Friday, May 21, 2010

How Can So Many Ambush Witnesses Differ?? Henderson Jordan's 1934 Ambush Account

As May 23rd marks the 76th anniversary of the ambush of B&C, I've decided to re-stoke what is a great debate. Varying accounts of the Sailes, LA waylay, exist even among the lawmen who participated in the carnage that day.

Some revere earlier accounts told nearer the ambush, as being the true story-- while others look to the last account expressed by Ted Hinton, as being the defining tale of the waylay-- with it's self-effacing lawman's cover up and kidnapping assertion. The account I've chosen to re-publish for this weekend's B&C anniversary, is the rarely seen Henderson Jordan account of the ambush. Sheriff Jordan's version, was originally published in the November 1934 issue of True Detective Magazine.

This article was written by the Bienville Parish Sheriff, as told to C. F. Waers. As this article encompasses 12 pages of rather fine print, I leave the initial and post ambush events for another time-- to focus solely on the ambush. For those unfamiliar with the correct pronunciation of his name, I and other northerners are routinely corrected by those from Texas and Louisiana-- that Jordan is indeed pronounced Jerden. As usual when I recount info such as this-- this is a verbatim quotation from the 1934 article. The only adaptation I've made, is in re-forming paragraph structure to better fit the blog. We pick up the story on page 9 of the article, with Henderson Jordan saying--


Clyde Barrow, Henry Methvin and "Bonnie" Parker had visited the old Cole place near Sailes Monday night. The following morning Clyde, "Bonnie" and the escaped convict drove to Shreveport. Their car was parked in a secluded spot. Methvin started off on foot to obtain food for himself and his companions. Something had alarmed Barrow. No one ever will know what caused him to drive away before Methvin returned. An aside here-- as it's thought that a reported police patrol, was responsible for chasing away a suspicious car parked near The Majestic Cafe' at the time Henry was witnessed purchasing sandwiches-- it now may be known how B&C were separated from Henry Methvin. Back to the story-

I learned that an hour or so later he returned to the place, but had been unable to find Methvin.
Alarmed over the separation from Henry, Barrow and "Bonnie" returned to the Cole place. They arrived there between 5 and 6 o'clock. They soon learned that Methvin had not returned to his father's home. Barrow gave an order to Ivan Methvin. "You go to the old place and see if Henry is there." the outlaw commanded. "We will go to Bossier Parish. He may have gone there." I was to learn later that the gang had a meeting place in the parish, between the towns of Benton and Plain Dealing. The vital part of my informant's message was yet to come. His voice lower than ever, he quoted Barrow. "We will still meet you on the road between Sailes and Gibsland between nine and ten o'clock in the morning." the outlaw told the elder Methvin.

Could we trap Barrow on the highway? I rushed to the telephone and called Capt. Hamer. My message was short. "Come to Arcadia at once. Get your other men if you can." There was no time to be lost. We would have to select a place for the trap, a place distant from homes. I knew it would be difficult to find a desirable clearing along the Gibsland-Sailes road. A forest lined road would have offered too good an opportunity for the pair to escape. The tentative plan for the trap was made in my office. Besides myself, there were five others in the room: Captain Hamer, Chief Deputy-Sheriff Prentis M. Oakley, of Bienville Parish, Deputy Sheriffs Alcorn and Hinton of Dallas County and Patrolman Gault.

About 11 o'clock, I took Captain Hamer and Deputy Alcorn in my car to Gibsland, a little town southwest of Arcadia. For the next two hours we drove back and forth over the sandy, graveled road between Gibsland and Sailes. Our plan made it necessary to establish the trap somewhat closer to Sailes than to Gibsland. Methvin would be driving north over the highway and we wanted him to be the first to arrive at the trap.
At last we found what seemed to be a perfect spot. It was about three miles north of Sailes and situated on a straight north and south stretch of highway. The road swung down a fairly sharp grade, over a small rise and then to a steeper hill. The place for our ambush was on the rise. The road cut through the small hill to leave an embankment of about three feet in height on both sides. The forest receded at the point and the sides of the road were lined with low brush. In throwing back the earth from the cut, the highway workers had created a low ridge along the cast embankment. Grass and weeds along the edge made a perfect cover. From behind the ridge could be obtained a good view of the road to the north. We could see the road for three quarters of a mile to the north and a full half mile to the south.

Would Clyde Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker keep their appointment with Ivan Methvin? That was all that was vital to us. We would be ready for them! We returned to Arcadia to pick up the other officers. Shortly before 3 o'clock the morning of May 23rd, our posse of six men left Arcadia in two motor cars. Less than an hour later we were squatting in the dew-soaked brush and weeds at the trap. Our cars were hidden deep in the brush. I had arranged the men in a line about forty yards long, all on the east side of the road. Deputies Alcorn and Hinton were at the north end of the line: They would be better able to identify Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker than other members of the group. Captain Hamer because of his accuracy with firearms, was stationed at the south end. I was near the center of the line. Chief Deputy Oakley was at my right and Patrolman Gault to my left.


Deputy Hinton was armed with a Browning automatic rifle. Deputy Alcorn, Captain Hamer and Patrolman Gault were armed with automatic shotguns loaded with buckshot. Deputy Oakley and I were carrying Remington automatic rifles and there was a third rifle of that type available for use. All of us, of course, were carrying our regular sidearms. Chilled by the dew, we were glad when the sun rose over the trees. All of us were hungry. The next meal was the principle topic of discussion, and we talked about food to lessen the monotony. Barrow seldom was mentioned. Attacks by swarms of mosquitoes did not make the wait easier. At about daylight I called to Deputy Hinton. "How are the groceries holding out Ted?" "What groceries? I have eaten the stock off your rifle and am starting on the barrel."


Our plan was to stop Methvin as he drove along the road. We would force him to park at the side of the highway, awaiting the appearance of Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker. We wanted to capture them alive if possible. There would be no chance of that if we tried to stop their car as it sped over the road. Barrow was known to be a fast driver. A barricade would have spoiled any chance we might have of avoiding bloodshed.
The sound of a motor came from the south. Instantly all members of the group dropped to reclining positions in the undergrowth. A truck pulled over the hill. It appeared familiar to me. As it drew closer I recognized the driver. When it was about fifty yards from the trap I stepped into the road and signaled the driver to stop. He was Ivan Methvin. As the truck pulled to a halt the other officers stood up. Methvin looked at them. "What's the trouble?" he asked. "We have set a trap for Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker, Methvin" I said. "We are going to take them when you meet them on the road. Right here is where the meeting is going to take place."

