Re: History: Unity State Bank Robbery (1910)

Contact: Ken Wood

----Sources: Marshfield News Thursday June 2, 1910 Page 1



The little village of Unity was cast into a furore of excitement Tuesday morning when it was learned the bank had been burglarized and the bandits had made a clean get away with the contents of the safe, about $2025. Nitro-glycerine had been used in getting into the safe. Evidently the robbers had knocked off the combination with a maul they had stolen from the blacksmith shop to the rear of the bank and inseted the nitro into the rent made as the big doors lay opnly a few feet from the safe and apparently came off with the first charge. The inner door however was probably a hard nut to crack and was blown to atoms, several fragments flying through the ceiling, and one through the roof, being picked up near Button & Cutts hardware store, fully 20! 0 feet distant. The strong box which contained the coin and currency was blown from the top and battered with a maul and crowbar. The bank fixtures in line from the front of the safe were blown to the opposite side of the room and completely demolished by the terrific explosion. Every detail of the robbery from the time they entered the blacksmith shop until they secured the swag showed carefully laid plans and the work of professionals. As they were not seen and left no tangible clue little hopes for their capture are entertained although several Pinkerton men are working on the case. F.S.Button, a merchant living next door to the bank, was awakened by the explosions and was probably they only man in the village award the bank was being burglarized. Mr. Button, armed with an automatic repeating rifle, peeped into a window facing the rear of the bank but could not see the looters on account of the smoke issuing from the shattered win! dows after each charge was exploded. Neither did he feel safe in making a sally forth to notify sleeping villagers as the only exit from his rooms was a stairway leading almost directly into the arms of the robbers. Mr. Button says he heard the first explosion about 1:15, the following four explosions occuring at intervals of about five minutes. Three men who have been hanging about Unity and Spencer since last Friday are suspected of the crime and a search is being made for them by the officers. One is about 28 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weight about 170 pounds, light complected, long peeked face, thick upper lip, prominent cheek bones, sandy mustache, slow in movement. Another is about 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 180 pounds, red hair and complexion, wound in cheek, evidently from bullet, walks with slight limp. The third is about 6 feet tall, dark complected, slight build, wore black mustache, weighs about 160 pounds and wore a blue ! serge suit. The wrecking of the bank and robbery will entail no loss to either the stockholders or depositors as everything is amply covered by insurance. I.M.DeVaud the cashier was bot in Unity at the time of the robbery, having attended the bankers convention here Friday and later left for Marion returning to this city Monday night. When notified of the robbery Mr. DeVaud hastened to Unity where by the use of telephone and telegraph every effort was made to reprehend the bandits.

----Sources: Marshfield News Thursday June 9, 1910 Page 1


V.R.Meisner of Unity passed through here Tuesday on his way home from Black River Falls where he had been called by the authorities of that place to identify a suspect as one of the men that robbed the Unity bank. The man arrested at t! he Falls was one of the gang of five that on the Sunday night previous robbed the postoffice at Merrillan getting away with about $1,500 in stamps and money. After securing the booty the five robbers were seen to get in a box car on the Omaha railroad going in the direction of Elroy. The train men were notified of the fact and discovering the car they were in, locked the door and wired ahead to the Sheriff at Black River Falls to meet the train at Wrightsville, a small station just this side of the Falls. The sheriff thinking the men were prisoners went alone and arriving at the place found them coming out of the car, the imprisoned men having cut a hole through the door large enough to put a hand througfh and remove the lock. Covering one with a revolver, the sheriff was only able to hold him a prisoner, the other four taking to the woods. The man captured had $660 in postage stamps on his person besides a lot of caps, fuse and burglar paraphenalia.&nb! sp; It was this man who Mr. Meisner went to identify but he did not prove to be one of the three men that were seen hanging around Unity previous to the robbery of the bank. Nevertheless one of the four men that got away was recognized by the sheriff as the man seen at Unity with reddish hair and a large scar on his cheek. A posse of men headed by the sheriff are now in pursuit of the roibbers but it is very doubtful if they will captured as the country is very broken and a natural hiding place for desperate men. From the reportds of numerous robberies and hold-ups recently an organized gang of bandits are workingin this section. Coming hot upon the heels of the Merrillan post office robbery a dispatch from Mellen Monday says cracksmen blew up the safe of the Meredith Merchantile Company at theat place, secured $40 in silver and got away without being seen. The ecxplosion caused fire to break out in the store, which with the stock was completely destrpyed, causing a loss of $20,000 covered by insurance.



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