Ste Genevieve Robbery

The Ste. Genevieve, Missouri Robbery

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri – Ste. Genevieve Savings Association

May 27, 1873

about $4000 taken

“Ste. Genevieve is an old French town situated upon one of the gently sloping bluffs of the Mississippi River. Built under the French regime it still retains the distinguishing characteristics of that race. Its people and institutions are generally Catholic, and there is a strange rest and dreamy quiet pervading even the atmosphere, and widely at variance with the rush and bustle of the unadulterated American. Quaint, gabled houses, surrounded with spacious gardens, where roses and honey-suckles perfume the mild May air, one can almost fancy one’s self in some outlying province of sunny France.

Genial, hospitable people meet with a lingering cordiality, at least of words, unknown to the more dashing American citizen. Neighbor languidly chats with neighbor from adjoining gardens, and chatter in their Creole French as volubly as the saucy sparrows which are adjusting their quarrels and love affairs just without the window, upon its narrow ledge.

On this this particular May morning [May 27, 1873], however, these dreamy people are doomed to be rudely awakened by a terrifying incident…

The Life, Times & Treacherous Death of Jesse James

by Frank Triplett, 1882

From a St. Louis newspaper account of the robbery:

St. Louis Weekly Globe May 30, 1873:

Sublime Audacity

One of the boldest Bank Robberies on Record

Thieves enter a bank in the day time

Flight of the robbers and their pursuit by citizens armed with shot-guns

If there is any operation in which the audaciousness of pure deviltry ever be displayed, it is in the exercise of robbing a bank in broad daylight. …

Situated upon the corner of Merchant street and Main stands a two-story brick house, formerly occupied as  dwelling but now used as a banking-house by the Ste. Genevieve Saving Association; General F. A. Rosier is President and O. D. Harris, Esq..,, Cashier

Rozier bank in Ste. Genevieve

This may not be the bank that was robbed May 27, 1873, but instead may have been one later purchased by F. A. Rozier, previous owner of the Ste. Genevieve Savings Association. The above building was built in 1820. From the location description it appears to be on the same street, but a block away, from the bank that was robbed.

…When halfway in the room the Cashier happened to turn his head and was startled at sight of two pistols pointed at his temples, and was most thoroughly aroused to the delicacy of the situation, as he felt the cold muzzles  quickly pressed to them. The force used by the robbers was so great that for houses afterwards one of his temples showed the mark of the pistol barrel. Before he could remonstrate he was saluted with a stirring command, “open the safe or I’ll blow your d—d brains out.’’ Mr. Harris hesitated about opening the safe, which being observed, cause the robbers to level their pistols at Rozier, threatening to shoot him if he should run.

But Rozier broke away and was confronted by the two other men on horseback, who were concealed from observation.

…The robbers speedily released Mr. Harris, mounted their horses, and the four commenced firing in all directions in intimidate pursuers. Above the report of shots was heard a wild “Hurrah! For Sam Hildebrand, catch the horse-thieves if you can,” and the rapid hoofbeats of the retreating horses showed that the “job” was finished..

…Two of the robbers slept the night before at a farm house two miles out. They knew that General Rozier, the President, whose room was on the same floor with the bank room, was absent…

The robbery, one of the boldest on record,, did not pan out very handsomely, as the booty amounted to only $3600.

From the Ste. Genevieve Fair Play, May 29, 1873:

Daring Robbery!

A Four Thousand Dollar Haul!

Four Men Walk into the Merchants Bank of Ste. Genevieve in Open Daylight and Rob the Safe of it Contents and Escape!!

Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock… Four men rode into town on horseback and hitched their horses in the vicinity of Mr. Anderson’s store, they walked leisurely up to the bank; two of them stopped outside and two of them started into the bark…

…each one drew a pistol and presented it to Mr. Harris’ head and said, “Open the safe, damn you, or I will blow your brains out.”

From a St. Louis newspaper following the Adair County, Iowa train robbery:

Information was received yesterday at the police headquarters which taken with facts before known, leave not the shadow of doubt but that several members of the party who robbed the train on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad near Adair, Iowa, on Monday night, were the gang who robbed the Ste. Genevieve Bank last May and have been connected with other villainies of a similar character, perpetrated during the past three or four years.

[Arthur McCoy] was the one who held the pistol to the head of the Cashier of the bank… More on Arthur McCoy

“Branded as Rebels” by Joanne Chiles Eakins says Arthur McCoy led this robbery with a couple of the Youngers with him.

From my research into McCoy’s background and movements it became clear McCoy knew Ste. Genevieve intimately, having numerous relatives there, many of whom owned the bank or were major contributors until, at least, shortly before this robbery. McCoy had also lived in Ste. Genevieve for several years after the war.