Lives of crime continued after the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde. The hold ups, the bank robberies, the murders, the getaways, the undying love and their highly publicized end in a storm of law-enforcement gunfire.
Those stories have been told and retold in about every medium possible.
A story less frequently told is the aftermath of their outlaw lives, the family, friends and enemies left behind, the consequences they paid and the crimes they committed.
That January, the outlaw duo had raided the Eastham Prison Farm and freed four; one guard was murdered. After that, a shoot-to-kill order was issued for Bonnie and Clyde.
On Easter, they shot and killed two state highway patrolmen in Grapevine. With them was Raymond Hamilton, who was among the Eastham escapees.
Lawmen put the screws on Ivan Methvin, the father of Barrow gang member Henry Methvin. The older Methvin helped the posse of six, led by Texas Ranger captain Frank Hamer, by faking a flat tire on a quiet country road outside of Gibsland, La. When Bonnie and Clyde stopped to help, the six lawmen riddled their car with bullets.
While the outlaws were on the run, they’d meet frequently with family members, including their mothers and sisters, in the West Dallas woods. After one such rendezvous, Bonnie and Clyde dropped her mother and sister a block from their home in Trinity Heights, a brazen move for two of the most wanted in America.
Twenty-one people were tried in federal court in February 1935, accused of conspiracy for aiding and abetting the criminal couple. Among them were several members of the Barrow gang as well as both of Clyde’s parents and four of his siblings. Bonnie’s mother, Emma Parker, and sister, Billie Mace, also were accused.
No one closely connected to the Barrow gang escaped incarceration after a blanket trial.
Floyd Hamilton — the brother of Raymond Hamilton, who was on the run at the time — received the maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Barrow’s brother L.C., a lesser known convicted armed robber and career criminal, got 13 months in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., while his wife was given 15 days in jail. Bonnie’s sister, Billie Mace, was sent to Alderson Prison in West Virginia for a year, probably because of suspicion that she was present during the Grapevine murders. Clyde’s sister Marie Francis and Floyd Hamilton’s wife, Mildred, were sentenced each to one hour in jail.
The mothers — Cumie Barrow, Emma Parker and Hamilton’s mother — received 30 days in jail.
“I’m going to give you a lighter sentence,” Judge W.H. Atwell told them. “I’m taking into consideration the hard going you have had. They’re your boys, your own flesh and blood. I wish you could make them realize, however, that anybody they hurt has a mother who in turn will be hurt.”
A few days after L.C. Barrow’s release from prison in 1938, he and brother Jack Barrow went into Curly’s beer tavern in West Dallas and started a fight with former Barrow gang member S.J. “Baldy” Whatley.
Earlier that year, Whatley had fired shots at the Barrow family home and gas station on what is now Singleton Boulevard. It is unclear what started the beef between Whatley and the Barrows. A newspaper story from the time described it as a “Kentucky-style family feud.”
At any rate, the fight at Curly’s involved broken chairs and beer bottles as weapons. Awhile later, Whatley drove to the Barrow gas station and fired five or six rounds from a shotgun into the home. “I’ll kill every one of you,” he was alleged to have shouted.
He didn’t kill anyone, but one bullet caught Cumie Barrow, then 65, in the face. She lost an eye and almost died.
Less than two months later, Clyde’s sister’s apartment was firebombed using dynamite stolen from the Works Progress Administration (no one was injured), and police suspected Whatley, then out from behind bars on $18,500 bail for the shooting. He also was accused of firebombing the Barrow gas station twice.
Whatley, who once had attacked Barrow gang snitch James Mullen in the Dallas jail, was given 12 years in prison for the assault and attempted murder of Cumie Barrow. In true old-school outlaw style, he escaped from the Huntsville prison about a year later and lived with his wife in Dallas for 10 months before being recaptured. Supposedly he also confessed to robbing several jewelry stores during his liberation, including Lloyd’s on Jefferson Boulevard.
He was out of prison by 1949, when he admitted to burglarizing several Dallas cafés to support a drug addiction and was sentenced to three years. In September 1951, just out of prison, he was convicted of selling drugs and given the max, three five-year sentences to be served consecutively.
The Barrow boys weren’t the only bar brawlers in the family. Their sister Marie was charged with assault in 1940 for shooting at a woman during a bar fight on Maple Avenue.
The same year, Jack Barrow received a 99-year sentence for murder. He shot a man through the heart during a petty argument at a West Dallas café.
He was given furlough in 1942 to attend his mother’s funeral. At the time of her death, all but two of Cumie Barrow’s seven children were dead or in prison.