Author-- Joe Mayfield
Today when we think of bank robberys, large cities come to mind; cities with large banks or banks with multiple branch locations. After all, things like that would never take place in small town America, not in a town known for its law and order, not in a farming community, everyone knows farmers have no money, or do they?
A couple of months ago I told of Bonnie and Clyde’s bank robbery in Tarrant City in 1934, but that community was located near manufacturing, with industry for its mainstay, and it was near a large city, (Birmingham, Alabama) and foundry workers have always been known for earning good pay, even in the 20 and 30s.
The Merchants Bank of Hanceville was organized in 1907 and has been located at the same site for 97 years. In 1961 the currant building replaced the old building. (See 1955 picture of Merchants Bank of Hanceville, courtesy of school book, Enhancer) The bank held an open house in June of 61 to honor its customers and officers, among those present were: Albert Burkart, president; Clint Warren, director; M. G. Marx Ashwander, cashier; Mrs. A. W. Jackson of Hartselle, widow of the first president of the bank; Mrs. Winona Terry, assistant cashier; Mrs. Myrtie Gibbs, retired after being employed by the bank for 26 years; H. D. Hobart Warren, vice-president; F. W. Shaver, director. Both, Mrs. Jackson and Mrs. Gibbs were particularly honored at the opening, and were presented with an orchid.
During Mrs. Gibbs 26 years of service she kept a record of events for both the town, as well as the bank, in the form of a diary, this diary was kept on the inside of the bank vault door of the previous building. Among some of the entries, which were written with a number 2 graphite pencil were:
Important dates in my life:
Aug. 8th, 1918,
my first day to work in this little ole bank.
March 24, 1920
Hanceville burned down
Warren & Gladneys, Mamye Allreds, Mr. Martins, Clapp Hardware, McNeils Store, Quick house, Hedrick Hotel, (Authors Great, Great, Grandfather) and Thomas house.
Feb. 5, 1928
Yeggmen entered the little ole bank of Hanceville and only got gassed goodie! (In the 1930s the word Yeggmen was slang for tramp thieves.)
March 9, 1932,
big snow today.
March 22, 1932,
Storm hit Cullman County
killed 23 injured 200.
Feb. 4, 1933
Three yeggs entered the bank at a quarter to four, tied Crawford (Mr. Crawford Gray) and me on the floor and escaped with $2,200. mostly in silver.
Oct. 14, 1936
Dr. T. H. Sudduth was killed in an automobile accident. (The town doctor)
one man robbed the bank
Dec. 14, 1938
Two bandits came in the bank at 1:30 p.m.
Edith (Ashwander Sellers) and I were sure scared. They got $2,372.50
Second hold up for me.
Sept. 2, 1945
V. J. Day.
Oct. 14, 1953
I went to work for this little ole bank for the [oomph] time.
A most unusual fact about Mrs. Gibbs, she never set foot inside any other bank, not even for a visit.
The entry made for Feb. 5, 1928 stated,
Yeggmen which would indicate more than one person and only got gassed is unclear, however, and I have been informed by a locksmith that the old safes had a type of gas inside the door that would be dispersed should the door be drilled or tampered with in any way.
I want to thank my good friend Ruth Ashwander for supplying the source material for this story, the June 29th, 1961 issue of the Cullman Tribune.
Ruth has just celebrated a birthday, so here is wishing you many, many more.
Thank you kind Lady.
By: Joe Mayfield
U S Legacies Magazine April 2006