Ask the average person about Bonnie & Clyde and most likely, any information they supply will be from
the ground breaking 1967 movie. So what's true, and what's fiction?
West Dallas 'Hood
The Barrows, a share cropper family from Telico Plains (in Ellis County, Texas), moved to Dallas in 1921
when they could no longer eke a living off their farm. A very poor family, they didn't fare much better in
West Dallas, an unincorporated area in the bottom lands of the Trinity river where they lived in a tent
under a bridge in a free campground.
The boys of the family soon turned to crime. Although they tried to "go straight", it seemed that the police
patrolled West Dallas constantly, not trusting the influx of poor, desperate newcomers. Henry Barrow,
Clyde's father, opened a small gas station with the proceeds he received from a lawsuit, and this became
the Barrows' home.
Clyde (1909-1934) had already begun his less-than-stellar career as a petty criminal before he met Bonnie,
having learned the "trade" from his brother Buck. Clyde had had previous girlfriends, even tattooing the
initials of one (E.B.W) on his arm. Bonnie Parker (1910-1934), whose family moved to Cement City (a
company town close to West Dallas) from Rowena after her father died, had already a romantic past as
well. She had married Roy Thorton, another criminal, when she was only 16. When Bonnie met Clyde at a
mutual friend's house (some sources say it was Bonnie's brother's house), Roy was doing time in prison.
Clyde quickly followed him. Arrested while visiting
Bonnie at her mother's house, Clyde was jailed in
Waco for several burglaries. Bonnie moved to a cousin's
house in Waco to be closer to him. He convinced Bonnie
to steal a gun from the house of a fellow inmate to help
him break free, and without hesitation Bonnie complied,
concealing the weapon under her dress. This was the
first indication of the lengths Bonnie would go for her man.
The law soon caught up with Clyde after his successful
jailbreak. Sentenced to the Eastham Prison Farm near
Huntsville for 14 years, he experienced such brutal
treatment that his life changed forever. The prison was
notorious for its ill treatment of prisoners, whom guards
would whip, shoot, and beat whenever the mood struck.
Assaulted by a large trustee whom Clyde later bludgeoned
to death, Clyde asked another inmate to cut off two of his
toes to avoid the back breaking labor that the prison forced
him to do. He was transferred to the Walls Unit in Huntsville,
where his brother Buck, who had turned himself in as a
favor to his new wife, Blanche, was living. Within weeks,
however, Clyde was paroled, as his mother had been
working on an early release since his incarceration.
With the help of his family, Clyde tried to do good - even
held a job- but with his prison record, he remained a
constant target for the cops. Also, the experience in a
hardened prison like Eastham had changed Clyde so much
that he couldn't stand doing honest work. He decided to
make crime his full-time occupation. He brought together
several of his prison associates and West Dallas friends-
Ralph Fults, Joe Palmer, Raymond Hamilton, W.D. Jones -
and together, with Bonnie, they formed the Barrow Gang.
Several others joined in and dropped out as time went on
(most notably Henry Methvin, whose father would help the Texas Rangers track Bonnie & Clyde). The
gang had really only one goal in mind: to stage a raid on the despised Eastham Prison Farm.
Bonnie became Clyde's constant companion, although she never really participated in the crimes. She
lived with him in hideouts and later, after Clyde was wanted for murder, they lived in various stolen cars,
constantly on the run. Bonnie wrote poetry to keep herself busy.
In 1933, Bonnie, Clyde, and W.D. Jones tried to set up housekeeping in Joplin, Missouri when Clyde's
brother Buck and his wife Blanche came to visit. Buck had just been pardoned by the governor, and
although Blanche was reluctant to visit the outlaws, she believed that she could help them go straight.
However, Buck joined the gang instead, robbing banks and stores in the surrounding area. When the
police caught up with them, a wild shootout ensued. The gang fled relatively unharmed, but two officers
died. The lawmen found several vital pieces of evidence in the apartment, among them the famous photo
of Bonnie smoking a cigar, gun in hand. She later told a kidnapped police officer that the picture had been
taken as a joke.
That same year, as he drove another stolen car at break-neck speed across the Texas panhandle, Clyde
didn't notice that a bridge over the Red River was out. The car plunged into a ditch. Bonnie suffered
severe burns to her legs and sides. Devoted Clyde and Blanche took very good care of her, bandaging
her legs and allowing her to rest at the Red Crown Tourist Camp in Platte City, Missouri. However, local
law enforcement became suspicious of the group and quickly identified them as the Barrow Gang.
A disastrous confrontation left the outlaws badly wounded, but they did escape. Buck had been shot in
the head, Blanche's eyes had been struck by flying glass, and Bonnie's burnt legs continued to cause her
immense pain. Clyde drove for almost two days straight trying to find a good hideout before settling on
Dexfield Park in Iowa. When a farmer notified the police about suspicious activity at the campsite, another
gun battle took place. Although Bonnie & Clyde escaped, Buck and Blanche were caught. Buck died days
later, and Blanche received a prison term because she refused to rat out her kin. W.D. Jones quickly fled
from the gang, wanting no more of the lifestyle.
