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The Western Star, Thursday, September 1, 1966.

Wilmore Bank Robbed Last Week

The Wilmore State Bank's vault safe.
At left: The Wilmore State Bank's vault safe; the photo shows the hole cut in the bottom of the vault door.

For the second time in its history, the Wilmore State Bank was the victim of burglars when it was burglarized, evidently by professionals, early Thursday morning, August 25.

By using a cutting torch, they were able to take $7,965.70 in bills and coins from the safe but, after cutting a hole in the steel door of the vault, they overlooked $800 in coins that were in a box in the vault. None of the safety deposit boxes in the vault were disturbed. The safe was a total loss and is being replaced by a new one.

Some mutilated coins and bills (one of which went through a lawn mower), were found by the thieves in a drawer in the bank. All losses were fully covered by insurance.

Operating the Wilmore Bank during the absence of F. H. Moberly, who is in Europe on a tour, are Myrl Dellinger, cashier, at the left, and Walter Smith, assistant cashier.  Mrs. Moberly, who is assistant cashier and director, has not been working at the bank since the busy harvest season.


At left: Operating the Wilmore Bank during the absence of F. H. Moberly, who is in Europe on a tour, are Myrl Dellinger, cashier, at the left, and Walter Smith, assistant cashier. Mrs. Moberly, who is assistant cashier and director, has not been working at the bank since the busy harvest season.

At the time of the robbery, F. H. Moberly, executive vice president, was on a six-week tour Europe. The three-week bankerís trip ended the day after the robbery. Mrs. Moberly and the other bank officials, Myrl Dellinger and Walter Smith, reached him in his room in West Berlin within five-minutes. He was quite "shook up", but when Mrs. Moberley called him at 11 a.m. Friday, he agreed to continue the second half of his tour through southern Europe. Another banker on the tour, who lives in Alexander, Kans., had had his bank robbed under similar circumstances.

When the Wilmore postmaster, Carl Snyder, Jr., went to the post office shortly before 7 a.m. last Thursday, he noticed that the air conditioner at the rear window had been removed. He sensed that something was wrong and called Myrl Dellinger. It was found that one or more persons had gained entrance through the window, then had cut a hole through the partition of the double brick building and thus entered the bank.

The robbers used the water hose of the air conditioner to keep the cutting torch from setting fire to the money and papers in the safe and vault, and apparently used two acetylene tanks and torches. Few, if any, fingerprints were discovered by the FBI agent from Wichita, or the KBI agent of Garden City. The Highway Patrol and Sheriff Laurel Peterson assisted in the investigation and helped preserve tire tracks of a car or station wagon which had been backed onto a vacant lot west of the bank. Postal inspectors from Dodge City and Wichita were on the scene early Thursday morning.

Fortunately for the robbers, Lewis Smith, who lives only a few feet from the back window of the post office, was visiting in Seattle at the time.

Wilmore had many visitors following the bank robbery Wednesday night of last week.  This photo, taken early Thursday morning of the east side of the bank and post office, shows a group of natives exchanging comments on the robbery.


At left: Wilmore had many visitors following the bank robbery Wednesday night of last week. This photo, taken early Thursday morning of the east side of the bank and post office, shows a group of natives exchanging comments on the robbery.

Mr. Dellinger states that he does not recall any strangers who were in the bank during the past month. There are evidences that the job was done by professionals who prefer small banks as their victims.

By Friday, the bank vault was functioning again and sufficient money was obtained from a Coldwater bank to enable the Wilmore bank to be back in business as usual.

The Wilmore bank was first robbed in 1928 and one robber, J. B. Knight, was caught a few hours after getting away with $2,000. He was convicted in a trial by jury in the Comanche county courthouse and given a long sentence in the penitentiary at Lansing.

Mr. Moberleyís roommate on the bankerís tour, Mr. Banta of Harper, returned home last Saturday night and on Sunday called Mrs. Moberly to assure her that Mr. Moberly was getting settled to take the second leg of the trip. The entire group had been behind the Iron Curtain and felt depressed on their return from Russia, just shortly before Mrs. Moberley first called him. However, the bankers were grateful that they live in a free country and were happy to get back to the good old United States.


