November 11 is now noted as Veteran’s Day, but in 1861 it marked the robbery of the Winsted Savings Bank of over $50,000 of which $8.000 was in specie; i.e. gold and silver coins. The loot also included three Treasury Notes one worth $1,000 and the other two worth $500 each. This robbery actually happened between Saturday evening Nov. 9 and Monday morning Nov. 11.
Entry to the bank was gained through Lawyer Gidding’s office that was directly above the bank vault. Giddings floor was taken up giving the robbers access to the roof of the vault that was a massive stone slab that the robbers split and removed the stone. After the money was taken the robbers replaced the stone and the pieces of Lawyer Giddings floor by screwing them down so there was hardly a sign that a robbery had taken place.
The robbery was discovered Monday morning at9 amby Henry Gay, a teller who later became the president of the bank. Once the robbers had gained access to Lawyer Giddings office on the second floor over the vault that was eight and a half lower down in the building they covered the top of the vault with a large layer of ashes that deadened the sound of their labors as they drilled through the stone with a ratchet drill that drilled five three inch holes into the stone. The stone was split using feather-wedges a common way for splitting stone still in use today. The top of the wedges were covered with lead that acted to further muffle the sounds of the sledge hitting the gad eventually breaking the slab into two pieces.
Once the slab was split the robbers used wooden wedges to raise the slab that was propped up using a chair; a jimmy and steel bar were used to move the slab out of the way. Once the robbers were inside the vault they removed most of the money, but left half of the currency behind so the bank wouldn’t fail because if it had the currency would have been rendered worthless. However, the robbers left all their tools behind that were used in the robbery including some sharpened nails presumably used to pick the lock on the lawyer’s door.
For several days before the robbery some strange men were seen at the site of a cave later renamed “RobbersCave” on the road leading toTorrington. The cave itself is located on the cliffs behind the formerEmissionTestCenterthat was formed by a tumulus of boulders at the bottom of the cliff.
After the robbery the robbers left Winsted to the west heading towards Norfolk according to the story told by one of the robbers that was eventually caught they buried the specie in a place where they could come back after it later. His story goes on they never recovered the loot, so someplace west of Winsted the loot is supposedly still buried. Bank robbers tend to be a lazy lot, so it makes since they buried the heaviest part of the loot that altogether weighed over 200 pounds. The specie was the heaviest part.