|“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,
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.
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.
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
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
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers