The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 23, 1903
Daring Safe Crackers Appear in Vincent
Two of Three Doors of Safe in Vincent Bank Were Blown Off With Dynamite Early This Morning
Bank robbers very nearly succeeded in cracking the safe of the Vincent bank, T.M. Anderson president, early this morning. One of the three doors of the safe was blown off with dynamite, with such violence that it was blown up to the ceiling, knocking off a big piece of plaster. The second door had almost yielded to the assaults made upon it.
Had it not been for the opportune arrival of three Vincent boys, who were returning home after an evening spent in the country the robbers would have been successful in their attempt. The safe contained a considerable sum of money.
The robbers secured entrance to the bank by prying open a window on the west side of the building. When they left, they went out thru the front door, which was left open. They were keeping a guard outside the bank. It is supposed that others were inside. The robbers are supposed to have driven away in a wagon, to which was hitched a team, one horse of which was gray, the other a bay.
Wilfred Harding, Oliver Lear, and Charlie Wells were returning from a farewell party at the Shriver home, in the country, one mile south of Vincent, at about three o’clock this morning. They walked in from the Shriver place, and as they entered the town, were surprised to seen (sic) a team and wagon hitched by the Catholic church of Vincent. going a little farther, they saw two men standing by the corner of the Vincent bank. As soon as the men saw the boys, there was a hurried movement, and almost immediately two shots rang out u pon the still night air, and brought slumbering Vincent out of bed with a jump. It is supposed that the shots were fired, both to warn the robbers inside the bank and to frighten the boys. The latter motive succeeded admirably. The boys ran to the Vincent hotel and aroused Landlord Sillabee, who grabbed his trusty rifle and fired an alarm of three more shots.
By this time Vincent was thoroughly awake to the fact that something was wrong. Mr. Woolsey, a leading Vincent merchant, was one of the first to hurry into his clothes and rush down town. By the time he appeared on the scene, however the birds had flown, leaving the bank door swinging wide behind them. A glance at the bank’s interior showed that the safe crackers had been interrupted just in the nick of time. A few more moments and the contents of the safe would have been in the hands of the robbers.
The work was apparently done by men who were not very familiar with their work, as was shown by the force of the charge, which blew one of the massive safe doors almost thru the roof of the bank building. The explosion of the dynamite was heard by several Vincent people, but none at first associated the reports with an attempt on the bank. The appearance of the bank, showed how hurried had been the departure of the robbers, when once their presence was discovered. Their candles and all their tools were left scattered over the floor, making it evident that they had stood not upon the order of their going. Two crow bars had been taken by the safe crackers form the Vincent Power house, and Proffenburger’s blacksmith shop had also been entered and his tools pressed into service. All these had been abandoned by the robbers in their hasty flight.
Sheriff Olson was notified of the robbery this morning but has not much to work on. The three boys who first discovered the robbery were so badly scared that they are able to give no description of the two men whom they saw standing by the bank. All the sheriff knows is that the robbers are supposed to be connected with a team, of which one horse is a bay and the other a gray. Telephone messages have been sent all over the country, and every effort will be made to apprehend the robbers. The attempt was one of the most daring, nad also one of hte most nearly successful ever made in Webster county.
T.M. Anderson, president of the Vincent bank, stated over the telephone this morning that the bank safe contained $2,400 ($57,479 today) at the time when the safe crackers were tinkering about the outside. The robbers, he said, did not get quite thru the second door, but the outer or fire door was entirely demolished.
In the bank, beside the tools were found a can of dynamite, a bottle of nitroglycerine, and the soap and cotten (sic) used by the robbers in preparing their charges.