SDOHC's Mission

The SDOHC is devoted to documenting the history of the Northern Plains region and the care of previously collected interviews.

Monday, December 12, 2011

From the Archives: SDOHP 2928 Face to Face with Baby Face [Nelson]

March 6, 1934 the Securities National Bank and Trust Co. of Sioux Falls, SD was robbed of about  $49,500 by the Dillinger Gang, which included Baby Face Nelson.  If this event or the people involved don't sound all that familiar to you, check out the most recent gangster movie produced by Hollywood, Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger.  Or, for a more historical perspective, look below to listen to Leo Olson's telling of the fateful day when he was face to face with Baby Face Nelson as a Bank Examiner at the Securities National Bank and Trust Co.
Date of Interview: January 29, 1974

Excerpt from the SDOHP 2928 Audio Recording

Excerpt from the SDOHP 2928 Transcript

TA: ...ask a few questions
LO: Alright. [clears throat] Do you want me to talk about the holdup, or do you want my personal experience on the van?
TA: I want you to tell me as best you can about everything that happened the day that Dillinger robbed the bank, all of your experiences related to the robbery itself.
LO: Alright.
TA: But now I just, I let this run, for one purpose. I just want, to visit a little bit, to make sure I've got it loud enough so I'm taping your conversation on it.
LO: Do you want me to begin?
TA: Yeah, if you want to, and then we'll stop and then go back and listen to...
LO: Well, uh [clears throat] a customer of the bank came in and had a twenty dollar check, and said he wanted four five dollar bills, and just that time I heard him say, "Oh, cut out the baby playing," and he left, went up towards the front of the bank, and some fellow was following him. I stood there, and [clears throat] someone had turned on the, uh, burglar alarm. I had a burglar alarm outside, and you'd touch a button that you had hidden, or you could touch it off with your foot, by pulling up a little rod, and why don't someone turn the alarm off. Looking across on the other side I saw a man holding something. It looked like a gun, a short little gun. And two of the menn were holding their hands up in the air. Well, I don't know just exactly how it happened, but we had our regular cages. Of course, they don't use those now. And the doors slowly, and all of a sudden a man come in, and with his right elbow shoved me aside, and started to pick up the money from the money drawer.  And then our cages or counters we had the order you might say of a capital L, with the bottom of the L, or the working counter where the money came in through the windows. [clears throat] He seemed to know just where we kept our sort of, I might say, our reserve money because when we had five hundred dollars of fives, tens, or twenties we wrapped, we put a strap around them.
TA: Um hmm.
LO: And I had, and he seemed to know that, and when he had picked this out he said, "Is that all?" and I said, "Yup." [laughs] and he laid his revolver, his automatic revolver, on the counter. It was right beside me when I was standing back of him. Then he turned with his back toward me so I did not see his face when he said, "Get up there in front and stand so no one will get hurt." So I went out and stood out there in front with quite a few of the other boysm and I saw tellers come and go, and I was going to go in back with the rest of the crowd, but I though, "Well, I'll stand right up here in front. If they're gonna shoot, why, I might just as well get it first rate." And during this time someone, one of the men, had picked, had got hold of the head teller and he was in the vault, getting the money out of the safes that we had our money. Of course one of the, we used to change off and have the, and have on timers and change off back and forth so that in case we were held up they didn't get everything, although they did get forty six thousand dollars.  Then they came out, and then, uh, Baby Face Nelson as it was, I had seen him jump up on a desk, aside of the window, and I heard that, I guess you'd call 'em little tommy guns, or whatever they had short guns, and I saw him shoot though the window and he says, "I got that [pause]...
TA: ...and you got who?
LO: ...blankety blank cop." [...]

To read the rest of this transcript and/or listen to the full SDOHP 2928 interview,
please contact:  The South Dakota Oral History Center at

-Jennifer McIntyre, SDOHC Digitizer/Curator
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From the Archives: Interview AIRP 0095

Hospital at Old Cheyenne River Agency
The AIRP [American Indian Research Project] tape 0095 was "collected during the summer of 1968 on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation."  Anything in "" comes directly from the interview transcript. Unlike many of the interviews contained in the South Dakota Oral History Center, AIRP 0095, involved the informant telling his oral history through the usage of photographs, which were included in the interview packet. So, presented here are the photographs and some pieces of the transcript from AIRP 0095.  If you have any additional information on this interview that may be helpful to the SDOHC, please contact us. 

