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    Northfield Bank Raid: A Unique Victorian Shadowbox Display Honoring J. L. Heywood, the Heroic Cashier Killed in the Robbery Attempt. The town motto of Northfield, Minnesota may be "Cows, colleges, and contentment", but the town was anything but tranquil on September 7, 1876, when the James/Younger Gang attempted to rob the First National Bank of Northfield. The Missouri outlaws were far from their usual hunting ground, drawn by the promise of a big payoff and perhaps by the expectation that the bank would prove "easy pickings." However, everything seemed to go wrong.

    Joseph Lee Heywood, the man with the combination to the bank's safe, refused to open it, and in frustration was shot dead by a gang member. When the outlaws emerged from the bank, they discovered that word of their arrival had spread among the townspeople, and the gang came under heavy fire as they fled the town, leaving behind two dead gang members and two dead townspeople. A number of large posses were formed, involving by some estimates up to 2000 men in all. The Youngers were tracked down and taken in a violent shootout, while Jesse and Frank James were pursued for some 400 miles before escaping.

    J. L. Heywood became an instant hero and martyr. The bank's president recalled a conversation with Heywood in which he jokingly referred to another bank robbery in which the cashier had opened the safe at gunpoint. The president inquired whether Heywood would do the same, to which the man quietly replied "I think not." After his death, banks across Canada and the U.S. sent some $12,000 in donations for the support of Heywood's family.

    It was long believed that Jesse James had pulled the trigger on Heywood, but on his deathbed Cole Younger reportedly confided to Harry Hoffman and Jesse James, Jr. that it had been Frank who killed Heywood.

    This Victorian display contains three items: a passbook from the bank, a mourning ribbon for Heywood, and a CDV photo of him. We have never encountered the badge before, and the CDV image, while very similar to a known one, seems to be unpublished. All are in excellent condition.

    The CDV portrait was taken by Ira E. Sumner of Northfield as stamped ("Sumner") in the lower margin. He was a local photographer of the period and is well-known for having taken the famous post-mortem photos of the James & Younger gang members killed in the robbery.

    Please Note: The bank deposit book in this display is from the Northfield National Bank, not the First National Bank of Northfield, where the attempted robbery took place. However, of the three items in the shadow box, the Heywood CDV and memorial ribbon are by far the more significant artifacts.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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