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Looking back: 5-year-old comes to the rescue after robber locks bank employees in vault and fishermen survive storm

Looking Back

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IDAHO FALLS — is looking back at what life was like during the week of July 4 to July 10 in east Idaho history.


RIGBY — The Rigby State Bank was robbed after a “lone bandit” entered through the back door, according to The Rigby Star.

The robbery happened on July 8, 1913, shortly after 5:30 p.m. Frank Ellsworth, a cashier at the bank, opened the back door to try and cool the inside of the building off. Ellsworth and Clarence Hart, assistant cashier, were the only two men in the building at the time.

“‘Throw up your hands’ were the first words the highwayman spoke and the first intimation to the men that anything out of the ordinary was happening,” the paper said. “Both men thought they were the victim of some joke and smiled.”

Ellsworth responded and said, “I would rather lose what little money we have on hand than have you kill either of us.”

The robber responded, “I will not harm either of you but do as I say.”

One of the men was ordered to face the robber with his hands in the air while the other went into the vault to “throw out the money,” which totalled to $3,803.25. After the money had been tossed out, the robber told the men to get into the vault. He then shut the door, locked the employees inside and left through the back door on his gray horse that was tied in an alley.

“As (Ellsworth and Hart) were backing into the vault, Mr. Hart saw Jack, the little five-year-old son of Mr. Ellsworth, through the window, rattling on the front door and attempting to get into the bank,” the article explained.

Once the robber left, Jack made his way into the bank. His dad told him to run across the street to the drug store and get help.

“This little fellow did, making three unsuccessful trips across the street in vain efforts to get help,” The Rigby Star wrote. “As he came back the last time, Ellsworth told him to run across to Fred Adam’s barber shop.”

Eventually, Lester Fritz, of the City Pharmacy, opened the vault after the men told him the combination.

“Jack … played no small part in the liberation of the men and the spreading of the news, as it would have been, without doubt, much longer before the perilous position of the men would have been discovered had it not been for little Jack’s efforts,” the article reads.

A gray horse with a saddle and bridle on was found in Firth the following day but no robber was with the animal. A “dollar in silver and two halves” were discovered between the saddle and blanket that covered the horse.


REXBURG — A woman was severely burned “by the explosion of gasoline with which she was cleaning some clothing,” The Rexburg Standard wrote on July 7, 1927.

The gasoline was on the stove and became heated. She tried to carry the burning material outside and became “enveloped in flames.” The woman was burned on one arm and leg but received medical aid quickly and was expected to recover.


SODA SPRINGS — An unexpected high-wind storm forced two local fishermen to abandon their fishing and “rush for the nearest island,” The Caribou County Sun said on July 5, 1956.

Hal Rhead and Kenneth Balls launched their boat around 6:15 p.m. Not long after, the two men hooked on to a large fish but the wind suddenly started blowing and waves three to four feet high threatened to capsize the small boat. The fish got away and the men immediately headed towards one of the islands in the Blackfoot Reservoir.

“They gathered sagebrush for a windbreak, covered themselves with a small canvas they had in the boat and settled down to wait out the wind, which did not abate until almost three o’clock in the morning,” the paper said.

When the men didn’t return home, their “frantic wives” called the sheriff. The men were found and made it safely back home to their families after a cold night outside.

“Undaunted by their experience, Kenneth and Hal went back to the reservoir last Friday afternoon and caught the big one that got away,” the paper added.


POCATELLO — Police arrested seven juveniles for disorderly conduct after a fight broke out, the Idaho State Journal reported on July 8, 1976.

A 16-year-old American Falls boy, two 16-year-old Pocatello youths and a 17-year-old Pocatello boy were arrested.

Later that evening, three Pocatello girls were arrested for alleged possession of stolen property. Officers found the stolen property after a search of the girls’ apartment.