Thwarted bank robbery lives on at Meeker Range Call

The first bank robbery in Meeker happened in 1896 and will be reenacted Thursday, July 5, in downtown Meeker at 6 p.m. Plans for reenacting Meeker’s second bank robbery (2012), have not been finalized. The RBC Historical Society puts on the event and serves root beer floats after the performance.

The first bank robbery in Meeker happened in 1896 and will be reenacted Thursday, July 5, in downtown Meeker at 6 p.m. Plans for reenacting Meeker’s second bank robbery (2012), have not been finalized. The RBC Historical Society puts on the event and serves root beer floats after the performance.
MEEKER I Every year, a dedicated bunch of Meeker locals return to the scene of the crime: the 1896 attempted armed robbery of Meeker’s bank. While none of the actors were alive back then, many of them can trace their family history back to the original participants.
Dressed in period costumes and armed with period pistols, rifles and “blanks,” a dedicated bunch of Meeker locals presents the annual show for Range Call spectators. This year’s program will be held on Thursday, July 5 at 6 p.m. at the scene of the crime, the corner of Fifth and Main Street.
According to community history, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1896, turned out to be a very bad day for Charles Jones, Billy Smith and George Harris.
The three men entered the Hugus building around three o’clock in the afternoon.After corralling everyone inside at gunpoint, the leader of the men fired two shots at assistant cashier David Smith. They emptied the cash drawer and helped themselves to additional rifles and ammunition from the store’s shelves. The gunshots alerted Meeker residents outside, who spread the alarm down the street. In less than three minutes, every possible avenue of escape was blocked by local marksmen.
The robbers ushered their hostages, Joe Rooney, Mr. Moulton, Smith, Mr. Booth, W.P. Herrick, Victor Dikeman and one or two customers, out the side door of the building. When one of the men broke from the group and made a run for freedom, a hail of gunfire ensued between the criminals and the local citizens gathered to stop the robbery. All three would-be thieves were shot and killed in the fray. Meeker citizens H. Clark, Dikeman, Booth and Herrick were injured. All were expected to recover.
Jones, Smith and Harris were buried in the Meeker Highland cemetery the following day. Their gravesites are prominently marked in the southeast corner of the cemetery to this day. The Coroner’s verdict was swiftly determined to be justifiable homicide by the citizens of Meeker in protecting the lives and property of the citizens of the community. “Thus was justice meted out to three bold bandits who struck the wrong town in which to ply their villainous calling.”
By coincidence, and for only the second time in Meeker’s History, a bank robbery was attempted at the Mountain Valley Bank earlier in 2012 by a young man who fled on foot, forded the White River, and was rapidly captured and arrested by local law enforcement personnel without injury or incident to local residents or the alleged perpetrator.
For your viewing pleasure during and following the reenactment, the Rio Blanco Historical Society provides root beer floats on the courthouse lawn, beginning at 6 p.m. Proceeds from the sale of the root beer floats benefit the historical society’s efforts to preserve and maintain the area’s rich history.