Even with all the turmoil in their young lives, Bonnie & Clyde took grave risks to visit their families as
often as they could, usually meeting in out-of-the-way locations. They met in Deep East Texas, in
Commerce, in secluded areas in West Dallas. During one clandestine meeting in Irving, Texas, they
narrowly avoided an ambush - they were only wounded in the knees.
Fame and Death
Their plan to raid the prison farm was accomplished on January 16, 1934. During the siege, in which
mounted guard Major Crowson was killed, Clyde freed his friends Raymond Hamilton, Joe Palmer and
Henry Methvin. Raymond and Clyde became bitter enemies, however, when Raymond hid some cash after
a bank robbery. Both went their separate ways - Raymond later dying in the electric chair.
The raid on the prison farm, coupled with the killing of two police officers in Grapevine on Easter Sunday,
1934, sealed the couple's fates. Although Henry Methvin was a murderer, his father arranged for leniency
with the courts if he could deliver Bonnie & Clyde to Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and his posse, who had
been summoned by the governor of Texas to bring down the outlaws.
On May 23, 1934, as Bonnie and Clyde drove down a dusty road outside of Gibsland, Louisiana, the laws
ambushed them in a volley of gun fire that shot Bonnie & Clyde to pieces.
The loud claps of gunfire awakened this sleepy area of lumberjacks and villages. Hundreds of people
came out to see what had happened, and when the crowds realized that Bonnie and Clyde had been
killed, they went a little frantic. The newspapers had made the couple out to be larger than life, but in
death, they looked tiny and shattered.
The death scene became a media circus, with souvenir hunters vying for pieces of the dead couple -
including body parts (one misguided soul even tried to cut off Clyde's trigger finger). The "death car", a
tan 1934 Ford, still held the pair as they were wheeled into town of Arcadia for the coroner to examine the
bodies. Onlookers climbed on top of each other to watch the examination.
They were brought back home where their funerals were attended by hundreds of curious Dallasites.
Bonnie had wanted to be buried next to Clyde but her mother refused. So she was laid to rest in the old
Fishtrap Cemetery in West Dallas (she was later moved to Crown Hill Memorial Park), and Clyde was
buried next to his brother Buck in a cemetery along Fort Worth Avenue. The run of the most romantic and
dangerous of outlaws in American history finally ended.
|Bonnie and Clyde. Courtesy
Dallas Public Library, used
|Eastham Prison escape plaque
at the Huntsville Prison
|The site of the former
McLennan County (Waco) jail,
where Clyde spent a few
nights before busting out with
What Happened to...?
The "Death Car" - The rightful owner, a woman from Topeka, Kansas, collected the car in Louisiana a few
days after the ambush. She drove it home, no doubt with the windows open because the interior hadn't
been cleaned after the shootout (can you even imagine!) It sat in her driveway for several years before
she leased it to a traveling sideshow. The car was sold numerous times before landing in the hands of
the Primm Valley Resort and Casino in Primm, Nevada, where it is now on display - complete with bullet
holes, blood and gore.
Henry Methvin - Although his father helped him get a lighter sentence in Texas, Oklahoma didn't honor
the plea bargain, since he was wanted in the murder of Deputy Campbell in Commerce. He served for 10
years, constantly fearing retaliation for his unwitting role in delivering Bonnie & Clyde to authorities. He
died in Louisiana in 1949 when a train cut him in two.
W.D. Jones - He stayed in jail for a 15 years, although he maintained that Bonnie & Clyde forced him to
participate in the gang. He later lived in Houston, granting an insightful interview with Playboy in 1968, a
year after the movie "Bonnie & Clyde" debuted. He was found murdered in 1974.
Blanche Barrow - During her ten years in a Missouri prison, she remained in contact with the Barrow
family and was considered a model prisoner. After her release, she remarried and tried to forget her
painful past, although she did write a memoir about her life. She died quietly and is buried in Dallas under
her married name.
Raymond Hamilton - The state of Texas dubbed him a habitual criminal, sentencing him to over 200 years
in prison. He was convicted in the murder of prison guard Major Crowson and, after escaping death row
with friend Joe Palmer, died in 1935, a victim of Ol' Sparky. He is buried in a Dallas cemetery.
Frank Hamer and Ted Hinton - After years working as a Ranger and strike buster, Frank Hamer died in his
sleep in 1955. Ted Hinton wrote Ambush in the 1970s.
Tools of the Trade
The Barrow Gang was noted and feared for their arsenal of weapons. They stole state of the art guns,
like the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) and Colt .45's, from National Guard Arsenals in Enid, Oklahoma
and from the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas. Clyde also devised his own weapon which
was called a "scattergun." He'd saw off the barrel of a B.A.R. and welded the ammo clips. His weapons
proved infinitely superior to the arms of the law enforcement officers who only used pistols or, as was
the case for rural authorities, their own hunting rifles. Clyde also favored Ford V8's as his getaway cars,
because of their handling and speed. He was a very skilled driver, often speeding in excess of 70 miles
an hour down dirt roads - and out of sight of sheriff deputies. Clyde allegedly wrote a letter to the Ford
Motor Company lauding their vehicles.
