Appalachia, Bank of Huntington, Bob Greever, Bud McDaniel, C.W. Jones, Cabell County, Frank James, Henlawson, Henry Lawson, history, Huntington, Island Creek, Jesse James, Logan, Logan County, Merrill Mines, Robert T. Oney, Tennessee, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about the James Gang’s robbery of a Huntington bank…and the fate of a safe:
Historic Safe In Offices Merrill Mines, Henlawson
Bank Safe Robbed by Jesse James’ Gang at Huntington in 1875 Now in Fire-proof Vault at Henlawson
Used As Storage For Old Files
The Merrill Mines at Henlawson have a safe in their payroll office which has a unique history.
The safe is being used by the company as a storage place for old records and is in a fire-proof vault.
But it was not always thus.
According to Bob Greever, payroll clerk, who became interested in the history of the safe and clipped a news story from a Huntington newspaper to support his story, the depository was once in the old Bank of Huntington on Third avenue and Twelfth street and was robbed by members of Jesse James gang, who made their getaway with $14,500 on Twelfth street to Fourth avenue, thence to Tenth street and out Tenth street to the hills, closely pursued by a hastily formed posse.
Old-timers in Logan still remember the posse which followed the gang to Logan and lost its trail at the forks of Island Creek long enough for the gang to make their escape to Tennessee.
Reports came back to Logan that the posse overtook the band in Tennessee, killed one of the gang, Bud McDaniel, and arrested another by the name of Webb or Keen. The man the police arrested was brought back to West Virginia and was sentenced to the penitentiary for 20 years. Most of the money was recovered.
An excerpt from the news article describing the bank robbery reads:
“On Monday, September 6, 1875, between the hours of 1 and 2 o’clock a group of men later discovered to have been members of the dreaded James gang, descended on the Bank of Huntington and, at the point of a pistol, forced Robert T. Oney, cashier, to open the bank’s safe in order that they might rifle the contents.
“They complimented the cashier on his courage and insisted on restoring to him an amount of money shown to be his by a credit slip on the counter.
“Reaching the outside of the bank the four men sprung into their saddles, brandished their pistols in the air and galloped away, yelling like Comanche.”
“It was definitely learned that Jesse James was not among them, but there was uncertainty as to whether or not Frank James was in the party. Colder Young was present and may have been leader of the detachment.”
C.W. Jones, general manager of the Merrill Mines, said that the old safe, which weighs every bit of two tons, was first owned by Henry Lawson, lumber operator at Henlawson.
Lawson brought the safe from Huntington by pushboat and put it in his lumber offices on the site of the Merrill Mine offices.
When the Merrill Mines opened their workings, the safe was left near its original site and a fireproof vault was built around it.
The safe is showing the ravages of nearly a century of service. The combination is broken, it squeaks on its hinges, and some of the cement which is encased between steel plates on the safe doors is beginning to crack.
However, the safe is in its final resting place, the door of the vault is too small to get the safe through.
Logan (WV) Banner, 13 May 1937