If Methvin had any objection to the idea he did not put it into words. He pulled his truck over to the west side of the road, and headed north. It stood directly across the highway from Deputies Alcorn and Hinton. "Pull off that right front wheel," I instructed him. "I want to give the effect that you have a flat tire. Barrow will stop when he sees you." I told Methvin to stand beside his truck. I called the officers together.
"We are ready," I said. "There's only one thing more. Don't start anything until it is absolutely certain that Barrow and his woman are in any car that may pull up. Maybe we can take them alive, but I don't believe we ought to take any unnecessary chances. If they reach for their guns, let them have it!". As the hour of 9 o'clock approached the strain increased. Two or three cars flashing down the highway from the north caused added tenseness as we awaited the word from Deputies Hinton and Alcorn. For each of these cars they shouted: "No!"

At 9:15 a car nosed over the north hill and started down the grade. At the distance we could tell that it was a Ford V-8. It was the type of car that barrow was driving, according to my informant. As it drew closer we could distinguish its color as light tan. That, also checked with my information. Traveling at a pace of about forty-five miles an hour, it rapidly was cutting down the distance.
The driver apparently saw Methvin. The car began to slow down. Deputy Alcorn, crouching peered through the weeds. His rifle was in his right hand. His left hand was stretched out behind him ready to emphasize a signal. "It's Barrow!" he called. "The Parker woman's with him!" The car was about a hundred yards away, traveling at a much slower speed. The occupants looking at Methvin, apparently felt safe. The first warning had sent a vibration up my spine. As the time neared when life or death hinged on split second action, the taut feeling passed. I was ready. I could see most of the other men in the posse. None showed the slightest trace of nervousness.

"Bob," I called. "Be sure, man!" Deputy Alcorn replied. His words barely were audible. "I know! It's Barrow and his woman. Steady!"
A heavy rumble from the south caused me to look in that direction. A wood-pulp truck was approaching at a fair rate of speed. Two Negroes were in the cab. It seemed as though the truck might present a shield for the Barrow car. Then the truck slowed down to a crawling speed. Evidently the driver feared a collision. The Ford sedan came to a halt between my men and Methvin's Chevrolet truck. "Hello, Got a flat?" Barrow called. "Yes," Methvin replied. "Did you find Henry?" "No. Haven't you seen him?" Clyde Barrow was under the wheel of the car. "Bonnie" Parker was sitting beside him. I observed thankfully that no one was in the rear seat. Methvin continued the conversation by answering Barrow's question in the negative. He then spoke to "Bonnie". "Have you got a drink for me?" There was no answer to that question.

I jumped to my feet, shouted: "Put 'em up Clyde! You're covered!"
The tan Ford leaped forward. Barrow had shifted into low gear as he was talking to Methvin. I was watching Barrow. His left hand was on the steering-wheel. He picked up a gun with his right hand. "Bonnie" Parker was seen to raise a pistol. The door on Barrow's side of the car started to swing open. Barrow would not surrender. The sharp report of a rifle sounded. Its echo was drowned by the roar of six guns. Lead was poured into Barrow's car. The windshield was shattered. Most of the bullets were taking effect there and in the left front door of the sedan. The car continued to move. Gunfire was raking it from six angles. The glass in the rear left door was blown to bits. I saw black holes appear in the side of the car. The noise was deafening. I had no idea of time. It might have been an hour that I stood there on the firing line. Actually, everything was over in seconds.

I saw Barrow's head fall against the back of the seat. Blood was gushing out. I saw "Bonnie" Parker slump forward as if to pick something off the floor of the car. The motor of the Ford had died. Still in gear, the car coasted jerkily. It rolled into the ditch on the west side of the road, coming to a stop against the side of the embankment. There was no sign of movement inside the car. All of us leaped onto the graveled road and ran toward the stalled machine. Our weapons were ready. But even then, we knew that we could discard our guns. Nothing could have lived through that volley of more than a hundred and fifty shots. Clyde Barrow was dead! "Bonnie" Parker, her head between her knees, was dead! They had been unable to fire a shot.

I looked down the road at the wood-pulp truck. It had stopped at the first shot. The two Negroes who had occupied the cab had fled into the timber. The back of Barrow's head had been beaten to a pulp by the hail of lead. He had been struck at least a dozen times in the body. Six or seven bullets had taken effect in "Bonnie" Parker's face. We later found that she had been struck by twenty-five shots. Her right hand virtually was cut off. Both the outlaws had been cut badly by flying glass.
In the lap of Clyde Barrow was a sawed off 16-gauge automatic shotgun. His right hand was curled around the shortened stock. Seven grim notches had been carved in the wood by the killer. In "Bonnie's" lap was a .45 caliber automatic pistol. There were three notches on this gun. Between the pair was another automatic shotgun.

On the floor of the car was a bag containing forty clips for a Browning automatic rifle. Three rifles of that type were in the rear of the car. All were loaded. Under the robe on the rear seat were ten automatic pistols and one revolver, all fully loaded. Three bags and a box contained more than two thousand rounds of ammunition. Clyde Barrow and the red-haired "Bonnie" had been ready for us, or any other officers that might have accosted them. We gave them a chance to surrender. They refused. Six Texas and Louisiana officers are alive today because they shot first and shot fast and straight. While we were examining the car and the bodies of its occupants, Ivan Methvin replaced the wheel on his truck. He drove away.


So there you have it-- Henderson Jordan's published account of the ambush. You'll note some issues with this account, when compared to other ambush posse member accounts-- as well as physical evidence present in the death car and bodies of Bonnie & Clyde. Some of this evidence includes bullet holes through the rear window, said fired by Ted Hinton-- and bullet holes above Bonnie's passenger window-- "admittedly" fired by Bob Alcorn in apparently having picked up a Remington Model 8, flanking the car-- and firing at the Warren car from it's right side. Either one of Hinton's or Alcorn's shots likely struck Bonnie from behind-- breaking her spine.

