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May 17: Buxton Bank Robbery

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North Dakota witnessed a rash of local bank robberies during the Depression-era 1930s. Neighboring Minnesota even experienced a robbery that many attributed to Bonnie and Clyde.

On this date in 1933, three men robbed the First National Bank in Buxton, North Dakota. When a cashier activated the bank’s tear gas security system, he was shot and killed by one of the robbers. As tear gas flooded the bank, the bandits ordered bank employees into the vault and fled with as much as a thousand dollars. As they drove away, they threw tacks on the road behind them.

Sheriffs in Fargo, Grand Forks and Hillsboro sprang into action. The Traill County sheriff put all his deputies on the case and sent up an airplane to search. Gov. Bill Langer offered a $1,000 state reward for the robbers’ arrests.

The search spread throughout the Red River Valley in both North Dakota and Minnesota, with officers joined by “posses of citizens.”

Searchers lost the bandits’ trail about a mile east of Buxton. Two days later, the AP mentioned the Buxton robbery and other recent heists in Minnesota and South Dakota. It was the robbery in Okabena, Minnesota, that got attributed to the infamous Barrow Gang, though other people were charged and convicted for that crime. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker roamed throughout the U-S with stolen guns and cars for two years before being gunned down in 1934.

After the Buxton robbery, authorities had several suspects, including one who was subsequently sentenced to prison in Minnesota for another robbery. But by the fall of 1935, the Buxton case went cold. Authorities did find a car in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which may have been used in the Buxton robbery.

Regarding the historic Buxton Bank building, many of its unique features have been preserved, including the teller panel and door trim that carry bullet holes from the robbery.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1933, May 17. Page 1: Buxton bank cashier is slain by bandits
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1933, May 17. Page 1: Bandits kill cashier, loot Dakota bank
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1933, May 18. Page 2: Authorities lose trail of bandits who slew banker
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1933, May 19. Pages 1, 4: Yeggs loot bank at Buxton, kill cashier
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1933, May 19. Page 1: Bandit foursome, including women, stages bank raid
  • The St. Cloud Daily Times. 1933, June 26. Page 1: 5 arrested as Yegg suspects
  • The Minneapolis Star. 1933, June 29. Page 9: State starts move to return bandit suspects
  • Mandan Pioneer. 1933, July 8. Page 1: Employees of bank declare photo proof
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1933, July 13. Page 1: Identify suspect as Buxton robber
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1933, July 14. Page 1: Name one suspect in Buxton job
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1933, July 21. Page 1: Buxton killer still at large
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1933, September 1. Page 1: Think Touhy gang member shot Hanson
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1934, January 12. Page 1: Reopen Buxton robbery case
  • The Austin Statesman. 1934, May 23. Page 1: Barrow and Bonnie shot dead in Hamer’s trap
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1935, October 25. Page 1: Failure marks long man hunt
  • The Bricelyn Sentinel. 1936, March 5. Page 1: Bank bandit given 80-year sentence
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1960, May 12. Pages 1, 5: First state bank of Buxton to mark 75th anniversary Tues.
  • The Hillsboro Banner. 1997, September 6. Page 5: Oldest bank expands with newest in GF
  • Leonard Albert Hanson, FindaGrave.com: findagrave.com/memorial/126892388/leonard-albert-hanson
  • Lauritsen, J. 2024, January 31. CBS Minnesota. Finding Minnesota: Did Bonnie and Clyde rob a bank in Okabena? Retrieved from: cbsnews.com/minnesota/news/did-bonnie-and-clyde-rob-a-bank-in-okabena/
  • First State Bank. History. Retrieved from: firststatebanks.com/about.php
  • Text message communication with Bobbi Hepper Olson. 2024, April 27

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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