In late 1920, discovery wells were drilled and oil was found in the Blue Ridge area. This small section of eastern Fort Bend County is nestled along the Harris County border. The salt dome had been known since 1902, but no oil had been found before now.
The discovery of oil made Blue Ridge a hot commodity, and a town was thrown together. Boarding houses, restaurants and stores sprang up to support all the men hoping to strike it rich in oil. On January 9, 1921, it was announced that a bank would be opening soon.
January 15, 1921 saw the opening of the Blue Ridge State Bank. It was a branch of the National Exchange Bank of Houston, and operated as a private bank until February 14, when it was certified and became a state bank.
On February 15, 1921, the Blue Ridge State bank was robbed and the young, well-liked cashier was murdered. A young messenger boy coming to the bank saw a man wearing corduroy pants and a white shirt covered in red leaving through a side window. When the young boy looked through the window, he saw the body of the cashier – so he ran to get help.
Cashier Robert Lee Kirby had been beaten to death and all the money (except $10) had been stolen.
Check back on Wednesday for part two!
Fort Bend Museum Staff