Cabin In The Blackjacks
Excerpts of Pretty Boy Floyd
There began a rash of bank robberies. Stonewall, which would for some years
be the unofficial bank robbery capitol of the county, had two and Allen one.
The last involved Whitey Walker, of whom more later, but so dangerous that
a veteran federal officer told the author, 'I'd rather meet an angry bear
in the open than Whitey Walker.' It was on November 21, 1927, that robbers
first struck at Stonewall, hitting the First State Bank. T. L. Gibson,
cashier, was alone. Locked in the vault, he used a secret combination to
get out and spread an alarm. The bandits fled south and escaped a posse,
but in a few weeks three men were in the state penitentiary for their part.
Turn of the Stonewall First National Bank came the Following April. Three men found Roy Whitlock alone. They escaped in a roadster, taking Whitlock. They fled through the Allen oilfields and forded the Canadian River. When they stopped, Whitlock helped them divide the money, $691.70 in all. Each gave him $5.00, and they released him after dark to walk into Sasakwa.
Before long the three were in the state prison. Unlike Walker, Pretty Boy Floyd and others, the first half dozen were minor, local area offenders.
Even through the worst of the depression, which bottomed for Ada in 1933, life moved on, the schools met, East Central grew despite severe handicaps, the county entered its busiest time of highway development, and a county that had been an oil producer since 1913 hit the big time with the Fitts Field. There was weather, one of the two worst winters on record here and dire droughts. For added excitement there were bank robberies and dealings with famous outlaws, including Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, his pal George Birdwell, and others.
For sheer drama, bank bandits, their escapades and, for five of them, their
violent deaths, made for many lively headlines in the early Thirties.
Headed by the fabled Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd and pal George Birdwell, they also listed such notables as Whitey Walker, Bob Brady and Wilbur Underhill.
In the late Twenties and early Thirties Pontotoc County banks suffered seven outlaw visitations. Stonewall had four, Roff two and Allen one. The Allen venture and the third Stonewall hold-up began some sensational developments. Whitey Walker was disposed of by Texas officers after he escaped the Texas prison at Huntsville. Bob Brady, also known as "Big Boy," grew up in southeastern Pontotoc County but seems to have started his depredations after leaving this area. He escaped the Oklahoma penitentiary in a box of overalls. In 1931 a warrent was issued for him in connection with a Roff bank robbery. Twice he escaped the Kansas state prison but was killed by pursuing officers in 1933. Underhill, accused of bank jobs in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, set off an intensive search in the Ada area after he robbed a Coalgate bank in 1933. Clyde Kaiser, then sheriff, later recalled covering the Lula area but even more clearly an embarassing moment east of Konawa. Underhill, finally trapped in a house at Shawnee, was fatally wounded by officers.
Before he died he told Kaiser where the money from the robbery was hidden, and sure enough, there it was, cached in a field. By 1932, Floyd and Birdwell had established their reputation as bank robbers. Pontotoc county's turn came April 21 that year when they hit the First State Bank of Stonewall. In June, on a tip that the bank robbers were at a farmhouse a mile north of Stonewall, officers moved in to flush them out. The pair, in the barn loft, jumped into their car and fled up a long lane. Another escape....
In October, 1934, Pretty Boy Floyd was gunned down in Chicago and ended his career in an open field.