Lifetime Ketchum man remembers day grandfather shot while tailing bandits, Ketchum State Bank robbed

 

Memories of the Vinita Rodeo date back before the Grand River Dam was constructed, and some area residents can remember life changing instances from a long time ago, just like it happened yesterday. One Ketchum born man, Luther Gregory Jr., remembers  July 12, 1934, and has good reason.

Gregory's grandfather, Elam  Gregory, was shot and killed that day, while hunting   bank robbers near where the current Shangri La Resort is now located.

When the robbery occurred, Lutherís grandfather, Elam, was 65 years-old and president of the Bank of Ketchum.

Killed also that day were two robbers who were also slain in the gunfight which Is reported to have taken place on the highway one mile south of Grove, shortly before noon.

According to reports from the July 12, 1934, Vinita Ledger, the gun battle was a tragic aftermath to the robbery of the Ketchum bank, in which the two robbers escaped with approximately $300.

Lutherís father, Luther Gregory Sr., was kidnapped as a hostage, but was released after a short ride and returned to the place of the robbery.

Luther Sr., alter returning to Ketchum, said the bandits had started away to the west, but doubled back east a short time later, they were sighted near Cleora. The Gregorys, however, had a head start on the officers and ran into the bandits south of Grove.

When Luther Sr., returned to Ketchum, his father, and another relative, Oscar Blackford, and a friend, Cy Barnette, pursued the bandits in an automobile, overtaking them south of Grove while officers from every nearby point scoured roads and highways in the immediate vicinity, according to the Ledger.

The bank robbery took place at about 9:30 on the morning of July 12, 1934, and Craig county officers were immediately notified and according to the Ledger reports, Sheriff John York and Undersheriff Charles Amadon immediately left for Ketchum.

When the Gregoryís found the bandits, a gun fight broke out, with Elam Gregory being the first to fall in the fight, but the two bandits were slain by the two younger men.

About a week after the incident, a Grove newspaper gave an account of witnesses at  the scene.

In a July 19, 1934 report of the Grove Sun, according to eye witnesses, the many-time convict was 72 year-old, John Goodman, a bandit known as "Kaiser Bill" and "Old Man of the Mountains," who was with an unknown younger bandit.

The old man, had been identified in a number of robberies in and about the Cookson Hills area, but his name was never established. His two pseudonyms were pinned upon him by residents of the area.

The younger outlaw, about 28 years old, was driving the car which had a license that was traced back to a man named George Gossitt at Vian, but the outlaw was believed to be the son of the owner. Later it was determined the younger outlaw was Lawrence Gossitt.

Witnesses said that the old bandit did not fire a shot during the gun battle.

The witness stated that the bank robbers were in their car when the pursuing car pulled up along side, while in the meantime, H.T. Bradley, who resided near where the bandits were slain, was standing with his arm resting on the window of the robbers car, giving the men some information regarding the roads.

"It all happened so quickly, that I did not know which of the men shot Mr. Gregory, while others say that the young bandit fired the shot from a revolver that killed Mr. Gregory," Bradley said.

According to the report, Gregory died instantly, being shot through the heart.

When the gun-fight ended, some of the money, currency of just over $100, was found in the pocket of the old bandit, the rest being silver was found in a sack, which was in the bandits Chevrolet sedan. Also found in the sack was two paid checks.

According to the Ledgerís report, Ray Warner, vice-president of the First National Bank of Vinita, went to Ketchum that afternoon, to assist in checking the funds, to determine what was taken in the robbery.

Even if you are only a seven year-old, something of this nature would be something never forgotten. When asked about what he remembers of that day, Luther Jr., or June for most of his old friends, said, "I just remember sitting on a stoop near the bank, waiting for my dad and grandfather to return." The desk Elam used at the bank currently is displayed in Juneís living room. He also has the guns used in the gun fight. "There are some things we just donít forget."

By BETH GRISWOLD, Journal Reporter, Vinita Daily  Journal,  Aug 21, 2001

dat 2003


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