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Clay County
Historical Tidbits

Robbery of the Clay County Savings Bank

From the book "Clay and Platte Counties Missouri" witten 1855

On Tuesday, February 13, 1866, the bank of the Clay County Savings Association, at Liberty, was robbed of about $60,000 by a band of brigands, presumably from Jackson county, although it has since been ascertained that some of the members resided in Clay.

At the same time, and incident to the robbery, a young man named GEORGE WYMORE, a student on his way to school, was without any sort of provocation whatever, inhumanly and mercilessly shot down by the robbers and instantly killed.

The following account of the affair was given by the Tribune of February 16, 1866 ---

Our usually quiet city was startled last Tuesday by one of the most cold-blooded murders and heavy robberies on record. It appears that in the afternoon some ten or twelve persons rode into town and 2 of them went into the Clay County Savings Bank, and asked the clerk, MR. WILLIAM BIRD, to change a 10 dollar bill, and as he started to do so, they drew their revolvers on him and his father, MR. GREENUP BIRD, the cashier, and made them stand quiet while they proceeded to rob the bank.

After having obtained what they supposed was all, they put the clerk and cashier in the vault, and no doubt thought they had locked the door, and went out with their stolen treasure, mounted their horses and were joined by the balance of their gang and commenced shooting.

MR. S. H. HOLMES had 2 shots fired at him and young GEORGE WYMORE, aged about 19 years, son of WM. H. WYMORE, one of the most peaceable and promising young men in the county was shot and killed while standing on the opposite side of the street at the corner of the old Green house.

The killing was a deliberate murder without any provocation whatever, for neither young Mr. Wymore nor any of the citizens of town, previous to the shooting, knew anything of what had taken place. Indeed, so quiet had the matter been managed, if the robbers had succeeded in locking the bank vault on the clerk and cashier, and had retired quietly, it would likely have been some time before the robbery would have been discovered.

The town was soon all excitement, and as many as could procure arms and horses, went in pursuit, but up to this writing, nothing is known of the result. Our citizens exhibited a commendable willingness to do all they could to assist in the capture of the robbers and their booty.

Thus has our city and people been grossly outraged by a band of thieves and murderers, and that, too, when the people throught they were in possession of permanent peace; and a worthy young man murdered, one of our most successful and ably managed monied institutions, and many private individuals, have been heavy losers. We hope to God, the villains may be overhauled, and brought to the end of a rope. Indeed, we can not believe they will escape.

The murderers and robbers are believed by many citizens, and the officers of the bank, to be a gang of old bushwhacking desperadoes who stay mostly in Jackson county. But it makes no difference who they are, or what they claim to be, they should be swung up in the most summary manner.

Robbing and murdering must be stopped and if it requires severe medicine to do it, so be it. Desperate cases require desperate remedies; and we believe our people are in a humor to make short work of such characters in the future. The people of Clay county want peace and safety and they going to have it.

The robbers obtained about $50,000 in gold, currency and 7:30 US bonds; about $45,000 of the amount was in 7:30's.

The Clay county Savings Association issued hand-bills, which were sent throughout the county, and of which the following is a copy ---

$5,000 Reward

The Clay County Savings Association, at Liberty, MO, was robbed on the 13th inst., of SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, by a band of bushwhackers, who reside chiefly in Clay county, and have their rendezvous on or near the Missouri river, about Sibley, in Jackson county.

The sum of FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS will be paid by the Association for the recovery of the stolen money or in that proportion for the sum recovered. Every citizen who values his life or property will be expected to give his aid in capturing the thieves, as they are thoroughly organized and will no doubt continue to depredate on life and property, as they did here yesterday. Done by order of the Board of Directors. JAMES LOVE, President, February 14, 1866

A heavy snow fell within a few hours after the robbery, covering up the tracks of the robbers completely, and rendering it impossible to follow their trail far. It was learned positively, however, that they crossed the river into Jackson county and scattered themselves throughout the "Cracker's Neck" region and amid the almost impenetrable fastness of the Sni hills.

It was almost wholly a matter of conjecture who they were; one man who met them declared he knew some of them, but afterwards he refused to swear to his statement. This was in all probability really the heaviest bank robbing that occurred during the "reign of the robbers" in Missouri, Iowa and Kentucky, from 1866 to 1881.

Despite assertions in sensational publications to the contrary it is quite certain that no other bank was ever robbed by the Missouri bandits of so large a sum as even $50,000.

The robbery caused the temporary suspension of the savings bank, but the officers finally settled with their creditors by paying 60 cents on the dollar, a settlement that was satisfactory to all.

In August, 1866, on J. C. COUCH, of Gentry county, was examined before a magistrate under a suspicion that he was one of the robbers, but he was discharged. A fellow named JOAB PERRY, who was lying in Independence jail on another charge, was taken out by the Clay county officials and brought across the river for examination, but escaped from custody and was never afterward arrested.


This page was last updated June 7, 2005.