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Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Springville Bank Heist

In 1898 Francelia Gammell, a son of James Gammell, was serving as the Springville, Utah, town marshal. His friends called him "F. C." or Frank.

 On Saturday, June 28, at ten in the morning, a couple of rough looking characters driving a one-horse buggy rode into Springville from Mapleton and hitched up their rig in front of  the Springville Bank. A. O. Packard, the assistant cashier, was alone in the bank when the two men entered.  One of the men asked Packard whether any money had been left on deposit in his name. Acting surprised that there was no deposit, the stranger continued asking questions. For a moment Packard turned his glance away from the teller window. When he looked back, the barrels of two revolvers were starring him in the face, and he heard the order, "Throw up your hands." One of the thieves then forced his way behind the teller window and stuffed all the money he could find ($3,000) into his coat pocket. The cashier, while still keeping his hands up, pressed the electric alarm with his foot.  The alarm was wired to three nearby stores, Deal Brothers, Mendenhalls, and H. T. Reynolds and Company, where the clerks were instantly notified that there was trouble at the bank.

The robbers sped off in their buggy and headed toward Mapleton. Within ten minutes Marshal Frank Gammell and three other lawmen had mounted their horses and were in pursuit.  At the incline of the Mapleton bench, the culprits met Thomas Snelson, who was headed to Springville in his cart.  They stole Snelson's horse at gun point.  The one horse they had was already quite winded from the chase. 

 Nearing Hobble Creek Canyon, Gammell and his posse came close enough to fire off a few gun shots, forcing the thieves to abandon their horses and escape into hiding in the dense underbrush. Gammell's men spread out to guard the thicket. Within the hour fifty more men had arrived from Springville and the forty acre thicket was surrounded. 

The first bank robber was soon discovered under the dense brush.  He immediately surrendered at the sight of a dozen shotguns pointed at him.  He had $2,000 on his person when he was captured. 

Utah County Sheriff George A. Storrs of Provo was summoned by telegraph, and he promptly arrived to arrest the prisoner (named Maxwell) and took him back to Springville in irons.  

Marshal Gammell and Deputy Sheriff Brown of Provo, immediately organized a search for the other bank robber.  Forty men entered the thicket at intervals six feet apart.  Within one minute someone called out, "Keep your places all!  Here he is!"  Some words were exchanged and then a volley of five or six shots rang out. Next, a cry came from within the thicket, "My God! I'm shot!"

The robber died on the spot.  Joseph Allan of Springville had taken a ball from the robber's pistol in his leg. The leg was later amputated. Allan received $350 in reward money, $1,000 from the state, and the Springville Bank paid for the doctor's services.  Six hundred dollars of the stolen bank money was never recovered.[1]a very bit onebig one.  ne. into his coat pocket. ler window and en he looked back, ad joined the US military



[1] Don Carlos Johnson, A Brief History of Springville Utah, Springville, 1900, pp. 98-100.


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