Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Follow Up To "Bonnie's Sweet 16" Question

I received an e-mail from author/historian Jim Knight. Jim wanted to know more about the background on Bonnie's shotgun, nicknamed "Bonnie's Sweet 16" by Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn. Thus, I followed up with "Boots" Hinton, who was the source of this information.

According to "Boots"-- the story goes, that after the ambush, Frank Hamer phoned Lee Simmons. Within their conversation Hamer asked Simmons, what he wanted done with the captured weapons from the death car. Hamer was told to let the boys (ambush posse members) have what they wanted, and retain the rest. Prentis Oakley had taken possession of the shotgun, which was at Bonnie's side in the Warren car. Oakley later gave this weapon to a friend of his, who held onto this shotgun all the rest of his life. When this gentleman passed away, his wife gave this storied weapon to their nephew. Not many years ago, the nephew visited the Ambush Museum-- looking to sell this gun. This individual is said to have a letter of provenance from Prentis Oakley re: the gun's authenticity. It's my understanding at some point, the shotgun was offered for auction on ebay-- but no one met the price requested.

"Boots" said both his father Ted Hinton, and Bob Alcorn independently referred to this shotgun in his presence, as being "Bonnie's Sweet 16". Both men of course were at the capture site, witnessed the weapons captured from the Warren death car-- and would have surely recognized the gauge of the gun in question.

Without speaking to the owner of this weapon, I would think there would be little chance, of learning more about it. However, with both Hinton and Alcorn referring to this shotgun as "Bonnie's Sweet 16"-- I'm not sure there could be much doubt, as to the proper identification of this weapon-- as being the 16 gauge found in the death car. This gun having been taken from Bonnie's side within the Warren car-- seems to be the key and basis of this particular shotgun, being identified as her gun. The pearl handled .45 auto pistol on display in the Texas Ranger Museum, I believe has also been defined in this way-- as being Bonnie's pistol, based on its close proximity to Bonnie when found. There is also, a .45 caliber military issue revolver attributed to Bonnie from within the death car-- as it was found beneath her, when the car was searched. This weapon also still exists, and is the hands of a private collector and historian.

I hope all find this explanation interesting, and that I've answered your questions Jim, as they relate to this story. Thanks much for your comments and questions.

Update-- Jim replied to post.

Jim Knight mentions that a good picture of the 2 sawed off shotguns found in the Warren car-- the 16 gauge and 20 gauge, can be found on page 177 of Ted Hinton's book Ambush. Jim points out, the 16 gauge could have been either a 16 gauge Browning or Remington Model 11, which were commonly referred to as "Sweet 16's" by duck, quail and rabbit hunters. Thus the designation of this weapon as "Bonnie's Sweet 16" by Hinton and Alcorn, appears to have been a blending of this weapon's already given nickname-- along with the apparent fact of it being found near her, at the ambush site. It was also mentioned, that Clyde may have killed 4 men with this weapon.

My thanks as always, to Jim Knight.

P.S.-- Look for my opening blog-- for guest postings of commentary soon.


ted1933 said...

i hope i won't be ripped about this, but i would like to know who the four men clyde killed with the "sweet 16" were? just wondering.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Ted-- The Clyde 4 killings w/16 gauge comment was from Jim Knight, within his e-mail to me. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 2, maybe 3 Clyde shotgun killings. A killing or 2 at Joplln-- and likely one at Grapevine. I'd have to research to determine other shotgun killings, not attributed to Buck or W.D.

ted1933 said...

hi winston, the reason i asked was that the gang lost all their guns exept one .45 automatic pistol after the dexter fight. and clyde was only thought to have killed three men between dexter and when he was killed.(murphy,wheeler, and cambell) and it is said cambell was shot with a B.A.R. thats why i was wondering.

A. Winston Woodward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ted1933 said...

yes, that would be great. another reason about the "sweet 16" is in the book titled "guns of the gunfighters" it is said that the 20 gauge remington was the one that belonged to bonnie. and no, the gun really does not matter, good men died regardless of what type gun was used, just trying to gather all the knowledge i can. thank you winston, see you soon. ted.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Ted--

I guess it comes down to weapon preferences for Clyde, and whether it's important at all, whether any "specific" weapons, such as the 16 gauge found in the Warren car-- were involved in which killings and where?? To me, that would be really hard to discern, and I can't see it making much of a difference.

Jim did comment/question why Clyde would prefer a 16 gauge, rather than a more substantial shotgun??-- thinking perhaps he chose that gauge as being easier to wield than a 12 gauge, but having more stopping power than a 20. I'll ask Jim to please respond to your question here.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Ted--

I heard from Jim Knight regarding clarifications of his "Bonnie's Sweet 16" shotgun comments. Unfortunately, Jim hasn't been able to view your questions/comments-- as he's currently not enrolled as a follower of the blog. But I think he understands the focus of your thoughts, as I explained them.

Jim said it was alright to copy and paste his reply here. Which is--

"I probably should have said "This type of weapon." The 16 gauge found in the Death Car couldn't have been the same gun that did the four killings I mentioned. The first one was the killing of Ft. Worth Deputy Malcolm Davis in January 1933. Clyde went through several gunfights and escapes where he lost most of his guns after that, so he had to "rearm" several times almost from scratch. The Remington Model 11 was a very popular shotgun, so he could have gotten another one at almost any hardware store. A few minutes with a hack saw and he has another "Whippit Gun." Nobody knows how many he may have made before that last "Sweet 16."

I agree with Jim's assessment here. I hope this reply helps.


Anonymous said...

thank you winston, and thank's to jim knight.