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Bank Robbers in Arthur


Arthur is a typical small town in North Dakota. The kind of place where everyone knows their neighbors, people look out for each other, and life is quiet and good.

However, in September of 1933, the First State Bank of Arthur was robbed. And that was the talk of the town.

Two men entered the First State Bank, posing as salesmen. One salesman engaged cashier B.A. Helland with his sales pitch, showing a display of pencils and other small objects. The other salesman looked over the bank, “casing the joint.”

The following day, when the two men returned to the bank, B.A. Helland was not working. This time, the salesmen were on a mission. Guns were pulled, the men ran behind the counter, and teller Ella Boettcher was forced to lie on the ground. While one robber pointed his gun at Ella, the other robber emptied the cash drawer, taking $1148. Entering the vault and looking for more, the robber punched a hole in safety deposit box #11, only to find nothing worth taking. Locking teller Ella Boettcher in the vault, the robbers fled the bank with $1148 and $25 in pennies.

Ella-determined to escape the vault, retrieve the stolen money from the bank, and catch the robbers- had a plan. Using a candle for light, she picked her way out of the vault and was freed. After pulling the bank’s alarm, Ella rushed outside and flagged down the first man she saw. Local townsman Lloyd Williams quickly organized a search party, rounding up local citizens. Ella believed the robbers had taken off north of town. The search party looked, but were unable to track down the robbers or retrieve the stolen money.

History repeated itself in November of 1958 when the First State Bank of Arthur was robbed yet again. Robbers entered the bank through a coal shute in the basement. After trying- unsuccessfully- to punch a hole in the vault, the robbers simply stole $10 from a stamp drawer and fled town. This time, the Police were able to track down the robbers, but were not able to tie the men to the robbery.

Source: 100 Years with Arthur-1882-1982-Arthur Centennial Book Committee (Iwen, Ross, Lincoln, Holm, Waxler, Hodgson, Fowler, Sherman, Schur and Viestenz)