Facts About Bonnie and Clyde + the Barrow Gang
by Brandon Cornett
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (collectively known as Bonnie and Clyde), were two of the most infamous criminals in U.S. history. During the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 30s, Bonnie and Clyde went on a crime spree that left many people dead — including the couple themselves.
Unfortunately, there are just as many myths about this outlaw duo as there are facts. So we hope to set some of the record straight with this collection of interesting facts about Bonnie and Clyde, and the rest of the Barrow gang.
21 Interesting Facts
- Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born into a blue-collar family in the small town of Rowena, Texas on October 1, 1910.
- In high school, Bonnie was an honor student with a natural talent for creative writing. She wrote poetry and other forms, and even won a literary contest at one point.
- Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born into a farming family in a small town south of Dallas, Texas on March 24, 1909.
- Clyde Barrow had his first documented run-in with the law in 1926, when he was only 17 years old. He was arrested after running from the police, who had confronted Barrow about a rental car turned in late. He was arrested again shortly after the first incident, for possession of stolen goods. This time, he was arrested with his brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow.
- From this time forward, Clyde Barrow was immersed in a life of crime. Even years before his infamous crime spree with Bonnie Parker, Clyde was stealing cars, robbing stores and breaking into safes.
- I found several different versions of how, when and where Bonnie and Clyde first met. Most sources, however, state that the couple met at the house of a mutual friend in January 1930. So when they first met, Clyde was 20 years old and Bonnie was 19.
- Bonnie joined Clyde Barrow's life of crime soon after they met. In March of 1932, she was captured during a botched robbery in Kaufman, Texas. She was released from jail about three months later when a grand jury dropped the charges against her.
- While Bonnie was in jail (see above), Clyde Barrow killed store owner J.W. Butcher during a robbery on April 27, 1932. This is believed to be his first murder where he actually pulled the trigger, though the Barrow Gang would go on to commit many more during their crime spree.
- Though the members of the so-called "Barrow Gang" would shift over time, the gang included Bonnie and Clyde of course, as well as Clyde's brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow, Buck's wife Blanche, Henry Methvin, W.D. Jones, Joe Palmer and Raymond Hamilton.
- Eugene Moore was the first law enforcement officer killed by the Barrow Gang. This occurred on August 5, 1932, when a town sheriff and his deputy (Moore) confronted Clyde Barrow and two others for drinking alcohol in public. This was during the Prohibition, when alcohol was outlawed. As the two officers approached, Barrow opened fire, killing Deputy Moore.
- In June 1933, Clyde ran his car off the road and crashed into a ravine. Bonnie Parker and W.D. Jones were also in the car at the time. Bonnie got third-degree burns on one of her legs while she was trapped beneath the burning car.
- Clyde often carried a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) with him. By many accounts, it was his weapon of choice. He stole the gun from a National Guard armory. More than once, police officers found themselves outgunned because of the BAR. Ironically, the lawmen who finally gunned down Bonnie and Clyde in an ambush used a version of the Browning Automatic Rifle known as the "Colt Monitor."
- Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow escaped the police on several occasions, often amid gun battles. During one such battle turned escape, Buck Barrow (Clyde's brother) was shot in the side of the head, and his wife Blanche was nearly blinded by glass fragments.
- In January 1934, Clyde freed several men from the Eastham State Prison Farm in Waldo, Texas. Among the freed prisoners were Barrow Gang members Henry Methvin and Raymond Hamilton. The so-called "Eastham Breakout" was an embarrassing moment for the Texas Department of Corrections, and a personal triumph for Clyde Barrow (who had a vendetta against the department).
- After the embarrassing jailbreak incident, the Texas Department of Corrections enlisted the support of former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, paying him to hunt down the members of the Barrow Gang — Clyde in particular.
- By almost every historical account on record, Bonnie Parker never fired a shot in any of the Barrow Gang crimes and shootouts. That certainly doesn't change the fact that she was an accomplice and a key member of the gang — it just disproves the false image of Bonnie as a gun-wielding criminal. A criminal, to be sure, but not a killer.
- Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed while slowly driving up a desolate road to their hideout in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. They were gunned down by a posse of six law enforcement officers, including Frank Hamer (see item #17). Other members of the posse included: Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton, who were Dallas County Sheriff's deputies; Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan and his deputy Prentiss Oakley; and former Texas Ranger B. M. Gault.
- According to FBI records, both Bonnie and Clyde were killed instantly during the ambush. But eyewitness accounts from the actual posse members state otherwise. Several of the men present reported that Clyde was in fact killed instantly by a shot to the head, while Bonnie screamed in terror for a few moments longer before dying.
- The ambush sparked much controversy, mainly because Bonnie Parker (by most accounts) had never committed any violent crimes. Regardless, she was knowingly gunned down alongside Clyde.
- The Bonnie and Clyde death car became in instant attraction for local people, many of who flocked to the scene as soon as they heard the news. According to the coroner who arrived at the scene: "nearly everyone had begun collecting souvenirs such as shell casings ... and bloody pieces of clothing from the garments of Bonnie and Clyde.
- The Barrow Gang as a whole is believed to have killed twelve people, including at least nine police officers.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief biography of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. These two figures were certainly memorable in their own right, but they were also wrapped up in such important historical events as the Great Depression and the Prohibition Era. When you combine the likeness of Bonnie and Clyde with such significant times in U.S. history, you have all the makings of an interesting story. The facts presented above represent the true story of these two American outlaws.
References: Much of this fact sheet was compiled from widely available information, with fact checking performed through cross-reference of sources. I also referred to information provided on the FBI.gov website.
About the Author
This fact sheet was provided by Brandon Cornett. Brandon is the creator of 21Facts.com. He is also a freelance writer and the author of many articles that can be found all over the Internet.
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