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The Misadventures of the Barrow Gang
In the Beginning
The most famous of murderers and robbers are without a doubt, the Barrow Gang. After the stock market crash in 1929, a lot of things went haywire, including people, but Clyde Chestnut Barrow, born March 12, 1910 and his brother, Marvin Ivan “Buck” Barrow, born March 14, 1903 were always in trouble. Their first crimes were car theft.
On October 1, 1910, along came Bonnie Parker, then Blanche Caldwell first saw the world January 1, 1911.
When the Trouble Began
Blanche married Buck Barrow in 1931, and that’s when her troubles were about to begin. A beautician by trade, she met Buck, later learning that he escaped from prison. After they spent Christmas together, she talked him into turning himself back in. He was pardoned in March of 1933.
After agreeing to meet Bonnie, Clyde, and W.D. (William Daniel AKA “Dub”) Jones in Joplin, Missouri shortly after Buck was released, then begins Blanche’s life of crime, though unknowingly.
How It Played Out
The Barrow brothers and/or their accomplices resulted in the deaths of fourteen men between the fall of 1931 and the spring of 1934. Clyde killed his first man in prison in 1931, a prison tender who raped him. Most of the others were lawmen of some sort or store keepers.
1933 and 1934 were some of the wildest years in the states of Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Numerous stores, gas stations, or banks were robbed, sometimes several a day. The gang rarely stayed in any one place for more than a couple of weeks at a time, and generally ate out. Bonnie was not one to make meals for Clyde, as she was a poor cook. Blanche was usually sent out to get sandwiches and similar, but she attracted a great deal of attention, due to her striking good looks. For all the places that were robbed, they never seemed to have much money, but they had more than their share of weapons, which were Browning automatic rifles and .45s. The BARs were Clyde’s favorite weapon, capable of firing a 30.06 magazine clip of twenty in under three seconds. He created a sawed-off version with three clips welded together, which fired 56 times without reloading.
Facts Nearing the End of the Reign of Terror
Even though Blanche supposedly never fired a weapon, which many have attested to otherwise, she was a very good driver, often driving the getaway car to pick up the Barrow brothers after each heist.
On June 10, 1933, Bonnie, Clyde, and W.D. Jones were involved in a fiery car wreck near the town of Wellington in Texas. The bridge was out across the Salt Ford River and the car careened into the dry riverbed. Parker was critically burned when the car caught fire, as she was not able to escape right away.
The beginning of the end was at the Red Crown Tavern’s Cabins on July 19, 1933. Sheriff Coffey was allowed a bulletproof car supplied by the Jackson County Sheriff. He also gathered reinforcements before the onslaught. Some thought that Clyde Barrow fired the first shot, shortly after he knew that lawmen were at the door. Weapons fire was emphatically exchanged. Blanche was blinded in one eye from shards of glass, and Buck received a serious head wound. Clyde flees to Iowa with his gang in tow.
The Final Straw
On July 24, Buck and Blanche are captured at an abandoned amusement park between Redfield and Dexter, Iowa, in a gunfight. Bonnie, Clyde and W.D., though all wounded, manage to escape.
Bonnie and Clyde were killed on May 23, 1934, during an ambush in Louisiana.
Blanche was released from the Missouri State Penitentiary on March 24, 1939 and immediately moved to Oklahoma to her father’s residence, as stipulated by her commutation. Sheriff Coffey and his wife were instrumental in her release. She remarried about a year later to Edwin Bert Frasure, who passed on in 1969 due to cancer.
In 1967, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, and Gene Wilder starred in the Bonnie and Clyde movie. It was nothing like what really happened during the Barrow Gang’s Reign of Terror, it was more of a romanticizing of the group. These were really not nice people.
Now, here is a question for my readers: even though this gang was involved in robbery, were they also serial killers? Did they rob as an excuse just to murder? I want your opinion, and you can bet that I will soon have more information for you in another story about the infamous Barrow Gang.