Topic Page

A bank robbery gone wrong in Ketchum, Oklahoma

The lives of four men and their families were forever changed on a hot Thursday morning of August 9th, 1923 in Ketchum, Craig County, Oklahoma during a bank robbery that just didn't go as planned. Three of the men were bank robbers who just killed a man, who didn't get their money and were on the run. The fourth man, an innocent bank cashier, Frank Pitts, who lay dead on the bank floor in a pool of his own blood. The aftermath of this tragedy causes the Govenor of Oklahoma to lose the Senator's candidacy and another man to lose his life in the electric chair.

More…

Related Pages

Pictures & Records (49)

First State Bank, Ketchum, Craig Co., OK
First State Bank, Ketchum, Craig Co., OK
Photograph of the teller area where the robbery took place. The persons in this photo have not been Identifed.
Pitts Family c 1912
Pitts Family c 1912
Photo of the Pitts family at Alexander Pitts Ranch near Big Cabin, Craig Co., Oklahoma. Frank Pitts is the second from right.
Frank Pitts graduate of banking school
Frank Pitts graduate of banking school
Photo of Frank Pitts a graduate of banking school in Missouri. His mother attended his graduation and is shown in the photo.
Frank and his wife Myrtle
Frank and his wife Myrtle
Photo of Frank and his wife Myrtle
Frank, Myrtle and son Frank Pitts, Jr.
Frank, Myrtle and son Frank Pitts, Jr.
Family photo of Frank, Myrtle and son Frank Pitts, Jr.
Frank's children
Frank's children
Photo of Frank, Clifford and Roy Pitts about 1924.
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 3
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 3
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 2
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 2
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 1
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 1
The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 1 of 3
The Oklahoman, 20 Aug 1923
The Oklahoman, 20 Aug 1923
H. E. Robinson succeeds position of Frank Pitts, deceased.
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 1
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 1
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 1 of 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 2
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 2
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 2 of 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 3
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 3
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 3 of 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 4
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 4
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 4 of 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 5
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 5
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 5 of 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 6
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 6
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 6 of 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 7
The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 7 of 7
The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 1
The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 1
The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 1 of 2
The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 2
The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 2
The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 2 of 2
The Oklahoman, 02 Nov 1924
The Oklahoman, 02 Nov 1924
The Oklahoman, 02 Nov 1924 article
Frank Pitts tombstone Pic 2
Frank Pitts tombstone Pic 2
Buried Big Cabin Cemetery, Big Cabin, Craig Co., OK.
Frank Pitts tombstone Pic 1
Frank Pitts tombstone Pic 1
Tombstone of Frank Pitts in the Big Cabin Cemetery, Craig Co., OK.
Richard Birkes WW 1 Draft Card
Richard Birkes WW 1 Draft Card
Prison photo of Richard Birkes
Prison photo of Richard Birkes
Prison photo of Richard Birkes 1923
Allison Ivey WW 1 Draft Card
Allison Ivey WW 1 Draft Card
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 1
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 1
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 1 of 3
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 2
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 2
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 2 of 3
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 3
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 3
ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 3 of 3
ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 1
ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 1
ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 1 of 4
ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 2
ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 2
ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 2 of 4
Show More

Stories

Events of Thursday, August 9th, 1923

Ketchum, Craig Co., OK

First State Bank, Ketchum, Craig Co., OK

On the morning of the robbery, two of the three robbers (assumed to be Richard Birkes and Allison "Dick" Ivey) both of Tulsa, hired a taxi cab which was driven by Russell Mayberry who was also accompanied by a young companion that day of Mayberry's in Vinita, Craig Co., OK to take them to Ketchum, OK. The robbers had came from Tulsa that morning hiding their car in Vinita. About 4 miles from Ketchum the men held up Mayberry and his companion, forcing them to leave their car and proceeded to tied the two men to trees and took the taxicab.

