Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd biography
Born in George in 1904, Pretty Boy Floyd is best known for his constant run-ins with police and violent bank robberies. Floyd vowed never to steal again after he was arrested for a payroll robbery at the age of 18, but he nevertheless went on to rob numerous banks. He was often protected by Oklahoma locals, who called him "the Robin Hood of the Cooksoon Hills." Floyd was gunned down and killed by FBI agents in 1934.
Criminal Charles "Pretty Boy" Arthur Floyd was born in Adairsville, Georgia, on February 3, 1904, one of seven children. His family soon after moved to Oklahoma, where they owned a farm and were extremely poor.
After an unlikely first career as a farmer, Floyd turned to crime to escape the poverty of the Depression era, which hit farmers in the "Dust Bowl" especially hard. After he was arrested for a payroll robbery at the age of 18, Floyd vowed never to steal again, but he nevertheless went on to rob numerous banks.
He married Ruby Hargrove in 1921; they had a son, Jack Dempsey Floyd, who was born while Floyd was serving a three-year sentence in prison for a robbing a Kroger store in St. Louis, Missouri (Ruby divorced Floyd during his imprisonment).
A Life of Crime
Upon returning to his parents farm, Pretty Boy Floyd is said to have killed a man who was accused, but acquitted, of killing his father. He became a hired gun for bootleggers along stretches of the Ohio River.
Known for his reckless use of a machine gun, Floyd began—with a group of gangster accomplices—robbing banks in Ohio, and soon moved on to Michigan, Kentucky and Oklahoma. During his crime spree, bank insurance rates in Oklahoma are reported to have doubled. He became popular with the public by destroying mortgage papers at many of the banks he robbed, liberating many debt-ridden citizens; he was often protected by Oklahoma locals, who dubbed him "Robin Hood of the Cooksoon Hills."
Kansas City Massacre
One of the more memorable events that Floyd took part in along with his accomplices was the Kansas City Massacre. Floyd, along with Vernon Miller and Adam Richetti, attempted to bust their friend—Frank Nash—out of the U.S. Penitentiary located in Leavenworth, Kansas. In an elaborate plot to rescue Nash from an extended stint in prison, the gang proceeded to release fire on the officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who were guarding the convict on the morning of June 17, 1933, at the Union Railway Station in Kansas City, Missouri. Despite the gangs attempt at saving their comrade from prosecution, Nash got caught in the crossfire and died, along with several officers.
Final Years and Legacy
After the capture of John Dillinger, Floyd was named "Public Enemy No. 1," and a $23,000 bounty was offered for his capture, dead or alive. Floyd avoided the authorities for a year after the massacre, using the alias Mr. George Sanders. It wasn't until Wellsville, Ohio, Police Chief J.H. Fultz was told that suspicious individuals were lurking around East Liverpool that he found Floyd and Richetti, resulting in a shootout.
Floyd was shot twice, with his last words being, "I'm done for; you've hit me twice." Two FBI agents left to get an ambulance but Floyd died 15 minutes after he was shot, on October 22, 1934.
Pretty Boy Floyd's legend was put into song as part of Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd."