The robberies of Hanford and White Bluffs, WA

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Title

The robberies of Hanford and White Bluffs, WA

Subject

A virtual guide to the communities displaced when the federal government inaugurated the Manhattan Project on the Hanford Site in 1943. Funded by the Benton County, Washington Historical Preservation Grant.

Creator

Written by Mark Schafer

Publisher

The Hanford History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities

Rights

Those interested in reproducing part or all of this collection should contact the Hanford History Project at ourhanfordhistory@tricity.wsu.edu, who can provide specific rights information for these items.

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Robberies in the towns of Hanford and White Bluffs, WA

The White Bluffs Bank was robbed in March of 1922 by three men: John Burke, C.L. Potter and John Morrison[1], and each were sentenced between 5 and 25 years in prison.[2]  However, rumors persist that the bank was robbed multiple times in the few decades of its existence. In 1977, Virginia Kincaid Black, the daughter of White Bluffs bank manger W.J. Kincaid, gave an account of her fathers business which stated that one day she and the entire town witnessed two robbers getting apprehended by the police after attempting to rob the First National Bank of White Bluffs.[3] Kincaid said “it was quite a day for White Bluffs, to go out to go to the community hall…and the robbers went by.”[4] She also said that the robbers did not get very far, only making it to Yakima. However, no date is given for this robbery in the interview itself, and searches of the local newspapers and other literature of the time only turn up information on the first robbery in March of 1922. 

With all respect and gratitude towards her telling, Virginia Kincaid is likely mistaken about the second robbery, creating a narrative that has persisted for years and one that has ascended to the status of local legend. It is quite possible that the robbery she is referring to is the robbery of H.H. Boie’s dry goods and general store in November of 1915.   H.H. Boie was a local businessman, operating the store, which opened March 17, 1910, after he came to the area in the summer of 1909[5]. Additionally, he also served as a freemason and his wife was very active in women’s clubs around the area for several years.

The two robbers stole about one hundred dollars ($2,988.48 in 2023) from Boie’s safe, with the two men making the theft cleanly or having “left behind no clew” (sic) according to the Kennewick Courier.[6] They then retreated to a cabin about 40 miles away in nearby Beverly, before Sheriff C.E. Duffy and deputy James Shepherd arrested the two men, holding them in Prosser after they failed to provide satisfactory justification for their presence in the county[7]. Boie’s store was robbed again in a separate incident on the night of November 1st, 1932, in which the thieves stole between five and six hundred dollars worth of merchandise, according to Boie’s own estimation. The thieves broke in by breaking the padlock and picking the lock on the front door[8]. Some of the merchandise stolen included “cigarettes, cigars, gum, watches, rings, men’s and women’s clothing, underwear, gloves, women’s hats, groceries, etc.”[9] Boie didn’t discover that his store had been robbed until the following morning, after which officers were promptly notified and dispatched to look for the thieves. Boie’s store was also robbed a few months prior on July 29th, 1932. The robbers took a single .22 caliber revolver, after entering through a smashed window, and according to the White Bluffs Spokesman, “Nothing else has been missed”[10], meaning the thieves were only after the weapon. No other robberies were reported for the rest of the time that Boie owned his store, which was until his death in April of 1942.

H.H. Boie was survived by his wife and children, as evidenced by the announcement of his funeral service in May of 1942.[11] Boie’s legacy was one of service: he served as a chaplain in the freemasons in the months before his death, according to the Kennewick Courier-Reporter, in their reporting on the new officers within the freemasons.[12] That, in conjunction with owning his store for 31 years adds up to a record of a lifetime of service to the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 “Budget Review Board of W.B. School Meets”. The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. May 7, 1942.

“Hanford Happenings”. White Bluffs Spokesman. August 4, 1932.

“Hanford Happenings”. White Bluffs Spokesman. March 18, 1937.

“Liutenant Weihl Now Army Recruiting Officer”. The Kennewick Courier Reporter. January 22, 1942.

Kincaid Black, Virginia. “Willard John Kincaid” By M. Jay Haney. Hanford History Project. http://hanfordhistory.com/items/show/614

Parker, Martha Berry. Tales Of Richland, White Bluffs and Hanford 1805-1943: Before The Atomic Reserve. Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1979.

“Robbers Blow Safe And Secure $100 in Hanford” The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. November 11, 1915.

“To Try Allen Again”. The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. May 25, 1922.

“Thieves Loot Boie Store At Hanford Tuesday Night”. White Bluffs Spokesman. November 3, 1932.

U.S. Inflation Calculator”. https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/. April 26, 2023.


[1] “To Try Allen Again”. The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. May 25, 1922.

[2] Martha Berry Parker, Tales of Richland, White Bluffs & Hanford 1805-1943: Before the Atomic Reserve (Fairfield, Washington:Ye Galleon Press, 1979), pp. 215

[3] Virginia Kincaid Black. “Willard John Kincaid” By M. Jay Haney. Hanford History Project. http://hanfordhistory.com/items/show/614

[4] Virginia Kincaid Black. “Willard John Kincaid” By M. Jay Haney. Hanford History Project. http://hanfordhistory.com/items/show/614

[5] “Hanford Happenings”. White Bluffs Spokesman. March 18, 1937.

[6] “Robbers Blow Safe And Secure $100 in Hanford” The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. November 11, 1915.

[7] “Robbers Blow Safe And Secure $100 in Hanford” The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. November 11, 1915.

[8] “Thieves Loot Boie Store At Hanford Tuesday Night”. White Bluffs Spokesman. November 3, 1932.

[9] Thieves Loot Boie Store At Hanford Tuesday Night”. White Bluffs Spokesman. November 3, 1932.

[10] “Hanford Happenings”. White Bluffs Spokesman. August 4, 1932.

[11] “Budget Review Board of W.B. School Meets”. The Kennewick Courier-Reporter. May 7, 1942.

[12] “Liutenant Weihl Now Army Recruiting Officer”. The Kennewick Courier Reporter. January 22, 1942.

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Citation

Written by Mark Schafer , “The robberies of Hanford and White Bluffs, WA,” Hanford History Project, accessed February 27, 2024, http://hanfordhistory.com/items/show/4950.

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