The Santa Claus Bank Robbery - Cisco, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 32° 23.308 W 098° 58.772
14S E 501925 N 3583495
Quick Description: A.C. Greene's book tells the story of how "Santa Claus" attempted to rob the First National Bank in Cisco on 12/23/1927. The debacle would have been funny had people not gotten killed.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 12/25/2014 8:47:12 AM
Waymark Code: WMN4E7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
As Cisco, TX grew from the wealth of the 1917 area oil boom, bank robberies were a common occurrence, prompting the Texas Bankers Association to issue a $5000 bounty for anybody who killed a bank robber during their commission of the crime. No questions asked.

Enter Marshall Ratliff, who had lived and worked in the area, and who knew that a considerable amount of money was being deposited in Cisco's First National Bank. Ratliff worked out a plan to rob the bank, with three accomplices -- Henry Helms, Louis Davis, and Robert Hill -- but he realized that the locals would recognize him. He needed a disguise, and what better disguise around the holidays than a Santa Claus suit?

Ratliff and his men drove to the area of the bank, and Ratliff decided to get out and walk the rest of the way, with his associates tailing him in the car they'd stolen. Unfortunately for Ratliff, he failed to consider that the local children would make a beeline for Santa Claus during the holidays, so he had to shake them before getting to the bank.

Santa and his elves entered the bank, announced a robbery, and failed to stop two patrons from leaving the bank. The alarm was issued, and the locals grabbed their weapons, looking to cash in on that $5000 bounty. In the meantime, Ratliff's gang cleaned out the bank -- $12,400 in cash and $150,000 in securities -- only to find that there was a crowd outside, waiting for them.

This is where you should imagine Burl Ives, singing "A Holly Jolly Christmas," accompanied by the sounds of gunfire. A shootout ensued, with the police chief and his deputy among the casualties, and Louis Davis falling, mortally wounded. The gang fled in their stolen vehicle, with a couple of children as hostages, only to find that they were low on gas. By chance, they encountered another vehicle, an Oldsmobile driven by its owner's son, which they attempted to carjack, only to have the driver pull the keys from the ignition when he exited the car. Our heroes were then forced back to their original vehicle as the Oldsmobile driver and the two hostages escaped.

During the carjacking, though, the gang had transferred their loot to the Oldsmobile, but they neglected to bring it back with them when they returned to the original car. The posse recovered the stolen goods and gave up the chase, while Ratliff and company spent the next few days on the run before being pursued and caught in Graham, to the north.

Ratliff and Henry Helms were both tried and convicted for killing the Cisco police chief. Helms was given the death sentence, while Ratliff received a 99 year sentence for the crime. Two months later, though, Ratliff's sentence was changed to a death sentence, and to add insult to his injury, Ratliff was called back to Eastland County for trial in the theft of the Oldsmobile.

In the course of things, Ratliff was once again faced with an angry mob, and this time, there was a call for a Texas Necktie Party. The rope broke on the first attempt to hang Ratliff, while the second try succeeded. Marshall Ratliff is buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Worth's Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Thanks to Ed Wallace at KLIF (570 AM) in Dallas for educating me about this one. Yearly, the week before Christmas, one of his "Backside of American History" segments covers this event. This text is a summary of that segment.
ISBN Number: 1574410717

Author(s): A. C. Greene

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