Before entering Ketchum, the third member of the party was picked up (assumed to be Raymond Thomas). These three men on the day of the crime drove to the First State Bank in Ketchum, Craig Co., OK in the stolen taxi cab, and by force of arms attempted to rob the bank. Richard Birkes and Allison "Dick" Ivey entered the bank, and Raymond Thomas remained outside in the automobile. Birkes and Ivey asked for the Ketchum brothers, and then with a loaded pistol pointed at the bank cashier, Mr. Frank Pitts, commanding him to "stick em' up". This the cashier either failed or refused to do, or else did not comply promptly with the demand. Birkes thereupon fired his pistol once through the opaque glass of the teller area, shooting Frank Pitts, the cashier in the heart instantly killing him. Two more shots were fired by Allison "Dick" Ivey at the bank's bookkeeper, Herbert Ray, but the bullets went wild and never found their mark. Failing to obtaining any of the banks cash, the two fled the bank into the waiting automobile driven by Raymond Thomas, the get away driver. The three sped desperately out of Ketchum to get away.

A posse of local citizens were soon organized and the search for the bandits began. Later in the day, Leaders of the posse of Ketchum first stopped Raymond Thomas on the road and asked him if he had seen anything of the three men in a car. He told them he had not and they left him. Later he got in the car with some officers and they began questioning him. He acted suspicious so they took him into the town of Ketchum where he was identified as one of the bandits. There was a struggle with angry citizens which were prevented in lynching him.

Sometime after the bank robbery, the taxi drive Mayberry and his companion later freed themselves and rushed to the Vinita police. The bank robbery had already been reported by this time.

After being identified, Raymond Thomas confessed his part and named his companions as Richard Birkes and Allison "Dick" Ivey both of Tulsa; identifing Richard Birkes as doing the killing. He also told the officers that Ivey and Birkes were hiding in a cluster of weeds near Brown's Ferry, three miles east of Ketchum when he had left them. Following the confession of Thomas, the possees' search for Ivey and Birkes doubled and officers said that if Birkes was found and identified it would be hard to prevent summary punishment being dealt to him by the citizens of Ketchum. Within the next three days, the two remaining bandits were rounded up.

The three men were taken to the Nowata County jail for safe-keeping after their capture near Vinita. Threats of lynching were freely made in Craig County when the search for the bandits was on. Once arrested the prisoners were immediately rushed to Nowata where a heavy guard was maintained around the county jail.

After the arrests, Tulsa police gave a statement ...that the three had been seen "campaigning together" shortly before the robbery and that all three of the men have long crime records and all had served time in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Newspaper accounts and prison records stated that Allison "Dick" Ivey had been previously pardoned by Gov. Walton and that Richard Birkes had escaped from Oklahoma City Camp # 2 on July 14, 1923, almost a month prior to the bank robbery.

Frank Pitts, the Cashier, who was shot

Pitts Family c 1912
Frank Pitts was the son of Alexander L. & Martha Ann (Huckaby) Pitts. He was born 15 Feb 1892 in Vinita, Craig Co., Indian Territory. He had three brothers named Joseph Carroll "Joe", Dee and Albert Pitts. Two sisters named Mary Virginia "Ginnie" and Bertha Agnes Pitts. He married Myrtle Mae Lester on 7 Nov 1916 in Oklahoma. He grew up outside of Big Cabin, Craig Co., Oklahoma his entire life on his father's ranch.  Pictured here is a family photograph of the Pitts family in Big Cabin, Frank is identified second from the right.

Frank attended Banking School

Missouri

Frank Pitts graduate of banking school

Pictured here is Frank Pitts and his mother, Martha Ann (Huckaby) Pitts.  The photo was taken at Frank's Banking school Graduation in Missouri. His mother attended his graduation and families were photographed with the graduates.

Frank Pitts with his wife and children

Craig Co., OK

Frank and his wife Myrtle
3 images
Pictured here is Frank with wife Myrtle Mae (Lester) Pitts and pictures of their children. There are three photographs to view.

Newspaper Articles published after the robbery

Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK

The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923 Part 3
3 images

The first article is from "The Oklahoman, 10 Aug 1923" 3 different parts to this article.

Ketchum Bank hires new Cashier

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK

The Oklahoman, 20 Aug 1923
This second article was published on 20th Aug, 1923.  H. E. Robinson succeeds the position previously held by Frank Pitts, deceased.

