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 Texas : Features : Columns : Bob Bowman's East Texas

Bonnie and Clyde

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
“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.

During 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.

History 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.

But 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.

Eventually, 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.

On April 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.


Bob Bowman's East Texas June 29, 2009 Column
Bonnie and Clyde:
  • Driving Around with Bonnie and Clyde by Robin Cole-Jett 5-15-09
  • Bonnie and Clyde by Bob Bowman 6-29-09
    During 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...
  • "Running with Bonnie and Clyde: The 10 Fast Years of Ralph Fults" by John Neal Phillips (Book)
  • My Life with Bonnie and Clyde
  • How Bonnie and Clyde Were Caught by Bob Bowman
  • Bonnie and Clyde Slept Here by Mike Cox 7-23-09
    A subset of Texas folklore has to do with outlaw encounters...
  • The day Doc Newton robbed Bonnie Parker's bank
  • Rowena Texas - Birthplace of Bonnie Parker
  • The "Red River Plunge" Bridge of Bonnie & Clyde
  • Bonnie Parker's Alma Mater
  • Ina Knowles Has a Brush With Bonnie and Clyde
  • A Lock of Bonnie Parker's Hair
  • Clyde Barrow’s Funeral by Mike Cox 2-5-09
    Stories can turn up in weird places. For instance, who would expect to find an account of the Depression-era outlaw Clyde Barrow’s funeral in the self-published memoir of a long-time fiddler-turned-preacher?
  • A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers
    (Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 40 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

    Related Topics:
    Outlaws
    People
    Texas
    East Texas
    Texas Towns
    Texas Ghost Towns
    Bob Bowman's "All Things Historical"

    The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
    By Bob and Doris Bowman
    66 stories about forgotten town in 45 counties
     
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