Reminiscence of the Joseph, Oregon Bank Robbery of 1896
Edited by Russell Miller
J.D. McCully Family--John D, Eula, Russell, Lillian c1889
The following document was typed and edited by Russell Miller, grandson of Russell Alfred McCully. It was taken from a handwritten document written in 1949 by Russell Alfred McCully (1885-1954). Russell McCully was the son of John David "JD" McCully (1856-1941) the cashier of the bank robbed in Joseph Oregon in 1896. The information in ( ) has been added by the editor and was mostly from the 1900 Federal Census. Note: The writing was hard to read so please let Russell Miller know about additions or corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org . Contact Russell Miller for permission to use McCully photos.
Info per webmaster: The First Bank of Joseph was built in 1888 and now houses the Wallowa County Museum.
It was a fine sunny day. The kind of a fall day for which
the Wallowa country is famous. It was afternoon recess. I was playing dare base with the kids when we
noticed three men on house back coming down the street, and tie up across the
street at Bill (William) Cole's blacksmith shop. We noticed them very dirty
faces but gave that but little thought, because dirty faces were quite common
in Wallowa County where herds of sheep and cattle were driven over dirty trails
and roads, and this was stock moving time. Nor were we concerned about their
guns for it [three unreadable words].
But some of the girls had a different idea.
Agnes Leslie, Addie Knapper and Janie Houck were stranding
across the street and got a close look at the dirty faced men. In fact the men's faces were so black that
the girls thought they were Negroes. Since Negroes were unknown in our
location, eighty miles from a main line railroad, out of curiosity these ten
year old girls followed these supposed Negroes down the street leading to the
bank. One of the men said to them, “Go back, the bank is going to be robbed and
you might get hurt.”, at that remark the girls turned on their heels and ran to
They arrived just as J.C. Rauch, the principal, was ringing
the bell to call in the pupils. I was standing quite close to the principal
when they rushed up out of breath barely puffed out “The bank is going to be
robbed:. Mr. Rauch replied reassuringly, “Oh, I don't think so”. “It is too”,
said Agnes, who always had a ready answer, “three men all black told us so, and
they had guns”. The principal continued to try to assure us that nothing was
going to happen. Never the less I was
frightened, because my father was the cashier of the bank.
Just as we reached out seats we were startled by gun shots.
I jumped to my feet crying and yelling “My father is shot, my father is shot”.
I was sure I will never again be so startled and have such a terrifying
moment. At the same time a regular panic
occurred in each of the two rooms, and the pupils ran out into the school yard
in spite of the efforts by the teachers to keep ordered, and shouting that
inside was the safest place. By the time
I reached the school yard the rapid shooting had ceased, but the excitement was
not over. Looking to my right I saw a
man running across the baseball field a block away, and in hot pursuit were
about two dozen men carrying guns and wildly calling, “halt”. Soon he did and
was grabbed by husky H. (Hans) P. Throe, one of the village blacksmiths.
Like a two ringed circus, much commotion was going on at my
left. Several horses were lying dead at the Bill Cole's hitching rack and a
dirty faced man was attempting to mount a very excited unsaddled horse and at
the same time carry a bulging burlap grain sack. While attempting to mount he
stopped took deliberate aim and fired with his sawed off shot gun. From my view
point I could not see at what he was firing, however, I later learned that it
was at Dr. M. F. Shaw, who was standing in the middle of the street, jumping,
yelling, waving his arms and hoping to further excite the horse. The gun being
a saw off shot gun the pellets did not carry and only fell at the doctors feet.
The man could not mount the excited horse while holding the
bag, so he tied a rope around it, got on his horse and pulled the sack after
him. Then he with the bank's money went at full speed up the street toward the
J. D. McCully
Shortly after he got under way Bill Marr came down the
street on horse back. He was riding unconcerned as though he was unaware of the
excitement as the escaping rider passed Bill he took a shot at him. Sort of a
parting salute as he rode from town. Some of the flying shot pellets went
through Bill's hat and shirt but his skin was not hit. Nevertheless it did make
Bill Marr mad and when he learned what had happened he organized a posse and
went in pursuit.