Birkes meets fate without sign of fear

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co., OK

The Oklahoman, 5 Sep 1923 Part 1
7 images
Another article regarding the robbery. There are 7 parts to this article.  That last part of this article includes a photo of the allegeded shooter, Richard Birkes.

Mrs. Myrtle Pitts goes on campaign circuit speaking against Gov. John Calloway Walton running for the Senate seat

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co., OK

The Oklahoman, 20 Oct 1924 Part 1
2 images

Mrs. Myrtle Pitts joined the campaign trail against the Gov. John Calloway "Jack" Walton who prison records show he pardoned one of the bank robbers, Allison Ivey and allowed the shooter of the robbery, Richard Birkes, to escape from an Oklahoma City Prison camp. Due to the conspiracy of these allegations made my Mrs. Pitts and others, Gov. J. C. Walton did not win the Senator's seat. There are two parts to this newspaper article.

Gov. John Calloway Walton says Klu Klux Clan Minister makes Mrs. Pitts lie

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co., OK

The Oklahoman, 02 Nov 1924

Mrs. Frank Pitts, widow of the Ketchum banker killed in an attempted holdup, and mother of three children made fatherless by the killing, has taken the stand against Gov. J. C. Walton, telling the people her story and pointed out that one of the slayers was a convict enjoying his freedom by grace of a leave of absence signed by Walton while governor.Walton fires back that Mrs. Pitts lies, his answer to this has been to charge that Mrs. Pitts is repeating a lie put in her mouth by a low down ku klux minister.  He stated Allison Ivey, one of the bank robbers, was first granted a leave of absence by J. B. A. Robertson.  He does not admit that the record also shows that the leave was renewed by him. 

Burial of Frank Pitts, the bank cashier

Big Cabin Cemetery, Big Cabin, Craig Co., Oklahoma

Frank Pitts tombstone Pic 2
2 images
Frank is buried in the local town cemetery in which he was raised. There are two photo's of his tombstone.  Frank Pitts 1892 - 1923 "Gone but not forgotten".

More about Richard Birkes, the alleged shooter

Richard Birkes WW 1 Draft Card

Richard Adolphus Birkes was the youngest son of Isaac and Eliza Ann (Wishon) Birkes. Richard was born 9 May 1898. It is believed Richards first wife was named Edna Warner which he married about 1917 having two girls. It is thought that Edna must have died about 1920 and then Richard married Mable of McAlester, OK. Richard's girls named Jewell born c 1918 and Pauline born c 1920 in OK were taken from him from his mother-in-law shortly after his first wife's death. 

Richard Birkes was not found on the 1900 census.

In the 1910 census, he was found living with his mother and stepfather in Delaware Co., OK.

He was not located in the 1920 census.

On Richard's World War I Draft Card registration card in Tulsa, OK dated 12 Sep 1918 states his full name, birth date, resident of 505 N. Boulder, Tulsa, OK, his occupation was listed as a truck driver for Nichols Trans. Co., 1 N. Boulder, Tulsa, OK. His nearest relative was Edna Birkes (his wife). His physical description is Tall, medium build, brown hair and brown eyes.

Crimes of Richard A. Birkes

Oklahoma

Prison photo of Richard Birkes

Richard Adolphus Birkes had several alias such as, John Smith, Bill Gentry and Cowboy Bert.

On 10 Dec 1920 he was sentenced to 15 years in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester, OK for Robbery committed in Garfield Co., Oklahoma. His prison record was No. 10962. He was 22 years old at this time of this crime. While in prison for this offense he stated he had no religion, he smoked and drank alcohol, had a living mother, four brothers and 1 sister. One brother was named Jess Birkes of Silon Springs, AR. He left home at the age of 16 years, he was married with two children, and blamed his downfall on Whiskey. His occupation was a Truck Driver C. L., he was not working at the time of his arrest and had not worked for 3 weeks, he had a 5th grade education. He stated his father was born in Missouri and mother born in Arkansas. He served less than 3 years for this offense as he escaped from the Oklahoma City Camp # 2 on July 14th, 1923.

