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
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
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
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 ---
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
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
This page was last updated
June 7, 2005.