Notorious Kansas Bank Heist

Frank) And, we’re back. Rocks. OK. (Deb) That was, he can just make art of anything, I swear. He’s amazing. And the Beach Museum. You’ve got to go. The oh, what’s our, John Steuart Curry, John Steuart Curry that’s at the Beach Museum. Just incredible, incredible. (Frank) OK. (Deb) Yea, they gotta go. (Frank) Book plug time again. (Deb) Yes. Once more, I have gotten gifts in the mail. My good friend Rod Beemer has a book signing this Saturday, I think that’s Saturday the 19th at Books a Million in Salina from 1 to 3 p.m. This is a the perfect Christmas gift. All about bank robberies in Kansas. You know nice, wholesome family entertainment. This book is fantastic. I got to visit with Rod when he was writing this and he’s written on Kansas weather. You’ve interviewed Rod, you did a whole show with Rod one time. (Frank) Right. (Deb) So, he’s a wonderful author, very accomplished. These stories will blow you away. Like the planes with the machine guns mounted to ’em during the height of the bank robbery era. So, it’s just, you’re going to love it. According to historian Rod Beemer, bank robbers have wreaked havoc in the Sunflower State. After robbing the Chautauqua State Bank in 1911, outlaw Elmer McCurdy was killed by lawmen but wasn’t buried for 66 years. Viewers may see the segment in which McCurdy’s story was featured at AroundKansas.com. His afterlife can only be described as bizarre. Belle Starr’s nephew Henry Starr claimed to have robbed twenty-one banks. The Dalton Gang failed in their attempt to rob two banks simultaneously, but others accomplished this in Waterville in 1911. Nearly four thousand known vigilantes patrolled the Sunflower State during the 1920s and 1930s to combat the criminal nuisance. One group even had an airplane with a .50-caliber machine gun. Yes, bankers and lawmen went to great lengths to defend and repel robbers including rigging safes with vials of poison. Thus, most robberies were foiled and most villains caught, jailed, or killed. There were few successes to report for the bad guys, but then came the Newton Boys. Allegedly, these Texans carried off “more loot than Jesse and Frank James, the Dalton Boys, Butch Cassidy and all the other famous outlaw gangs put together.” The enterprising siblings robbed the bank in Arma, Crawford County, Kansas, by chiseling through the wall. They later admitted to stealing $65,000 but left $200,000 in the safe because they got all they needed. The Newtons were the subject of a best-selling book and then a movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, and Skeet Ulrich. Rod has included the legendary and the little known, and every single story is unforgettable. It is a well-told, colorful tale with more characters than Hollywood could invent. The Notorious Kansas Bank Heist – Gunslingers to Gangsters is the new book by Rod Beemer from the History Press. It is available at Beemerbooks.com or your favorite bookstore.

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