First National Bank of Durango

First National Bank
  • It was known in town that the First National Bank of Durango expected that a $30,000 mine payroll would be in the vault on December 16, 1883. The janitor of Philpot's saloon and four other men schemed to rob the bank on that night.
  • The janitor of Philpot's, Cellas Hawkins, approached a friend who was the bank’s janitor and asked him to leave the doors unlocked on that night. The bank janitor told the bank management, including A.P. Camp, about the plot. Mr. Camp, along with town Marshal O'Connor and Sheriff Barney Watson, R. Bruce Hunt (the son of Colorado Territorial Governor A.C. Hunt) and several others, planned to ambush the would-be robbers.
  • On the appointed day, Hawkins went into the bank on the northwest corner of Main Avenue and Ninth Street and started chipping away at the vault. The other four men heard rumors about the ambush and dropped their plans. On a signal from Marshal O'Connor, the ambush party ran in shooting. Hawkins shot back and fatally shot Bruce Hunt, who died at Parson's Drug Store across the street.
  • Hawkins escaped and ran to hide on the Ute Reservation. He was chased by a posse. A $500 reward for his capture was offered by the outraged Durango townspeople. The posse found and surrounded Hawkins, who jumped off a cliff and broke his neck. He lived for three more days, naming the four other conspirators before he died.
  • The confession was found to be inadmissible in court and the four other men were acquitted. Hawkins is buried in the Animas City Cemetery. His family was left destitute.

First National Bank

The First National Bank (and Saloon Row) around 1900. Catalog number: 80.01.001

To learn more about the colorful history of Durango, visit the Museum's Law and Disorder exhibit.

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