The Fleagle Gang

The Fleagle Gang
Representative of the Fleagle Gang’s 1937 Buick.

The three suns/sons of Kansas, according to some who don’t appreciate our history, are sunshine, sunflowers, and sonsabitches.

Falling under the SOB category, and rightfully so, would be the Fleagle Gang from Garden City, Kansas. Providing some of the roar in the Roaring ‘20s the Fleagle brothers, Ralph and Jake, along with Howard Royston and George Abshire robbed banks in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and California.

Not as well known as the Dalton Gang or the James Gang, the Fleagle Gang left an interesting legacy. Their robbery of the First National Bank in Lamar, Colorado, eighty-five years ago on May 23, 1928, and its aftermath was especially violent and ruthless which prompted cartoonist Al Capp to create his character Evil Eye Fleagle in the Lil Abner Cartoon strip. Another cartoonist, Carl Barks, used the Fleagle boys as an inspiration for The Beagle Boys in his Donald Duck Cartoons.

The Fleagle Gang was as innovative as they were daring and ruthless. They took two hostages from the bank in Lamar, Colorado, and tied one to the rear of their getaway car to discourage any pursuing lawmen from shooting at them.1 A new Buick was their preferred getaway vehicle and it was a 1927 blue Buick Master Six that roared out of Lamar with a hostage strapped on the rear of the auto.

This bank robbery was the first time that a single fingerprint was the determining factor in cracking a crime and was a boon to the FBI’s reputation. Justice was swift compared to our clogged judicial system of today. All four of the gang were tried and sentenced to be hanged. Three were hanged within thirteen months and the fourth member was shot dead when he resisted arrest.

Read more about the Fleagle Gang at:
Fingerprint Undoes the Fleagle Gang

ENDNOTES

  1. Mrs. Frank C. Montgomery, “Fort Wallace and its Relation to the Frontier” Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society 1926-1928, vol. 17, 275.
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