Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Notorious Outlaw Frank "Jelly" Nash

Have you ever heard of Frank Nash? I came across this story while researching interments in a Kansas cemetery.  Neither he, nor others mentioned in this story, are my relation, this being an interesting story I thought I'd share with you.
Frank "Jelly" Nash

Frank Nash was born February 6, 1887, at Birdseye, Indiana. His childhood nickname was "Jelly," shortened from "Jellybean." Nash's father was John "Pappy" Nash, his mother, Alta Nash. She was John's second wife of three. Frank had two step-brothers and two sisters.

John Nash owned hotels in several southern towns. Frank worked in his father's hotels and served in the Army from 1904 to 1907. He made his career, though, as a robber, burglar and murderer. He would end up having served three prison sentences for his crimes. He was first convicted in 1913. He had committed a robbery with a friend and when they went to bury the loot, he shot his friend in the back. (Some friend.)

It is thought that Nash committed about 200 bank robberies, masterminding crimes from within prison and out, but the most notable event in his life was "The Kansas City Massacre," also known as "The Union Station Massacre."

After being released from prison for the murder of his friend, Nash joined the Al Spencer Gang. Three other members of the gang and Nash were arrested for mail robbery and assault and were consequently sentenced to 25-year-terms on March 1, 1924. They served time in Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1930, Nash was appointed to a privileged position in prison as the deputy warden's chef and general handyman. It is said that Nash was quite charming, likeable and friendly. Perhaps this is the reason he was chosen to aid the warden. On October 19, 1930, he was sent outside the prison on an errand and he did not return.
Adam Richetti

After nearly three years on the run, still committing crimes, Nash was arrested in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on June 15, 1933, by two Oklahoma City FBI agents, Joe Lackey and Frank Smith, along with Otto Reed, the police chief of McAlester, Oklahoma. They boarded a train bound for Kansas City, Missouri. At 7:15 a.m. on June 17, 1933, two Kansas City, Missouri police detectives were sent to meet the other officers at the Union Train Station. Unbeknownst to law enforcement, word of Nash's arrest and transport had made its way to gangsters in the area. The officers put Nash in a car parked outside the station and were ambushed by mobsters. In a shootout, Nash was killed as were officers Reed, FBI agent, Raymond Caffrey, and two Kansas City police detectives, W. J. "Red" Grooms and Frank E. Hermanson. 

Pretty Boy Floyd

Three outlaws were believed to be responsible for the deaths: Charles "Pretty Boy Floyd," Adam Richetti and Vernon C. Miller. Miller's mutilated body was found in a ditch near Detroit, Michigan, on November 29, 1933. Charles Floyd was shot to death in a shootout with law enforcement near Clarkson, Ohio, on October 22, 1934. Adam Richetti was executed in the Missouri State Penitentiary gas chamber on October 7, 1938 for the murder of Detective Frank E. Hermanson of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.

Detective Frank E. Hermanson

The Kansas City Massacre happened at a time when FBI agents did not carry weapons, nor were they able to make arrests. They were an investigative agency only. However, the incident encouraged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to enact legislation to enable FBI agents to carry firearms and make arrests. This legislation was passed in January of 1934.

Later reports indicate that some of the deaths in the massacre were caused by inexperienced FBI agents using the other officers' firearms they were not familiar with and accidentally shooting fellow officers and Nash. 
Vernon Miller

If you would like to read a more detailed account of the massacre, here is a link to actual newspaper reports: Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers. And to read about Frank E. Hermanson's funeral, click here: Frank E. Hermanson Find-A-Grave. And here's a web page dedicated to a newspaper covering the story: Frank Nash Clippings.

I just read another article which gives Nash's nickname another source: he was called "Jelly" because he used nitroglycerin to crack open safes. Jelly was the slang term for nitroglycerin. 

That's today's history lesson.

Ta ta for now,


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