Sawmill at Old Cheyenne River Agency

"A. [...] Ruth Last Man. [...] And this is a colored woman. She's a musician. [...]"

"[...] A. This is, uh, Paul...uh...Crow Eagle...Paul Crow Eagle's Wife. And this one here...uh, she'd...I think she's Mrs. Blacksmith.
Q. How come she's wearing a chief's...or is she just dressed up to get...uh.
A. No, some of them wear them"
Yankton Agency, Early 1900s.

"Q. Now, let's see. Now who is he?...
A. This is George Sheridan Banks.
Q. George Sheridan Banks?
A. Yes. And his name was given to him by, ah, General Sheridan Banks.
Q. By the United States Army?
A. Yes.
Q. And what did he, uh, ...
A. He was twelve years old when they picked him up and they trained him to be a scout. So he was a scout for many years, many years. Indians ... why, a lot of them they call them scouts not soldiers. __________________ Indian Scouts.
Q. What band was he from, do you remember? What would he be?
A. That's one thing that I didn't ask. But he really originated from Fort Thompson.
Q. From Fort Thompson?
A. Uh, huh. Then he's, uh, .... after he quit why being a scout, I, uh, guess, uh, he turned to a cop."

"Q. [...] This man, who is he?
A. This is his son. George II."
School Picture Including His Brothers
"Q. [...] Are these the types of wagons they used?
A. Yes.
Q. Is that the government issue?
A. Yes. Issued wagons.
Q. What did they have people call those in Indian, those wagons?
A. This? Wakpamini chanpa gemeyampi. Wakpamini means issue and chanpa gemeyampi that means wagon."

Church at Old Cheyenne River Agency
-Jennifer McIntyre, SDOHC Digitizer/Curator

Before utilizing any materials from the South Dakota Oral History Center, please contact us for terms of use by emailing 
Thank you for your interest in the SDOHC!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is the South Dakota Oral History Center?

The SDOHC Preserves the Voices of the Northern Plains

The South Dakota Oral History Center collects and preserves voices of the people of the Northern Plains. The acquisition and preservation methods are a major part of the Native Studies program, allowing students to have an active role in the Oral tradition. Included in the Oral History Collection are 5500 interviews which preserve indigenous memories and experiences from the 1890s to the present.  This makes the collection an especially vital and  valuable record of the historical, social, and cultural legacy of the state. To preserve this valuable collection and to make it more readily available to researchers and historians, a project is underway to digitize and catalogue the entire collection.  The Oral History Center's Digitization Project is supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Education's FIPSE program.  Once completed, the project will provide national prominence for the South Dakota Oral History Center and for the state of South Dakota.

"State of the Art" Digitizing Equipment

The SDOHC's Collections

The South Dakota Oral History Center currently houses six unique collections. These collections contain nearly 6000 recordings, and are still growing.
  • The American Indian Research Project was originally funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation in 1967, and contains approximately 2400 recordings. The recordings in this collection pertain solely to Native Americans of the Northern Plains.
  • The South Dakota Oral History Project aimed to collect recordings from every county in South Dakota. Currently containing about 3200 recordings, this large collection covers a broad range of topics.
  • The John S. Painter Collection was an independently collected group of recordings, and was generously donated to the South Dakota Oral History Center. It contains nearly 300 recordings collected between the late 1950s and early 1980s.
  • The Stanislaus Maudlin Collection is unique in that it contains the Oral Diary of Father Stanislaus Maudlin, as well as many other recordings he made. The collection centers on Blue Cloud Abbey, a Catholic mission near Martin, South Dakota.
  • The James Emery Collection is another independently collected group of recordings. Dating back to the early 1950s, this collection of nearly 300 recordings contains a large amount of Native American music, in addition to other material.
  • The Lindley Collection is our most recent addition. Thanks to the generous funds provided by Carina Lindley, we are acquiring new recordings in the modern audio-visual format. The goal of the collection is to record notable speakers, guest lectures, events, and other related material.

- Jennifer McIntyre, SDOHC Digitizer/Curator