the combinations of the vault in the Initially Nationwide Financial institution, but blew off the doorway of the vault in the condition lender.

The haul was made from the safety deposit bins in both of those banks, the robbers obtaining only $1,500 in money from the 1st National and $29,350 of the point out bank’s revenue. The smaller vault safes in both of those institutions ended up untouched.

The equilibrium of the loot, it is believed by officers at the two financial institutions, was secured from entrepreneurs of protection deposit packing containers in the banks. Hondo was not conscious of the take a look at of the lender robbers right up until virtually midday Sunday, when the open home windows at the rear of the two lender structures were being found out.

Heel lost in lender.

Sheriff J.S. Baden, throughout his investigation was specified the misplaced rubber heel, which experienced been discovered in entrance of the vault of the Very first Countrywide Bank. Even further investigation disclosed a set of burglar tools consisting of a pipe wrench, saw, and chisel, which had been remaining by the robbers. These on the other hand are not thought of as crucial for they are of a typical make, quickly obtained at any components retail outlet.

Just outside of the window via which the robbers entered the state lender, Sheriff Baden observed the numerals 13,555 scratched on the brick do the job. This, financial institution officials feel, signifies the quantity the robbers secured from the deposit containers in the bank. [This curious piece of information appears to have been just another “red herring.”]

Sheriff Baden believes the robberies have been committed by a band of six adult men, who sent an progress guard of two into Hondo past 7 days.

… Hondo citizens, who ended up up at an early hour Sunday morning, noted to the Sheriff that they noticed a higher-driven automobile leaving the outskirts of town occupied by 6 guys. These, the Sheriff thinks, ended up the Hondo robbers.

[Ironically] Sheriff Baden suffered a decline by the early early morning pay a visit to of the robbers, as his protection deposit box in the 1st National Bank was damaged open and $300 in stamps and $150 in bonds had been taken. A $100 Liberty bond, the house of his son O.J. Baden, of Donna, was left in the box.

In gentle of the faulty “clews’, the Newtons had been never tried using for the Hondo financial institution robberies.

Willis Newton was born in 1889 and died in 1979, earning him the longest dwelling Texas outlaw. He and the Newton Gang strike trains and financial institutions in the early 1920s but their greatest haul transpired in 1924 when they robbed a prepare exterior of Rondout, Illinois-receiving away with $3,000,000. They still keep the report for the biggest teach robbery in U.S. heritage.

Agnes Brown

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