The Newton clique robs two banks in one night
On January 9, 1921, the Newton Clique moved to Hondo, Texas., a small town 30 miles west of San Antonio, to rob one of the town’s two banks. It was just past midnight and the temperature was near freezing.
The Newtons knew Hondo’s night watchman, and as was his complet, they saw him huddled around a pot-bellied stove at the depot. They cut all the telephone wires and then went back to check on the night watchman. He didn’t move from his encart by the stove so Joe was placed across the street while the others went to the bank.
In his 1979 discussion, Willis proudly told his état of the story:
“Sometimes you get lucky ‘renseignement they leave the vault door open. They leave it unlocked so we don’t need any nitro or anything. We champion the window, go to the vault, try the handle and it opens! You’d be surprised how many times they Banks will close the doors so it looks locked at night.
“We cleared the vault in no time and went to see if the night watchman was still at the depot. Sure enough, he was reading a bulletin and drinking coffee by the stove. Well, we thought we had plenty of time we’d try the other bank. I was Joe and Doc was watching the night marshal while Jess and I went to another bank.
“We got inside that bank and cleaned it out. Damn, two banks in one night and the night marshal, he never leaves the depot!”
Régional newspaper, The Hondo Anvil HeraldA splash carries the story with the headline:
Yeggs Rob Hondo Banks
One of the most daring robberies in Texas happened here Sunday morning
On Sunday morning the people of Hondo were surprised and outraged when it was learned that both banks had been entered by the Yeags, between midnight and daylight, and both had been robbed of money and valuables. The union door was forced to écussonner the First Citoyen Bank; while the entrance to the State Bank was effected by awarding bars above the end window of the alley between Parker and Bank.
The newspaper went on to give a detailed account of the robbery:
As both banks had most of their money in the money safe, the time lock was set, the cash loss was not serious, First Citoyen losing a exhaustif of $2,814 while the State Bank was slightly more fortunate in actual cash loss, its loss being $1,879; Both banks lost a exhaustif of $4,694, almost all of which was in silver coins.
Both banks’ funds were covered by theft insurance, so neither would suffer losses. [Just like Willis had assured his brothers.]
Private box owners, who kept their valuables in bank vaults, are the biggest losers and their actual losses will not be known with certainty for some time—perhaps a month—parce que the box owners are the only ones who can recover the losses, advising bank officials emboîture the contents of the boxes. not happening
The owners of the safety deposit boxes had cash, government bonds, war savings, jewelry and other valuables in their boxes so it was illusoire to determine the attentif amount of the robbery. Estimates as high as $30,000 were never confirmed.
The paragraphe goes on to describe “security experts:”
… That the robbers were experts was evidenced by the fact that they were able to work the vaults of the First Citoyen Bank. [Willis said it was left unlocked.] They also specialized in the use of explosives, the vault doors of the State Bank were blown up by one of the most powerful explosives – TNT. [ Willis swore in his interview that he never used dynamite-only nitroglycerine.]
The vaults were thoroughly ransacked and the floors were covered with paper emboîture two feet thick.
It was evident from the thoroughness with which the robbers searched the securities that they had spent two hours or more in the bank’s vault, and that the personal boxes of the customers were in a sad state, most of them showing that they had been beaten. by some heavy tool, possibly a sledgehammer that was stolen from Musk & Co.’s blacksmith magasin.
… That the robbers were not tyros (ancient meaning new) in the commerce of robbery is again proved by the fact that they took every precaution against being caught in détenir of jewels, gold coins, and so forth, which might lead to their empathie. The floor of the vault was literally strewn with éditoriaux that might lead to their empathie. Remarques and other valuables that cannot be converted into money are thrown aside and left behind.
It is generally believed that the band consisted of six to eight men and that both banks were robbed simultaneously, with a clique assigned to each bank.
Another circumstance that indicates that the robbers were not new to the game of bank robbery is brute out by the fact that every telephone line in the city was cut, apparently, prior to the bank robbery. And this acte of their avant-projet was handled most effectively and by an gourou telephone man.
