They Robbed The Bank! Twice! (Part 1 of 2)

The Bank of Bradley was robbed twice, first in 1938 and then again in 1990.  Despite being separated by the span of fifty-two years, both robberies shared a common feature:  The escaping robbers in both cases were fired upon by the ranking member of bank management present at the time. The first robbery occurred on Monday, June 6, 1938.  The following are excerpts from a contemporaneous newspaper article.  The name of the newspaper is not known.  Apparently, the article was updated with new developments as they became available.

– – – – –

“THREE BANDITS ROB BRADLEY, ARK., BANK AND FLEE WITH $685 Three men held up the Bank of Bradley, 50 miles north of Shreveport at 9:10 a.m. today, and fled in a fusillade of shots with $685.25.  The bandits overlooked approximately $2,000.

Jack Meek, assistant cashier, who was alone in the bank at the time, said the bandits headed south on the Shreveport highway in a maroon-colored Ford two-door sedan of 1938 model, with Louisiana license plates.

Sheriff Oce Griffin of Lewisville, Ark., who was in Bradley at the time, immediately telephoned a report of the robbery to the sheriff’s office at Benton, La., south of Bradley on the Shreveport highway and deputies were posted along the route the bandits had taken.

The fleeing bandits were reported to have headed south to Leila, just across the Louisiana line and just north of the village of Bolinger, and to have turned east toward Spring Hill or Cotton Valley.  A description of one of the bandits was furnished officers by Meek, who said he did not see the two confederates except for fleeting glances.

As the gunmen departed, Meek said he opened fire on their car with a .12 gauge sawed-off shotgun, but did not know whether he hit the car or its occupants.

. . .

Search for three gunmen who robbed the Bank of Bradley (Ark.) of $685.85 entered Caddo parish Tuesday afternoon after the Sheriff’s office at Benton reported finding the bandits’ abandoned automobile on the Shreveport road near Plain Dealing.

The abandoned car, a maroon-colored Ford sedan of 1938 model, had numerous gunshot holes in the rear of it, officers said, indicating a shotgun blast from the bank’s cashier had struck the car.

Officers immediately sounded a warning for lookouts in Caddo and Bossier parishes, saying the gunmen had transferred to a green Oldsmobile sedan and had probably turned from the Shreveport road at Swindle’s station to ferry across Red River for Belcher.

. . .

Louisiana state highway police headquarters here said today they believed Floyd Hamilton, escaped Texas convict, was one of the bandits who robbed the Bradley (Ark.) State Bank Tuesday morning of $685.25.”

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The newspaper story itself is not consistent in specifying the amount of money taken, mentioning $685.25 twice and $685.85 once.  One of the more interesting facets of the article is that it mentions an initial suspicion that the robbers were headed to Spring Hill or Cotton Valley, and later mentions that they were headed to Belcher, in the opposite direction.

Floyd Hamilton was, indeed, one of the robbers.  He was assisted by Ted Walters and Jack Winn.  Both Hamilton and Walters were alumni of none other than the Bonnie (Parker) and Clyde (Barrow) Gang.  By 1938, though, Bonnie and Clyde had already met their demise.  Also a member of the Bonnie and Clyde Gang was Floyd Hamilton’s brother, Raymond Hamilton, who had met his own demise in the Texas electric chair three years earlier.

Floyd Hamilton and Ted Walters were both convicted in federal court in Fort Smith of robbing the Bank of Bradley, and both served time in Alcatraz.  Both attempted, unsuccessfully, to escape from there in 1943.  At some point, Floyd saw the error of his ways, was paroled, and was eventually pardoned by President John F. Kennedy. 

There is no shortage of material on the internet concerning Hamilton and Walters.  About 2 months later, on August 12, 1938, they robbed the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Nashville, Arkansas.  (texashideout.tripod.com/hamwalters.html)  The day after that, they were almost shot and captured in Sevier County, Arkansas.  (angelfire.com/journal/dqueen/hamilton/html)  Both these sites specifically mention the Bank of Bradley caper.

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