Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pretty Boy Floyd and the Model 1911

I don’t condone robbery or stealing, but I didn’t live through the crash of ’29 either. Anyway, Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy “ Floyd was a motor bandit and a pain to the banks that were repossessing ranches in Oklahoma. Pretty Boy was rare among bandits, he was actually like Robin Hood and gave away money he stole to the needy. By early 1932, his bank robberies and mayhem in his home state had made him Oklahoma's "Public Enemy No. 1."

The Oklahoma Bankers Association had announced a $1,000 reward for the capture of Floyd. Three other organizations offered $1,000 each, making the total bounty $4,000. Former Sheriff Erv Kelley had led many successful manhunts, but the one for Pretty Boy Floyd promised the biggest payoff. The bankers made Kelley a special agent and gave him a new Thompson submachine gun. Kelley's plan was to Ambush Pretty Boy Floyd three miles west of Bixby, a small community near the Arkansas River.

Floyd was expected for a secret weekend rendezvous with his wife, Ruby, and 7-year-old son, Jackie near a small farmhouse. Late in the evening during the cold, Kelley gave most of his six man posse a break and remained on the scene with only two deputized farmers.

At 3 a.m., a car pulled up to the gate, its headlights suspiciously off. When the beams were abruptly turned on, they exposed Kelley, shouting his futile order to halt. Floyd fired his model 1911 .45 automatic handgun seven times, striking Kelley four times, twice in the chest. Kelley's Thompson Submachine gun fired 14 times, most shots stirring up dust at his feet. He collapsed and died. Floyd was hit four times -- painful but not life-threatening slugs that all struck below his waist. He and crime partner George Birdwell sped away.

In the aftermath it was determined that the two farmers either did not know how to use weapons, or they cowered in the dark. This left Kelley “mano el mano” with Pretty Boy Floyd and his 1911 .45 Automatic.


  1. this is a nice story but not that i condone robbery or stealing, too. it reads familiar. i do not know if it became a movie, or watched it on Nat Geo.

  2. any idea where I could find photos of the 1921 Thompson Submachine gun that Pretty Boy owned?