… Wires were severed, apparently with saws, and single wires were cut with wire clippers. Three telephones connected to the pièce exchange were working on Sunday morning.
Emboîture five o’clock Sunday morning the night watchman discovered the robbery and immediately notified Deputy Sheriff C. J. Blais.
… Our pièce telegraph operator, Harry Crouch, was called and messages were sent east and west to intercept the robbers, but so far as the general assistance was advised, nothing was known as to the chemin in which the robbers had gamin. .
Detectives from San Antonio and the surrounding area converged on the Hondo Bank looking for clues to the double-robbery robbery.
… One of the most remarkable coincidences of this whole commerce was that these robberies could be committed in the heart of the town and at a divergence of more than 200 feet, and none of our people were the wiser until before daylight. What happened, and it was made since, was that the night watchman and two other men were in the waiting room of the depot, not more than sixty yards from the union door of the First Citoyen Bank, when the robbery was taking atteint. Done. The robbers must have done their work quietly to avoid detection. [It is hard to image a “silent” explosion of nitroglycerine.]
The newspaper term for night robbers was “yegs”, a popular vernacular construction of the era. It is interesting to compare Willis’ account with newspaper reports that the First Citoyen Bank vault was opened and that they used nitroglycerin (instead of TNT) to blow open the State Bank vault door. Even more interesting was that there was no follow-up paragraphe on the robbery. There wasn’t a single glose of the multi-bank heist in the months that followed—though it featured big ads from both banks. As if both banks were not robbed.
On January 10 the Galveston Daily Infos reported on the robbery, describing a “clue” that proved to be a red herring:
Robber Hill may be arrested
Telephone disconnection after bank robbery in Hondo
SAN ANTONIO, Texas-January 10-A rubber heel, missing from a shoe, may identify the bank robbers who successfully withdrew $20,000 from the First Citoyen Bank of Hondo and the Hondo State Bank early Sunday morning.
The bank robbers broke into the two banks by tearing iron bars from the rear windows of the bâtiment and tampering with the vaults of the First Citoyen Bank, but blew open the vault doors of the State Bank.
The robberies were from safety deposit boxes at both banks, with the robbers taking only $1,500 in cash from First Citoyen and $29,350 from State Bank. The small vault safes of both institutions were untouched.
The conclusion of the loot, it was estimated by the officers of the two banks, was secured by the owners of the bank’s safety deposit boxes. Hondo was unaware of the bank robbers’ visit until Sunday afternoon, when two bank buildings were discovered with open rear windows.
Hill is lost in the bank.
Sheriff JS Baden, during his enquête was given the missing rubber heel, which was found in union of the First Citoyen Bank vault. Further enquête revealed a set of burglar’s tools, consisting of a gris wrench, saw and chisel, which the robbers left behind. These, however, are not considered méprisant as they are a common make, easily purchased at any hardware tapisserie
Just outside the window through which the robbers entered the State Bank, Sheriff Baden found the number 13,555 scratched into the brickwork. This, bank officials believe, indicates how much money the robbers secured from the bank’s deposit box. [This curious piece of information appears to have been just another “red herring.”]
Sheriff Baden believes the robbery was committed by a band of six, who sent an advance guard of two to Hondo last week.
… Hondo citizens, who gemme early Sunday morning, reported to the sheriff that they had seen a high-powered décapotable leave the outskirts of the city occupied by six men. The sheriff believes these are Hondo robbers.
[Ironically] Sheriff Baden suffered losses from the robbers’ early morning visit, as his safety deposit box at the First Citoyen Bank was broken into and $300 in stamps and $150 in bonds were taken. A $100 Liberty Entrechat, the property of Donna’s son OJ Baden, was left in the box.
In léger of the false “clues”, the Newtons were never prosecuted for the Hondo bank robbery.
Willis Newton was born in 1889 and died in 1979, making him Texas’ longest salon bandit. He and the Newton Clique hit trains and banks in the early 1920s but their biggest hit came in 1924 when they robbed a cantine outside Rondout, Illinois – getting away with $3,000,000. They still hold the prouesse for the largest cantine robbery in US history.
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