Unsuccessful Attempt to Rob First State Bank at Pleasant Dale
Tuesday, October 20, 1903, two or three people attempted to rob the First State Bank at Pleasant Dale at 4:00 a.m. Pleasant Dale is located fourteen miles west of Lincoln.
The robbers used a skeleton key to enter the bank through the front door. They then picked the lock on the vault to get to the safe in which the money was kept. Nitroglycerine was poured in a hole that was drilled in the safe door. The explosion broke the windows out of the front of the building and jarred every house within several blocks of the bank. The safe was destroyed but the money was not exposed.
Mr. Ackerman, an officer of the bank, was awakened by the noise. Mr. Ackerman and several of the neighbors, armed with shotguns and revolvers, rushed to the bank. As the men ran down the street of Pleasant Dale, they saw a team and buggy going very fast for the outskirts of town to the west.
The men started chasing the team and buggy. The men cut across a vacant lot and reached the road just as the team rushed by. The men shouted for the team and buggy to stop, but the driver shouted to the horses to speed up. As the horses ran faster, someone gave the command for the men to fire. The citizens fired about a dozen shots. The men didn't know if any of their shots hit the people in the buggy. The people in the buggy didn't return any shots.
Some of the men continued to follow the trail while the others went back to town to spread the alarm and investigate the work of the robbers. Because it was too dark for the men to follow the trail for any great distance, there was nothing to do but to wait until daylight.
In the morning Mr. Ackerman reported that the robbers didn't get any money because the town's people were at the scene shortly after the explosion. The explosion tore a big hole in the safe and had scattered some paper around the vault floor. The explosion hadn't cracked open the safe but had badly torn and twisted it.
Apparently the thieves were afraid to stay any longer to attempt to get the safe open. Mr. Ackerman said he thought he could open the safe, but the insurance company said he was to wait until an expert came to count the contents of the safe.
Later, it was learned that the people in the buggy were not bank robbers but people on their way to Lincoln from Milford. They were driving rapidly through Pleasant Dale when the posse caught sight of them. An order to halt was given. The people in the buggy thought the citizens were highwaymen, and they whipped their horses. The people in the buggy must have thought the town was full of robbers, and when the command to halt was given, they chose to lash at their team. None of the bullets reached the people in the buggy because of the darkness.
The citizens and bank officials scouted around the area and discovered the unsuccessful robbers had their headquarters in a corn crib down by the depot. There was a lawn tennis court behind the bank, and the footsteps of the men from the crib to the bank went across the lawn tennis court.
The story that the robbers had been surrounded in a strip of woods some miles away proved to be false. The woods were thoroughly searched and there were no robbers in that area.
Lincoln Evening News, Tuesday, October 20, 1903, pg.1, columns 6 & 7
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Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska