Because You Asked . . . .  

Galena Bank as Built in 1906

 Bank Robbery Became Town Legend

The Galena Bank was founded in the Odd Fellows Hall in 1901 with J. J. Adams, S. F. Bennett, G. W. Bright, J. H. Dustin, A.O. Griffith, E. Hall, C. Horton, C. W. Hughes, W. F. Miller, G. J. Roberts and J. R. Smythe directors.  George Hughes was the first president.  

George Roberts served as president from 1902 to 1908.  In 1906 the brick building facing the southeast corner of the square.  Roberts was followed by William Miller as president until 1928, Dr. Noah Gorsuch until 1942, Fred Dustin until 1965.  During 1965 Galena Bank merged with Delaware County Bank.  Harold C. Roberts (Hal) became bank manager in 1946 and stayed 30 years until he retired in 1976.  There have been many managers since then. 

After the Delaware County Bank built the new building on the north side of the square, the brick building became the Galena Village offices.

The great bank robbery in 1932 has become a legend in the community.  On October, 5, 1932, the day following the robbery,  The Columbus Dispatch reported the event as follows:

While bandits blew the safe of the Galena Bank early Tuesday, men were being detained in a barber shop across the street by guards who prevented them giving an alarm.  The men were Ralph Watts, Charles Franklin, Pearl Allerton, Carl Cunningham, Gilbert Jones, T. P. Hamer, and Kenneth Platt (the last two were missed by the Dispatch reporter).  Hidden behind barber chairs, lying on the floor and seeking cover around the stove, the men spent four hours from 12:30 to 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, whispering to each other to keep "still" as bandits blew the safe of the Bank of Galena across the street.  

Pearl Allerton and Gilbert Jones, the barber, said it was about midnight when they heard there were several suspicious looking men in town and it was decided to sit up in the little barber shop and watch them.  The light was turned out, the radio was turned off and all was quiet until one man looked out the window and saw two guards on watch and a few minutes later the other man was discovered in the rear of the building.

The men in the little barber shop were the only ones who knew of the bandits in the bank building, but they could not get out for guards were posted in front and rear.  Telephone wires in the village were cut and guards posted by the gang to give warnings.  Entrance to the bank was gained through a side window and as soon as the men entered all windows were covered with tar paper to conceal the flames of the torch, but these were visible to the men in the shop.

Visions of putting up a brave front and putting the bandits to rout went glimmering when the men in the barber shop saw the guards, who said nothing but watched the men in the shop.  A revolver in the barber shop was the only weapon to be used in a fight and after a whispered conference the revolver was placed on the floor out of reach.  The conference was not of war but of peace and discretion was decided to be the better part of valor.

After the safe had been blown, the men got into a 1927 pale blue Buick sedan with 2 spare tires in rear and bearing the license plates D-8669 then drove toward Columbus on the 3C Highway.  The bandits won a wordless victory for not a thing was said by any of them and not a shot was fired.

B. B. Miller, cashier of the bank, said Tuesday that not more than $100.00 was taken by the robbers, who blew the outer door of the safe and used acetylene torch to cut a hole into the safe.  This hole was so small that only two drawers containing pennies and nickels could be reached and the bulk of the money was not obtained.  

When questioned about how they spent the four hours, the men said they were sure they did not talk.  "Every time I  heard the stones in front of the door make a noise, I thought that fellow was coming in here, and if he had I know I would have fallen dead right on the floor," Charles Franklin said. 

Many thanks to Doris Fuller Bricker for saving the article from The Columbus Dispatch in her booklet, "Welcome to the Village of Galena."

This building will be featured on Auto Tour of Community Treasures sponsored as part of Heritage Days by the Big Walnut Area Historical Society.  The event will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday, October 5th, at the Myers Inn in Sunbury.  The 38 mile round trip tour costs $5.00 per car and is part of the Big Walnut Area Ohio Bicentennial Celebration.


Photos of Galena Bank:

  GalBank-600.JPG (72009 bytes)

Postcard around 1900

galenasquare-600.JPG (65429 bytes)  

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(08/09/2011 )

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