We all the know the story of Bonnie, Clyde and Ray Hamilton paying a visit to Bonnie's Aunt Millie in Carlsbad, NM in August of 1932. Although there are conflicting reports as to what actually happened, to cause Deputy Sheriff Joe Johns to be kidnapped as a result of their visit-- there's no doubt that Johns was indeed taken hostage by B&C, and later released 15 miles outside of San Antonio, Texas. Most have always assumed, that Aunt Millie Stamps was the Parker relative responsible for alerting Johns-- and thus causing this escapade, or-- that Mrs. Stamps was the unwitting recipient of good police work by the Deputy Sheriff, which made it appear that she had betrayed Bonnie and Clyde.
However, a review of news reports from that time-- seem to reveal no first name mentioned for Mrs. Stamp, as she was called (without the s). It appears Millie's 1st name may have been learned primarily from Emma Parker's recollections in Fugitives. As such, Aunt Millie has been written of for decades, by authors and historians in recounting this renowned story. Emma played down Millie's role in attempting to turn in Bonnie, Clyde and Ray that day-- in as much stating that she didn't believe Millie was responsible for this incident, as it was reported or rumored.
My purpose here, is to state my belief-- that Aunt Millie as so often described within the History of B&C-- may have actually been Aunt Nellie. It is widely believed that in Fugitives, names were changed to protect the innocent-- when told of by the families in 1934. Emma described the relative from the Carlsbad incident as a sister, which is close to true-- but it appears now, that person was not a sister of Emma's named Millie, but rather her sister in law-- Charlie's sister Nellie.
I'm now aware of credible documentation-- which repudiates the existence of a Millie within either the Parker or Krause families. However-- Bonnie's father Charlie Parker did have a sister named Nellie. And interestingly-- it's Nellie who's specifically mentioned within this 1st hand history, as being the Aunt who turned in B&C when B&C visited her. Aunt Nellie is said to have lived somewhere in West Texas. I've found the record of a Nellie Stamps within the 1930 census-- living in Pecos, Texas. Pecos is 86.3 miles from Carlsbad, NM. In 1930-- Pecos to Carlsbad was a pretty straight shot North on Rt 17 to Rt 2. Today, this trip would be made on Rt 285. This woman was born in 1881 and would have been 49 years old in 1930. This info makes sense in comparing the ages of Parker and Krause contemporary relatives during this time period. For example, Emma Krause, who married Charlie Parker-- was born in 1885. Charlie was born in 1882. Thus it seems reasonable, that Charlie's sister Nellie could have been born the year before him.
Furthermore, there's an ominous element within these new revelations, which "could" support a less than peaceful end for Aunt Nellie. In an interview provided on August 17th, 1932-- Deputy Sheriff Joe Johns recounted part of his hostage ordeal by saying "Shortly after leaving Carlsbad, Sunday morning they wanted to come back and kill Mrs. Stamp. She had gone down on her knees and begged them not to hurt me when they left her home. They told her to shut up but they did say they wouldn't hurt me. When they suggested going back and killing Mrs. Stamp I said "Oh don't do that fellows". They didn't say anything but kept right on driving."
Apparently the family too questioned what became of Aunt Nellie. It's my understanding that after noting Aunt Nellie had turned in B&C and that they had escaped-- it was wondered what became of Aunt Nellie??-- as it seems she was never heard of again. Perhaps she was dead?? Perhaps B&C got to her?? Maybe this was just playful family banter-- but based on Joe John's recollection made just days after the incident-- I find these thoughts most intriguing. I've had it asked before, whether Clyde could kill a woman?? But it seems for most, that's a hypothetical quandary both unsavory and untouchable. And would Clyde go as far as to kill a relative of Bonnie's, in knowing Bonnie's penchant for compassion-- or just walk away?? That's a hell of an interesting question??
Based on newspaper accounts I've read of this story, the Stamp home was located near the canal west of Carlsbad. This home is pictured in both olden and modern views, in Winston Ramsey's book-- so apparently it still stands. Recently I was asked, about the woman who's identified as Nellie Gonzales on the U.S. Bureau of Investigation wanted poster-- published just days before B&C were ambushed. To the person who asked, I'm sorry to have taken so long in answering. However based on research leading to this post, I am still unsure who this reported 1/2 sister of Bonnie's is?? That Nellie is listed as being from Harwood in Gonzales County, Texas. Gonzales County is located to the east of San Antonio. However as Nellie Gonzales is listed as Bonnie's 1/2 sister and Nellie Stamp(s) nee Parker was Bonnie's father's sister-- these 2 Nellies couldn't be considered the same person. I will say, the Parker family line seems more shrouded in mystery than the Krause family line-- as less seems known about it.
As I find myself getting into B&C research such as this from time to time, and as this mystery has been of particular interest to me-- I am now seeing what I can learn of Aunt Nellie as related to Carlsbad. I'm contacting historians in that area, and will let you know what I discover from my phone and Internet travels. Hopefully eye witness accounts, public records and additional newspaper articles can be accessed, which will shed new light upon this story.
Even though I'm now aware of this most reliable account, which reveals Aunt Nellie as being the Aunt who betrayed B&C-- I'm interested in learning more about Nellie and the Carlsbad incident. I'd like to learn whether Mrs Stamp(s) stayed in the Carlsbad, NM area for the rest of her days-- when she died-- and how?? Thus try and provide facts, to answer the question of whether Mrs Stamp(s) was perhaps ultimately killed-- for her actions or perceived actions against B&C?? While I'm at it, if I can-- I'll try to learn more about Bill Cobb-- who it's said helped Mrs. Stamp create a diversion, so she could slip off to a neighbor's house to call Deputy Sheriff Johns. I'm sure many would like to know, more about Bill Cobb's participation and recollections at Carlsbad that August day in 1932.
Perhaps the Carlsbad incident can be updated with new insights-- so please stay tuned. Credit along with my thanks to Winston Ramsey, for the photo of the Stamp house in Carlsbad. I wish I knew the date of this photo, as the house looks abandoned by that point. Perhaps I'll be fortunate enough to speak with it's current owners. If anyone has info concerning this topic, I would very much appreciate hearing from you. I welcome your comments.