Shelby County Historical Society

March-April, 2019 Newsletter


March Meeting

Bill O'Neal Bill O'Neal Audie Murphy


Presentation of Audie Leon Murphy

When Dr. Bill O'Neal was a thirteen year old boy, he saw the Audie Murphy movie, “To Hell and Back” and immediately went out to buy the paperback.  He was fascinated by one of the most decorated soldiers ever.  He continued to find out all he could about his favorite war hero.

Audie Leon Murphy was born on June 25th, 1925 to Emmett and Jose Murphy in Kingston, Texas. He was the 7th of 12 children.  He attended grades 1-4 at the Celeste grade school, and attempted to go to the fifth grade, but dropped out. His father was to abandon his wife and 12 children, leaving them to a hard and difficult life of earning a living.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Audie was fascinated with being a soldier in the service. Two of his uncles had served in World War I, and he had ancestors that wore the Confederate uniforms during the Civil War.  He would hang out at the recruitment centers, applying for every branch but was rejected due to his age.  Like so many others during that time, Audie lied about his actual age of 16, and was enlisted in the U. S. Army.  His mother had already passed away, so his older sister went with him and signed papers confirming Audie to be of age to enlist, even though she knew he wasn’t old enough.

During World War II, Texas had over 830,000 men and women enlist in the services.  That figure included over 12,000 women.  Of those, 36 would win Medals of Honor, including Audie Murphy.

On June 29, 1942, Audie was sent to Dallas.  He did his basic training at Camp Davis.  He loved the military.  For the first time he had his own bed, although a cot, that he wasn’t sharing with his brothers.  He also had three full meals a day, something else he didn’t have regularly growing up. He told his sister in a letter sent home, “They let us sleep to 5:30 in the morning!”

Audie took to the military with great enthusiasm.  He was already a crack shot with a rifle, after spending his boyhood hunting for wild game to put “meat in the pot.”  He had a 22 single shot rifle which helped him to become quite good at, knowing he only had one shot to kill the game before having to stop and reload.  Also, his time hunting in the woods helped him to develop a keen sense of sight and hearing as he learned to distinguish the sounds of wild game moving through the forests of Texas.  He became quite comfortable in the woods, moving about in all the terrain, a skill which would serve him well in the German forests he later was assigned to.

They said he attended chapel frequently.  He did not smoke or drink, but developed a gambling habit which would cause major problems later in his life.

At full height of 5’5”, and weighing in at 112 pounds upon enlistment, Audie was ready to be a combat soldier.  Because of his small size, though, he was often directed to work in office and clerical, or supply positions, which he refused.  He enlisted to go to war and fight in the infantry.

From basic training at Camp Davis, Audie was transferred to Fort Mead for advanced training. On Feb. 8, 1943 he sailed from New York City harbor to Casablanca in North Africa.  He was assigned to Company B of the 15th Regiment, 3rd Division as a buck private.  On May 7th, he was promoted to Private 1st Class, and by July, upon the invasion of Sicily, he was promoted to Corporal.  Audie was assigned as company runner, but he volunteered as patrol.  During the invasion, he shot and killed two Italian officers riding white horses, with his assigned M1 standard rifle.  Because he had spent all his boyhood hunting with a 22 rifle, his platoon members thought that had made him a better marksman.  The invasion of Sicily lasted 38 days, which at the end of the invasion, Audie Murphy was promoted again, this time as Sergeant.

The 3rd Division fought in Italy for three years. Audie Murphy continued to develop his skills through his combat experiences, developing quick reflexes and a keen instincts to sight and smell. He could detect camouflage in the woods, and could recognize the sounds of enemy troops moving through the woods.  He preferred to move through the forests and on assignment alone, often going ahead of his platoon members.  Because he used good judgment, he was considered a superb leader, and he was known as a “soldiers’ soldier.”

He was again promoted on January 13, 1944 to the position of Staff Sergeant, and was barely 18 years of age.  Because of his ability to be a good marksman, runner, and squad leader, he continue to get promotions from Platoon Sergeant to Second Lieutenant by the age of 19.  He was presented with a Bronze Star after defending a two-story farmhouse against German armored tiger tanks.  He continued to lead combat intelligent patrols, and received his 2nd Bronze Star for these patrols.

