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Latest blockbuster has Clay County ties

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

John Dillinger
BRAZIL -- "Public Enemies," a feature film dramatizing the life and times of John Dillinger and his infamous gang of robbers, officially hit theaters just after midnight.

As the movie invaded the big screen, a piece of Clay County history followed.

One-time Brazil resident Harry Pierpont, who was a friend and mentor to Dillinger, was a member "Terror Gang," that robbed several banks in Indiana, including Central National Bank in Greencastle of more than $74,000, Oct. 23, 1933.

The Brazil Daily Times reported Oct. 23, 1933, that the bank had been held up at approximately 3 p.m., by "robbers who drove a black touring car with an Ohio license. Brazil police were notified to keep on the watch for such a car. The amount of the bank loss was not learned."

The next day, the Daily Times reported bank employees and customers identified Dillinger, Harry Copeland, Pierpont and Walter Deitrich as being involved in the heist.

According to the report, the robbers carried sub-machine guns with them, which were believed to have been stolen in raids at the Peru and Auburn police stations.

Harry Pierpont
The article stated "victims were herded into a rear room by two of the robbers while their confederates crammed the loot into cloth bags they carried.

"In addition to the bank's cash and securities, the bandits took $300 from Hugh Hammond, an oil company distributing agent and a $330 postal deposit being made by Elmer Sellers, post office clerk, as he stood at a teller's window.

"Harry Wells, cashier, was forced to open the vault.

"The bandits sped away in a large sedan they had left parked in front of the bank. Posses that pursued them were easily outdistanced."

Just a day later, the Daily Times reported Pierpont had been identified as the leader of the gang that robbed the bank in Greencastle.

According to the article, Pierpont was a former gravel pit worker in Brazil. He, along with eight others, had escaped from Indiana State Prison Sept. 26.

The then-Greencastle Banner had reported, "Identification of Pierpont was made by two different men who worked with him several years ago on the traction line."

At the time, it was believed Pierpont and the others were hiding out in "rough country north of Lena," north of Carbon.

Pierpont was born in Muncie, Ind., Oct. 13, 1902, the son of J. Gilbert and Lena Orcutt Pierpont.

According to "John Dillinger -- The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal," written by Dary Matera, Pierpont moved with his family to Indianapolis when he was 15.

After spending time in prison in Jeffersonville for battery with attempt to murder, Pierpont came to Brazil to work at his father's sand and gravel business. But the simple life didn't work for Pierpont, who was soon back to his old ways, putting together a gang that started robbing banks. He was arrested in 1925, in Detroit, and brought back to Indiana. He was found guilty and sent back to prison, where he met Dillinger.

Dillinger was let out of prison in 1933 and then started a string of robberies to finance a prison break. Late in 1933, Pierpont, along with several others, escaped from prison with Dillinger's help.

But after more robberies ensued, law enforcement eventually caught up with Pierpont, Dillinger and the others, and in early 1934, gang members were caught in Tucson, Ariz.

Dillinger was extradited to Indiana, while Pierpont, Charles Makley and Russell Clark were extradited to Ohio to stand trial for the murder of a sheriff.

In March 1934, Pierpont, Makley and Clark were convicted of the murder. Pierpont and Makley both received the death penalty as Clark was given a life sentence.

Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents July 22, 1934, as Pierpont and Makley sat on death row in Ohio.

However, the two attempted an escape, carving pistols out of cakes of soap. The two got out of their cells Sept. 22, 1934, and made it to the main door of the death house before guards opened fire.

Makley died in the melee, but Pierpont survived.

However, less than one month later, Pierpont's fate was sealed as he was executed in Columbus, Ohio, at the age of 32.

Pierpont's last meal included chicken and it was stated in The Brazil Daily Times he had "embraced the church" in his final hours.

One day earlier, Pierpont's parents and Mary Kinder, who told prison officials she was Pierpont's wife, visited him. Reports stated he wept as they left.

In the movie, which stars Johnny Depp as Dillinger and Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent sent to chase down the gang, also stars David Wenham as Pierpont. Wenham also made appearances in "300," and "Australia."

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If you are going to write aboout Dillingers crimes, you seem to have left out what he did in northern Indiana, Crown point to be exact. If you are going to print a story, print it all.

-- Posted by magoo55 on Wed, Jul 1, 2009, at 8:01 AM

Dont you think that if they "print it all"

it would be just a little to long?

The story is titled

Latest blockbuster has Clay County ties

Not Crown point ties.

Give the Banner a break they do a great job.

I suggest if you want more than read a book about it. If you want to know about the dillinger/clay county ties than re read the article.

-- Posted by Dodgers Gone on Wed, Jul 1, 2009, at 9:19 AM

No, they could include all of Indiana and write short quips about all the locations he was at and give the whole story for once. Give them a break, they are supposed to write the whole story, that is what people are paying for.

-- Posted by magoo55 on Wed, Jul 1, 2009, at 8:17 PM

I remember the time my wife and I were having a picnic on a secluded spot north of Webster's creek.While walking and carrying a picnic basket along the creek, we came up on Dillinger and 2 others by a bridge. They did not see us walking up on them. They were counting their loot and splitting it 3 ways.

Then all of a sudden, we heard a loud 'pop' and saw a red cloud around the men. We laughed, ha, dye pack! Dillinger heard us laughing and grabbed a .45 and started blasting wildly, he was mad and couldn't see because he had dye n his eyes. My wife and I ran back to the old Ford and got our cell phones and called the police. The robbers left before the cops came, but we still had our picnic, fried chicken, fresh rolls, sweet tea, muskmelon, ummmm.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Thu, Jul 2, 2009, at 5:38 AM

i remember being told that the sheriff and deputy were told they were going to be making a movie of a bank robbery, dillinger & co. robbed the bank while they looked out of the 2nd story sheriffs office in the court house while it was being robbed.(central bank, greencastle)

-- Posted by bmasten on Thu, Jul 2, 2009, at 10:55 PM

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