History

Al Jennings, Outlaw or Out of His Mind?

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Train robbing was proving downright unprofitable, not to mention embarrassing. The boys decided to take on an express office. The American Railway Express Company’s office in Purcell, about 45 miles south of Edmond on the South Canadian, was the target. The boys surrounded the office and began to peek into the windows to see if the express agent was alone. The express agent, seeing faces with bandannas over them pop up at his windows and then disappear, got a little perturbed. He went to the telephone–this was 1897, and every town of any size had a telephone system by then–and called the law. The town marshal, accompanied by about a half-dozen shotgun-armed citizens showed up–sometimes having a party line can work to your advantage–and the boys departed without firing a shot or taking fire. The Purcell fiasco was on the September 8.

Al Jennings, Outlaw or Out of His Mind
Image: Bank robbery taking place in the Wild West by Ron Embleton

Discouraged by a certain lack of success with trains and express offices, the gang decided to try a bank. Minco, about 30 miles southwest of Edmond, was chosen. When the boys showed up to rob the Minco bank early on the morning of September 20, it was pretty obvious something had gone wrong. The bank was surrounded by shotgun-armed locals. There had obviously been a leak somewhere. The most likely suspect was Al, who had a bad habit of shooting his mouth off. The Al Jennings Gang rode into Minco and out the other side without stopping.

On October 1, 1897, after having been a bandit for 46 days without a single success, Al Jennings, the Notorious Oklahoma Bank and Train Robber, the man who “Robbed More Trains than Jesse James and Killed More Men than Billy The Kid,” finally managed to steal something.