Monday, March 16, 2015

Bonnie & Clyde at Dexter-- One Suicide Pact, One Empty Gun?? and One Escape From the Feller Farm. But How to Reconcile the Stories??

When it comes to Bonnie & Clyde History, many things are surely known-- while others are not.  Such is the case concerning the consecutive gun battles of Platte City, Missouri and Dexter, Iowa.  Lawmen have their versions, many of which were published within news articles-- and therefore subject to embellishment by themselves or reporters alike, to include bravado unrealized and less than accurate knowledge having festered like Dandelions among Spring grass.  Then there are the Bonnie & Clyde books-- some more reliable than others, based on diligence of research and reliance on those news articles.  Concerning the books-- Bonnie & Clyde "lore" is usually either acknowledged as such, or miraculously transformed into fact without cause, in order to over-sensationalize the already sensational. 

It is interesting though, to read some quite detailed accounts of these gunfights-- via Dallas Bonnie & Clyde Bureau of Investigation file 26-4114-- not previously released, when many of the best Bonnie & Clyde books were published.  These versions have the advantage of professional lawmen having interviewed Peace Officers on the scene, who participated in the events-- while these battles were still fresh.  Some criticize these files, viewing them as slanted towards the lawmen's  point of view.  I don't-- in feeling the diligence involved in officially chronicling these events important.  Lawman to lawman-- especially lawman to the Bureau at that time, to me-- is better info than lawman to reporter.  

In addition, there are the small number of interviews with Barrow Gang members, some of which obtained by Peace Officers upon capture-- and thus could be considered info obtained under duress.  And some, such as W. D. Jones' interview with Playboy Magazine-- which contains wonderfully personal insider knowledge recounted voluntarily, although some 35 years after the fact-- and without guidance concerning publisher intervention and editing.  One would think these Gang accounts "good as gold" concerning info provided-- however amongst those who would surely know-- apparently there's "wiggle room" between some historical accounts.  Then not to be outdone-- don't forget the family stories, which depending on who you believe-- have revealed some remarkable insights into Bonnie & Clyde, made known by those privy to info held within a tight circle of participants.   

This brings us to considering Dexter, Iowa and the near annihilation of the Barrow Gang in July of '33-- along with one quite interesting aspect of Billie Parker Moon's unpublished manuscript.  Within her memoir was an account attributed to Bonnie Parker, concerning the shootout at Dexfield Park and Bonnie & Clyde's suicide pact-- apparently in place since nearly the beginning of their exploits.  The quote from Billie reads as follows--

But very few people know about the suicide pact the kids made early in their wanderings-- when they finally realized they could never get out of the life they had made for themselves. The movies never mention the fact that after a shootout at Dexter Park, Iowa, Buck was almost dead and his wife was blinded from flying glass fragments. Bonnie, Clyde and another companion, W. D. Jones, had to abandon the Buck Barrows and escape by swimming across a river. All three were seriously wounded, to a point where Bonnie told me the water around them was red with their mingled blood."

"Clyde handed their only gun-- the only weapon they salvaged in the mad fight-- to W. D. and told him if the police moved in, he was to use the gun on Bonnie. He told W. D. to tell lawmen Bonnie and Clyde had forced him to stay with their gang. Clyde dragged himself across a nearby field, stole a car and returned to pick up Bonnie and W. D."  "We heard Clyde coming back but we didn't know it was him" Bonnie said. "When he finally got close enough to whisper his name to us, W. D. already had the gun at my head-- cocked and his finger on the trigger."
Billie Parker
However this account from Bonnie told via Billie, is in disagreement with the story told by W. D. in '68, and serves as an addendum to the story told by Marvelle Feller-- who was also there to witness the 3 remaining members of the Barrow Gang's escape from the hell they found themselves in at Dexfield Park.  Many if not most within this history have taken Marvelle Feller's story concerning Bonnie, Clyde and W. D.'s escape from the Feller Farm "to the bank" over the years.  You know the story-- where Clyde duped the Fellers with an empty gun-- the only gun left to the Barrow Gang's disposal at Dexfield Park.  Fooled by an empty gun??  Well of course, the Fellers not knowing that-- complied and watched their car driven away in a last-ditch Barrow Gang escape from certain death. Feller apparently said he only learned Clyde's gun was empty, from W. D. Jones' Playboy revelation.

John Marvelle Feller
So then, how could Clyde have had only one weapon and still left W. D. with a gun to Bonnie's head??  Easy-- same gun. If Bonnie & Billie were was right, Clyde went looking for a way out, spotted a solution via the Fellers and returned for them.  Then, Clyde surely could've threatened the Fellers with the same gun he left with W. D.. 

So was the gun loaded or not??.. "that" is the question.  A question no one alive today can answer.  However--  it seemingly makes no sense for W. D. to traumatize Bonnie by placing a gun to her head with the hammer cocked thinking she was about to die-- if the gun was empty.. does it??  And no sense for Clyde who loved Bonnie, to allow that to happen.  Thus despite what W. D. said-- if Bonnie and Billie are right-- W. D. was either wrong about the gun being empty or thought he was wrong.  Maybe it's just me-- but I think it would've been easy for W. D. to omit sensitive info concerning Bonnie & Clyde in perhaps not telling all he knew-- for as his respect for them seemingly never waned, he always appeared loyal, polite and chose his words carefully whenever referring to their exploits. 

W. D. Jones in later years
One rub between versions of the gang's escape from the Feller Farm, involves whether Clyde brought Bonnie & W. D. to the car-- or the car to them??  Since Marvelle Feller told the story on behalf of his family-- his account was that Bonnie and W. D. were brought to the farm and interacted with perhaps all Feller family members on site.  As that seems too many people to denounce-- I feel that part of Billie's account could be wrong. 

However Bonnie is "quoted" concerning the gun to her head incident.  Everyone I've spoken to who knew Billie personally, has had the same impression of her-- in that she held no respect for those who weren't truthful.  So you be the judge.  My instincts are to believe the suicide pact account-- and feel W. D. "true blue" to his friends Bonnie Parker and  Clyde Barrow-- so true blue, as not to admit-- he might have killed Bonnie per Clyde's instructions. 

Want yet 3 more accounts of the Dexfield Park shootout-- one  by the Dexter Town Marshal at the time along with 2 others??  Please find them here--

There seem to be a number of issues with Marshal Love's account of the shootout-- vs the recollections of others which seem more numerous and consistent.  The main  problem with Love's beliefs, have to do with bullet wounds suffered at Dexfield Park-- wounds he felt occurred previously at The Red Crown shootout.  Besides the admissions and observations made by others at the time, some of whom were the ones shot-- I would think such serious injuries, wouldn't allow for that amount of time to pass without treatment.  Buck's demise of course, was the prime example of that.  

Controversy and disagreement within Bonnie & Clyde History??  Say it ain't so.  And so it goes..

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