After his trial for the death of Frank Pitts, the cashier, they took the below prison photo. He was incarcerated back into the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. On his prison forms, he stated he left home at the age 18 and the cause of his down fall was the Klu Klux Clan. He stated his occupation was a mechanic and that he had a 10th Grade education. He stated his father and mother were both born in Arkansas. His mothers name was listed as Mrs. E. C. Birkes of Siloam Springs, Arkansas and his wife was listed as Mrs. Mable Birkes of McAlester, Oklahoma.

Transcripts of court proceedings for the Ketchum bank robbery can be read at the following websites: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=ok&vol=/appeals/1924/&invol=32174 and http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=ok&vol=/appeals/1924/&invol=27991

Richard Birkes gets the electric chair and claims innocence to the end

Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester, Oklahoma

McALESTER NEWS CAPITAL

5 Sept. 1924

Vol. No. 28, NO. 315. Est. 1896, p. 1 & 2

RICHARD BIRKES SHOWS AN IRON NERVE IN CHAIR

Walks Gamely From Death Cell and Asks That Current Be Turned on; Smoked Cigar in Last Minutes.

THANKS WARDEN KEY FOR KIND TREATMENT

Last Breath Protested His Innocence of Crime for Which He Died; Smiled Hopelessly as He Died Richard Birkes died game. The condemned man held hope until the last that some intervention might same him from the electric chair, but when zero hour arrived Birkes walked with a firm step to the spot from whence death was to accompany him into an unfathomed realm. Asked by Warden W.S. Key if he had anything to say, Birkes gulped as if words were difficult to command and responded, "I am not guilty and I am not afraid to die." He added, as he addressed Col. Key personally, "I wish to thank you, warden, for the kind treatment I have received while in this prison". Prayers in Death Cell Birkes had been attended in his last hours by spiritual advisors and Chaplain C.H. Barnes was within the wicker enclosure near Birkes when the death march ended at the chair. All prayers had been in the death cell, where Chaplain Barnes, Captain Joe Dahl and Rev. John Via had offered consolation to the doomed man in his last minutes. Birkes was smoking a cigar when he walked to the chair. As he halted before the death instrument he cast the cigar, whose embers were then dead to the floor. He attempted to smile at the myriad of faces seen before him as 75 persons admitted to the death chamber were crowded closely to the iron wicker partition that enclosed the group appointed to officiate with the state machinery. Waves Farewell As his arms and legs were strapped to the massive oak chair and electrodes clamped into place he still endeavored to remain composed. He was game to the core. An ashy, death-like whiteness to his countenance told the tale of inner anguish, however. Just as the black mask was being placed, one of Birkes' hands, though bound at the wrist to the chair, waved a farewell and he shouted, "Turn her on, boys!" At that moment straps about his head were adjusted and a second later the purr of the death dealing motors vibrated. Birkes' body gave a heavy lurch against the straps, but he was not conscious of anything as the bolt was instantaneous as lightning and as sure. He entered the death chamber at 12:03 and at 12:08, Prison Physician J.W. Echols pronounced Richard Birkes dead. Resisted Current Birkes was a strong, muscular youth and when the 2.300 volts shot into his body the resistance was so great that the voltage was pulled down to less than 600. It was nearly a minute before the electricity overpowered its human opponent and climbed back to its full strength. The executioner, who officiated at the Pope and Harvey executions, said that Birkes showed unusual resistance to the current. The witnesses to the execution silently filed from the room and Birkes was removed from the chair. His body was taken charge of by an undertaker. Burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery Saturday, the funeral being from Humphrey's Chapel. Col. Key, warden of the penitentiary, had planned the handling of the official witnesses in an excellent manner. None but persons bearing passes was admitted to the prison grounds and as the group gathered all remained outside until very near the time to descend to the basement where the execution was to take place. This fact probably saved some from becoming ill, as prior electrocutions have invariably caused one or more persons to become nauseated in the close confines and tense atmosphere. Officials Very Courteous The courtesy of Warden Key, his deputy, the assistant deputy and Secretary