The Barrow Gang's Last Easter
On April 16, Our Gang robbed the First National Bank in Stuart, Iowa, which was surprisingly near Dexfield Park. As you recall, that was where the major shootout occurred, where Blanche was captured and Buck was killed. Clyde and Henry got $1,500 from this robbery, where witnesses said that a woman was waiting in a car. A couple of residents tried to chase them down, but that didn’t last. Clyde, Bonnie, and Henry Methvin headed for Texas, and Henry was dropped off at a train station to tell the families that they were coming.
Sonny Boy Goes Home
Bonnie was finally able to give her mother the rabbit named Sonny Boy. The Gang looked haggard, and Cumie was clearly upset about the Grapeview shooting, especially about the fiancée of Officer Murphy, who had been due to marry very soon. She made one of Clyde’s favorites, fried chicken, and Clyde became reangered about the foolish stunt that Henry accomplished—misinterpreting an order—he never meant for anyone to be killed.
Clyde mentioned that he had found a lovely place in Louisiana where he wanted to purchase property, planning the Barrows and Parkers relocation. As hard as it was for them to live in West Dallas where the police harassment was constant, this wasn’t received as favorably as Clyde thought. The families thought that it was a little out of Clyde’s league, as they could barely support themselves these days.
By the middle of April, Clyde and Bonnie knew that Frank Hamer was tracking them. Since the Grapevine incident, Hamer had been more open about speedy justice, especially since he had been seen around West Dallas.
Henry Has a Deal
They saw their families several times over the next few weeks, until they brought Henry home to Bienville Parish. It also took until April 22, 1934, when Henry finally learned that his family had made a deal with Texas Prison General Manager Lee Simmons and Frank Hamer. Evidently the trip was not known to the family until it happened, for Sheriff Henderson Jordan never received any information that the Gang was there again. Not only that, Clyde and Bonnie didn’t sleep in the old Cole house, where Hamer could easily locate them for an ambush. They camped out again in several different spots, some of them a great distance apart.
Raymond Hamilton is in the Slammer Again
At the end of April, the Barrow Gang retrieved Joe Palmer in Joplin, Missouri. Joe was an off-and-on gang member, having traveled to Joplin after he was left in West Dallas. They also all learned that Raymond Hamilton was arrested again, which pleased Palmer, Clyde, and Bonnie. Raymond and Mary wanted to run to California, but they had to finance the trip first. Raymond and his new partner, Teddy Brooks, wanted to rob the First National Bank in Lewisville, 25 miles north of Dallas. Brooks was the wheelman, but wasn’t able to handle a car like old Clyde Barrow could. Raymond got about $1,000 from the bank, the police set up roadblocks, and they were cornered. Clyde even wrote him a nasty little letter, which included the fact that he tried to shoot Joe Palmer in their car while he slept, as well as the fact that he put up no resistance before capture. Clyde also said not to expect any help from him.
Farmer Trust and Savings Bank
Their next job was at the Farmer Trust and Savings Bank in Everly, Iowa, on May 3. Clyde and Palmer got $700 from there, and Joe likely wore a new suit that Bonnie had purchased for him just prior to that.
They stole a new Ford V-8 in Topeka, Kansas, on April 29. This was the last car and job that they ever committed.
Sheriff Smoot Schmid Harasses the Families
Sheriff Smoot Schmid harassed the friends and family of the Barrows even more in West Dallas. The newspapers had been giving him bad press. He had been hoping about the glory of capture by Hamer, but there would have been no reason for him to get any of the credit, as he would not have been there with his two deputies, Alcorn and Hinton, who were still with Hamer.
Instead, Clyde’s brother, LC, his sister Marie’s fiancée, Joe Bill Francis, and Steve Davis, husband of Raymond Hamilton’s mother, Alice, were all constantly taken to the Dallas County Jail for investigations and held for days at a time. Once, even Cumie Barrow was held for a few hours.
Smoot Schmid tapped the phone at the Barrow Service Center, which lasted from April 18-30. The family had always used codes, so useful information was never gleaned. They only heard the reference that Mary O’Dare must have betrayed Raymond Hamilton in order to have been released on bail.
Frank Hamer Kicks it Up a Notch
By April’s end, even Hamer was frustrated. Ted Hinton had said that they had seen Clyde and Bonnie, then lost them again in Durant, Oklahoma.
Hamer had new thoughts, which he didn’t discuss with any of the posse members. It seems that the Barrow Gang would always head to Bienville Parish via back roads and keep away from built up areas. He thought that an ambush might be in order on the way there. Sheriff Jordan had promised to cooperate exclusively with him, and frequently phoned him with updates, but he also spoke to Special Agent Kindell, too. By mid-April, John Joyner, Ivy Methvin’s go-between, told Jordan that the Gang was expected on April 13. Jordan invited Kindell to come instead of Hamer to help organize an ambush. Kindell showed up with a number of agents, but then Joyner came at the last minute to say that the visit had been called off.
Soon thereafter, Hamer and Jordan began focusing on where an ambush could take place in Bienville Parish. Hamer expected Ivy Methvin to be involved, as well. Hamer expected to surprise Clyde and Bonnie on the way there, hoping that the Methvins could invite them to meet at a specific place and time.
Hamer needed appropriate firepower, as his low caliber weapons would just bounce off the Barrow vehicle. Someone in authority contacted the Texas National Guard in Dallas and requested that a couple of Browning automatic rifles be loaned to the posse. The request was originally turned down, and Texas Congressman Hatton Sumners became involved. He later said that the lawmen had to be taught how to use them, as they required a meatier grip than a common rifle.
Hamer felt that the Barrows would return to the area in May, and he planned to be ready.
Clyde, Bonnie, and Henry Methvin returned to Bienville Parish on May 3, 1934. Joe Palmer attended the Chicago World’s Fair, instead. Clyde and Bonnie camped out in the countryside, as usual, at night, but during the day, they would often have evening meals with various Methvins. They had no need to hide from area residents, regularly patronized Canfield’s Café in Gibsland, and offered local kids rides in their new car.
Clyde Prepares for the Family
On May 6, Clyde and Bonnie went to the Dallas area to see their families without Methvin. Bonnie pulled her mother aside and must have known that the end was near, as she discussed what she wanted for her funeral. The next evening, Clyde met with his father at a predetermined location. He said that he had papers that he wanted to sign and leave with him. He couldn’t sign them, as his pen was out of ink. But he told his father that the paperwork should go to his mother once he was able to sign them, which could wait. He would take care of it on his next visit. Henry told Cumie about the papers, plus the fact that he saw an entire suitcase full of cash where the papers were. They wanted to ask Clyde where the money came from, but they never got that opportunity.
The O.D. Stevens Caper
In early 1934, drug kingpin, O.D. Stevens and two partners got Clyde to agree to a new job. They needed to be broken out of prison in Fort Worth before a jury sent them to the chair. The price was $18,000, $6,000 for each of them. That was plenty for Clyde and Bonnie to realize their dream of getting land for their families in Louisiana.
In 1933, Stevens had orchestrated the theft of $72,000 from the Forth Worth branch of the Texas and Pacific Railroad Station. Three masked man participated in the holdup. The original bandits were disposed of by Stevens, W.D. May, and M.T. Howard, which increased their share of the money. The group was arrested in July, as the bloody clothes found in the Trinity River led police to the wife of a victim. Stevens was so determined tio break out of jail that he was eventually secured to his cell with a collar and chain, plus he was under constant guard.
Months later, Henry Methvin told Special Agent Kindell that Clyde even when so far as to go to Pretty Boy Floyd’s residence in Oklahoma to recruit him for the breakout. Pretty Boy never would have worked for someone that he despised so much. But it made sense, as Pretty Boy tried to free Frank Nash from Federal Agents. That was known as the Kansas City Massacre, which left three locals and a Federal agent dead.
Clyde Didn't Throw Caution to the Wind
Out of all the Methvins, only Ivy, Ava, and Henry were conspiring against Clyde and Bonnie. At this stage, it had been months that Ivy made the deal on Henry’s behalf for his pardon, and still Clyde and Bonnie were at large. Like any coward, Ivy was worried about being caught in the crossfire. It really was up to Henry, who had told Clyde that if they ever became separated, he’d find his way back to his parents’ place, and that they should seek him out there.
Clyde and Bonnie actually had a favored camp spot that nobody knew about. It was in the woods outside of Mangham, just off a nearly invisible dirt track. Clyde had cut out brush there, and he and Bonnie could park the car, spread out a blanket, and comfortably have lunch there. Therefore, Ivy Methvin was in the dark about this location.
Hamer Had an Itch to Scratch
During the weekend of May 19-20, Frank Hamer decided that he’d waited long enough for Sheriff Jordan to arrange an ambush, so he and his posse drove back to Louisiana to take care of things themselves.
On Sunday night, May 20, Clyde, Bonnie, and Henry Methvin visited his parents. Henry took his parents aside and said that they were driving to Shreveport the next day, and he would try to get away from there. If he did what he hoped, he’d contact his parents, who in turn, could give the word to Sheriff Jordan. Clyde was aware that if separated, they would all get together again at his parents’ home, which was off Highway 154, about ten miles south of Gibsland. That was the magic corridor for the takedown.
Monday arrived, and the trip was made to Shreveport. They had laundry to attend to, and then Henry went in the Majestic Café for sandwiches and sodas to travel. A Shreveport police unit happened to drive by, so Clyde drove away and circled around the area, then returned for Henry, who was gone, having left their food at the café. Henry stole a car, and off he went to Bienville Parish to Cousin Willie Methvin’s place.
Shreveport was Operations Base
Frank Hamer and conglomerate set up in Shreveport at the Inn Hotel, then informed Chief Dennis Bazer that they were there. Bazer mentioned the Majestic incident, which was a pattern. Hamer and his posse responded to that location, and the waitress picked Henry Methvin from mugshots. They knew what they had, then they met with Sheriff Jordan at his office, so it was time for Ivy Methvin to do his part. The plan was to stake out the road leading to Methvin’s home, the Sailes-Jamestown Road the next day
Jordan also wanted Agent Kindell in on the action, so J. Edgar could share in the glory for the apprehension. Jordan would locate Old Man Methvin, and see if he knew when the Ford V-8 and occupants were due to arrive, then contact Hamer in Shreveport. Kindell was away on assignment and could not be reached, and Jordan knew that Hamer wasn’t going to blow this chance.
Ivy, Ava, and Henry were setting up for what appeared to be a Tuesday ambush. Somehow on Monday night, Henry and other relatives managed to meet with Clyde and Bonnie at Black Lake. They spoke for a good two hours, and Bonnie showed Henry’s cousin, Percy, how to shoot a BAR, but didn’t actually fire shots. She told Percy to never go crooked, and “it was only for the love of a man that she was going to have to die, and I know that it won’t be long.” Call that a premonition! They all moved on to the old Cole house, but Bonnie and Clyde went out to Mangham. It had been arranged that Clyde would pick up Henry at his parents’ place some time late Tuesday afternoon.