André Head

André Head

The Edmond Genealogical Society will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19 at the LDS Church, 1315 E. 33rd Street in Edmond. The program, The Boley Farmers and Merchant's Bank Robbery, will be presented by André Head, President of the Black Genealogy Research Group (BGRG) and CEO of the Coltrane Group. 

EGS event organizers said you won't want to miss this exciting program! 

The little bank in the quiet all-black thriving village of Boley, Okla., probably looked like an easy target to bank robber Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd's gang. Consisting of two white men and one black, the gang was soon proven to be dead wrong. After the dust settled on the morning of Nov. 23, 1932, two of the bank robbers had been killed and the other seriously wounded. 

Surrounded by Boley's citizens who had grabbed their own weapons, the townspeople opened fire as the robbers tried to flee. All the money was recovered. Unfortunately, bank manager D. J. Turner was killed after he set off an alarm and being warned by the robbers not to do so. Bank bookkeeper and cashier H.C. McCormick grabbed a rifle in the bank's vault and mortally wounded Turner's killer moments after the bank manager was shot. The dead robbers were identified as George Birdwell, Floyd's chief lieutenant who was considered the brains of the gang, and novice robber Charles Glass, the driver of the getaway car. Robber C.C. Patterson suffered multiple bullet wounds but recovered and was sent to prison for his part in the robbery. 

Floyd himself didn't participate in the robbery in the vibrant town that was the largest one of 29 all-black towns established before statehood. In fact, he had warned his gang members against robbing the Boley bank because there wasn't much money there, and the people of Boley all had guns, knew how to shoot them and weren't afraid to use them. The residents of Boley definitely knew how to use their guns, and did! Pretty Boy Floyd had plans to avenge the murders of his friends, but he never got a chance as he was gunned downed in Ohio two years later.

André Head brings more than 30 years of managerial experience to his quest for community preservation and restoration, historical confirmation, and family research. He is a retired U.S. Federal Marshal, fire chief, safety officer, explosives detection officer, arson investigator, and educator. 

André Head became an avid genealogist, devoting years of research to family heritage. He has discovered previously unknown data on six-plus generations of his own family. He is founder and CEO of the Coltrane Group, an organization committed to preserving the rich heritage and deep history of Oklahoma's historic all-black towns.

Heavily involved in the revitalization efforts of Boley and her renewal efforts, the Coltrane Group recently completed an assessment of the Boley Public Library for the National Park Service, and a museum exhibit of photographs of Boley from the 20s and 30s initially shown for six months at the Oklahoma History Center. He is currently working on the restoration of the Boley Farmers and Merchants Bank, the scene of his program. 

Head has produced a documentary about “The Crown Jewel” (Boley) and her annual rodeo. The Coltrane Group also offers several different chartered bus tours of Oklahoma's historic black towns guided by André Head and his wife. Head also created and is President of the Black Genealogy Research Group (BGRG) which meets monthly at the Oklahoma History Center. 

Having served on numerous fire, safety and law enforcement boards and agencies, Head is a member of the American Association of Museums, the Oklahoma Historical Society, OHCE Genealogy Group, the National Fire Marshals Association, the International Association of Arson Investigators, and other professional organizations. He is a member of St. John Missionary Baptist Church where he serves on its Black Heritage Committee and is a leader on their security team. 

Head is considered a man of diverse talents. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Jessilyn. They are proud parents of five grown children and doting grandparents to seven grandbabies. Head is eager to share the rich history and continued progress of the historic all-black towns of Oklahoma.

The EGS Sept. 16 program will feature Using presented by Pam Kirkland, director of the Family History Center in Moore.

Genealogical research assistance is available at 5:30 p.m. prior to the meetings. For more information, visit Meetings are always open to the public and the public is invited.

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