Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hattie Crawford-- The Nurse Informant "Revisited"

In examining Barrow Gang informants-- last time we looked at the Sowers, Texas Informant. This time, I'd like to profile a much lesser known B&C snitch, Hattie Crawford-- The Nurse Informant. I'm sometimes asked about Hattie, and the time she administered medical aid to Clyde Barrow. Explanation of this incident goes a long way toward revealing an age old B&C question-- as to whether when seriously hurt, The Barrow Gang doctored themselves, or instead risked exposing their whereabouts-- by seeking medical attention from others.

The Hattie Crawford story goes-- that on December 14th, 1933, Sheriff Dee Watters of Miami, Oklahoma notified an Agent of the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, saying that he had information regarding B&C which might result in their capture. Sheriff Watters informed the Bureau, that on the evening December 6th-- a nurse named Hattie Crawford treated a man suffering from gunshot wounds. This man matched the description of Clyde Barrow, and was positively identified as being in the company of Bonnie Parker.

The background of this case is as follows: On the afternoon of December 6th, 1933 while exiting her apartment, Mrs. Hattie Crawford a nurse from Miami, Oklahoma-- was approached by a man who asked where he could find the nurse who lived in the apartment building where she lived. Mrs. Crawford identified herself as that nurse. The unidentified man asked Hattie if she would go on a call-- and she agreed. The man instructed her to take a bus to Afton, Oklahoma. Per this stranger's instructions, she left on the 6PM bus. Upon arriving in Afton, she was met by the same man who had spoken to her earlier, plus another man who was unknown to her.

All drove to Vinita, Oklahoma-- and proceeded to a house on the outskirts of the city. There they were admitted to the home by a woman whom Mrs. Crawford identified as Bonnie Parker. Hattie later explained to police, that approximately 8 years before, Bonnie and her mother lived in Miami, Oklahoma-- and that she was well acquainted with Bonnie. After entering the house, Nurse Crawford was taken to a bedroom where a man lay in bed. She was provided an alcohol solution and bandages made from a bed sheet. She stated the man had 2 gunshot wounds-- one on the left leg and one on his left arm. Mrs. Crawford then proceeded to dress these wounds.

Thereafter, she was taken back to Miami, by the same 2 men who had brought her to Vinita. The men asked if she could return the next night. Mrs. Crawford said she could. The men paid her $5 (about $75 today). They also warned Hattie about informing anyone concerning the matter. She later said it was her intention to immediately notify the police-- but as she felt she may have been watched, she didn't. Finally on December 14th, she mustered the courage to go to the authorities with her story.

Mrs. Crawford provided a description of the house and furnishings where she had helped the man. She was unable to positively identify a photograph of Clyde Barrow, but said the man fit his description. However, she did identify a photograph of Bonnie Parker. She said she wasn't able to closely observe the parties in the house, as they had her work by flashlight. The Sheriff of Vinita, John York was present when Hattie Crawford was interviewed regarding this incident. He identified the house in question as belonging to Mrs. Jane Hall of Vinita. It was said, Mrs. Hall had not lived in the house for several years (except for a few months), and at the time-- she had been staying on a ranch in Texas. Bob Hill of Vinitia, was known to be custodian of the property.

Mr. Hill said he was unaware of anyone occupying the Hall House. He allowed the authorities access to the home. Accompanied by Sheriffs York and Watters, a Bureau Agent and Mr. Hill-- the residence in question was examined on December 15th, 1933. Bloody bandages and a bloody undershirt were found. Later, Hattie Crawford was taken there. She positively identified the house, as being the place she was taken to offer assistance to whom it was believed to be Clyde Barrow. After the investigation, the house was placed under surveillance, and Mrs. Crawford agreed to notify Sheriff Dee Watters with any additional information she might have.

This incident along with others now revealed through the Dallas FBI Files on Bonnie and Clyde, clearly show that when seriously hurt-- The Barrow Gang sought medical care whenever they could. The 2 doctors known to have examined Bonnie at Ft. Smith, and the doctor said to have aided Clyde again with bullet wounds at Bell Chaney Springs-- are further proof of this. Unless another incident could be shown to have occurred after the Sowers ambush attempt, where Clyde would have been wounded-- I think it's fair to say Hattie Crawford may have been dressing Clyde's wounds from Sowers. I've never known, whether Nurse Hattie Crawford was charged in any way criminally in having assisted Bonnie and Clyde. Perhaps someone might know this, and would please comment.

Although the fear of retribution delayed Hattie Crawford from telling the authorities of her story in helping Clyde (which was likely the only goal of the threats)-- Mrs. Crawford as many did, came forward to help police in their tracking of B&C. As such, I've described her as the Nurse Informant. I hope that within the realm of life and death, she won't mind. Next time, I'll profile another who betrayed B&C to help lead to their capture. I welcome your comments and questions-- and as always my best to you.


dave said...

Excellent and very interesting info, Winston. It's all new to me. I love it. Thank You

joe from Canada said...

What can I say that I have not said before about your posts and your excellent writing technique in story telling. We, who have read the B&C accounts know of the Sowers incident and that Clyde was wounded. Until now we see them driving into the "sunset" wounded and that's where it has ended and a new story begins. No author, in my readings has ever told how these wounds healed. This is the story behind the story. Thank you

You need to write the story of B&C and you has to include all your accounts. Let it be 800 pages long-I am convinced that whoever picks up your book would never be able to put it down. Please write a book. I certainly will buy one
Continue your great work

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello all--

Thanks for your kind comments. I do enjoy this history so.

I need to maintain my focus concerning this newest post-- with so much involved within it. Thus the archived posts. I figured some of the old posts would be of interest once again, to some who hadn't seen them the 1st time around.