An Adventure in the Dark

Dublin Core


An Adventure in the Dark


At two a.m. on the morning of May 19, 1880, a guest at the Garnett House on Second Street opposite the courthouse was awakened by a noise coming from the back of the hotel.

Upon looking out the window he saw a faint light from the rear upstairs window of the Madison National Bank building which fronted on Main Street between Second and Third. He immediately summoned the night clerk who stepped out the back door, listened, and rushed breathlessly back inside to announce, "bank robbers!" The guest was sent to rouse others in the hotel, while the clerk flew out into the street to gather some townsmen. In nearby buildings he found a dentist and two dry goods clerks who slept above their store. As they rushed to the front door of the hotel, one dry goods man dropped his firearm on the sidewalk, and in the dark crawled around crying "I can't find my pistol!"

Meanwhile, Harry Orr and Jake Bishop, two drummers who visited Richmond regularly, and several other guests met the local men at the hotel door. They decided to run across the street to the county jail to obtain a couple of shotguns. The weapons were borrowed only after some confusion in which the jailer thought that a mob had arrived on "bust open the jail." Members of the group next decided against Orr's suggestion to have the courthouse bell rung as a general alarm to the town. As the group rounded the corner of Second and Main, a solitary figure with a lantern was spotted and immediately identified as a lookout. Upon hearing the excited men rushing toward him, the man blew out his lantern and vanished quickly into the night.

From the front of the bank building no light could be seen, but a heavy muffled noise like the clanking of crowbars in metal and brick was noticed. Thinking that the bank robbers were tearing into the vault from the top, the group of would-be heroes opened the outside door and sneaked up the stairs with their guns cocked and ready. They kicked open the door to the Kentucky Register newspaper room and there beheld one greatly frightened printer running the press to get enough copies to go out in the next morning's mail.

"Boys, us won't say anything about this," said one of the chagrined vigilantes, but the printer had retribution for being scared half out of his wits--He printed the full account in the next issue of the newspaper.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “An Adventure in the Dark,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 26, 2022,