Soon after the sound of the shot at Marr had died away, some
one called out “Look”, and pointed toward the brow of the hill which makes the
west embankment of Wallowa Lake, a mile away, and there silhouetted against the
blue sky line sped a lone horseman. He was observed until he disappeared into
the timbered fastness of the Wallowa
mountains, and the last time to ever knowingly seen by a Wallowa county
These events transpired rapidly and most of the time I was
wailing, “What has happened to my papa?” Then some body called “ Oh, Russell,
there he is” and I saw him hurrying toward the group with the captured robber.
Then I cried tears of joy.
Shortly after this Arthur Wurgweister, a classmate, came back after a trip to the main street. He was quite excited and called out, “They have got Dave Tucker in jail and he is all covered with blood”. With this information all of us who here to fore been to frightened to move started at full speed toward the city jail, which was located just back of the bank. But during our hasty trip I had the shock of my young life. For there sprawled in the street was a blood stained dead man. It was the first time I had ever seen a corpse. After recovering from the shock of the suddenly coming upon the bloody body, we continued to the jail. And there stranding at the barred door with his hands clutched to the bars at head level and his head pressed against the bars, stood the most dejected individual I had ever seen, nor have I since seen a picture more depressing. There was Dave (David Grant born 12 Jan 1871) Tucker, a young man of twenty one (sic -25) whose home was on a farm a few miles from our town. There I saw a fellow generally well liked because of his genial disposition, and admired for his skilled horsemanship.
The youngsters today have Roy Rogers, The Masked Man, and
Red Rider as their cowboy heroes. In my
youth we had no movie or radio heroes, but we lived in a stock country and had
the opportunity to see in action many a cowboy.
There behind bars stood a dirty faced, bloody, and wounded fallen hero,
his trigger finger shot off and his left side full of buck shot.
My mind and thoughts have to revert back only four days, for
I had seen him on the previous Sunday while on formal outing. We had driven to the divide between the Big
and Little Sheep Creeks when Dave came by driving a herd of sheep. Father went over and had quite a visit with
him. I stood back in small boy fashion
and listened. I have since frequently wondered
what was flashing through Dave's mind for he knew then what was going to happen
Up to this time Dave had not always walked the straight and
narrow path. Perhaps it was his love for
horses that caused his first fall, because prior to his bank escaped he had
served a short term in the Oregon State Penitentiary for being mixed up in some
kind of a horse stealing deal.
It was not long until nearly everybody in town except my
mother, was milling about the [jail] to get a sight of Tucker and of the dead
Dave Tucker was soon taken to the doctor's office where he
was cleaned up and his wounds dressed. By the time Jim Bleakley (maybe should
be Blakely), the sheriff had arrived from Enterprise, the county seat, and the
crowd watched Dave Tucker depart. I am sure that at this time it was the most
dismal moment in the life of Dave Tucker.
Father was kept busy running hither and yon giving
directions, seeing that men were supplied with guns and provisions. At least a half hour had passed before Bill
Marr out to get revenge for this punctured new shirt, galloped off leading a
gallant posse of local citizens.
Mrs Shaw, wife of the doctor not seeing mother, thought she
might have fainted from freight. She
found my sister Eula and took us home.
The first thing Mrs Shaw said upon arriving was, “I want to assure you
that your husband is alright”. Mother didn't know why father shouldn't be
alright for she had taken an afternoon nap so did not hear the sounds of the
shooting, of hurrying horses hoofs.
After the first excitement was over and every body settled
down to calm talking, I began to get the story and all it's happenings. At the
first the robber who escaped and the one who was killed were not known. However, it was later learned that the dead
man was named (James) Brown and the free one was name (Cyrus) Fitzhugh. I never have heard their
first names. They were always just mentioned as Brown and Fitzhugh and that was
always good enough for me.
When the three robbers reached the bank, their blackened
faces were covered by a bandanna handkerchief.
Tucker was placed on guard at the front door to stop all who went up or
down the street. He lined his victims up with hands over their heads. Brown and Fitzhugh entered the bank, banished
their guns and yelled “Stick em up.” Father had gone into the vault and was
returning with his head downward while checking over what he carried in his
hand. At the first command he thought it
was a joke and kept walking toward his window, which he reached before the
second command. When he looked up it was
into the barrel of a saw off shot gun. His hands went up. Brown climbed over
the grille railing, took a pistol that was under the counter then unlocked the
door entering the cashier's quarters.
The four customers were marched into the cashiers room and lined up in
single file behind father. Father has since frequently remembered that never
before did he realize that a shot gun barrel was so big. He has also said it gave him a sick feeling
to hear the money going “clink” into the sack. At that time there was very
little paper money in use.
Brown went from place to place gathering in the money while
Fitzhugh held the gun at father's head.
As the money was being collected, Brown remarked “We need this money for
campaign purposes”. It being a presidential election year, Father replied, “It
is a poor way to get it”.
Just as the men entered the bank and Tucker was taking his
guard station, J. R. Harper came across the street and observed what was
happening, he yelled out “Those men are going to rob the bank”. Tucker promptly
leveled his pistol at him and ordered Harper to join him. Tucker's group grew to about eight before he
Getting on some second hand stories, directly across the
street from the bank, was Alex Donnelly and W. H. Burton. Donnelly was a local young man and Burton was
a peddler of the Home comfort steel kitchen range. His and Alex's seat were
some stoves he had taken in on trade.
When they heard Harper yell, they also observed what was going on. Tucker also spotted them and leveled his
pistol and gave them an instruction to attend his party. Instead of accepting his instruction they
tumbled backward and by using stoves as a shield, crawled through the building
and ran to the home of Fred Wagner and told him of the robbery and asked to
borrow his rifle. Wagner replied “I know
my Winchester better than you, I will use it.”
Wagoner got his rifle and stepped out in the street one half block from
Alex Donnelly ran down the alley to the McCully Mercantile
Co's general store and gave the general alarm.
Guns from the stores hardware department were passed out to all
available men. Alex Donnelly selected a
shot gun with shells loaded with bird shot, and ran up the alley which ran back
of the bank and waited under the back stairway.
Tucker who was outside could observe what was going on. As activity developed, he excitedly called to
his companions “Hurry up in there, they are coming with guns. “ Fitzhugh coolly
yelled back “Shoot the heads off of the so and sos”.
On leaving the bank the bandits marched father and the customers ahead of them. Father was in the lead. Just as he reached the sidewalk Wagner started firing. Evidently he was firing at Tucker, but the
bullet hit a fire hydrant and thus saved father from being
shot in the leg. Father's first thought
was that the three had outside assistance and they was firing to pick him off.
Tucker knew that Wagner was firing at him. He took aim and fired. Wagner aimed for his second shot at
Tucker. They must have pulled the
triggers simultaneously. The bullet from Wagner's Winchester shot off Tucker's
trigger finger and knocked the pistol from his hand. A bullet hole in Wagner's
fence indicated that his head was missed by and inch. Wagner next shot was at Brown who way
carrying the sack of loot. It passed
through Brown's body, just missing the heart.
When Fitzhugh, who was leading the get away observed Brown fall, raced
back and picked up the sack. In an
attempt to cut off Fitzhugh means of escape Wagner killed several horses
belonging to Bill Cole's customers, but before he could get Fitzhugh he had to
return to his house for ammunition. Upon
his return the escape had been made.
As soon as Tucker had his pistol shot out of his hand he
made a fast retreat. Seeing horses being
shot he ran down the alley passed Alex Donnelly who was in waiting, Alex fired
filling Dave Tucker's left side with bird shot, never the less he continued
down the alley with Alex at his heels.
