On August 13, 1896, Butch Cassidy, Elzy Lay, and Bob Meeks robbed the Montpelier, Idaho bank at 3:00 p.m. They got away with $7,165 in bills and silver and gold coins.
Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid (Henry Longabaugh), and the Wild Bunch robbed banks throughout the west in the 1890s. In 1896, they brought their brand of thievery to Montpelier, Idaho. The area had a big hay industry, so Cassidy and Elzy Lay and Bob Meeks spent two weeks learning the hay business at Border, Wyoming. They also scouted for the best escape routes, hiding spots, and areas to hide relay horses.
On Thursday, August 13, 1896, Cassidy, Lay, and Meeks rode into town. They bought supplies before heading to the bank about 3:00 p.m. The outlaws hitched their horses in front of the bank.
Cashier E. C. Gray, A.N. “Bud” McIntosh, assistant, and a stenographer worked inside. There were also two customers, William Perkins and Ed Hoover. The robbers told them all to put their hands up and to line up against the wall. One robber stayed near the door holding his gun on the crowed gathering outside. The other men went behind the counter and held a gun on McIntosh. McIntosh tried to stall by saying their were no bills in the safe. The robber smacked him across the head with his gun. McIntosh quickly handed over the cash.
The robber also took the bills in the vault and some gold coins stacked on a table. The robbers warned everyone to keep quiet and not leave the bank for ten minutes. Then they rode unhurriedly out of town. Once they reached the edge of town they rode toward Wyoming.
Once they were gone, Gray ran for Sheriff Fred Cruickshank. He had little experience and did not even own a horse. He grabbed the nearest thing at hand, which was a bicycle. He couldn’t catch them but he did see that they were headed toward Wyoming.
Bear Lake County Sheriff M. Jeff Davis and deputy Mike Malone assembled a posse. But when they reached a canyon, the volunteers refused to go on, fearing they might ride into a trap. Davis and Malone went on without them. But the robbers had planned ahead. They had hidden fresh horses in the canyon and at least one other location. The lawmen returned to town.
How much did they steal? They took $6,165 in paper money and $1,000 in silver and gold. The Bankers Mutual Casualty Insurance Company covered part of the loss. The bank announced a reward of $500 for capture and conviction of the robbers. They later raised the amount to $2,000.
After a week the robbers still had not been found. They hid at the Powder Springs area, near the Wyoming/Colorado border for awhile. The assumption is that the money was used to pay a lawyer to defend Matt Warner and Bill Wall at Rock Springs, Utah. Cassidy hired Douglas Preston, a top criminal lawyer, and D. N. Straupp and Orlando W. Powers, two Utah attorneys.
Bob Meeks was the only one ever arrested for the Montpelier robbery. This was because he did not wear a mask during the robbery and one of the bankers later identified him. He stood trial and was sentenced to 35 years at the state prison in Boise. He later escaped and fled to his brother’s home in Wyoming. Lay was caught committing a robbery in Raton, New Mexico, and served seven years for that crime. Afterward, he went straight. Cassidy later escaped to South America with Henry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid).