Over 100-Year-Old Mystery Boxes From A Bank Robber In Leavenworth Prison Are Finally Opened

Over 100-Year-Old Mystery Boxes From A Bank Robber In Leavenworth Prison Are Finally Opened

Every time my grandma told me about her parents, I would devour every little crumb of information she’d give. When I was learning about my ancestors, it always felt like I was learning about myself as well.


Imgur user jellybeanjelly just found out about some over 100-year-old wooden boxes that belonged to his great grandfather, John Bunion Knight. John was a bank robber, so naturally, jellybeanjelly was really intrigued. The best part is that they documented the entire process and uploaded it to the internet where we can go on their journey with them.



Image credits: jellybeanjelly


Quick backstory: My great grandfather, John Bunion Knight (1877-?), was in Leavenworth prison most of his life. Family story goes he was a bank robber and the last time his son (my grandfather) saw him as a kid there was a pile of cash and guns on the bed. Then his wife told everyone in the family that JBK had died. Fast forward many years, the son has a young son (my dad) and they are at home when the phone rings and are told that the man who they thought had been dead for decades was alive in Leavenworth prison but has late stage cancer so they are letting him out



Image credits: jellybeanjelly


Fast forward to 2019. An extended family member passed away and his wife finds these boxes that had been passed down from JBK who made them in prison. At some point someone had wrapped them up bc the intricate woodwork was falling apart. Because JBK was on her husbands side of the family she gave the boxes to my parents to open up



Image credits: jellybeanjelly



Image credits: jellybeanjelly


JBK had a daughter (Beatrice) and a son (my grandfather)



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Image credits: jellybeanjelly


Thankfully at some point, someone protected everything. Edit: Obviously the bubble wrap is not 100 years old. My great-uncle secured the boxes and contents at some point but his wife wasn’t sure what was inside



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A wooden spoon



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Image credits: jellybeanjelly


No clue what this means. Would love to know if anyone has any ideas



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A bank robber MUST keep diamonds in his box, right?! Inside was this beautiful tiara but judging by the quality (and the fact that all of his possessions were with him in Leavenworth) this must have been Beatrice’s decorative dress up tiara that he kept with him as a keepsake



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If only they were real



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Along with the spoon, tiara, and mirror, was this beautiful porcelain figurine



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This Josef Originals figurine apparently goes for a cool $20 on Etsy



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Now onto the second box! The woodwork on both is great. Obviously not a masterpiece but hundreds and hundreds of small pieces, cloth lined, lock and key, mirrors, and for +100 years old have held up pretty good. Lots of time in prison to work on it I guess. Better than anything I could create



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At some point, I’d love to get these boxes restored to their original beauty



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Inside the second box



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A photo of his son (my grandfather) on the left and his daughter on the right. At the bottom it has his initials and the date Jan 17, 1920, which is still a mystery. His son was born in 1918, but could be the date of his incarceration? If my grandfather and his sister had a hazy memory of money/guns on a bed then that could make sense (she was slightly older). Something to look into – but in 16 days it will be the 100 year anniversary of whatever happened!



Image credits: jellybeanjelly


Other than the pictures above, inside there was only pieces that had fallen off and the key. But the personal keepsakes and story are worth every bit of anticipation and the payoff – at least for me, probably not for anyone hoping for a treasure map or a real diamond tiara


Here’s what people said about opening the boxes