There's also that critical "moment"-- when Prentiss Oakley pressed off the 2 initial shots, said heard by witnesses prior to all hell breaking loose in a barrage of gunfire. Oakley was reportedly haunted the rest of his life, in having shot so quickly without B&C having the opportunity to surrender (another discrepancy between accounts). Of course perhaps the greatest difference between Hinton and Jordan, has to do with the location of Ivy Methvin at the time of the ambush. Also Hinton, who may have had one of the best vantage points of the ambush-- cast doubt concerning a gun being raised within the death car prior to the gunfire. In this article, Jordan conceals the identities of his informants well-- although now thanks to the Dallas FBI files-- we now have documented accounts of who the informants were, and the extent of their involvements. One thing I get to say whenever Henderson Jordan's ambush account is stated, is to remind all that the Bienville Parish posse was not Captain Hamers posse, as many believe-- but rather was Sheriff Jordan's posse and responsibility. A slight point of order.

I welcome your comments.

38 comments:

joe from Canada said...

Thank you for providing this account of the ambush by one of the posse members. It would be interesting to read other accounts.
You put a lot of work into your blog and your interest and more important your passion in the B&C story is unequalled.
I am hoping to get down to thge ambush site some day
Once again thank you and keep the blog going -- Joe from Canada

A. Winston Woodward said...

Thanks Joe--

Many have a deep seated passion for B&C History. To me, the depth of that unshakable passion-- is a most interesting thing.

I would encourage you and everyone interested in B&C History, to visit Bienville Parish, Louisiana and the ambush site. Remarkably when you visit there, you won't have to close your eyes to imagine what it must have been like 76 years ago-- since seemingly so little has changed. The population there has apparently declined over recent decades. If you could only put 1934 automobiles on the roads to replace modern ones, you might honestly feel that you've stepped back in time-- to the world B&C knew. Aerial photos of Gibsland from the late '30's for example, show it to have been a much more vital town then-- as compared to now. If it's possible, that area now-- may be even more rural than in yesteryears.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Wow - so many different versions! Seems as if each man who was there has a different story... either Ivy Methvyn was kidnapped by the law as he came down the road, or he was part of the whole set-up; either Bonnie and Clyde were taken completely by surprise or they were warned by a shout or by catching a glimpse of the posse's guns glinting in the sun; either they had raised their weapons or they were shot down before they had a chance to do so. Pick a story - pick a fact! This is the sort of mystery that is interesting - somewhere in all of these stories is the truth about what happened, and all you can do is look through the info that's available and try to go with your best guesses!

I can understand trying to cover up Methvyn's involvement, if he did indeed cooperate; Frank Hamer was known for protecting his informants very well. The duration of the posse's stay in the woods is different in many accounts, too! Well, it's interesting to read a new side of the story, one that I had not encountered before!

BarefootOkieGal said...

I was so close to the ambush site, but people traveling with me did not want to take a short drive to see it! I was visiting a friend in Bossier City (which people in that part of the country pronounce "BO-zher," sort of with the "zh" sound in "garage") and went right past the road that said, "Historical Monument - 9 miles," or whatever it was. I was so upset! I hate traveling with people who have no curiosity - that's the same way I missed out on seeing Andersonville!

A. Winston Woodward said...

There are indeed multiple accounts of the ambush, as expressed by the participants themselves. It truly makes you wonder, about what the truth actually was?!?

Whenever I see a reference to guessing about history, I smile or sometimes not-- & think back to Jeff Guinn's e-mail to me, where he exclaimed "All written history is ultimately best guess". Well despite that being an incredible statement, there are 3 absolutes within that short sentence-- so ambiguity cannot be used as an excuse.

I view that statement besides being blatantly untrue-- as being a ludicrous comment, made by a purported purveyor of "true" history. I suppose within such a lax historical credo-- would somehow exist justification for lax diligence-- leading to publishing innuendo & unsubstantiated supposition as being fact.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I've never minded people who make guesses - so long as they let you know that they're just giving you their own personal thoughts and nothing that you're supposed to take as gospel! Heck, I suppose I indulge in as much idle speculation as anyone else does, but I surely wouldn't write it down as non-fiction in a book billing itself as a true story!

I don't agree with Jeff Guinn, that "...all written history is ultimately best guess." It's not history if it's not true! I'm sure that the truth is out there and obtainable to people who have the time, money and resources to go out and meet and talk to people and to delve into all of the fiddly-bits of information that were available in police files, etc. It's a shame when one person states that this is what they have attempted to do, only to read their book and discover that they've just tossed in re-hashed information, without a lot of regard as to its truth or fallacy.

Oh, well - Bonnie and Clyde history is pretty straightforward compared to some of my interests - there hasn't been any NEW information on, for example, Anne Boleyn, for about 500 years...

Anonymous said...

I beleve Sheriff Jordan's account.

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Jordan's account was published in 1934. It would be very accurate. Ivy Methvin was a snitch. Hamer was trying to protect him from retribution. Why else would Clyde stop his car? It was an ambush pure and simple. Jordan's account is the truth. Methvin was on the road to help the officers. Why else would his son get a pardon. Have the two black men in the truck ever interviewed? They would know if Methvin was on the road. It was an execution.

A. Winston Woodward said...

There are a number of ambush accounts published, based on posse member quotes. These accounts vary in some significant ways. Based on information I'm aware of (yet unpublished)-- and an interview conducted just last year in Louisiana, which I feel most fortunate to have witnessed-- there could be real doubt as to the location of Ivy Methvin when the shooting started. I for one am not convinced, he was at the car.

I know it's frustrating for many to only have published accounts to go on-- which are not necessarily the truth and certainly not the only accounts. There's been research conducted concerning the ambush for more than 20 years now, which remains unpublished. I'm hopeful this info will see the light of day at some point.

I would also caution, that just because an account was published in '34, doesn't necessarily make it more accurate than one published later. For those who believe in Ted Hinton's account (and I don't know why more who don't won't acknowledge this)-- if there was an agreement among the officers, to offer a cover up version of events that day-- then the '34 versions "are" the cover up.

I still can't see for the life of me, why Ted Hinton would deliberately sully his reputation-- and the reputations of 5 other lawmen, to make up a contrary version of the ambush near the end of his life. I've never seen any logic in that. There does seem to be newer evidence which may support Hinton. It's just not widely known.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I was very pleased to find "Ambush" in my library's extended ordering system, so I was able to put it on reserve and have it sent to my library - I believe I've read it before, but it's been awhile and it'd be great to read it again.

It would be interesting (if time-consuming) to put together all the accounts of the ambush and point out where the differ and where they agree; I've seen religious books that have explored the differing information in the four Gospels in that fashion - print the accounts side-by-side with commentary - and I would love to see something like that done with the ambush. Would you happen to know if anyone has done anything along those lines?

A. Winston Woodward said...

Concerning Buddy Goldston, who was the driver of the wood pulp truck-- there were a few interviews made with Buddy, who passed away about 6 or 7 years ago. To my knowledge, these interviews too are unpublished. I've now contacted at least one person who spoke to Buddy on a number of occasions, but unfortunately-- I could not gain agreement to let me reveal Mr. Goldston's comments.

I've heard nothing earth shattering regarding these interviews, along the lines of helping to settle the Ivy Methvin controversy. I have some other calls to make concerning this, and will provide more info for you if I can.

Shelley said...

Someone DID do a comparison study of different versions of B&C's ambush: Jim Knight, in 2006.

Entitled "THREE AMBUSHES: A outline and comparison of the three principal eyewitness accounts of the killing of Clyde Chestnut Barrow and Bonnie Parker Thornton by six lawmen near Gibsland, Louisiana on May 23, 1934."

This 13-page report offers detailed, yet clear and concise, summations of what happened that morning according to first Hamer, then Hinton, and finally, Jordan. The contradictions are astounding. Alcorn also gave at least one detailed interview I know of, maybe more. But unfortunately, it is not included in with Knight's impressive research.

When you start digging into the ambush, I have found, you are opening up a giant can of worms. You can speculate till the cows come home - or you can just believe whatever you want to believe about it. But the fact is, all four posse members who talked to interviewers gave decidedly different versions of the "truth". And not only that, each member altered his OWN version every time he spoke!

Personally, I think each one of them went out of his way to be as cagey and evasive as possible. I also think these were all men with very big egos. Seems to me they ALL seemed to imply that this was "their" set-up, and "they" were running the show!

The more you try to sort through it, the more convoluted it becomes. Like a puzzle that cannot be solved, but it sure is fun trying. All we can do is read the varying accounts - (and read between the lines) - and draw our own conclusions. Or not. I think there were "elements" to the truth in all the different versions. Must have been part of their police training.

Buddy Goldston (sp?) was in my very very favorite B&C documentary, "Remembering B&C". It's been awhile since I've seen it, but I don't believe he gave any "earth shattering" revelations. The most memorable quote I can recall was along the lines of, "...that car was all shot up...them PEOPLE was all shot up!!!".

BarefootOkieGal said...

I will have to see if the Jim Knight breakdown of the different ambush stories is available anywhere - that definitely sounds like a good read!

Again, I think that the discrepancies in the stories are perfectly logical; there may have been a certain element of, "Hey, I got Bonnie and Clyde!" that might have colored some accounts - then again, depending on what arrangements had been made with regard to Ivy Methvyn, not everyone in the posse might have been privy to the same information. Eyewitness accounts of almost any event can be pretty unreliable, and I think that comparing the accounts would be an interesting little mental exercise! If I can locate this, I'll read it - always happy to find something I haven't read before!

Anonymous said...

Being a retired law enforcemnt officer, Clyde Barrow needed to be shot and killed. However, shooting a pregnant Bonnie is something that probably haunted some of the officers. Ivy Methvin was the person that set them up. All officers protect informants. Jordan's account talks about how Methvin stated to Bonnie on the road that morning, "Do you have a drink for me." Well, we know close to the end that Bonnie and Clyde were drinking alot and toasting cheers. They knew the end was near. Methvin was on that road and was told to get out of here after the ambush. The two black eyewitnesses can place Methvin on the spot. There is now way that the ambush happened while they were traveling at a high rate of speed. Methvin decoyed them to stop. His son was granted a pardon. Jordan's account was used in the 1967 movie finale. In 1934 he told his story to a magazine. Just 5 months after the ambush.

Shelley said...

I think it's a shame that Clyde's life became so out of control that there came a time when many (if not most) people felt he "needed" to be shot and killed.

The biggest mistake where Clyde was concerned occurred after his release from Eastham. He TRIED to go straight, but no one would let him. Every time he got a job, the laws would be on him, harrassing him and undermining his efforts to start a new life. Maybe he should have just tried harder - or maybe it was truly a lost cause - I don't know. The point is, Clyde had no advocates; no support system to help him turn his life around. I believe he could have been rehabilitated under better circumstances, but was sabotaged instead.

The best comparison I can use here is Henry Methvin. Henry was a killer. When Oklahoma took him, he was sent to a far more humane facility than Clyde went to. He was given a cushy job as the warden's secretary. He beat the death penalty, and got an early parole. When he went home to Louisiana, he was given every opportunity to start over, which he proved unworthy of. Clyde, on the other hand, was denied all these advantages. Instead, he was continually persecuted for his past. Being Buck's brother didn't help him, either.

Most people do not believe Bonnie was pregnant. Be that as it may, Hamer and probably the other posse members as well, DID believe that she was, indeed, expecting a child. I do not believe Frank Hamer, at least, had any qualms whatsoever about shooting and killing a pregnant Bonnie. On the other hand, I do believe Prentiss Oakley was tormented the most by her killing. The others fell somewhere in between, convincing themselves that they were just "doing their job".

Ivy Methvin, I believe, was between a rock and a hard place. Yes, I think he did cooperate with the ambush plan, but did so reluctantly. It was really John Joiner who instigated his involvement. Ivy had little choice but to go along with what was about to occur - with or without his assistance. And if he did refuse to go along, he ran the risk of his boy being ambushed right along with them. Henry put his folks in a hell of a position.

It's been reported by some that Ivy asked Bonnie for a drink. But remember, it was 9 a.m. Maybe what he really wanted was some WATER!

Because of all the conflicting accounts, we can't ever be sure whether Ivy was out on the road - or chained to a damn tree! But we DO know that his truck was out there, and that was all the bait that was needed to get B&C to slow down and find out what was going on. IF Ivy was out there, he would have had to have bolted like a jackrabbit to keep from being riddled full of slugs, himself!

