Poteau Daily News & Sun (OK) - June 12, 2012
Deceased Name: Charles Arthur Floyd - Just up the road Take on Topics
Charles Arthur Floyd gained lots of press in the 1930's for bank robbery. He is another member of our popular culture. Some viewed him as notorious while others said he was a tragic figure and a victim of hard times. I have heard stories that my great grandma Lettie Mae Hickman Shadwick, was washing clothes in the creek and spoke with him in Wister.
He was first arrested when he was 18 years old for stealing $3.50 in pennies from a post office. Three years later in 1925 he was convicted for a payroll robbery where he was sentenced to five years, and he served three and a half years. He vowed to never see the inside of a jail cell again. He fell in with the criminal underworld in Kansas City, resulting in numerous bank robberies over multiple states. In Ohio a police officer was killed and they captured Mr. Floyd and sentenced him to 12-15 years, but he escaped. He was a suspect in the killing of a couple of bootlegging brothers when they were found in a burning car, as well as the death of an ATF Agent. After the Kansas City Massacre, Floyd was pursued by J Edgar Hoover and the FBI.
He was on the "Public Enemy Number One" list. However historians still argue whether he was actually involved or not. It was said in the massacre that Floyd was shot in the shoulder.
Later his body showed no signs of this. A post card showed up at police headquarters saying that he did not take part in this crime, signed Charles Floyd. The post card was shown to be authentic.
The family of Charles Floyd denied his involvement as he would admit to the crimes that he had committed.
They said it was not consistent with his crimes that he was not a killer and definitely not a hired killer.
When Floyd was fatally wounded he proclaimed to FBI agents that he had no part in the killings of the massacre.
Charles Floyd was known by his nickname. In the early days a payroll clerk described him as "a mere boy - a pretty boy with apple cheeks." The name stuck - Pretty Boy Floyd.
After his death Floyd's body was embalmed and briefly viewed at the Sturgis Funeral Home in East Liverpool, Ohio, before being sent on to Oklahoma.
Floyd's body was placed on public display in Sallisaw, Okla. Floyd would hide between robberies in local towns near where he grew up. He was loved for his generosity and their hatred for banks. At this time the banks were foreclosing on many homes.
His funeral was attended by between 20, 000 and 40, 000 people and remains the largest funeral in Oklahoma history. He was buried in Akins , Okla. Akins Cemetery is located on Highway 101, northeast of Sallisaw, between Sallisaw and Akins and just west of Sequoyah's Cabin.
Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd (February 3, 1904 - October 22, 1934) was an American bank robber and alleged killer, romanticized by the press and by folk singer Woody Guthrie in The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd.
So now you know the largest funeral in Oklahoma history wasn't for a political figure or movie star. For many he was a farm boy who escaped the depression era in Oklahoma. He was known to purchase bags of groceries for hungry families in the area. He also was known to steal deeds to property at the banks and tear them up. So while being a criminal he was a hero like "Robin Hood" to the starving and homeless near his hometown.
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