Campbell was greatly appreciated by all. More than a score of the spectators were out of the city officials and there were ten newspaper representatives present. Previous to going to death Birkes had told newspaper men that he was "very sorry for the crime I have committed." He sent word to two negroes, now under death sentence in a cell near his own, that when he died his "spirit would come back and be with them." Birkes confessed his part in the hold-up but denied that he fired the fatal shot. Two other men, Raymond Thomas and Allison Ives, were convicted of participation in the murder, are serving life sentences. Tells Mother Goodbye An unfinished super lay before Richard Birkes at 5:30 o'clock Thursday evening and this man who was to walk seven hours later to death in the electric chair was calm and prepossessed. He had under-gone the greatest mental anguish an hour earlier in the afternoon when he bid a last farewell to his mother Eliza Birkes of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. This sixty-two year-old woman who had exerted every effort to get clemency for her son was sad and brokenhearted over her failure to be able to save her son's life. She however, bore up better than did Mrs. Mable Birkes, wife of the condemned man, who wept bitterly. __ she sought to console him. The parting scene was within sight of the electric chair which at that hour was mute, but in perfect working order, according to electricians who for the past few days have been overhauling the instrument of death. Ketchum Citizens Arrive At five o'clock a group of Ketcham, Oklahoma citizens including Mrs. Frank Pitts, 23-year-old wife of the murdered bank cashier, arrived at the prison. Mrs. Pitts, mother of three children, begged to be permitted to visit the death cell and see the one who had brought grief into the lives of her babies and herself. Permission was refused, as the warden could see no benefit but a possible scene enacted before the death cell door. The Ketchum party was composed of Harry J. Campbell, county sheriff of Craig county; Clay M. Roper county attorney; Dee Pitts, a brother of the slain bank cashier, Charles Cohea, Merchant, and H.E. Robinson, cashier of First State bank who succeeded Frank Pitts after the tragedy of August 9, 1923. Mr. Robinson was accompanied by his wife and by Mrs. Frank Pitts Given Spirited Comfort Among the visitors to Birkes cell was Rev. John Via, minister of the Baptist church at Wewoka. Together with prison Chaplain Rev. C.H. Barnes and Captain Jos. Dahl of the Salvation Army, Rev. Via offered spiritual comfort and advice to Birkes. They stayed with him to the end. An unsigned letter tendering the condemned man spiritual quotations and a religious song was received by mail and delivered to the doomed man today. Birkes re-affirmed previous statements that he was not afraid to meet his Maker. Thursday afternoon, when the hours arrived for final preparation of the prisoner Birkes was presented a new suit of blue serge, a black neck tie and a white shirt. He had requested the blue serge when given his choice of several sorts from the prison commissary. Laughs at Barber Birkes laughed heartily when a prison barber sent to shave his head nervously failed to muster control of shaking hands and was obliged to give up the job. The next barber called from the prison shop grimly tackled the job and never missed a stroke with his blade. Arrangements had been made by Birkes' relatives here to take charge of burial and the body was turned over to them after official re tape of the penal institution had been complied with. His Message to Friends This life "means nothing it is the one to come that counts. I do not fear the so-called death". Richard Birkes, electrocuted here early this morning wrote a boyhood friend in Sapulpa a few hours before he died. "If I have to go I will go with a smile. I will have no fear whatever the condemned man wrote his friend. He "went" with a smile and without fear, smiling and calling "good-bye" to the witnesses in the chair room as the leather mask was adjusted a few seconds before the death current danced through his body, prison attendants said. Birkes' letter was made public by C.H. Barnes, prison chaplain to whom the convict entrusted it for mailing. The letter was in reply to a note from his friend, received the day before the execution. "I am not guilty of the crime I was convicted of," Birkes contended. "I admit I violated the law but not in the way they say." In closing the letter Birkes said, "Hoping to meet you where there will be no more sorrow and pain, will say farewell again and may God be with you till we meet again. Your boyhood friend". A postcript admonished the friend to "be good".