A. Winston Woodward said...

Within the Dallas FBI files on B&C, Bureau Agent Kindell (copied to Hoover)-- provides a 3rd update on informant activities. As of 5/14/34, Ivy Methvin didn't seem aware of specifics concerning the impending take down of B&C. He was to have notified the lawmen when Henry showed up. It's also noted that Terrell Methvin had informed Henry concerning Hamer's relaying the Texas Governor's acceptance of the deal made with the Methvins-- but Ivy hadn't known that. There was concern expressed, that caution be exercised in what was told to Henry, as it was thought risky to tell Henry too much, as he might have warned B&C.

All the Methvins minus Henry were present for the final deal agreement. Also present at that meeting, were Kindell, Jordan, Hamer, Alcorn and Oakley. So when Hinton says the fix wasn't in, based on his knowledge at the time, that was apparently true. I feel Ted should have known the truth regarding this after the fact-- but he stuck to his story.

Buddy Goldston who was driving the wood pulp truck that day-- apparently stated he was traveling south as Hinton has alleged-- not north as Jordan and some others have stated. I know of no interviews conducted with the 2 other men, who according to Goldston-- were riding the timber on the back of the truck. "Boots" Hinton had asked Goldston, to identify the other 2 men who rode with him that day. He refused. Not only do I believe those men were never interviewed, I also don't believe their identities are known. If anyone can name these men-- let them please do so.

It's also my understanding that Buddy Goldston never revealed whether anyone was in the road that day. Thus I know of no witnesses other than the ambush posse members, who can state what the truth was at the ambush site. As mentioned, there's been research conducted into the ambush over the past 20 years, which may shed new light on this great debate. This info is thus far unpublished.

I put little credence in much to do with the 1967 movie from an historical point of view. It's a great film, with some accuracy. But Penn and Beatty didn't show for a meeting to clarify historical accuracy for their film-- so to me, that illustrates their desire for B&C truth.

The only reports I've seen regarding B&C traveling at a high rate of speed, were written within newspaper accounts which were wrong. In some of those accounts, there was gunfire exchanged with Bonnie & Clyde. That's wrong too.

I'm also not sure, what was told to a writer in True Detective Magazine can automatically be thought of as being gospel. I still contend, that those who believe in the earlier accounts of the ambush-- and who dismiss Hinton's account, don't realize that if an agreement was reached to cover up the posse's involvement in the detention (kidnapping) of Ivy Methvin-- then the earlier stories of the ambush "are" the cover up.

For those unaware of this-- it's been said that the Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office, had the reputation for having their hand in many Parish activities-- and that perhaps Sheriff Jordan was not the most ethical man to come down the pike. Jordan's actions concerning John Joyner, and in detaining the Warren car after the ambush-- seem to bear this out.

I would respectfully say that those who feel they have the ambush all figured out-- based on the evidence (not hearsay) that exists-- cannot know for sure.
There are too many conflicting accounts, and not enough credible supporting accounts, such as the wood pulp workers-- for the truth to be ferreted out.

I've said it before and will say it again-- if anyone has "evidence" that might help unravel this or any other B&C mystery-- please step forward and present it. I cannot in good conscience, reveal the secrets of others who've entrusted me with information without their approval. However I am always pushing for all credible info to be released, as I'm anxious for all info to be known.

Anonymous said...

Shelley and Winston have valid points. However, you have to look at who benefited the most in betraying Bonnie and Clyde. That would be the Methvin family. Ivy was the snitch who was on the road. I agree that Jordan probably was protecting Joyner. They shared in the reward. They figured Ivy had no standing in the community. So let's throw his name out there. Clyde Barrow had killed numerous police officers. He deserved what he got on that country road. Looking at photos and reconstruction of the crime scene does not support that Ivy was not out on the road. Due to the proximity of the gunfire he was able to escape the numerous bullets fired at the scene. Where the car stopped supports the theory that Bonnie and Clyde were talking to someone prior to the ambush. Ivy looked in the car made sure his son wasn't in the vehicle and ran like a rabbit. That is when all hell broke loose. Clyde died instantly and his foot came off the clutch. The rest is history.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Unfortunately, I'm limited to the "public" information, and in the books that are available there are so many discrepancies that I acn only figure that (a) someone was trying to cover things up, to protect an informant or informants, or (b) only certain people had certain information, and they told the story truthfully as far as they knew it, but not having all the facts, naturally there would be differences in their accounts, as they were not privy to all of the planning.

I'm really interested to know where Ivy Methvyn was! I've heard that he was tied to a tree near the posse, which if true at least indicates that he was not in the line of fire. I am not sure about the accounts that claim that he was near the truck and actually spoke to Bonnie and Clyde; I can't imagine the posse having him remain in the line of fire!!! Sure, he could have dove underneath his truck (as in some accounts) or flung himself into the woods opposite, but he would have still been in danger. I don't think anyone would have agreed to put themselves into the line of fire just to "get" Bonnie and Clyde - although there is the possibility that Ivy Methvyn knew he could possibly be in the line of fire, but that his son's freedom was so important to him that he was willing to take his chances.

As far as the rumors and speculation that Bonnie or Clyde's family must have had something to do with the deaths of Ivy and Henry down the line, I don't think that's true - I think that's a matter of the family being tarred with the same brush that painted Bonnie and Clyde as heartless killers. The families of criminals MUST be criminals themselves, according to this line of thinking, and therefore MUST be interested in revenge. Reading of the reactions of their parents, though, does not show a desire for revenge - just a deep sorrow. I believe Bonnie's brother, Buster, was infuriated by the whole thing, but the little I have read about him doesn't seem to indicate that he was a man who would kill for revenge. He may have been willing to try to get Bonnie away from Clyde, if possible, but I don't think he would have considered killing anyone in revenge for their killings. Most family members seemed to have been resigned to the fact that Bonnie and Clyde would end this way - I'm sure some expressed outrage and anger at the way it was done, but I don't think any of them took their revenge later.

Anonymous said...

To Winston

Do you have any information regarding the two black men at the scene of the ambush? As an historian have you heard any accounts that Ivy Methvin was at the scene? Why does Jordan say that Methvin was on that road in November of 1934. I have read newspaper accounts that the Methvin were in fear of their lives. What happened to Joyner?

A. Winston Woodward said...

Dear Anonymous--

OK-- now you have my curiosity piqued. I enjoy your comments. However as I'm one who's hellbent on accuracy and detail concerning B&C History-- I must ask with respect, as you mention you're a former law enforcement officer-- how you arrive at some of your conclusions??

