It was a time of unwanted and uncomfortable changes, and rapidly deteriorating economics.
In spite of the problems the community faced, its continued growth convinced A. T. Blachly and D. A. Baldwin that, by the early nineties, a second bank would thrive. They incorporated the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1891, and located it on the east side of Main, a few doors south of Third Street. It proved to be prosperous, but the new bank set the scene for an unexpected tragedy during its second year.
On September 7, 1893, Blachly and his assistant cashier, H. H. Wolbert, were just opening for business when two prospective customers, Bill and his nephew, Fred McCarty, entered the bank. They had been working as cowboys on a nearby ranch for several months, and were familiar faces in town. Blachly moved to the teller’s window to wait on them, only to discover the senior McCarty pointing a gun at him. The banker was told to put up his hands and be still. Assistant Cashier, Wolbert, started to reach for his weapon, but Bill McCarty told him to drop it and go to the window. As he did so, the youngest of the outlaw pair hoisted himself up onto the top of the partition, shocking Blachly into yelling. “Help, Help!” The gunman responded with two bullets, one to Blachly’s head which immediately killed the banker, and on the buried itself in the floor.
Townspeople heard the commotion and came running towards the bank from all directions. The robbers fled through the back door, grabbing a bag of gold from the open safe, and stuffing money into their pockets as they ran. A third member of their band had horses ready for them in the alley. In hurrying to mount and escape, the thieves dropped the bag of gold and left it there.
Ray Simpson, whose hardware business was almost directly across from the bank, had his Sharps rifle loaded and handy. When he heard the ruckus, he grabbed it and ran east down Third Street just in time to see the bandits coming out of the alley from behind the bank. They were leaning Indian style over the necks of their horse, firing as they passed the storekeeper. Without aiming, Simpson shot from the hip and tore off the top of Bill McCarty’s head. The victim fell from his mount and the outlaw closest to him looked back at his fallen companion. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, he spurred his horse and, still curled over the animal’s neck, galloped on toward Second Street. Simpson later recalled thinking, “He’ll raise his head when he gets to the corner. Then I’ll get him.” His hunch proved correct and Simpson fired again, bringing down the second offender in a shower of stolen money.
A posse was quickly formed to apprehend the third bandit, but he had too long a lead and, it was discovered later, there was a fresh horse waiting for him in the ‘dobes to facilitate his escape. The town fold went of the North Delta Bridge and followed him a good part of the way toward Grand Junction, but the third bandit was never caught.
Mort Beckly arrived in town shortly after the shooting. When he heard of the robbery and the third outlaw’s escape, he exclaimed. “I could have shot him! He passed me on the bridge!”
When the unsuccessful posse returned, the men found that the fallen bandits had been photographed by E. M. Laycock, Delta’s first photographer. He had propped the two dead men against a shed and put a hat on the older McCarty to hide the hideous wound on his head. The pictures were used later to identify the outlaws. They were buried in a common grave in the Delta Cemetery.