Burial of Richard Birkes

Oak Hill Memorial Park Cemetery, McAlester, Pittsburg Co., OK

Richard A. Birkes born May 9, 1897 died Sep 5, 1924 death by electrocution.  Some of his family members felt he was guilty, and others felt he was not.

More about Allison Ivey, the second bank robber

Georgia - Oklahoma

Allison Ivey WW 1 Draft Card

Allison "Dick" Ivey also went by the names of aka Dick Ivey, A. D. Ivey, R. F. Counts and H. I. Ivey.

Allison was born 2 Nov 1896 in Georgia to the parents of Benjamin and Julia Ivey. They had previously lived Montezuma, Macon Co., Georgia as shown in the 1900 census. Benjamin worked as a Farmer and they had nine children.

On Allison Ivey's WW I Draft Registration card dated 30 July 1918 in Tulsa City, Oklahoma. His listed his full name, birth date, resident of Irvin addition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, father born in Georgia, not employed, nearest relatives were Ben Ivey & Julia Ivey (parents), his physical description was given as hazel eyes and brown hair.

His prison records state he had a 4th or 8th grade education, religion was Baptist, he smoked and chewed tobacco, he also drank alcohol, both parents were living and were born in the State of Georgia, mother's name was listed as Julia Ivey of West Tulsa, OK. He had 5 brothers and 2 sisters, he was married to Bessie ivey of Rte # 9, Tulsa, OK with a son, and worked as a C. L. and mechanic. His blamed the cause of his downfall to jobbery and influence.

Oklahoma Department of Correction Records for Richard Burkes

Oklahoma

ODC records for Richard Birkes Page 1
3 images
The following records were obtained from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.  Due to the riot of 1972 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Pittsburg Co., OK, the prison records were destroyed.  There are 3 pages to this record.

The Crimes of Allison Ivey

Oklahoma

ODC records for Dick Ivey Page 1
4 images

On 16 July, 1922, Allison Ivey had been sentenced 7 years in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for conjoint robbery in Okmulgee Co., OK. Transcripts of court proceedings for his first crime can be read at the following website: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=ok&vol=/appeals/1921/&invol=27229

It is believed this is the individual that Gov. J. C. Walton pardoned according to newspaper articles. His prison records provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections are unclear of why he was out of prison to commit the bank robbery in Ketchum.

Previous police records showed he was well known to the Police, making Tulsa and Red Fork his headquarters.

Allison Ivey was proven in to court to have fired wild shots at the bookkeeper, Herbert Ray, but didn't hit him. For his involvement in the bank robbery and shots fired, Allison Ivey was given a life term in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He actually only served a few years in prison. His prison records show he escaped three times and one time while out he was a member of the Owen's Gang. On 8 Mar 1936, he made his escape for a final time and no record of him has been found since. Copies of his prison records from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections follow. There are 4 pages to this record.

More about Raymond Thomas, the get away driver

Raymond Thomas WW 1 Draft Card

Raymond Thomas was born 28 Mar 1899 in Oklahoma. His fathers name was H. C. Thomas born in Texas, mothers name is unknown also born in Texas. Raymond was Catholic and had 3 sisters.

He was the get-away driver, caught first and shortly identified his two accomplices.

According to his prison records, he was formerly of Henrietta, OK and only recently before the shooting resided in Tulsa, OK with his wife. He smoked and chewed tobacco, he did not drink alcohol and had a 6th or 7th grade education.

According to his World War 1 Draft Registration card dated 1917-1918. He was a resident of Dewar, Okmulgee Co., Oklahoma, he worked as Teamster in Tulsa, Tulsa Co., Oklahoma, his nearest relative was H. C. Thomas (his father) of Dewar, OK. His physical description was Medium Height, Slender build, blue eyes and brown hair.

Crimes of Raymond Thomas

Oklahoma

ODC records for Raymond Thomas Page 1
4 images

Raymond Thomas was the get-away driver, caught first and shortly identified his two accomplices. He was formerly of Henrietta, OK and only recently before the shooting a resident of Tulsa, OK with his wife and son.

