Letter details account of 1925 Creston bank robbery

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The Erickson history book group is inviting all interested members of the community to attend its next meeting, which will be held at the Creston and District Public Library’s meeting room at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7.

“The book is really coming along well,” said Sharon Brennan. “We’ve had a lot of family histories and beautiful photos submitted, but we want more input, so that this book can be as complete as possible.”

At a recent meeting, group member Carol Speaker revealed a letter of great historical interest, written by her grandmother, Mary Jane Leamy, to her mother, Ella Leamy Stanton, the day after the infamous Imperial Bank robbery of Oct. 20, 1925.

The letter, dated Oct. 21 and 22, 1925, reveals new details, including a $1,000 reward, of the robbery by John Ward and an unidentified accomplice.

It was later discovered that the robbers actually made off with $7,500. Although Ward was captured, his accomplice escaped with $4,000 and was never heard from again. On Nov. 1, 1925, Nelson Judge J.A. Florin sentenced Ward to 20 lashes and eight years in prison.

Oct. 21, 1925

Dear Ella:

I wrote to you on Sunday, failed to get it posted. Dad took your letter to town yesterday, brought it back again, said he forgot to post it. I was not surprised as there was a great excitement.

While he was there, two lads walked into the Imperial Bank and held it up, and clerk Allen had to open the safe to save his head. They got off with $10,000. It was just 2:30 in the afternoon. Dad said, “They’re a slow bunch in town. There were shots firing all around.”

They followed them out to Billy Truscotts. They got over the fence and took up that draw there, getting over the fence. McClaren fired four shots at them and they returned three on them. Ron Lidgate was with McClaren and Ron dropped in the dust to avoid the shots and McClaren thought he was shot.

One of the robbers got up in the back of George Hobdens. They thought he was in the root house — everyone was afraid to go near it. There was men and rifles all around but Mr. Dod’s little boy of ten years was scouting after him. He found him hid in the low grass. He ran back and blew his whistle.

The lad jumped up and ran over by Hobden’s house through the trees. He ran into Mrs. Christy on her horse and she held him with a jackknife until they came upon him. They took him out the gate with his hands up, took the gun off him and part of the money off him and put the poor wretch into a car, took him to town. I seen it all and was at the gate when they put him in the car and felt sorry for the poor wretch.

They have not got the other one yet. They say he is in Teddie Haskins’ barn. The roads are lined with men looking for him. It is a joke if he has got away on them — must quit as I am nervous. Dad went to Kitchener with Ray McKelvy. It is nine o’clock. He is not back yet. They went in a car.

Mrs. Hobden came over after me yesterday morning to spend the day so that is how I happened to see the robber captured and would not mind if I was the little boy or Mrs. Cristy. The reward is $1,000.

Bye, bye. My heart is in my mouth.

Oct. 22, 1925

I did want Mrs. Hobden to come with me to look for the robber. She was scared out of her wits. If we had of gone out we would of sure found him for he was just near in the grass. I do not think he would have hurt us he looked to be all in. Just think, we would have got the thousand dollars.

Bye, bye.