For example, how do you feel the Methvins benefited most from the ambush?? Henry was protected for just a short time by Henderson Jordan, while in Bienville Parish. Then Henry himself violated Jordan's promise of protection, by leaving the Parish and getting snookered-- which resulted in his capture and arrest. So his deal and freedom didn't last long. His deal was eventually upheld, but not before facing death after the fact. I might think from a lawman's perspective-- a law abiding society, would have benefited most from the ambush of B&C.

I would also mention, it's been said that the reward money wasn't exactly "shared" but rather skimmed by Jordan. The reward was $1000-- and it's believed Joyner received only $800 from Jordan. That's $12,000. in today's terms adjusted for inflation for Joyner, and $3000. for Jordan. A little home cookin' there it would seem?!?

I'm not sure how it can be supported, that by analyzing photos or someone's reconstruction of the ambush scene-- that Ivy Methvin can be placed at the Warren car, at the moment of the ambush?? With all respect to a couple of nice guys, I've spent much time questioning a number of conclusions advanced by the Jones/Fischer report, which through footnote and admittedly to me-- Jeff Guinn used as the prime research for his ambush scenario.

Most who know of me, know that I think Guinn's ambush account including his millisecond by millisecond grandiose version of the posse's firing order-- is nothing short of sensationalized fodder. And his Hamer assassination of Bonnie theory, cannot be substantiated based on the evidence that exists-- it just cannot.

I would be most interested please, in knowing how you feel the resting place of the Warren car in the ditch on the east side of the road (not the west side as recounted by Jordan)-- would support a conversation at the car?? As Ivy's car was positioned facing north, in the southbound lane of LA Route 418 as B&C approached-- the stated goal was to bring B&C closer to the ambush posse, by forcing them into the northbound lane.

To know the ambush scene, and compare the stories told by the lawmen themselves-- would be to admit that the officers were literally right on top of B&C and the Warren car when they fired. Many have wondered how such a carnage, could have left Ivy unscathed?? To me, that's a very good question.

Also, the history of the lawmen's attempts to engage B&C (of which there were a number of incidents)-- always seemed to include orders not to engage them, when civilians could be hurt. I wonder if some feel, that the lawmen were so intent on killing B&C at any cost that day-- they just let loose with a hell on earth barrage of lead, as Ivy Methvin was standing at or nearby the Warren car??

To me that's a very important question, given the law's history in wanting to protect innocent lives when dealing with B&C. Or as you intimate, perhaps Ivy may have been undesirable and thus expendable?? But I think that theory would have a hard time, being substantiated. Some questions to ponder.

A. Winston Woodward said...

As mentioned, no one seems to know the identities of the 2 men who rode the timber that day. According to Buddy Goldston, there were 3 on the truck not 2. I know from the person who asked him, that Buddy was asked directly if he would identify these men?? Apparently he wouldn't say. You said those men placed Henry in the road. I'm asking everyone I know who'd know-- whether these men's identities were even known??-- much less their stories quoted. Where please did you get that info??

Regarding your other questions, we're now into an area where proprietary info is coming into play. As mentioned, there's research that's been ongoing for nearly 2 decades now into the ambush-- among other Louisiana B&C History. I believe this research to be credible & important. I know some of what's been uncovered, but unfortunately cannot reveal it's
contents-- without violating a number of trusts. It's frustrating to me too, but hopefully the results of this valuable research will be published soon.

It is known what happened to John Joyner. And yes it's believed Ivy was at the scene. The key question is-- where was he at the scene. Bob Alcorn had recounted, that he went and turned off the wood pulp truck which was left running and smoking-- when the men quit their rig and fled into the woods. So it's apparently unclear, what if anything the men on the truck saw.

There is more to the ambush, that will likely be known at some point. I for one, hope that time is soon.

Anonymous said...

Winston

I thoroughly enjoy your comments and expertise. Looking at photos from the scene from 1934, I have calculated the trajectory of the rounds shot at BandC. It stands to reason that Ivy must have been at the scene. Do you think Clyde stopped his car just because Ivy's truck was on the road? Or do you think Ivy was flagging him down? I believe that the former Marine Oakley's shot killed Clyde instantly and when his foot came off the clutch they opened up thinking he was getting away. Look at Methvin site and look for the diagram related to both cars on the scene. Tell me what you think. I know you can't say but I think you already know what Buddy Goldston has revealed. I enjoy your blog because like you I want to know the truth. Jordan's account was published in 1934. Hinton's in 1977. What do you believe based upon the evidence?

A. Winston Woodward said...

As I see it, the problem with all these wranglings into re-enactments, and suppositions being espoused 'till the cows come home-- are that so few of these theories have actual facts to work with. And re-enactments are realistically as useful or useless, as the lack of authentic knowledge will dictate.

What if the cars were positioned a little to the right?? What if the posse members were spaced 8 yards apart instead of 10?? What if Clyde was reaching to put up his hands to save Bonnie, instead of reaching for a gun?? Oakley was 3rd in line from the right. So how was it that one of Prentiss Oakley's 1st shots hit Clyde in the back of the head, when it's said the car stopped opposite Alcorn and Hinton?? Clyde must have turned toward Bonnie?? How high was the knoll??-- and can we tell anything by the height of the men?? who lingered at the site afterward, in order to have memorable photos taken with them in the posse's positions?? Or were they indeed where the posse even stood??

And on and on and on. The truth is, all who know for sure about any of this-- are dead. And the further truth is, a number of eyewitness accounts made by these participants over the years contradict one another. The fix was in-- but what did Ivy Methvin know and when?? Was he at the car?? Would Ivy's abandoned truck facing the wrong way in the road, have been enough to prompt B&C to stop-- and wonder where Ivy was?? To me, both theories are plausible.

There are no known photos of both the Warren car and Methvin truck together, so the proximity from one to the other cannot be known with certainty. There are no photos of the ambush posse members standing in position, so as to know a multitude of details-- from which so many attempt to extract conclusions. Unfortunately, there are not enough pieces of this puzzle-- to form a complete image.

The ambush road now, is said to be about 2 1/2 feet lower than it was in May of 1934-- which leaves the ditch gone, and knoll where the lawmen stood higher-- if not gone all together from the time the road was widened. As such, modern recreations would have difficulty determining much of anything.

