Charles Arthur Floyd, nicknamed Pretty Boy Floyd, was an American bank robber born in Georgia on Feb. 3, 1904. His family moved to Akins, Okla., in 1911, where he grew up. He was arrested at age 18 after he stole $3.50 from a local post office. Three years later, he was arrested for a payroll robbery on Sept. 16, 1925, in St. Louis and was sentenced to five years in prison. He served three and a half years before being granted parole.
Floyd entered into partnerships with criminals in the Kansas City underworld after his parole. He committed a series of bank robberies over the next several years, and it was during this period that he acquired the nickname “Pretty Boy.” Orville Drake gave him the name because he would wear a white button – up dress shirt and slacks to work in the oil fields. According to one account, a payroll master whom Floyd had robbed described him as “a pretty boy with apple cheeks.”
In 1929, Floyd was wanted in numerous cases. He was arrested in Akron, Ohio in 1930, and charged with the murder of an Akron police officer. He was later that same year convicted of a Sylvania Ohio Bank Robbery and sentenced to 12 – 15 years in Ohio State penitentiary, but escaped.
Floyd was a suspect in the deaths of Kansas City brothers Wally and Boll Ash who were rum – runners, found dead in a burning car on Mar. 25, 1931. Members of his gang killed Patrolman R. H. Castner of Bowling Green, Ohio on April 23. On July 22, Floyd killed federal agent Curtis C. Burke in Kansas City.
Former sheriff Erv Kelley of McIntosh County, Okla., was killed while trying to arrest Floyd on April 7, 1932. In November, three members of Floyd’s gang attempted to rob the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Boley, Okla. Despite his life of crime, Floyd was viewed positively by the general public.
The FBI named Floyd “Public Enemy No. 1” on July 23, 1934, following the death of John Dillinger. Local police and FBI agents led by Melvin Purvis shot Floyd on Oct. 22, 1934, in a corn field in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Floyd’s body was embalmed in East Liverpool, Ohio and then sent to Oklahoma, where it was placed on public display in Sallisaw. His funeral was attended by between 20,000 and 40,000 people and remains the largest funeral in Oklahoma history. He was buried in Atkins, Okla.
Without a doubt, Oklahoma has a colorful history.
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