"Santa Claus" robs bank but muffs getaway

December 23rd, 1927

On this day in 1927, the Santa Claus Bank Robbery occurred in Cisco, Texas. At noon Marshall Ratliff, Henry Helms, Robert Hill, and Louis Davis entered the First National Bank of Cisco with guns drawn. Ratliff, dressed in a borrowed Santa Claus costume, entered the bank vault. Some of the bank customers escaped and alerted the police and town citizens. Gunfire ensued when Ratliff came out of the vault with a sack containing money. Two policemen were mortally wounded, and Ratliff and Davis were also wounded, Davis severely. As their escape car was almost out of gas and one of the tires had been shot out, the robbers commandeered another car, but the driver took the keys with him. They then left the wounded Davis in the car, forgetting the moneybag. The fugitives escaped on foot, stole a series of cars, and had more gunfights over the next several days. They were finally captured in Graham, Texas. The infamous Santa Claus Bank Robbery led to the largest manhunt ever seen in the state at that time.

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"Santa Claus" robs bank but muffs getaway

December 23rd, 1927

On this day in 1927, the Santa Claus Bank Robbery occurred in Cisco, Texas. At noon Marshall Ratliff, Henry Helms, Robert Hill, and Louis Davis entered the First National Bank of Cisco with guns drawn. Ratliff, dressed in a borrowed Santa Claus costume, entered the bank vault. Some of the bank customers escaped and alerted the police and town citizens. Gunfire ensued when Ratliff came out of the vault with a sack containing money. Two policemen were mortally wounded, and Ratliff and Davis were also wounded, Davis severely. As their escape car was almost out of gas and one of the tires had been shot out, the robbers commandeered another car, but the driver took the keys with him. They then left the wounded Davis in the car, forgetting the moneybag. The fugitives escaped on foot, stole a series of cars, and had more gunfights over the next several days. They were finally captured in Graham, Texas. The infamous Santa Claus Bank Robbery led to the largest manhunt ever seen in the state at that time.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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