As he reached the end of the alley the armed group from the store took
after him and captured him on the ball grounds.
Had Donnelly remained in his station at the rear of the bank he would
have had an opportunity to take a shot at Fitzhugh. Of the quickly organized citizen posse,
Wagner and Donnelly were the only ones who had and opportunity to shoot.
The days and weeks that followed were exciting ones. Burton, Donnelly and Wagner shortly following
the robbery received numerous unsigned threating letters. This aroused suspicions that some one beside
the three active participants were involved.
Burton, the stove salesman took the hint and left the county. Wagner, who was a prominent rancher and sheep
owner, took extra precautions and always went about his work well armed. Donnelly spent much of his time in a posse,
and upon several occasions was sent into neighboring counties to check upon
some suspect that had been picked up, but Fitzhugh was always elusive, and not
Evidently the bank was financing the expenses of the
posse. At least they were operating
under father;s supervision. I recall
that on several occasions I head tapping and calling at fathers bed room
windowpane someone would give a report on the progress of the search in the
mountains. Why the calls always come so
late at night I never learned.
The strain under which father was placed during the hold up,
the events that followed during the search and the trial caused father's hair
to suddenly turn white.
Play at school was radically changed for a while following
the hold up. All the kids of my age were
playing bank robbery. I always wanted to
play the part of the bad bold holdup man but I was always ruled out and had to
play the cashier. They figured like
father life son. However to add variety
to the play some time they would let me get shot. After this type of play went a week or so the
teachers made us stop. They feared that
such play would make us all either bandits or bank cashiers. However, during the fifty three years that
has followed no bandits have developed and I did not become a banker.
About a week after the robbery the sheriff called upon
father and informed him that Dave Tucker desired an interview with him. But at Tucker's request no one should see him
I recall that there was much discussion between my father
and mother. Mother knowing of the
anonymous letters felt that father's movements were also being watched. She knew that father's sorrel driving team
was well known. She insisted that father
not make the seven mile night trip alone.
Mother's arguments won out. So he
prevailed upon one of his closest friends, J. A. Rumble to use his horse and
buggy and accompany him to the county seat.
They arrived at the Enterprise hotel after midnight where Mr. Rumble had
an opportunity to snooze in the lobby for several hours. Father located the sheriff and was escorted
to the county jail where he was locked in a cell with Dave Tucker.
The term of circuit court had just adjourned therefore Dave
was it's only occupant. The Wallowa
County jail was square wooden building about thirty feet square. It was surrounded by a high board fence. It was located on a lot quite a distance from
the business district or from any residence.
Dave Tucker sitting alone in the isolated jail became
worried and uneasy. In his solitude he
felt that he must talk to some one. He had always respected my father for his
honesty and integrity, and was certain that father would see that he got a fair
and proper sentence. He also knew that he
had wronged father and desired to make amends. He told father that he feared
for his life. He was afraid that those
implicated in the scheme were vicious enough to burn the old wooden jail,
because dead men tell no tales and forthwith told a most revealing story.
I have heard by father's version of the story and I head
Tucker repeat it in court while under oath.
The scheme for the robbery was an idea of John Martin, a
local saloon keeper. He desired none of
the loot, he would get his satisfaction in revenge. Several years before he had lost a law suit
over the boundary of some lane, which he had filed against David McCully,
father's uncle and a heavy stock holder in the bank. Brown and Fitzhugh were professional holdup
men who had arrived in the valley in the Spring to shear sheep and keep under
cover while the heat was on from a former job.
Tucker being a sheep herder made their acquaintance. Martin met them through their frequency to
his saloon. How Martin learned of their
ability as hold up men is not know, but
it must be a trick of the underworld.
But it was Brown and Fitzhugh that worked upon Tucker. It was their glorious account of easy money
and Dave's vision of enough money to buy a farm and marry the girl he loved
that carried him to fall into their clutches.
