The first bank robbery ever



What was America's first bank robbery?

Near the end of summer in 1798, yellow fever was taking the lives of many in Philadelphia; many left the city trying to escape this dreaded fate. However, many could not leave and around 1,300 were left to die a fast but horrifying death.

Patrick Lyon, a local blacksmith was among the ones that did leave along with his 19-year-old apprentice. They were able to book passage on a small both headed to Cape Henolpen; however, by the time they were boarding at Lewiston, Delaware, the apprentice was ill. Lyon along with the help of a doctor could not save the young apprentice and he died within two.

The news of yellow fever in Philadelphia finally made it to Lewistown along with another disastrous tale. At the time when many were lying on their deathbeds with yellow fever, a unique bank robbery had been accomplished. The Bank of Pennsylvania at Carpenter’s Hall in the late night hours of Saturday, August 31, $162,821 had been stolen from the vaults.

Lyons read about the robbery in the newspaper and since his last job before Philadelphia was to change fittings and locks on two iron vault doors on this very bank, he had an idea as to the identity of the robber. The newspaper stated that it had to be an inside job since there was no sign of forced entry into the building. His suspect was carpenter, Samuel Robinson, who had been hired by the bank to oversee the move into Carpenter’s Hall.

A few days later, an old friend of Lyon’s arrives in Lewistown, they talk about the robbery and Lyon’s learns that he, himself, is a primary suspect. Lawmen were searching for him at this very moment. On hearing this news, Lyon’s immediately returns to Philadelphia to clear his name. The story he told about not being involved and his suspicions of it being Robinson were not believed. Lyon was sent to Walnut Street Prison where he served three months.

Later, the first American bank robbery was solved. Patrick Lyon was innocent as he claimed but his suspicions were not close to the truth either. Isaac Davis and a stranger that visited Lyon’s shop along with the “inside man” Thomas Cunningham the bank porter that was sleeping in Carpenter’s Hall the night of August 31 were the men involved in the bank robbery.

The first bank robbery ever

The first bank robbery ever

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