Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Great Hartselle Bank Robbery

Marker ID: ABT 
County: Morgan
Waymark: None


In the early morning hours of Monday, March 15, 1926, bandits pulled off one of the most brazen bank robberies in the history of Alabama in the town of Hartselle. In a well-planned operation, a band of five to ten men took around $15,000.00 in cash, coins and gold bars from the Bank of Hartselle.
Around midnight, five men appeared near the Farmers and Merchants Bank and asked the cashier Earnest Mittwede if he knew where they could purchase gas. Mittwede led the five to the night policeman, Les Williams. Producing pistols, the men directed Mittwede and Williams to the back room of the Bank of Hartselle, where they tied the men and unloaded tools, rifles and explosives from a nearby car.
Meanwhile, bandits proceeded to the L & N depot and there captured the station agent, J.B."Brad” Huie and passenger Oscar K. Williams. When the train stopped, conductor J.A. Taylor was puzzled to find no passenger or station agent. He soon discovered the telephone lines had

BACKbeen cut, and used an emergency line unknown to the robbers to contact authorities in Cullman and Birmingham.
When the robbers' efforts to access the vault through the wall proved unsuccessful, they placed explosive charges on the vault door. By some accounts it took eight charges to blow the door, wrecking the interior of the bank and sending debris on to the heads of the frightened hostages.
Alarmed by the noise, many of Hartselle's citizens emerged from their homes to investigate and were met by gunfire warning them to keep away. The robbers took other citizens hostage, including Chester Young, Mack McGinnis and Bob Griggsby. Dr. J.D. Johnston, a local dentist, ventured too close and was shot in the thigh.
After they had packed up their loot, the robbers proceeded to their cars and vanished into the darkness. From start to finish, the robbery took over three hours. Despite the efforts of local, state, and federal authorities, no arrests were ever made.

End of The Great Hartselle Bank Robbery