By mid to late 1944, the allies had invaded France from the north, and troops were sent to invade from the south of France to throw off the German infantries, thereby splitting the German defensive forces.  The first assault wave was at 8:00 am on August 15, 1944.  Audie advanced alone with his favored M1 Carbine rifle, killing two German soldiers who attacked him.  He ran out of ammo and made his way back to retrieve a light machine gun from his troop.

As he headed back downhill, he finished off more Germans who were trying to fire upon the advancing troops.  Again, he ran out of ammo, making his way back to get his M1 Carbine.  He was met by his closest friend, Laddie Tipton, who insisted upon going with Audie.  As the Germans advanced, Tipton killed both enemy soldiers who ambushed them.  Audie said that Tipton was the best shot he had ever seen.  They then charged the German machine gun nest, killing two more German soldiers.  Audie used that position to toss grenades into additional machine gun nests.  Soon a white flag was waving from one of the nests, indicating surrender, but Laddie stood up and was killed by a sniper.  Audie was mad, and charged the nest and killed both German soldiers occupying that spot. He used their machine guns and wiped out two more nests, killing six, wounding three, and having five more German soldiers surrendering.

Audie was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal presented, for “extreme gallantry at the risk of his life in combat.” He also earned his first Silver Star, which is the 3rd highest award for valor.  On October second, he sent out a reconnaissance troop to seek out enemy lines.  Unknown to them, Audie followed approximately twenty-five yards behind them.  He ended up killing another four Germans, wounding three.  Audie ended up slipping down a muddy rise, but recovered himself in time to kill more enemy soldiers.  He received his second Silver Star three days later when his platoon was surrounded by German forces.  Carrying the radio, Audie crawled under heavy fire well ahead of his troop. He ended up killing fifteen men and wounding twenty-five more on that mission.

On October 5th, he ended up in a duel with a German officer who had taken refuge in a farmhouse. The officer was severely wounded as they exchanged fire, and Audie was also wounded, receiving a Purple Heart for his injuries.

September 15, 1944, a mortar shell exploded nearby Aubie, blowing his combat boot off and lacerating his heel.  On October 26th, as Aubie was advancing with a radio operator, a sniper opened fire upon the two men, killing the radio operator.  Aubie was knocked down by a bullet in his right hip, and it knocked his helmet off.  The sniper continued to shoot at the helmet, thinking it was Aubie but Aubie managed to shoot back, hitting the German sniper right between the eyes, killing him instantly.  Three days went by before Aubie was able to have medical attention at the hospital.  As a result, his injury developed gangrene that traveled into his leg.  At the hospital he was treated with antibiotics, and wound care, leaving him with a 9-inch scar which was later used to identify his body in the plane crash in 1971 that took his life.

Aubie returned to combat in January, but by the 25th, he was knocked off his feet once again by mortar fire that shredded his left pant leg, driving metal fragments into his leg.  Aubie rolled into a ditch, doctoring himself, and returned immediately to combat.  This injury resulted in receiving his 3rd Purple Heart.

Aubie continued to excel as a leader and exemplary soldier.  His company was assigned the duty of watching a road that led into the regimental headquarters.  They had eighteen men left from a troop of 120 men.  They took their position with the assistance of two tank destroyers to help them.

The tanks were hit by the German tank patrols advancing, leaving one tank overturned in a ditch and another on fire, with the tank operators killed.  As six German Pan.zer tanks advanced with 250 men, Aubie jumped into the burning tank and began firing upon them when they were less than 100 yards away.  He was able to shoot into the advancing enemy troops, and although he could not do any damage to the oncoming tanks, it was enough to make them retreat.  Aubie abandoned the flaming tank and advanced into the woods, as the tank exploded behind him. Although he was not injured, he was awarded another medal of honor.