Photos taken by Walter Smith after the robbery

Photos and photo captions courtesy of Nancy Smith.

This is the  safe that the robbers cut a hole in the top of -  the hole was about 5 inches in diameter.  The Western Star reported that the body of the safe was 5 inches thick, but I question that.  I can remember holding the chunk of metal in my hand as a kid - even though it was quite heavy!    A hole was also cut in the lower part of the safe, but it didnít contain anything that the robbers wanted.  For years, the chunk cut from the safe was used as a door stop in the bank.  The irony of them cutting through the small door was that the door wasnít even locked! At left: This is the safe that the robbers cut a hole in the top of - the hole was about 5 inches in diameter. The Western Star reported that the body of the safe was 5 inches thick, but I question that. I can remember holding the chunk of metal in my hand as a kid - even though it was quite heavy! A hole was also cut in the lower part of the safe, but it didnít contain anything that the robbers wanted. For years, the chunk cut from the safe was used as a door stop in the bank. The irony of them cutting through the small door was that the door wasnít even locked!

"The Wilmore State Bank's safe had a hole cut in the top by a cutting torch which went through about 5 inches of steel. Another steel plate was encountered below the dome before the burglars reached the sacks and rolls of money. They also cut a hole in the lower part of the time-locked safe but it contained only papers, which were badly water-soaked by water used to cool the acetylene torch." - The Western Star, 1 Sept 1966.
 

The steel time safe. At left: The steel time safe.
 

Another view of the steel time safe. At left: Another view of the steel time safe.
 

The inside of the normally well-organized Wilmore Bank vault after the robbery. At left: The inside of the normally well-organized Wilmore Bank vault after the robbery.
 

A photo of the hole in the restroom wall, taken from the Post Office side of the building. At left: A photo of the hole in the restroom wall, taken from the Post Office side of the building.
 

A KBI agent from Garden City and a FBI agent from Wichita are busy investigating the robbery scene at the Wilmore Bank. At left: A KBI agent from Garden City and a FBI agent from Wichita are busy investigating the robbery scene at the Wilmore Bank.
 

The lot between the bank and the Janson grocery store where the robbers were thought to have parked their vehicle during the robbery. At left: The lot between the bank and the Janson grocery store where the robbers were thought to have parked their vehicle during the robbery.
 


Wilmore Bank staff, 1968

Wilmore Bank staff, 1968:
 
(Left to right) F. H. Moberley, Lester Fry, Jr., Walter Smith. Seated: Myrl Dellinger. Wilmore, , Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.
(Left to right) F. H. Moberley, Lester Fry, Jr., Walter Smith. Seated: Myrl Dellinger.
Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.
(Lester Fry, Jr., wasn't working at the bank when it was robbed in 1966.)

Tellers Windows, Wilmore Bank Building, Wilmore, Kansas, 2006.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.
Tellers Windows, Wilmore Bank Building, Wilmore, Kansas, 2006.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.

Counter beside Teller's Windows, Wilmore Bank, Wilmore, Kansas. 

Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.
Counter by Tellers Windows, Wilmore Bank Building, Wilmore, Kansas, 2006.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.

Detail of Woodwork on Tellers Windows, Wilmore Bank, Wilmore, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.
Detail of Woodwork on Tellers Windows, Wilmore Bank Building, Wilmore, Kansas, 2006.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Smith.


Also see:

Wilmore Bank Robbed, The Western Star, March 30, 1928.

Yeggs Nitro Two Safes In Wilmore Wednesday Evening, The Wilmore News, January 9, 1931.

Alva Trummel Kidnapped (by Bonnie & Clyde), The Western Star, 8 Sept 1933.


Thanks to Nancy Smith for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site, and for scanning and sending the photos by her father, Walter Smith, for use on this page.

Keyword: Crime.

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