Butch Cassidy and the Montpelier
Bank Robbery on August 13, 1896
The above wanted
poster is an example of what dogged Butch Cassidy all the days
of his life . . . and beyond. Mock wanted posters are still available
throughout the Bear Lake valley hoping for tourists to find Cassidy
and finally bring him to justice! No one has proven once and
for all what happened to Cassidy. Whether he died in Bolivia
in a shoot out or returned to live out his days in the USA, it
is sure that his infamous legacy lives on in the history of Bear
Butch Cassidy's Montpelier Bank Heist re-enactment
in the early 1990's. Photo courtesy of
The above building
housed the original "Bank of Montpelier" and is the
site of the infamous Butch Cassidy bank robbery. The building
is now occupied by a printing company, but still exhibits a "Bank
of Montpelier, Est. in 1891" sign.
"The Bank of Montpelier Robbery"
as told by local
Bear Lake Historian Pat Wilde in his book "Treasured Tidbits
of Time, Volume 1".
Montpelier had the first bank in southeastern
Idaho. G.C. Gray established the Bank of Montpelier in 1891.
It was chartered No. 1 of all Idaho banks when that step became
necessary. . . . .According to Matt Warner in his biography,
Cassidy robbed the Montpelier bank in an effort to get money
to bail Warner out of jail. That has never been proven, but for
a certainty Cassidy, Elza Lay and Bob Meeks robbed the bank,
August 13, 1896. . . . .After a casual drink or two, they reached
the bank just before closing time and tied up their horses at
the hitching rack across the street from the bank. Cashier G.C.
Gray had seen the men ride up, but paid little attention. He
was standing on the steps of the bank talking with a friend,
Ed Hoover. Cassidy and Lay left Meeks to tend the horses as they
stepped across the street and ushered the surprised banker and
his friend into the bank. There they forced the pay teller, A.N.
Mackintosh and a girl stenographer up against the wall. Lay leaned
across the writing desk and trained guns on the personnel while
Cassidy quickly moved around scooping the money into a gunny
sac.Mackintosh, with his face to the wall,
was still able to look out of the window where he noticed the
third man, Meeks, standing by the horses. He made an accurate
mental note of the man just before he was struck across the face
by Lay in an attempt to get him to tell where other moneys were
located. It was his description that later resulted in the arrest
and conviction of Meeks. . . . .Cassidy left the bank first with the money.
He walked nonchalantly across the street, got on his horse and
rode slowly away. Meeks moved across the street with the remaining
horses and left Lay's horse standing in front of the bank as
he rode away. Finally Lay left the bank in haste.As soon as Lay cleared the bank, pandemonium
erupted as the alarm spread. Deputy Fred Cruikshank, first on
a bicycle and then on his horse gave chase along with Attorney
Bagley. Minutes later, Sheriff Jefferson Davis and a posse took
up the chase. . . . .For a week the posse followed but gave
up the chase near Snyder Basin. No one really knows what happened
to the money or for that matter exactly where the men went. After
his arrest later, Meeks swore that he never got a penny of the
loot. . . . . Meeks was the only one ever arrested. Cassidy and
Lay were never brought to trial. . . . .Mackintosh. . . . . stated: The 13th was
the cause of it all. He noted it was the 13th day of the month;
it occurred after the 13th deposit had been made that day at
a sum of $13.00 and occurred at 13 minutes after the hour of
"The Impact of the "Bank of Montpelier"
on Montpelier's Banking History"
Residents of Bear Lake county have discussed
the Butch Cassidy bank robbery for years with varied endings.
Not unlike fishermen's boastings, tales of the exact amount of
Butch's loot will be haggled over for years. Besides Butch's
notorious Montpelier heist, it is interesting to note the other
contributions that the "Bank of Montpelier" lent to
the Bear Lake history."The Bank of Montpelier" was
established a centennial ago in April 1891 with G.C. Gray at
the helm. (Present day mortuary owner Leonard Matthews actually
owns one of Mr. Gray's suits and wears it during performances
of the robbery re-enactment when held.) The bank received the
first Idaho state charter and opened doors in the building that
Mountain Litho presently occupies.The bank built a brick building in the
early 1900's, which is presently occupied by Zions Bank. Severe
financial problems arose in the 1920's which closed its doors,
forcing the need for immediate alternative banking. After many
months and several meetings, the Eccles-Browning Bank based in
Ogden, Utah opened for business at the same brick building in
August 1925.Eccles-Browning Bank later changed its
name to First Security Bank of Montpelier. The new bank continued
to use the first charter of the state of Idaho throughout the
1930's until the First Security banking system received a national
charter. When First Security Bank vacated the building for its
newly constructed office in February 1963, Tri-State Bank &
Trust began banking operations in the building until it sold
to Zions Bank in 1997.Presently, Montpelier enjoys the services
of four banks: Wells Fargo Bank (formerly First Security Bank),
U.S. Bank, Ireland Bank, and finally Zions Bank which continues
to occupy the building. Although Butch probably will be best
known for making the "Bank of Montpelier" notable,
Montpelier's first bank continues to have a profound impact on
Bear Lake's banking history.
The above image
is a "Bank of Montpelier" check for an account for
Lavar Nield circa 1910. Image courtesy of grandson, D.K. Parker.
The above two
postmarks were used to commemorate mail at the Montpelier United
States Post Office during the centennial re-enactment of the
Butch Cassidy Bank Robbery on August 13, 1996.
Built by the "Bank
Of Montpelier" at the turn of the 20th century, the building
was also home to Eccles-Browning Bank / First Security Bank (37
years), Tri-State Bank & Trust (34 years), and most recently
Zions Bank. This picture was taken circa 1950's.
||Bear Lake Convention
and Visitors Bureau
69 N. Paradise Parkway Bld. A, P.O. Box 471, Garden City, UT 84028
435-946-2197 | 1-800-448-2327 (BEAR) | Email