Throughout his military career, Audie Leon Murphy was awarded so many medals, he became one of the top soldiers to receive so many awards for his bravery and valor.  He continued to advance to First Lieutenant and later to Major. He retired in September of 1945, receiving a small pension with a 50% disability.  He re-joined the Texas National Guard during 1950 when the Korean war broke out, but was never deployed.

He returned to Hollywood to continue his film career, staring in more than forty feature films and one television series.  He was tormented by shell shock and battlefield fatigue, now called PTSD.  On 28 May 1971, Murphy was killed when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed into Brush Mountain.  His memorial service was held in the small church in Farmersville, and he was later interred in a grave next to the unknown soldier in Arlington, Virginia.  In all, throughout his military career, he was awarded a total of thirty-three medals.  His daughter later accepted the Texas Medal of Honor, presented by Rick Perry for her father’s brave and courageous military career.


Summary of Bill O’Neal’s presentation submitted by Terri Lacher



April Meeting


Terri Lacher Terri Lacher The Visitors

The History of Banking in Texas

First banking institution designated as a bank in Texas was Banco Nacional de Texas, which was established by a decree of a Mexican governor named Jose F Trespalacious in 1822 after Mexico won it’s independence from Spain.  It was known as the first chartered bank west of the Mississippi.  In 1835 the Banco de Commercia y Agricultura was the first commercial bank known in Texas providing a variety of banking services.  Located in Galveston and operated by Samuel May Williams and Thomas F. McKinney, helped to arrange loans for the Texas Revolution and funding the republic.

No banks were chartered in the Republic of Texas.  Several were authorized but failed to raise funds for operation. The Constitution of the Republic had no provisions for bans, but the Texas Congress urged the organization of a National Bank of Texas, but was not approved.  At this time there were private firms that carried on local banking activities, including McKinney, Williams, and Company who actually issued paper money in 1838.  State constitution of 1845 prohibited incorporation of banks and private issuances of paper money, which limited the functions from merchants.  Financial agents flourished in Galveston and other agencies opened as agricultural development spread to the interior.  By 1859 moneylenders had increased to more than 3,000 in most towns and villages, with loans in excess of $3 million dollars.

Commerce and Agricultural Bank of 1847 in Galveston was the only chartered bank in Texas prior to the Civil War. Although the Mexican charter was recognized, they had trouble raising the $100,000 required to operate.  Although they were allowed to open branches, Brownsville was the only one opened.  They provided notes underwritten by deposit currency, and lending, catering to the mercantile business, but also provided exchange and other financial services to the public.  In 1859, a State Court decision prohibited the bank from issuing circulating notes and it closed. From 1865 to 1900 state banks, national banks, and private banks began to flourish in Texas, built around cotton exporting and other mercantile businesses, but were unregulated and unsupervised.

The first nationally chartered bank was First National Bank of Galveston, on Sept. 22, 1865.  Because of the $50,000 required capital, only 13 national banks were organized before 1880.  This number continued to grow rapidly and by 1905 there were over 440 state chartered banks in the state of Texas.  The Panic of 1907 brought about the need for banking reform, and the establishment of the National Monetary Commission was formed to address money ills.  As depositors were limited by their amount of withdrawals, panic grew for a system to protect depositors.  Through campaigns for a depositor’s guaranty fund law, finally in 1910 the law took effect and empowered Texas state banks to secure deposits by a guaranty-fund system or by a bond security system.  By 1920, the number of state banks had increased to 1,035 from 515 in 1910.  Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas was established in 1914, requiring all national banks and large state chartered banks to become members of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC, as you know know it to be.

During WWII the Texas banking scene was turbulent due to downturns in the business cycle, chartering of too many banks, dishonest and incompetent bank managers and an ill-conceived state deposit insurance system.  More responsible bankers emerged to steer their institutions toward better service for businesses and general public. Innovations in Texas banking industries included electronic payment systems, automated teller machine networks, point-of-sale funds, transfer facilities in retail establishments flourished following the 1970’s and 1980’s.  In late 1980’s Texas bans experienced a traumatic downturn caused by over-extension of bank credit and by loose lending to energy and energy-related industries and commercial real estate field, coinciding with world petroleum pricing and rising speculation in real estate.  During this same time there was a collapse of Savings and Loan industries due to various reasons.  By the late 1980’s federal bank authorities (FDIC) made a strong effort to alter the control, management and behavior of major Texas banks as the economy made a slow protracted recovery.  This led to banking consolidations and restructuring, including mergers of small banks with larger more solid financial institutions.