But while he thought it through in jail he was quite certain that those
two desperate men would have shot him after they had made their escape into the
The three active robbers had obtained six horses. Three would left saddled at the brow of the
hill at the foot of Wallowa Lake, about one mile distance from the town of
Joseph. They rode three unsaddled hoses
into town with the idea of a quick get away and a change to a fresh horse would
out distant any posse.
The three riders waited at an observation point at the edge
of town until a signal was given to assure them that all was clear and a
opportune time enter town.
The signal was given by Ben Ownsby, the fourth man to be
taken into Marin's confidence, by walking back and forth three times at the
head of the main street. By the time the
robbers arrived Martin and Ownsby had entered the bank as customers. Father recalled that Martin was soundly
cursed by Fitzhugh when he was slow in getting in line. Tucker stated most imfactily that he would
much prefer to have Martin and Ownsby locked in side with him rather than loose
After spending over an hour with Tucker, father aroused the
sheriff and the two went to the home of the district attorney. Their unusually early morning call was
explained. Father wanted nothing done
unless the circumstances were sufficient to hold Martin, and Ownsby. The district attorney dressed and accompanied
father and sheriff back to the jail where again Tucker repeated his story. The
attorney was convinced, and two warrants were issued, by noon Tucker and had
two companions. At that time circuit
court only met every six months.
Therefore, those three men spent over five months locked up together. I have wondered what they talked about.
Daybreak was approaching when father aroused his friend
Rumble at the hotel. Naturally Mr.
Rumble was anxious to know how father had occupied his time and asked many
leading questions, in view of obtaining information. But father felt that it was best not to
reveal any of the story which had been given to him in confidence. Father also knew that a wife had a way of
cross examining her husband and there by gaining information before the husband
realized his slip of tongue. He also
knew that Mrs. (Lucinda or maybe Amanda) Rumble had the ability to magnifying a
little information into something more
gigantic. Besides Mrs. Rumble was the
local telephone operator. In spite of
his companions needling father remained silent regarding the subject uppermost
in his mind.
Father has remarked many times since that the seven miles
was the most uncomfortable trip of his life. A friendship of years standing
waffled away. After it was all over
father tried to explain his situation, but so far as Mr. Rumble was concerned a
warm friendship never again existed. I
also have heard of very uncomplimentary remarks made by Mrs. Rumble against
father for as she said “The shameful way he treated Mr. Rumble.”
God in his creation has given us loving loyal women. As such they are man's greatest asset. That was true of Minnie (E. b abt 1878)
Proebstel through the years she proved to be a most beneficial influence during
a process of rehabilitation and the making of the respectable citizen.
Minnie was the girl with whom Tucker was in love and for
whom he thought would gain if he robbed a bank.
It is quite evident that she had a deep love for Dave. I assume that she was about eighteen years of
age at the time. It was reported that
she fainted when she heard the news of the Dave's wounds and the arrest.
On one occasion when Minnie called on Dave in the county
jail; I do not know if it was before or after father's visit, she told Dave if
he told the truth and took what was due him for his misdeed that she would
stand by him and would be waiting when he come back. She kept her word (They were married about
Nor will I every forget my personal experience with the
Proebstel family. During sleighing time
us kids would hook out small sleds on behind a farmers sleigh. When it was time to be released we would let
loose of the end of the rope and it would slip out from it's fastening. On one
occasion I hooked onto the bobsled driven by one of the Proebstel boys. For pure cussedness he speed up and turned a
sharp corner. I rolled off my sled but the rope had gotten fastened so that it
would not release. I immediately got my
saddle pony, Joe, and with my friend Millard Donnelly riding behind me, we
journey to the Proebstel farm some three or four miles distance. When we arrived I saw my sled in the barn
yard and got off of my horse to get it.
Just then Mrs. Rroebstel came out of the house to protest. And she knew how. She had been a widow for several years and
had been carrying on farm work like a man.
I had never before heard a women cuss.
I wept, and was to frightened to
speak. My companion explained the situation.
She thought we were stealing the sled because the boys had told her that
they had bought it. She asked who I
was. No doubt my father reputation cleared
me of the alleged theft.
