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Robbery at Tokio State Bank

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In 1921, 18-year-old Loraine Nolan robbed the Tokio State Bank in Benson County. Loraine was the son of Thomas Nolan, a farmer. The Nolans had a good reputation, until the robbery. They were highly respected in Tokio and Loraine was said to be an intelligent young man. Loraine enjoyed Wild West novels and films, which would later be considered as the inspiration for his crime.

Loraine rode his horse to the Tokio State Bank on March 22. The masked bandit went into the bank around high noon with his revolver in hand. Loraine pointed the gun at the cashier and his wife, and ordered them to stick up their hands. Then he ordered them inside the vault. Loraine locked them up and got away with over $200. After seeing the bandit ride off with the money, the townsfolk came into the bank and rescued the bankers.

Deputy Sheriff John Kiblinger, and constable J. W. Wise, sought to bring the young bandit to justice. They were able to find him through information given by a 16-year-old boy, who spoke with Loraine after the robbery. Loraine surrendered to the law around 5:00 that evening. The money was under a pile of hay at the Nolan farm. The law confiscated the money and Loraine’s gun.

On this date, Loraine confessed his hold-up after being questioned by Kiblinger and Wise. He was taken to the Benson County Jail in Minnewaukan.

The deputy blamed Loraine’s fondness for movies, particularly Westerns, for inspiring the robbery, though Loraine himself cited drinking too much whiskey. Witnesses noticed that the boy robbed the bank in a Wild West fashion. The Devils Lake World subsequently dubbed him the “Jesse James of North Dakota.”

Dakota Datebook by Jacob Dalland


The Bismarck Tribune, 1921, March 23. Page 1

The Hope Pioneer, 1921, March 24. Page 5

The Devils Lake World, 1921, March 23. Page 1

Grand Forks Herald, 1921, March 23. Page 3

Jamestown Weekly Alert, 1921, March 24. Page 1

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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