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Minot, North Dakota
About John Andrus




The Ballad of the Prairie Posse (a true story)

  In Aneta, North Dakota
  On a foggy winter day,
  The problems of big-city crime
  Seem a million miles away.
  It's a day like any other
  In this peaceful country town,
  Unless you count the fact that
  There's a bank job going down.

  The bandit robbed the bank last week;
  The story hit the press.
  It emphasized the robbery
  Was not a big success.
  The paper told how most the cash
  Was in a secret drawer.
  The bandit read the story too
  And he just came back for more.

  So, call out the Prairie Posse,
  It's time for them to ride,
  They got shotguns in their pick-up trucks
  But mostly they got pride.
  And I feel obliged to give
  Them big-town bandits some advice:
  You might rob the bank in Aneta, boys,
  But you better not try it twice.

  The bandit set the money down
  Beside him on the seat,
  He drove out from behind the bank
  And headed up the street,
  And it looked like this would be another
  Perfect getaway, when
  A look into his rear-view mirror
  Put a damper on his day.

  'Cause he seen that ornery Prairie Posse
  A headin' up the trail,
  There's Alvin and Jim and Gene and Sonny
  Nippin' at his tail and
  I'm sure that he'd agree
  That this is valuable advice,
  You might rob the bank in Aneta, boys,
  But you better not try it twice.

  The posse chased the bandit
  For about an hour that day,
  They zigged when he zigged
  And zagged when he zagged
  'Til he finally got away.
  But that chasin' gave the law some time
  To pick up on his trail,
  And he never spent the money,
  All he spent was time in jail.

  And it's those old guys they call the Posse,
  They're the heroes we can thank.
  As nice a folks as you ever want to meet,
  Just don't mess with their bank,
  And down at the penitentiary
  They've been givin' this advice,
  You might rob the bank in Aneta, boys,
  But you better not try it twice.

  2003, John Andrus
   This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission. 


John says: I wrote "The Ballad of the Prairie Posse" originally as a cowboy song to be performed by our bluegrass band Crossroads at the annual Aneta, North Dakota Turkey BBQ about 10 years ago.  We were to play from the new Aneta Park gazebo built with reward money that the Prairie Posse had received for their heroic adventure.

I performed the song at the Turkey BBQ and the words were printed in the Aneta Star newspaper.  I later recorded the song and had 100 cassettes made up which sold out quickly in Aneta.

The robber had come back to rob the bank a second time after the bank president had reported that the robber had left without the main cash box. An alert UPS driver spotted the car matching the description from the first robbery behind the bank and hustled over to the Cenex station where the old guys (soon to be heroes) were sitting around.  They jumped in their vehicles
and gave chase and the rest is history.  The story made the front page of the New York Times.

The poem is modified from the song a bit to clarify the events for the general public who wouldn't have had the background knowledge that the Aneta audience did.


About John Andrus:

I am an elementary school principal in Minot, ND and a bluegrass fan, musician, and promoter.  My favorite cowboy poet/musician is DW Groethe from Eastern Montana.



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