Dave Tucker and Ben Ownsby plead guilty and turned states
evidence against Martin. And each served
about six years in the state penitentiary.
I attend all of the trial. Father
and Tucker served as the chief witnesses in the Martin trial. Dave had lost his sheep herders tan, he had a
new suit of clothes and by his appearance could have passed for a college
student. I did not understand the
arguments between the attorneys, but all of the sudden there was a lull that
came over the court room. By the look on
father's face I knew something was wrong.
Then Judge Aiken solemnly announce “case dismissed” John Martin had received one of the best
criminal lawyers in the state and he proved to smart for the small town
attorney. Martin had talked to Tucker
and to Ownsby before the robbery, but never while they were together, and one
that point the smart lawyer argued that they could not confirm their statement.
There was another interesting side light in connection the
Martin trial. The bank had retained the
services of attorney F. S, Ivanhoe to assist the inexperience district
attorney. However shortly before the
bank trial came off Ivanhoe got in an argument with a man and shot him, but
without fatal results. He was on trail
for his misdeed at the same time of the court and he had secured Martin's
lawyer to defend him. It became the
general opinion that Ivanhoe had not argue very hard against his own attorney. Ivanhoe was not convicted.
When John Martins name was connected with the bank robbery
my thoughts were connected to an exciting incident that happened about a year
before the actual robbery occurred.
Father came home at about eight o'clock one evening after some after
hours work at the bank. He came through
the front door and rapidly walked through the house and made his exit through
the back door without saying a word. Why
he passed through I have never learned.
He could have reached the same destination by taking the side walk at
the side of the house. It might have
been a warning to mother or just a way of saying “I am back”, When he did not return to the house after
some time mother became uneasy and soon went out and called to him. When she
got no reply she investigated all the out buildings and continued calling his
name. She then started across some
vacant lots to the inform his cousin, Asa. After she had traveled about one
half block she came upon father in serious conversation with John Martin and
his elder sons. The conversation creased
when mother arrived. Father returned
with mother and the Martins returned to town.
Father was silent, but his looks and manners aroused my
mother's instinct to realize that some thing was wrong. Under her third degree he talked.
For some time a very precularly acting man had been loafing
in town. His manners were so strange
that who and what he was because a topic of town talk. He spent considerable time hanging about the
bank. At one time father saw him
standing on the foundation ledge to give him height and with his face against
the glass and his shading his eyes to clarify the view.
On this particular evening Martin and son were waiting out
side for father upon his return and stated that they must talk with him in
private, on a very confidential matter, and assured father that what he had to
say was strictly out of friendship for him.
Martin said that the precular stranger roomed with his son
and that all his talk was on robbing the bank.
Martin asked as to the kind of locks on the vaults and safe. In many
cases father had to falsify.
When mother heard the details of Martin's mission she form
fully announced “We'll not sleep in this house tonight”, she could visualize
father being aroused at night and being marched to the bank and ordered to open
up. Father argued against it and tried
to convince her that it was all a false alarm. Mother won the debate. During the week that followed father and
mother slept in a different home each night.
My sister and I also shifted most the time, but after I reached the
Leslie home I had so much fun that I refused to move any place else. I don't know about my sister but I throughly
enjoyed the week. Of course our hosts
were instructed not to mention in public that the McCully family was gadding
about from house to house.
One evening, some time after when mother and I were waiting
in the depot at LaGrande this man came along put his hands to each side of his
face and gazed at us through the window.
Mother shuddered. Who or what he
was I will never know. At least he did
not rob the Joseph bank.
