1921 Robbery of the Bank of Wabbaseka

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James Dean

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Tuesday, March 21st 2023
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      The quiet dullness of the afternoon at Wabbaseka, Arkansas was broken by an alarm for all able-bodied men to bring a weapon to the center of town. Three men had just robbed the bank and fled with nearly $1,500. Quickly, the citizens got organized and parties left on every road leaving the small town that the villains may have taken. They were determined and would soon catch who they were after. The date was April 18, 1921, and everyone living would remember that day when a gang of outlaws paid them a visit.

      This had all started about 2:45 on Monday afternoon, when two men entered the Bank of Wabbaseka with drawn pistols. The only person in the bank was teller A.A. Williams, who was soon locked in the vault. They gathered all the cash that was available and hurried to the waiting Ford just outside. Before committing this dastardly deed, the men had cut the phone wires into town, so no alarm could be given. These intelligent desperadoes had not counted on meeting anyone though, and this would prove their undoing. As the Ford sped out of town toward Pine Bluff, it passed C.K Wheeler in another car. Wheeler was the supervisor of the bank and had just left Altheimer. Upon entering the bank, he heard Williams screaming and quickly opened the vault door. It was Wheeler who raised the alarm and the chase was now on.

      About nine miles west of Wabbasseka, some of the determined town citizens came across J.W. Smith changing a tire on the very car they were searching for. A sack of money amounting to $460 was in a nearby log. After being put under arrest, Smith was transported to the jail at Pine Bluff. He confessed that he was only the driver and that the two men who robbed the bank were Buck Fisher, “alias: Bill Gamble” and George “Dad” Smith. Fisher and Dad Smith were from Oklahoma and J.W. Smith lived at Sweet Home, Arkansas with his wife and children. Locked up, the remorseful father told authorities what happened.

     Armed with pistols and a Winchester, the three men had left Little Rock. After stopping briefly in Pine Bluff and Altheimer, the trio arrived in Wabbassseka. They purchased a gallon of moonshine and then robbed the bank. The men had only consumed about a pint of liquor when the car had a flat. With their share of the loot, Dad Smith and Buck Fisher left J.W. Smith to change tires. Dad Smith was reported to have been a member of the infamous Henry Starr Gang which terrorized parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas in the early 20th century. Warrants were issued for the two bandits.

     They were arrested at Stillwell, Oklahoma in August 1921. Officials in Stillwell had become aware of the men and arrested Smith when he tried to cash a check at a local bank. Police then located Fisher, who was camped on the edge of town. At first, both men denied they were involved with the robbery, but then gave in. Fisher was transported to Pine Bluff, but Smith admitted that he had robbed the  bank at Watts, Oklahoma and wanted to stand trial for this charge instead of going back to Arkansas.

     In October 1921, while awaiting trial in Pine Bluff, Buck Fisher was caught planning a jail break. Several saws were seized, and Fisher realized he would have to meet his fate. On November 4, the two accused men went before Judge W.B. Sorrells. Buck Fisher was sentenced to ten years and J.W. Smith was given three years. When Smith heard his sentence, he wept and cried because he had a wife and six small children in the courtroom, who would now be without a husband and father. Dad Smith was sentenced to serve seven years at the penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. #deltastories #arkansashistory #twentiethcenturybankrobbers


Pine Bluff Daily Graphic (Pine Bluff, Arkansas) 19 April 1921 Tuesday, Page 1

Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) 7 July 1921 Thursday, Page 6

Muskogee Times-Democrat (Muskogee, Oklahoma) 2 August 1921, Tuesday, Page 11

The Adair Gleaner (Stillwell, Oklahoma) 5 August 1921, Friday, Page 4

Pine Bluff Daily Graphic (Pine Bluff, Arkansas) 6 August 1921 Saturday, Page 1

Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise (Bartlesville, Oklahoma) 24 Oct. 1921, Monday, Page 2

Paragould Soliphone (Paragould, Arkansas) 7 Nov. 1921, Mon. Page 4

Pine Bluff Daily Graphic (Pine Bluff, Arkansas) 4 Nov. 1921, Fri. Page 1



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