Four bandits sped into Farmland from the northwest at 1 p.m. on April 28, 1937, passing the plows and tractors of farmers who worked for their daily bread.

As lookout Clarence Shaffer and another man stood guard by the getaway car with tommy guns locked and loaded, desperadoes Alfred Brady and James Dalhover sashayed into the Farmland Branch of the Winchester People’s Loan & Trust Company. They were there for a withdrawal. 

“This is a holdup,” one barked.

Their waving revolvers got the attention of bankers and customers alike. They dropped to the floor in a back room. This was the second time in a year the bank had been targeted. The last one netted $5,470 and went unsolved.

The thugs forced William Hobart Alexander, 40, a Farmland resident, to empty his drawer and to lead them to the safe.

Alexander told the pair that the safe had an electric lock.

The two men waited impatiently and then their nerves got the best of them. They abandoned the safe attempt and raced out with $1,427 and change.

Alexander escape unharmed. 

The outlaws got nervous during a $150 heist of an Ohio grocery store and killed clerk Edward Linsey. The shooter said Linsey “looked at them funny.”

Authorities put out alerts for the pair believed to be Brady and Dalhover.

The FBI knew them well. Brady and accomplices also robbed the Goodland State Bank, netting $2,600 and killing state police officer Paul Minneman in a chase ending near Logansport. They wounded a second law enforcement officer before escaping.

As Minneman lay dying, one of the gang told him, “I ought to finish you off now,” according to news reports.

It turns out that the outlaws had pulled nine other 1936-37 jobs before selecting Farmland. After the pair robbed a Kay Jewelry store for the second time, they shot and killed an Indianapolis police officer named Richard Rivers who was in pursuit of them.

Brady was arrogant, bold and careless. He took his loot and lived another life in Baltimore under the pseudonym of Eddie Maxwell, appearing under that name in roller-skating exhibitions at a rink he purchased. 

The FBI descriptions of the three bandits referred to them as runts. All three were pint-sized. Nonetheless, their vanity knew no limits, and Shaffer vowed to make slain gangster John Dillinger “look like a piker.”

Brady hailed from Indianapolis and was charged with several petty crimes before he worked his way up to major crimes. Dalhover was a farmer who had some schooling in Madison. Shaffer attended Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis and owned a sandwich shop before partnering with Brady gang member Charles Geiseking. Geiseking was the first of the gang to be apprehended.

The three thugs continued their holdups. They were caught and jailed in Greenfield but they escaped. Afterward, the gang moved their operations from the Midwest to Baltimore to Connecticut and then, at last, to Maine. 

Then the criminals made a big mistake. They bought a cache of weapons from a sporting goods shop in Bangor and paid cash from a big wad of bills. 

The suspicious owner contacted police and provided descriptions of his customers. 

FBI agents set a trap. On Columbus Day 1937, they apprehended Dalhover when he walked into the store. 

Agent Walter Walsh mowed down Brady and Shaffer on the street in a shootout. The pair returned fire before dying. The lawman was wounded. 

Dalhover, the lone survivor, died in the electric chair at the Indiana State Prison on Nov. 18, 1938.

“If I could get out of this jail, I would do the same thing over again,” Dalhover told the Marion Chronicle. 


Nuwer, a former Randolph County resident, is writing full-time as he completes a biography of Kurt Vonnegut in Fairbanks, Alaska. He has also taught journalism during his career, including for Ball State University and Franklin College.