According to Oklahoma Department of Corrections records he had been previously arrested on 1 Mar 1919 in Muskogee Co., OK for Grand Larceny and served 2 ½ Two and one-half years.

For his involvement in the bank robbery and the Frank Pitts murder he got life in prison. He stated in his prison records that his downfall was other men as they were a bad influence. He began his life term on 31 Jan 1924, he had a leave of absence for 10 days on 29 June 1931, extension of 30 days leave of absence through 8 July 1931 – 8 Aug 1931; Extension of leave from 12 Aug 1931 – 8 Oct 1931; Extension of leave from 10 Nov 1931 – 9 May 1931 [sic]; Extension of leave from 2 Apr 1932 – 9 Nov 1932; Extension of leave 13 Nov 1932 – 9 Nov 1933; Paroled on 10 Oct 1933 and gave a full pardon on 10 July 1942.

In 1930 he was found on the Bucklucksy, Pittsburg Co., Oklahoma census at the Oklahoma State Prison listed as Raymond Thomas, age 29 years born in Oklahoma, occupation: Musician.

He was given a full pardon in 1942 and was found in the social security death index as Raymond Thomas, born 28 Mar 1899 SSN 473-20-6231 and died June 1968 last residence Henning, Otter Tail Co., Minnesota.

Nothing is known of his life after his incarceration at Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester, Pittsburg Co., Oklahoma. All prison records were destroyed in the 1972 riot at the prison.

The following are records obtained from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for his crimes.

Other records of Frank Pitts and family

Craig Co., OK

Frank Pitts WW 1 Draft Card

Various records of Frank Pitts and his family:

In the 1900 Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory Census Frank Pitts is living with his parents Alex L. & Martha A. Pitts and siblings, Frank is listed as being born Feb 1892, age 8, born in Indian Territory.

In the 1910 Craig Co., Oklahoma census, Frank is again living in the household of his parents Alex L. & Martha A. Pitts and other siblings, Frank is listed as age 18, single born in Oklahoma. 

In 1920 Muni. Twp., No. 8, Precinct No. 2, Craig Co., Oklahoma census, he is listed as Frank Pitts, head, M, W, own home, mortgaged, age 27, b: OK > MO > MO; Cashier Bank living with his wife Myrtle Pitts, F, W, age 20, b: KY > KY > KY and their son Frank, Pitts, Jr., M, W, son, age 1 7/12, b: OK > OK > KY. 

In the 1930 census, Frank's widow & children can be found on the 1930 Ketchum Town, Twp. No. 8, Craig Co., OK Census (226-230) listed as Myrtle M. Pitts, head, own home $700, age 29, widow, b: KY / KY / KY; no occupation and 1st son, Frank, Jr., son, age 11, b: OK / OK / KY, 2nd son, Clifford E., son, age 9, b: OK / OK / KY, 3rd son, Ray L., son, age 7, b: OK / OK / KY. 

Shown here is Frank's World War I Draft Registration Card 1917-1918; Registered in Craig Co., OK on May 25, 1917 Frank PITTS, age 25, Address: 525 W. Illinois, Vinita, OK DOB: Feb 19, 1892 Occupation: Stenegrapher; place: First State Bank, Vinita, OK, Nearest Relative: Wife Height: Medium, Build: Slender Eyes: Lt. Brown, Hair: Dark Brown Injuries: None

Author, sources and credits

The author of this compiled research is the great niece of Frank Pitts. While growing up in Oklahoma, I had always heard the stories of how my Great Uncle was killed in a bank robbery. Not knowing if he was the robber or robbed. A few years ago, I decided to find out as much information as I could about his death.  The above is all the photographs and records that I located to date on the robbery.

Recently, I have some contact with a relative of Richard Birkes, Nancy N. Harris, email nanlue@juno.com. Richard was her Great Uncle. She said her mother had met Richard when she was small, but was not around him much and never met either of his wives. Her relative was the only one sentenced to death for the murder and robbery. The other two men got life but they were both out within 15 years. According to Nancy and the newspaper articles, Richard Birkes admitted he was involved in the robbery, but maintained he didn't shoot the cashier. Nancy said some of the older family members felt he was guilty, and other felt he was not. Nancy is on a quest to find his two daughters Jewell Marie and Margaret Pauline Birkes, they were of mixed Cherokee blood and last known to be living with Eliza Warner, their grandmother, age 68, widow, in Craig Co., OK 1930 census.