After life had settled down to normal, following the
excitement of the robbery, a public meeting was called to honor Fred Wagner and
Alex Donnelly, for their valor. Ronfes Hall was packed for the occasion. The bank presented the two men with fine
watches. Father made the presentation
Following the trial John Martin returned to his saloon. On
numerous occasions when he got drunk he would come and see father and explain
how innocent he was. Finally father's
patients were exhausted and he took Martin into a back room and talked to him
like the provincial dutch uncle. He was
told that the trial was over, that in the site of the law he was innocent and
could not be tried on the same charge again, that the sooner he learned to keep
his mouth shut concerning the facts of the trial the sooner the community would
forget it; further more he owed it to his family of children to help make the
community forget. Strange to say he took
father's advise. In all my life I have
never played with finer children than his.
John Martin was a civil war veteran and died at the soldiers
home at Roseburg, Oregon. Father made an
opportunity to call upon him there. All
the good old days at Joseph were discussed, except bank robberies. I am sure that the visit did them both good.
Dave Tucker shortened his regular term through good
behavior. For a time he debated in his
mind weather to go to a new location and start a new life or back to his old
haunts in Wallow county. His old haunts
won the argument. He called upon his
former employer, Pete Beaudoin, the most extensive sheep operator in Eastern
Oregon at the time.
Exceptionally good sheep herders are always in demand. Peter knew that Dave was formerly that kind
of a herder. Beaudoin took him in. Soon after Dave started to take care of sheep
on shares and develops his own herd. He
was unusually successful in his operations and he increase his land holdings at
For a while Tucker kept in seclusion and struck strictly to
his business. He gradually regained the
confidence and respect of the community.
It was then that he told Minnie Proebstel that he was ready. He had always declared that he would never
marry until he was truly worthy of one so faithful.
Dave Tucker has serviced on school boards and worked in
organizations for the development of young folks. He believes in the philosophy that it is best
to prevent crime than to cure it. The
high point of his rehabilitation came when he bought into the First National
Bank of Joseph, and was elected its vice president. Some magazine articles and radio programs
have erroneously mentioned this as the bank he once robbed. The bank his robbed was a state bank, The
First Bank of Joseph. However this is no
way detracts from his marvelous and creditable come back.
The name of Fitzhugh had become just a memory and could be
recalled only to the oldest residents of Wallowa County. The present county officials would have to
turn back to the records of 1896 a fifty three years ago, from this writing to
find it. That is what they had to do a
few years back when they received information from the state of Texas. Father never informed me from what source. They were asked if a man name Fitzhugh was
still wanted in Wallowa County, it was further stated that a man of that name
was being released from the Texas penitentiary after serving a long term for
armed robbery. Although father was no
longer a resident of the county some of the authorities placed the matter
before him. They figured that Fitzhugh
was at that time in his late seventies.
At that time father was in his eighty th year and had no desire to go
through the rigors of another trial.
Ownsby and Tucker would have had to be the chief witnesses since they
had both become respectable citizens, not doubt would prefer not to have the
past again so publicly aired. Also the
expense in connection with the transportation and trial would be more than the
loot he got from the bank, father advised against any further action. Therefore, Fitzhugh was given an opportunity
to spend the balance of his life a free man. That responsibility was up to
him. Perhaps we will never know his
Shortly after the story of the bank robbery had had time to
be widely circulated through the press father received a letter from a man
named Brown, living in one of the central states in which he stated he had a
son who had left home several years before and had not heard from him
since. He enclosed a description of his
son. Father was never certain that the
dead robber was the missing son, yet, there was quite a similarity.
Brown was buried in a potters grave located in the very
south west corner of the Joseph Cemetery.
The last time I visited the neglected grave some one had by penciled
under his name on the head board “The bad man”.
My father lived a full and useful life. Respected in his community for his ability
and trustworthiness. He died however, as
does many a desperado, “with his boots on”.
He had always been very active and quick of movement. He was rigorously at work in his yard when
the end came suddenly and peacefully alone in the 85th year of his
life. An hour or so before his passing he received a letter from my daughter,
his only grandchild, informing him that for the first time he soon would become
a great grandfather. I am sure that my
grandson that later arrived would have thought him Great."
My name is Stephenie Flora. Thanks for stopping by. Return to [ Home Page ] All [ Comments and Inquiries ] are welcome.