Berly Wetzel, owner of Wetzel’s Garage, posed by the truck that took return fire during the Oronogo bank robbery on Nov. 30, 1932. He determined the bullet marks in the hood and fender were made by buckshot fired from a shotgun. He later picked up a number of pellets nearby that were flattened buckshot.

Old News

From the 3rd floor
of the Webb City Public Library

Carl Capp traded fire with the Barrow Gang during the Oronogo bank robbery in 1932

Carl Capp was interviewed by the Joplin Globe in 1972. Carl died on Nov. 22, 1976, at the age of 77. He is buried next to his wife, Yvonne Capp, in Weaver Cemetery.

In 1972, Joplin Globe staff writer Irene Holt interviewed Oronogo resident Carl Capp about his encounter with the well-known bank robbing duo Bonnie and Clyde. Carl was a lifelong Oronogo resident and in the 1970s was enjoying his retirement by gardening, raising dogs and keeping homing pigeons. 

Carlos F. “Cappy” Capp was born in Oronogo on April 23, 1899. At the time of the interview, he had been retired for three years from the Oronogo Special Road District, where he had worked for 26 years.

In his interview, Carl told about the Oronogo boomtown days where the population was somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 people. He recounted that the streets were so busy that you could barely get up and down them, and the streetcars going back and forth to Webb City were so full that people were hanging on the outside and riding on the tops of the cars. Houses were everywhere and tents were set up on any open space that was available.

Prior to working for the special road district, Carl worked for 16 years as a mechanic at Wetzel’s Garage on Central Street in Oronogo. It was during this time on Nov. 30, 1932, that he witnessed the robbing of the Farmers and Miners Bank by the infamous Barrow Gang.

Carl told that he had just returned from a weekend hunting trip and had taken his gun to the garage to work on it when he heard his boss yell, “Get your gun, they are robbing the bank!” Carl ran into the alley and took cover behind a coal oil truck. The fleeing gangsters shot at Carl when they passed him on their way to the getaway car. Carl returned fire and when the robbers’ automobile was recovered it was discovered that Carl’s shots had taken their mark through the back cushion of the driver’s seat.

Carl was quoted as saying that he was never madder in his life, and this encounter was too close for comfort.

Details of the robbery later emerged with different reports as to the amount of money that was taken being anywhere from $110 to $500 dollars. The heist was pulled off by Clyde Barrow, Hollis Hale and Frank Hardy. Hale and Hardy were from Waco, Texas, and had met Clyde when the three of them lived there. Newspapers reported that this robbery may have been the first time that the Barrow Gang used a Thompson sub-machine gun, but other sources say they only used a sawed-off shotgun and an automatic pistol. The three bank robbers fled west where they met up with Bonnie Parker who was waiting for the men in another car about a mile and a half west on Ivy Road.

Hollis Hale was later arrested and returned to Jasper County in 1933 where he pled guilty to the robbery of the Farmers and Miners Bank. He was sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary and got a parole in 1943.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were killed on May 23, 1934, on a remote highway in Louisiana when six lawmen set up an ambush for the duo.

In 1937, Frank Hardy was arrested and was given a 10-year sentence for his participation in the Oronogo robbery. Hardy told Circuit Judge Ray E. Watson that he would plead guilty if he could receive the minimum sentence for the crime. Hardy later spoke of the robbery and said that he had driven the getaway car and did not enter the bank with Barrow and Hale. He remained outside of the bank with a sawed-off shotgun and waved people away. Hardy said the amount stolen was $127.00.

Sentinel bound volumes are now in the Genealogy Room

The WCAGS has accepted ownership of the complete collection of bound volumes of the Webb City Sentinel, from 1983 (after the fire) until the final issue on Dec. 30, 2020.

Those issues can also be viewed on microfilm, along with much older issues.

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

WCAGS members staff the Genealogy Room on the third floor of the Webb City Public Library. Current hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the Genealogy Room.

Everything you want to know about Jasper County Missouri Schools is available at a site compiled by Webb City Area Genealogical Society member Kathy Sidenstricker.

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