THE GREAT CORBIN BANK ROBBERY
Figures in the Corbin State Bank robbery Monday are shown here, snapped by a Beacon staff photographer shortly after three unmasked bandits held up the bank and escaped with nearly $1,400 in cash. At lower right are cashier L. C. Hoppes (left) and Mrs. Nettie Staley, assistant cashier, standing beside the looted safe. The picture shows part of the collection of Indian relics for which the bank is famous. At upper right is Ellis Staley, husband of the assistant cashier, who entered while the bandits were robbing the bank and was forced to lie on the floor with the employees while the robbers made their escape. At lower left is E. C. Wilson of Corbin, who saw the men as they left and was able to furnish a good description. The bank is shown at upper left.
Julia Hoppes writes: my sister, Carol Hoppes Cashier tells this story: “My father, Lester Hoppes, was cashier of the Corbin State Bank. The robbery was on a Monday, January 6, 1930 at about 11 a.m. My father and the clerk, Nettie Staley were tied up and told to lie on the floor. Fern Cox went home from school for lunch and heard the news of the bank robbery and came back to school with the exciting news.
My father and a deputy sheriff pursued the 3 bank robbers for a couple of days to some southwestern Kansas towns. Later [one of the robbers], John Walker, killed a law officer in Colorado. My father went to Carson City, CO to testify. John Walker told my dad that they had “cased the town” on Sunday evening while church services were going on at the Corbin Methodist Episcopal Church.”
My friend, Edla Rickard Hilts’ story: “My father, Rev. Maurice Rickard went out on roads coming into Corbin and put up signs to point the way to the Corbin Methodist Episcopal Church (i.e. 2 miles, 1 mile, etc.) Bank robbers were traveling through the country and followed the signs to Corbin.”
From a Caldwell Messenger Flashback: “John Walker one of the bandits who robbed the Corbin State Bank in 1930 was busy writing letters enough to last for 11 years to his mother, aged and ill, in Joplin, MO. She thought her son had been sentenced to the Colorado Pen for 20 years, for another bank robbery after the Corbin robbery, but the Courts declared he should hang for killing a law officer in CO. To keep this news from her, he had written letters to preserve her slender life thread as long as possible.”
My sister, Carol Hoppes Cashier remembers our father, Lester C. Hoppes walking the floor at night during the Great Depression trying to figure out how to keep the Corbin State Bank open. President Franklin Roosevelt came to the rescue and the bank survived. Many banks did not. "I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in view of such national emergency and by virtue of the authority vested in me and in order to prevent the export, hoarding, or earmarking of gold or silver coin or bullion or currency, do hereby proclaim, order, direct and declare that from Monday, the Sixth day of March, to Thursday, the Ninth day of March, Nineteen Hundred and Thirty-three, there shall be maintained and observed by all banking institutions and all branches thereof located in the United States of America a bank holiday, and that during said period all banking transactions shall be suspended. During such holiday, no such banking institution or branch shall pay out, export, earmark, or permit the withdrawal or transfer in any manner or by any device whatsoever, of any gold or silver coin or bullion or currency or take any other action which might facilitate the hoarding thereof; nor shall any such banking institution or branch pay out deposits, make loans or discounts, or transact any other banking business whatsoever."
My father had a stroke in 1938 and could not work at the bank any longer. A young man from Caldwell came to live in Corbin and take over the Cashier's job. Lester and his family moved to Caldwell, but he remained President of the bank until his death December 19, 1942. In July, 1949, the bank closed because it had been embezzled over several years.