By the end of 1993, Texas banking scene was definitely improving.  Only ten banks failed during the year, the lowest since 1984, a far cry from the preceding decade where more than 470 banks and 200 thrifts were closed in the state of Texas.


1. 1st State Bank in Timpson est. 1896 originally Cotton Belt State Bank, merged with 1st National Bank in 1939 – oldest institution in E. Texas

2. Shelby Savings & Association chartered and opened in 1982 as Shelby Savings Bank

3. State Bank of Joaquin – originally 1st State Bank est. in 1927 by Luke and Jim W. Motley

4. Citizen’s Bank – originally opened during the 1960’s as 1st National Bank, later merged with Citizen’s Bank of Kilgore

Now that we’ve gone through a little history of banking in Texas, I thought I would give you some small tidbits of some more famous or not so famous bank robbers.

The Story of Cowboy Bob – the bank robber who perplexed the FBI

About 5-foot-10, with a slight paunch, beard, and graying hair, the robber was silent but polite when he strolled into Dallas-area banks.  The FBI called him Cowboy Bob on account of the 10-gallon hat he'd wear inexplicably backwards during his stick-ups, and for nearly a year in the early '90s, he led veteran FBI agents on a wild goose chase.  When they finally caught up with him, they found something that turned their investigation on its head.

The first five times Cowboy Bob hit, between May 1991 and September 1992, his execution was near-flawless.  Unlike most bank robbers, he stayed calm.  According to witnesses, he never brought weapons, avoided the cameras for the most part, and checked the bills for dye packs (radio-controlled devices intended to stain both cash and thief bright red.)  He’d pass a note announcing the robbery and instructing the teller to hand over the cash, then walk out slowly and drive away calmly in his 1975 Pontiac Grand Prix fixed with stolen license plates.

He drove the FBI crazy. The beard and hat and silence made him hard to identify, and the stolen license plates made him almost impossible to track.  He didn’t make scenes, didn’t peel out in his getaway car, didn’t attract much eyewitness attention.  “He was making me start to pull my hair out,” former agent Steve Powell told Texas Monthly in 2005.  “How could this thin, little dried-up cowboy be whipping us this bad, time after time?”  Cowboy Bob ended up being a woman who eventually ended up in a shoot-out in Tyler, Texas.

The Story of Clay Tumey, seasoned bank robber in the 2000’s

Clay Tumey visited his Texas bank to make a withdrawal, but he left with a discovery that convinced him of one thing: He could rob banks and probably get away with it.

The flash came a decade ago after he glimpsed blurry photos of himself captured by the branch’s surveillance system. He figured that no stranger would be able to identify him from such poor images.

Tumey was no criminal at that time, but the insight started him on a path to carrying out a string of bank robberies. Yet, asked whether he would commit the same crimes today, Tumey was unequivocal.  In short, he said the crime no longer pays.  Months after his last heist, Tumey turned himself in to authorities.  He said he had just had a son and didn’t want the threat of going to jail hanging over his head as his son aged.  Tumey pleaded guilty in federal court to three heists and served about three years in prison.  Robbing banks may no longer be as profitable, but Tumey has now found a new angle: Lecturing about robbing banks.  He speaks to audiences about how he turned his life around, and he wrote a book.  He said he regrets his crimes and wants others to learn from his mistakes.

I strongly discourage anyone from robbing a bank,” Tumey said.  “If you want a thrill, go sky diving.”

