TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1600 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
  Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical

HOW BONNIE & CLYDE WERE CAUGHT

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
May 23 will mark the 70th anniversary of the Louisiana ambush that brought an end to depression desperadoes Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. But without an event that occurred more than four months earlier near the Houston County community of Weldon, the ambush might have not happened. On January 16, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde, accompanied by James Mullens, engineered the escape of Raymond Hamilton, their one-time partner in crime, from Eastham Prison west of Weldon.

Using a pair of pistols smuggled by Mullens and his older brother into a culvert near a prison woodpile, Hamilton and fellow prisoner Joe Palmer killed Major Crowson, a work gang guard, and wounded another, Olin Bozeman. They then fled with three other work gang prisoners, Henry Methvin, Hilton Bybee and J.B. French. To cover the escape, Barrow and Mullens fired rifles into the air.

While French fled into the surrounding woods, the others headed toward the sound of the horn of a stolen black Ford on the Calhoun Ferry Road, where Bonnie was waiting.

While Methvin is often described as a member of the Bonnie and Clyde gang, he was actually in Eastham on unrelated charges and simply saw a chance to escape when the breakout occurred. He piled into the Ford with everyone else.

Driven by Barrow, the car headed for Hillsboro, skirted a police dragnet over central Texas, and headed for Fort Worth, where they dropped off Bybee. Texas Prison Director Lee Simmons. was profoundly embarrassed by the escape. Dallas Sheriff R.A. Schmid told the Dallas Morning News he had earlier warned Eastham officials Hamilton was plotting his escape. Schmid quoted a prison official as saying, "Why, Hamilton is as gentle as a male manicurist. He's just like any other prisoner."

Simmons was infuriated by the comments. He persuaded retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer to come out of retirement and capture Bonnie and Clyde. Hamer discovered that Methvin, the accidental escapee, had a family at Arcadia, Louisiana. He and Simmons struck a deal with Methvin's father that his son's prison term would be commuted if Bonnie and Clyde's whereabouts were disclosed.

On April 13, Bonnie and Clyde visited the Methvin home in the company of young Henry. On May 21, they attended a party at Blake Lake, Louisiana, and were scheduled to return to the area two days later.


Before dawn on May 23, 1934, a posse of lawmen from Louisiana and Texas, including Ranger Hamer, hid in the bushes along an old country road near Gibsland. As the morning sun broke through the trees, Bonnie and Clyde appeared in a 1934 Ford they had stolen from a couple in Kansas. When they saw the ambush and attempted to flee, the posse opened fire. Bonnie and Clyde died instantly.

Before their bodies arrived at the Arcadia furniture store that doubled as a funeral home, passers-by battled police for glimpses of the car's bloody cargo. The crowd tore at the car and the bodies inside, hoping to take away keepsakes of the notorious couple, such as locks of hair.

Raymond Hamilton, who had been caught earlier, was executed for his part in the Eastham prison escape and the death of the prison guard, although fellow escapee Joe Palmer maintained that he had fired the shot that killed Crowson.

Today, while everyone still wants to known where Bonnie and Clyde were killed seventy years ago, no one seems to care much about the little corner of East Texas where the events that led to their death were set in motion four months earlier.

See Related Articles
  • The Day Doc Newton Robbed Bonnie Parker's Bank - He could've been charged with disturbing one hundred years of solitude
  • "Running with Bonnie and Clyde: The 10 Fast Years of Ralph Fults" by John Neal Phillips
  • Rowena, Texas - Bonnie Parker's hometown.
  • All Things Historical
    May 11, 2004 Column.
    Published with permission
    A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers

    Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman of Lufkin is a former president of the Association and the author of more than 30 books about East Texas.


    Bob Bowman's East Texas
    Order Here
    Recommended Books
    My Life With Bonnie & Clyde
    by Blanche Caldwell Barrow
    Bonnie and Clyde: A Twenty-First-Century Update
    Running With Bonnie and Clyde: The Ten Fast Years of Ralph Fults
    DVD
    Bonnie and Clyde
     
    TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES
    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
    West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
    TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

    TEXAS FEATURES
    Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
    History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters |
    Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
    Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
    Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
    Vintage Photos

    TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA

    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us
    Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
    Website Content Copyright 1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
    This page last modified: January 8, 2007