Outlaw Clyde Chesnut Barrow, the partner-in-crime of Bonnie Parker, was born March 24, 1909, near Telico, Texas. Both were ambushed and shot to death by law enforcement officers on May 23, 1934.
Clyde's father, Henry Barrow, moved his family to Dallas in 1922. Four years later, Clyde was arrested for the first time on a charge of auto theft. Undeterred, Barrow next committed a series of Dallas-area robberies over the next four years.
Soon after meeting Bonnie in 1930, Barrow was jailed for burglary in Waco. He soon escaped using a handgun Bonnie had slipped past the guards. He was caught a week later in Ohio and sentenced to fourteen years hard labor in the Texas State pen. Barrow was paroled in February 1932, however, and over the next two years he became the infamous head of a gang of armed bank robbers that included Bonnie.
On April 13, 1933, the Barrow Gang narrowly escaped being captured in Joplin, Missouri. Police raided their hideout after a tip from suspicious neighbors. The latest two lawmen in what was by then a long string of murders, were killed in the shootout. A now-famous roll of film containing pictures of Bonnie and Clyde was found in the hideout.
Clyde's brother, Buck, and Buck's wife Blanche had become members of the gang. Buck was killed, and Blanche was captured in a later raid in Platte City, Missouri. Bonnie and Clyde escaped again. In 1934, they freed a former gang member from Eastern State Prison in Texas, along with another prisoner. It was a daring machine-gun raid in which one guard was killed and several were wounded.
After another robbery spree in Indiana, the Barrow Gang was tracked to a farm in Arcadia, Louisiana. Leading the search were Texas Ranger Francis A. (Frank) Hamer and FBI special agent L.A. Kindell. Hamer arranged a roadside ambush in Gibsland, Louisiana. Travelling alone, Bonnie and Clyde were killed in a flurry of gunfire. Their bodies were put on public display in Dallas before burial in their separate family plots.
Folklore subsequently glorified the criminal couple as Robin Hood-like characters. A 1967 hit movie about them starred the beautiful and glamourous Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. The real Bonnie and real Clyde bore little resemblance to such popular stories.
Bibliography: Ron Tyler, ed., The New Handbook of Texas, Vol. 1 (Austin, Texas: Texas State Historical Association, 1996) p. 396.