|“A hail of lead
from officers’ guns brought death on swift wings to Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow,
notorious Dallas desperadoes, early Wednesday on the highway eight miles from
Gibsland, La.” --Overton Press, May 25, 1934.|
their Depression-era crime wave between 1931 and 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were suspected
of killing at least twelve people, including nine peace officers. Their victims
fell in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
says Bonnie and Clyde came to Lufkin
in the 1930s and stole a car with a child lying on the backseat. Discovering the
child, they abandoned the car and swiped another.
The child was Benton
Musslewhite, who would later become an attorney and a losing candidate for Congress.
it was a prison escape and the murder of a guard, also in East
Texas, that ultimately gave lawmen the lead that led the demise of Bonnie
and Clyde and sent Raymond Hamilton, one of their first partners in crime, to
the electric chair a year later.
Caught on a robbery conviction in 1933
and jailed at Eastham Prison near Weldon
in Trinity County. Hamilton persuaded James Mullens, a drug addict, to contact
Bonnie and Clyde in Dallas when he was
released from Eastham.
In the early hours of Sunday, January 13, 1934,
Bonnie and Clyde delivered Mullens and Floyd Hamilton, Raymond’s older brother,
to a place near an Eastham field camp. There, they hid a pair of .45 pistols in
a culvert near the field camp.
Around 6 a.m. on January 16, a prison work
crew including Raymond Hamilton and another prisoner, Joe Palmer, passed by the
culvert. Hamilton and Palmer grabbed the guns, killing guard Major Crowson and
wounding fellow guard Olin Bozeman.
Bonnie and Clyde honked their car
horn to guide Hamilton, Palmer, and three other prisoners, Henry Methvin, Hilton
Bybee and J.B.. French. All of the prisoners piled into the car, which headed
toward Hillsboro and Fort
Worth, where Bybee, Hamilton and Palmer were dropped off. Hamilton and Palmer
were later captured at Howe.
it was Henry Methvin’s decision to accompany Bonnie and Clyde during the escape
that spelled the end for Bonnie and Clyde.
Learning that Methvin was one
of the prison escapees, Texas Ranger Frank Hamer struck a deal with Methvin’s
father that his son’s prison term in Texas would
be dropped if Bonnie and Clyde’s whereabouts were disclosed.
13, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde drove up to the Methvin home at Arcadia, La., delivering
Henry to his parents. His father soon contacted Hamer.
Before dawn on Wednesday,
May 23, a posse of lawmen from Louisiana and Texas,
including Ranger Hamer, hid in the bushes along a highway near Gibsland. As the
sun broke through the trees, Bonnie and Clyde appeared in a newly-stolen car.
Before Bonnie and Clyde could lift their weapons, the peace officers unleashed
a volley of shots, killing Bonnie and Clyde instantly, ending their reign of crime.
Bowman's East Texas June 29, 2009 Column