Although some intimate that it's somehow known-- there seems to be no evidence regarding what Buddy Goldston saw or didn't see on the road ahead of him that day, regardless of which way he was actually traveling.

With so little substantiation offered for suppositions made-- as frustrating as it may be, it is the reality of this wonder into the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde. And just like the greatest mystery of life after death-- it's the unknown-- that's keep all who are interested, talking about this ambush now-- for more than 75 years.

Anonymous said...

Winston

Here is a question related to your response. There is no known photo of the Warren and Methvin vehicles. Why not? If everyone is in agreement that Methvin truck was at the ambush---where was it after the execution of B and C. Jordan says Ivy replaced the wheel and drove away after the ambush. If he wasn't at the scene then what happened to his truck. Who moved it after the ambush? Was it towed? Why isn't there a photo of the truck with the Warren car. Some how it disappeared that morning. All the officers say that the truck was at the scene. Where did it go? And the bigger question where did it go before the crowds arrived at the death scene.

A. Winston Woodward said...

I don't recall anyone saying Ivy wasn't at the scene. Depending on who you believe, either Alcorn or Methvin removed his tire. And depending on who you believe, Ivy was either in the road or handcuffed to a tree when the ambush occurred. There's a 3rd possibility concerning the ambush, which could still place Ivy at the tree. This possibility needs to be explained by others.

And most accounts, have Ivy replacing his tire after the ambush and driving off. Without violating a confidence, let's just say Ivy's whereabouts may have been known after the fact.

There are numerous photos of the Warren car-- but to my knowledge, no known photos of Ivy's truck-- and no known photos of the Warren car and Ivy's truck together in the road. After the ambush, Hinton began filming-- but no image of Ivy's truck has been seen from that footage, so Ivy's truck may well have been gone by that point-- or never filmed.

Shelley said...

It makes perfect sense that Ivy's truck was not photographed. In this day and age, we are accustomed to things being "by the book". Everything is documented and witnessed in minute detail to the letter of the law. But back then, things were a lot different.

The posse was most anxious, for obvious reasons, to simply sweep the Methvins' involvement under the proverbial rug - to the greatest extent possible. Of course, their silence - or flat-out denials - mattered little. This was the worst-kept secret ever - everyone already knew who was behind the waylay. But officially, it was all hush-hush.

Anonymous, you were asking about John Joyner - and what happened to him.

His was not a happy ending. It seems his wife, Clara, was packing her bags to leave him. John confronted her, and they argued. John then shot his wife dead. After the cops arrived, Joyner went to his bedroom - and killed himself. This happened on September 24, 1942. It's said tht Clara was leaving him for...Henry Methvin! You can read about this in Jim Knight & Jonathan Davis' book, in the epilogue.

And Winston is right. There are sooo many variables that come into play here, that few assumptions can be made. It wouldn't have mattered if Ivy was chained to a tree or hanging from a tree; if he was standing in the road - or doing somersaults in the road - Clyde and Bonnie STILL would have slowed down enough to make a mighty easy target!

Anonymous said...

Winston

That story of Ivy handcuffed to a tree is nonsense. He met with Hamer and the others prior to the ambush. Why would they handcuff him to a tree. They had his full cooperation. Officers protect informants. The truth in this matter is somewhere between. Jordan's account in 1934 seems the most plausible. Hinton's in 1977 was to sell a book. Methvin was granted a pardon. He was also responsible for another officers murder. May be two more. The Grapevine murders. Being a cop killer should have not given him any pardons. He was a rat like his father. Pure and simple. To bad he wasn't in that car on May 23, 1934. He deserved the same fate as Clyde Barrow another cop killer. Oakley a former Marine marksman killed Clyde Barrow. Jordan's posse did the rest. They had jurisdiction in the matter. I am glad we are in agreement that Ivy was on that road. Without him Clyde would not have stopped. Who knows Henry may have been with him. If I was investigating the matter, Buddy Goldston would definetly have given a statement.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Shelley. I didn't know that story about Joyner. Wow. Oakley was trained with a Springfled 03 on Parris Island S.C. I was trained at the same place. The shot Oakley took was very close. It was lights out for Clyde. That is why Bonnie screamed. Clyde's brains and blood soaked her on that first shot. The rest is history. I enjoy this site and from Winston and you I have learned new things. I know that law enforcement didn't do much paperwork in those days. It would be great if they had taken statements from the logging truck occupants. After shooting and killing so many police officers, I think Hamer knew what needed to be done. Thanks for the info. Do you know of any photos of the Methvin truck? That is another piece of evidence lost to history.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Anonymous--

It seems you feel you can perhaps speak for me, but I can't say I agree with you on a number of points. We are not in agreement that Ivy was in the road. My feeling is-- that truth is unknown. The research I've mentioned, may change many impressions about this history. Many espouse theories based purely on supposition-- but with little to back up, what ends up seeming more like an agenda-- either for or against the outlaws.

What makes B&C History so fascinating, is that none of these accounts are as simplistic as some may wish them to be.

From what I know-- it was a miracle that Ted Hinton ever agreed to write the book, he fought against writing for so long. In knowing the Hinton family and about this man the way I do, I have no hesitation in saying-- your view that Deputy Hinton wrote his book for monetary gain-- is incorrect.

As I've often said, there are B&C lovers and B&C haters-- and then those in between. I pride myself on being a centrist for this history, because that's where I view the real truth being. This history is absolutely not as simple, as cop killers getting what they deserved-- and the rats that placed B&C on the spot.

I would say to those on both sides of the B&C debate, my view is-- it's important to consider alternate scenarios, in order to arrive at informed conclusions. This is not black and white history with crystal clear facets shining in the bright sunlight. And it's absolutely not about moral righteousness-- in the eyes of it's beholders.

The Depression Years were hardened and difficult times, which many have trouble understanding. But those most unique times in American History "were what they were". They were tough-- they "were not" fair-- and in my view, today we have no right to impose our modern morals and retrospective revisionist hindsight-- on those times and those people who lived them. Those who lived in 1930, were closer then to the ways of the wild west of the 1880's-- then we are now in looking back upon the 1930's. To me, the law and criminals were much more equal in their ruthless thinking and tactics-- than would ever be considered today.

