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Guns used in Santa Claus Robbery on display in Cisco

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:39:19 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 25 2013 08:13:17 AM CST
CISCO, Texas -

86 years ago in Cisco a group of men robbed a bank and went on the run killing two police officers.

"This is a story that is well-known to everybody who's grown up here," said Duane Hale who is President of the Board at Lela Latch Lloyd Museum in Cisco.

The small town of Cisco has some big history.

"This has been a pretty dead place just to be honest with you, but this was a pretty busy place even when I was getting out of high school this was a booming town," said Hale.

The booming town was stunned when four men, including one in a Santa costume, robbed the First National Bank on December 23, 1927.

"Somebody said, “Why would he wear a suit like that?” Well, it was an automatic disguise," said Hale.

The only two police officers in Cisco were shot and killed trying to apprehend the men. That’s when the townspeople stepped up.

"They had armed the citizens because the citizens didn't want them to take their money especially at Christmas time so they armed them and they chased them out of town," Hale said.

The robbers didn't leave alone.

"They captured two little girls, 10 and 12, as hostages. They put them in the back of the car and drove out of town with people shooting at them," said Hale.

One of the robbers died during the shootout, the other three were caught and tried. The hostages made it out okay.

Last month three of the guns used by the robbers were recovered and brought to the Lela Latch Lloyd Museum in Cisco.

The guns were owned by a man in Austin who's grandfather was friends with the prosecuting attorney, Frank Sparks. Included with the guns were notarized papers listing the weapon's serial numbers.

"It's absolutely amazing that these three guns were still together," said Hale.

"I would say these are the most historic artifacts to represent Cisco that you could find," he added.

The man who wore the Santa Claus suit was Marshall Ratliff. He was sentenced to death. Then, after killing a jailer, he was publicly lynched in Eastland. That was the last mob lynching in Texas.