Hometown Outlaw: Frank "Jelly" Nash
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Well hello strangers.
Welcome back to Abnormal Arkansas. This is Lauren, and I am back with another story to share with all of you wonderful people! This story hits close to home for me. Why? This person was buried in my hometown. What makes this person unique? I’m talking about the infamous southern outlaw Frank “Jelly” Nash, who happens to be buried in a mausoleum in Linwood Cemetery (in the middle of my hometown of Paragould, Arkansas).
But before we get to Frank’s story, I wanted to share a couple of things with you!
1.) Story schedule: We are FINALLY on a regular story schedule! I will be uploading a new story every Sunday afternoon (except for this past week because I was doing a little bit of wedding planning to prepare for my wedding next year)! Be watching our social media and website this Sunday for a new story by yours truly!
2.) New series: This website is called Abnormal Arkansas because I love to discuss all of the crazy stories I have heard since growing up in the state, but every once in a while, I will be discussing some stories that I have heard or that I feel would be interesting to you all that are from outside of the state of Arkansas. The stories will be a part of an unnamed series I am currently working on that focuses on the southern “Delta” states (Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee). Stay tuned for more information on the series!
3.) Send us your stories: I would love to be able to do some community stories! If you have any personal stories that you would love for us to tell, whether it be a run in with a creature you can’t explain or a true crime story you think would be a good topic for discussion, send it to us! We are always checking our email, so send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that we have taken care of business, let me take you back to 1933…
June 17, 1933, Union Station railroad depot, Kansas City, Missouri
It is the morning of June 17, 1933. Frank Nash is sitting in a stateroom of a train at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, along with McAlester, Oklahoma Police Chief Otto Reed and FBI Agent Frank Smith. Frank Nash had been apprehended on June 16 (the night before) at a store in Hot Springs, Arkansas for participating in a number of bank robberies. Nash had escaped a prison in Leavenworth, Kansas three years prior, and law enforcement were in the process of transporting him back to the prison.
Frank Nash, Chief Reed, Agent Smith and several other law enforcement agents made their way from the stateroom to the east entrance of the station where a vehicle was waiting to transport Nash to the prison. As Nash got into the front seat of the car, the officers noticed two men, one armed with a machine gun, running from behind a green Plymouth. They then noticed that both men were armed. As soon as these two were spotted, another armed man came from around the vehicle. One of the armed men shouted, and they began shooting at the officers surrounding the vehicle that Nash was in and firing bullets into the vehicle. Once the officers had dispersed from around the vehicle or had been wounded bad enough to not fight back, the armed men looked inside the vehicle and took off running towards another dark-colored vehicle parked nearby.
Several people died that day at the hands of the three armed gunmen:
· Frank “Jelly” Nash: Frank Nash was killed by a bullet that had went through the vehicle as he sat in the front seat of the car.
· McAlester, Oklahoma Police Chief Otto Reed: Otto Reed was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle and was struck by a bullet. He was killed instantly.
· FBI Agent Raymond J. Caffrey: Caffrey was severely wounded by a bullet that struck him in the head. He was later pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.
· 2 unnamed Kansas City police officers were killed immediately.
This event was known as the Kansas City Massacre. The three gunmen were later identified as Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Vernon Miller, and Adam Richetti. This was a failed attempt by friends of Frank Nash to free him from police custody. Some evidence states that “Pretty Boy” Floyd was not involved in the shooting, but the FBI states otherwise. A year later, four other conspirators – Richard Galatas, Herbert Farmer, “Doc” Louis Stacci, and Frank Mulloy – were indicted for conspiracy to cause the escape of a federal prisoner from the custody of the United States. It was said that these men had made an agreement with the three gunmen to aid in the release of Frank Nash.
The Life of an Outlaw
Frank Nash was born on February 6, 1887 in Birdseye, Indiana. Little is known about his childhood, but it was known that his family were affluent. His father, John “Pappy Nash,” was a businessman who owned and operated several hotels in various small towns, including the small northeast Arkansas towns of Jonesboro and Paragould. Nash’s mother, Alta, was the second of his father John’s three wives, and Frank also had two sisters and two stepbrothers. He moved to Paragould, Arkansas in 1893, then later to Jonesboro, Arkansas with only his father. When his father was ready to start another business, they then moved to Hobart, Oklahoma, which is rumored to be the town that Frank felt more at-home in. Frank received the nickname “Jelly,” which was the shorter version of “Jellybean,” because of his charismatic personality and well-groomed appearance, but some people believed he received his nickname because of what he became famous for: bank robberies (some associated this name with the explosives robbers used to open bank safes).
When Frank was younger, he spent a lot of his time working with his father in his various hotels, but when he was old enough, Frank enlisted in the army from 1904 to 1907. He began committing petty crimes, like burglary, which then led him to committing many murders and later on roughly 200 bank robberies. His charm and charisma led to him being the leader and mastermind behind several criminal groups.
Frank’s first criminal conviction was in 1913 for the theft of $1,000 from a local store in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and the murder of his friend Nollie “Humpy” Wortman. After stealing the money from the store and escaping with Wortman, Nash said that the smart thing to do would be to for them to hide the evidence so that they do not get caught. While Wortman was burying the money, Nash shot him in the back and killed him. This would mark the beginning of Nash’s extensive criminal record.
In 1920, Nash was convicted of burglary using explosives. He was sentenced to 25 years in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. His sentence was reduced down to 5 years, and he was released on December 29, 1922, where he joined a group of bank robbers known as the Al Spencer gang. His crime spree escalated, and bank robberies seemed to become his source of income. He would also be known for several prison escapes, which eventually led to his capture and death in the Kansas City Massacre.
After Nash’s death in the Kansas City Massacre in 1933 (at the age of 46), his body was transported back to Paragould, Arkansas, where he was placed in a mausoleum in the local Linwood Cemetery. His life and infamy are still discussed by locals, and there is even the rumor that Al Capone himself was present at Frank Nash’s funeral. Frank Nash is still known as one of the most successful bank robbers in U.S. history.
Strangers, thank you for taking the time to read my story! Stay tuned because I will have a new story posted this Sunday!
Stay strange, my friends…