We'd also like to know what became of Allison "Dick" Ivey and Raymond Thomas.

I tried to be fair to all parties and just stated the facts as I found them. If any corrections or addition's need to be made, please let me know at 383mgp@gmail.com and I will revise this record.

Sources: Various photographs from Ken Clagett and Travis & Lorraine Pitts, The Oklahoman newspaper (dates shown above) and McAlester News Capital article dated 5 Sep 1924; WW 1 Draft Registration records, Census records, Oklahoma Department of Corrections for all three individuals; Social Security, Findagrave.com records, Nancy N. Harris (email above) and findlaw.com.

Lynching threats made by angry citizens

Craig Co., OK

The Oklahoman, 13 Aug 1923
Law enforcement gave statements during the man hunt that if Richard Birkes was found and identified it would be hard to prevent summary punishment being dealt to him by the citizens of Ketchum. Once all three men were arrested, the men were taken to the Nowata County jail for safe-keeping after their capture near Vinita. Threats of lynching were freely made in Craig County when the search for the bandits was on. Once arrested the prisoners were immediately rushed to Nowata where a heavy guard was maintained around the county jail.  Provided here is a newspaper article explaining how the prisoners were moved to the Nowata Jail to prevent lynching.

Trio is held for murder of Cashier

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 20 Aug 1923
The Oklahoman, 20 Aug 1923 "Trio is held for murder of Cashier"

Gov. Walton answers for pardon of Dick Ivey

The Oklahoman, 25 Nov 1923
"Pardons and Paroles" newspaper article.  Governor J. C. Walton's actions are discussed before the legislative committee.  One of actions questioned to Gov. Walton's was why he paroled Dick Ivey?

Slayer loses last plea for his life

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 12 Aug 1924
"Slayer loses last plea for his life" after a rehearing of Birkes case was denied Monday by criminal court of appeals.

Nerve of Birkes is still good

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 14 Aug 1924
"Nerve of Birkes still good" newspaper article.  When Richard Birkes learned that the state criminal court of appeals denied his rehearing, he said "Whiz goes this prisoner" without a tremor in his hands as he dealt cards in his cell.

Birkes' mother plea for her son's life

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 3 Sep 1924
"Mother's plea for son's life may be in vain" newspaper article.  Mrs. Eliza Birkes, his mother and Mrs. Mable Birkes, his wife met with Mr. Trapp asking for clemency.

Birkes awaits death in electric chair

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 4 Sep 1924
"Birkes awaits death in chair without fears" newspaper article.

Richard Birkes other death row pals await electric chair

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 16 Sep 1924
"Sixth member in death row" Negro Murderer takes the place of Richard Birkes in condemned list.

Birkes death made the 1924 Calendar of National Events

Oklahoma

The Oklahoman, 28 Dec 1924
National Events for 1924 Calendar.  September 5th - Richard Birkes electrocuted at McAlester for the murder of Frank Pitts, bank cashier.

Another Ketchum Bank Robbery

Ketchum, Craig Co., OK

The Oklahoman, 23 Nov 1923
2 images
The Ketchum bank was once again robbed just a few months after the first robbery.  This time the robbers broke in after hours and took loot figured at $1,640 from the safe deposit boxes and vault.  Four men were arrested for the bank theft just a few days later in Cardin, eight miles from Ketchum in a boarding house.  Guns were found in the room with the men but no money was located.  There are two articles featured here.

Topic Details

Add Facts

Looking for more information about A bank robbery gone wrong in Ketchum, Oklahoma?

Search through millions of records to find out more.

About this Memorial Page

This page is locked. Want to contribute to this page? Contact MindyPenn

Contributors:
MindyPenn
Created:
Modified:
Page Views:
24,314 total (71 this week)

×