After reading many comments from you, my respectful suggestion would be for you to shed your anonymity-- and consider other points of view, which based on the "evidence" known at this point-- certainly carry as much weight for elements you don't believe in, than for those you do. If all this was as easy as you make it, this would have been settled long ago. Interestingly it's the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde, that seems to serve as the proverbial lightning rod-- to separate followers of B&C History into definable groups, with some falling in the middle-- where the preponderance of conflicting evidence lies.

Also regarding Shelley's revelation concerning John Joyner and his family-- although this info "is" out there-- it has remained a most obscure B&C fact. Some close to the Joyner family now, have felt this knowledge perhaps hurtful to those who remain. Thus my consideration, in not so openly revealing it.

One of the key elements of The B&CHB-- has been my willingness to reveal unpublished B&C info, as I'm able to find it. Many examples of new B&C information exist here, as proof of my desire for full disclosure within this history. But I also try to balance out human considerations, for those who may remain. Unlike tabloid journalism-- I feel a more human concern is both fair and needed.

Shelley said...

You're welcome, Anon. I'm always happy to share insight, whenever it's feasible.

There are many ways to become well-versed in this history, and they all take time - lots of it. There is so very much to learn; all laced with many nuances, as Winston mentioned. You can read every book, and every article, newspaper clipping, and website you can find. But if you truly have a burning desire to get to the "inside" stories, you must also make the pilgrimage to Gibsland. It is still a land of B&C lore and mystique, and all your questions will never be answered, but at least you will be much closer to the truth.

Understandably, living descendants to those involved in the story are sensitive to what gets published. Some may share with some of us certain "tidbits" of info which is understood not to be aired in a public forum, such as this. We must respect their confidences, and we do. Conversely, I have discovered that researchers usually guard their findings fiercely - and with good reason. They often go to great lengths to obtain new information. And when they do get it, they want to save it until they are good and ready to release it. So we who are sworn to secrecy on certain issues must frequently restrain ourselves from spilling any beans, so to speak! Keep your ears open but your mouth shut, is a pretty good policy to keep.

But the way I see it, once something is published in an actual book, it is fair game to discuss openly. No one is violating anyone's trust. It's already out there for all read.

The story of Bonnie & Clyde must have a thousand fascinating sub-plots, each one a "book" in itself. There is no way anyone could ever know it ALL when it comes to B&C, but with time and effort, some come very close.

There are researcher(s) out there who have been trying to locate pictures of Ivy's truck for many years. It's my belief that no such photo exists. As for police paperwork, it was interesting to learn that although the FBI knew all about the ambush plan in advance (and didn't try to interfere), they declined to participate. The six posse members were tight-lipped and secretive for many reasons. I think the LAST thing they wanted were some eyewitness "statements" getting out there. I think they knew that all of the facts of the case, should they become public, would not quite sit well with a lot of folks. I think they just figured they had rid society of two more "vicious killers", and the details of how they accomplished their mission were nobody's business. That way they could all be heroes, all the dirty deeds behind the scenes would be absolved.

BarefootOkieGal said...

What I can't quite figure out, and which probably means absolutely nothing, is why Jordan kept putting Bonnie's name in quotation marks! The impression it gives is that "Bonnie" was not her real name...

A. Winston Woodward said...

Please note-- I won't post a comment that misstates my views, or attempts to draw unrelated parallels based on those misstated views-- as if to make it appear that I've lent support to an argument without my having done so.

Also note, than when additional info may have come to light concerning a B&C event such as the ambush-- I feel to go back to a prior post such as this, to cite older info to validate a newer point seems improper to me.

Thanks

William Deaver said...

Is anyone familiar with an article written for the Pasadena Citizen by AP writer Jacob Bernstein? It includes an interview with the last surviving person present at the shootout that day. Judge Edd L. Miller was 22 years old and hired by the rangers as Frank Hamer's driver in those days and his account of this whole shootout has it being conducted by 5 men only. Hamer, himself and one other Texas Ranger along with two deputies and that's it.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello William-- Well, you have my interest. I've never heard of this. Perhaps Hamer had a driver at some point-- but I've never heard mention of Hamer not traveling alone or with Bob Alcorn or other posse members concerning his brief time hunting B&C. Do you think you could obtain a copy of this article, scan it-- and send it to my e-mail address?? I'd be happy to discuss this with you further.

William Deaver said...

Sorry, I never got a notification that I had gotten a reply to this - Edd Miller(my 2nd cousin) wrote a book, not about this specifically but about his life a few years before his death.

http://www.amazon.com/Edd-L-Miller-Times-Tells/dp/0898963141

He lived a pretty colorful life, needless to say. According to his own accounting of this, it was his first job as a Texas Ranger and his specific job as defined by Frank Hamer, was on the down low because Frank didn't want anyone to know how bad his sight had gotten over the years. Cousin Edd's job was to drive and that's just about all he did for the man.

William Deaver said...

Sorry, I never got a notification that I had gotten a reply to this - Edd Miller(my 2nd cousin) wrote a book, not about this specifically but about his life a few years before his death.

http://www.amazon.com/Edd-L-Miller-Times-Tells/dp/0898963141

He lived a pretty colorful life, needless to say. According to his own accounting of this, it was his first job as a Texas Ranger and his specific job as defined by Frank Hamer, was on the down low because Frank didn't want anyone to know how bad his sight had gotten over the years. Cousin Edd's job was to drive and that's just about all he did for the man.

todd gideon said...

it really all boils down to this..Bonnie and Clyde's fate was sealed the moment Hamer was hired to get them. simple as that. by far the most accomplished lawman to track them, and by far the most qualified in the "ambush" posse. he figured them out fairly quickly and easily. B&C knew what kind of death awaited them..and it was the death they got.

A. Winston Woodward said...

My take is Hamer was a quite fortunate fellow, in having stepped into work already under way from the time of Sophie Stone in Louisiana, and informants not his.. also developed in Louisiana-- where the action was unfolding toward an end that was inevitable. Those aware of a detailed history of events in Acadia Parish/ before events in Bienville Parish.. know B&C could've been taken out earlier than May and without Frank Hamer. Only the respect of Sheriff Henderson Jordan for the Methvin family and one would need to understand why-- saved B&C from death earlier on. One day-- this will all be better understood. Hamer was a figurehead with a reputation surely deserved. However meanwhile.. concrete work without him had already made quite a difference toward Bonnie & Clyde's demise.