The victims of the Barrow
Gang numbered eleven.
Although Clyde did not have a
hand in killing all of these
men, he was nonetheless
there, participating in some
form or the other.
(Hillsboro, TX, 1932)
Clyde maintained that
Raymond Hamilton killed the
(Atoka, OK, 1932)
Moore was a police officer
who wanted to see if the men
in the car (Clyde and
Raymond Hamilton) were
drinking moonshine outside
of a dance hall.
(Sherman, TX, 1932)
was Clyde's first direct,
intentional murder (except
for the killing of the Eastham
Prison trustee.) Some
historians dispute that Clyde
did this killing, though.
(Temple, TX, 1932)
Killed as he was trying to stop
Clyde from stealing his car.
W.D. Jones fired the fatal
(Dallas, TX, 1933)
A sheriff's deputy, Davis and
his companions were waiting
on the outlaws at the home of
Lillian McBride in West Dallas
when Clyde shot him
(Joplin, MO, 1933)
One of the two officers killed
in the Joplin, MO garage
(Joplin, MO, 1933)
The other officer killed in the
(Alma, AK, 1933)
Killed by W.D. Jones and
(Huntsville, TX, 1934)
The mounted guard at
Eastham Prison whose death
spurred the governor to
(Grapevine, TX, 1934)
One of the two officers killed
on a country road on Easter
(Grapevine, TX, 1934)
The other officer killed on
Easter. It is debated whether
Clyde or Henry Methvin
instigated the shooting.
(Commerce, OK, 1934)
A constable from Miami. Their
last victim on their desperate
run from the law.
The TEXAS RANGERS MUSEUM in Waco, Texas has several artifacts from the Barrow Gang, mainly
weapons and license plates. Located right off I35.
The PRIMM RESORT & CASINO in Primm, Nevada, displays the "Death Car." Located on I15 at the
California/Nevada state line. Call 705-386-7867 for more information.
Bonnie's grave was moved in 1945 to the CROWN HILL cemetery in Central Dallas, on Webb Chapel
Road. The grave is southwest of the mausoleum, behind a high hedgerow. It can be viewed daily while
the sun's up.
Clyde's grave is located in the WESTERN HEIGHTS cemetery on Fort Worth Drive in West Dallas. This is a
small, intimate burial ground with many German tombstones.
GIBSLAND and ARCADIA Louisiana host Bonnie & Clyde days in May of every year, complete with
reenactments. On the lonely road where the outlaws breathed their last, a marker has been erected to
commemorate the event. Some people say the road is haunted... Call the Chamber of Commerce at
(318)263-9897 for more information.
The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, Louisiana, is located in the old Cranston Cafe,
where Bonnie and Clyde ate their last meal.
The STAR SERVICE STATION (a.k.a. the Barrow gas station) is still sitting on Singleton Boulevard in West
Dallas. It's now a tire repair shop. The house that Henry Barrow attached is also there.
The DALLAS HISTORICAL SOCIETY sponsors the very popular "Bonnie & Clyde Tour," visiting their
hideouts, houses, murder sites, graves, and jails. This fun trip is narrated by John Neal Phillips, who
wrote the authoritative book, "Running with Bonnie and Clyde." See dallashistory.org for details.
EASTHAM PRISON FARM still stands, although it is no longer used - just a ghostly shell remains. Of
course it's haunted! (You had to ask?) The State of Texas- Department of Corrections has created a
great museum in Huntsville. You can visit the old electric chair...just make sure not to sit down. Located
off I45, exit 118. Call 936-295-2155 for more information or visit txprisonmuseum.org.
The house that Bonnie and Clyde lived in for a few weeks in JOPLIN, MISSOURI still stands on 34th
Street. It has been renovated, so there aren't any bullet holes to see. The house survived the
devastating F5 tornado in 2011.
|Floor of the now-gone Conger Furniture Store
and Funeral parlor. After the ambush, Bonnie
and Clyde were taken here to visit the coroner.
|The Lonely Roads of Bonnie and Clyde
|The door of the Kemp Calaboose, where
Bonnie and Ralph Fults spent the night after
a botched robbery. Clyde escaped from
capture, Ralph was sent back to Huntsville,
and Bonnie was transferred to the Kaufman
County Jail, where she stayed for six weeks
until she was no-billed by the Grand Jury.
Although she felt that Clyde had abandoned
her, she nevertheless took up with him again
upon her release.
|Pano's Diner (now closed) is in
downtown Shreveport. This is
where Bonnie, Clyde, and
Henry Methvin lost track of
each other a few days before
|The truss bridge at Wellington, Texas, was built in the
1930s. No bridge existed when Clyde zoomed by, ignoring
warning signs that the bridge was out. He crashed the car,
which severely injured Bonnie. W.D. Jones was with them
during this incident.
|Visit more photos of Bonnie and Clyde's Haunts!
|Dexter, site of the gang's
|The infamous Joplin Hideout
survived the deadly Joplin F5
Tornado in 2011.
|Campus Theater in Denton,
Texas, site of the world premier
of the Warren Beatty/ Faye
Dunaway movie, Bonnie and