1 The Newton Boys - Shrewd plotting and a unique panache are responsible for the Newton Boys success (if you could call it that) in ability, and making it out alive, followed quickly by fame.  These Uvalde brothers spent a number of years successfully robbing trains and banks and evading capture and death in the process.  New Braunfels, San Marcos, Hondo (two in one night), Pearsall, and Boerne banks in the Texas Hill Country all fell prey to their plans, which normally included a nighttime robbery coupled with nitroglycerin for blowing the vaults.  Holding the title as the most successful train thieves, a record-setting $3 million was stolen by the Newton Boys from a train in Illinois, leading to their capture and imprisonment and the end of their career.  Striking a deal with the authorities, however, the brothers returned all but $100,000, served their prison time, and returned to life in rural Texas, where the majority died of natural causes.

2 Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow - Capturing the enthusiasm and imagination of the entire U.S., Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow became the infamous “Bonnie & Clyde” in a four-year crime spree taking them from humble Texas Hill Country towns to the northern parts of the country.  Although fodder for Hollywood movies, marriage never consummated their love.  Bonnie was, in fact, married to Roy Thornton, an abusive husband as well as a thief.  Focusing on grocery stores and gas stations, Parker and Barrow together would resort to kidnapping as a method in their robberies and escapes, romanticized in the recovery efforts of these individuals through artifacts that were left or kept in the process, however, the nation grew cold on them after they shot and killed a police officer during one of their crimes.  Eventually, it was their attachment to their Texas ties that became their downfall, when a member of their gang pretended to have car trouble, giving authorities the chance to catch up with and surround them.  Running to their car to evade capture, Bonnie & Clyde went out in a hail of bullets, as the police unleashed 150 rounds into their vehicle, with close to a third of them striking the pair.

"One of the most famous outlaw crimes was in 1894 when the famous Dalton gang, headed by young Bill Dalton, robbed the First National Bank of Longview."  It ended in a bloody gunfight which resulted in the ultimate capture of the outlaw band.

After gunfights and prison ended the careers of his famous brothers -- Bob, Frank, Gratton and Emmett -- Bill Dalton became obsessed with the idea of making his own name more prominent than that of his brothers.  Bill soon joined Bill Doolin, a former member of his brother's gang, and together they formed a new gang of motley group of misfits, including Jim Wallace, a cowboy with the habit of deserting his women; Jim Nite, a loafer from Oklahoma; and Bill Nite, Jim's young brother. Together, they vowed to take East Texas by storm.


King Fisher spent time in prison for horse theft. Although he was a well known cattle rustler and bandit, he was popular in South Texas because of the raids he carried out.  He was involved with several stage coach robberies, and better known going to Mexico and raiding Mexican officials and banks.


Jim Miller was a baffling Texas outlaw.  He served as a Texas Ranger, did some robberies but was better known as a hired killer.  He and his gang were hanged by the neck in 1909 by an angry mob.


Sam Bass was widely known as an inept criminal.  He was responsible for the great train robbery in 1877.  He was gunned down in Roundrock by Texas Rangers.  He was only 27 years of age.


The Newton Brothers robbed banks during the turn of the century.  They robbed over 87 banks and robbed 6 trains, pulling off more heists than the Dalton Gang, Butch Cassidy, and the famous James/Younger Gang combined, all without killing anyone.


Bonnie and Clyde were also legendary as the Clyde Barrow Gang – Bonnie Parker fell in love with Clyde after an early failed marriage.  They continued to rob banks all over the south and were eventually shot down in May of 1934 in Louisiana.



Presentation of The History of Banking in Texas by Terri Lacher on April 16, 2019


Memorial Donations
                        Leetha Boren                                          Leetha Boren                                    Leetha Boren
                          Donated by                                            Donated by                                        Donated by
           Charles G. & Sharon M. Pollard                        Fannie Watson                  Shelby County Historical Commission
                        Leetha Boren                                           Leetha Boren                                L. D. Hibbard, Sr.
                         Donated by                                              Donated by                                     Donated by
            Vickie Martin & Jennifer Ford                 J. C. & Venorah McSwain                 J. C. & Venorah McSwain
                                                    Billy Poindexter                              K. P. Bradshaw
                                                        Donated by                                    Donated by
                                            J. C. & Venorah McSwain               J. C. & Venorah McSwain