The Barrow Gang in Northwest Arkansas - James R. Knight

James R. Knight is the author of
"Bonnie and Clyde - A Twenty-First-Century-Update"

James R. Knight grew up in Alma, Arkansas and now
lives in Germantown, Tennessee. He is the author
of an article entitled, "Incident at Alma" which
appeared in "The Arkansas Historical Quarterly".

The article is an attempt to give a complete,
accurate account of the Barrow gang's operations
in Crawford, Washington, and Sebastian Counties
in the summer of 1933 and is based on all
available local newspaper stories, as well as
other published works, and personal interviews.

In this section, I am including some photos and
excerpts from his booklet. I would like to thank
Mr. Knight for providing me with a copy of his
booklet, and granting me permission to reproduce
materials from it.

The material presented here, is the copyrighted
works of James R. Knight and may not be used
without the express permission of the author or
the Arkansas Historical Quarterly.

Marshal Henry D. Humphrey of Alma
Author's collection, courtesy of Humphrey family
In the summer of 1933, Bonnie and Clyde were
the most wanted criminals in the Southwest.

Even though they passed through northwest
Arkansas many times during the two years
they were active, that summer was the only
time they actually operated in the area.

They stayed about ten days and were involved
in or accused of robbery, murder, rape, and
assult and were the subject of a three-county
Henry D. Humphrey was a well-liked honest fellow who did repairs and odd jobs
at the local high school and farmed with a team of mules. He was fifty-one when
he became a lawman.

He had been urged to run for town marshal of Alma by some local businessmen and
was elected to a term beginning on May 1, 1933. He kept his day job because the
town marshal in a town of eight hundred was primarily a night watchman and because
the job paid only fifteen dollars a month.

Just before two o'clock on Thursday morning, June 22, two men captured Marshal
Humphrey while he was making his rounds in downtown Alma. They took his pistol
and flashlight and bound him with baling wire.They then broke into the Commercial
Bank building by way of a back window, laid the marshal on the floor, and went
to work on the four-thousand pound safe containing thirty-six hundred dollars.

At the time of the robbery, no one knew the Barrows were in the area. When their
presence became known three days later, some townspeople speculated that the gang
might have robbed the bank. Walter Patton Jr, a long-time Alma resident and Marshal
Humphrey's nephew, says that the safe was eventually recovered from Hollis Lake
southwest of Van Buren.

His father, who worked for the bank, was called in to open it. All the money was
still inside, and the safe was put back in service. To this day no one knows who
robbed the bank that Thursday morning. Before the day was over, however, the town
of Alma had ordered for Marshal Humphrey, a steel bulletproof vest. It was to be
delivered in about a week and would protect against pistol rounds and shotgun
pellets. It would come too late.

Buck Barrow and W.D. Jones left the Dennis Tourist Camp in the Ford sedan sometime
before noon on Friday, June 23. There were two reasons for the trip. First, they
were almost broke. Bonnie's care, medicine, and their room and board for the last
nine days had taken almost all their cash.


Bonnie's burns (from the Wellington car wreck) were far from healed, and Clyde
did not like to leave her, so the job of raising some money fell to Buck and W.D.

About 5:30 P.M. Buck let W.D. off in front of their chosen target, the Brown
Grocery at 111 West Lafayette, and drove around the block to the Mt. Nord area to
wait. Jones netted twenty dollars from the register, and thirty-five cents from the
bag boy. He stole the delivery truck, which he had to start by pushing it down the
hill, and drove around the block to meet Buck.

They were last seen in the Ford sedan driving south on U.S. 71 at a high rate
of speed. The Fayetteville police placed calls to surrounding communities, including
Alma, since it was at the intersection of U.S. 71 and U.S. 64. If the bandits stayed
on U.S. 71, they would pass through the town. The call to town reached Marshal Humphrey
at the AHC service station run by his son Vernon. He was given the license number and
asked to look for the getaway car last seen headed his way.

Vernon Humphrey would have gone with his father, but he could not leave the station
unattended. Ansel M "Red" Salyers offered to drive Marshal Humphrey in his maroon Ford
four-door. Red worked for the electric company but was also a Crawford County deputy

The Marshal was carrying a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver which belonged to his
brother-in-law, Walter Patton. He had borrowed the pistol because the bank robbers
had taken his city of Alma weapon. Saylors carried a Winchester 30-30 he had taken
in trade for a man's electric bill. It was about 6:20 P.M. when the two men left the
AHC in Salyer's car.

Buck Barrow had driven the dangerous curves of U.S. 71 between Fayetteville and Alma
in about fifty-five minutes. At 6:25 P.M. he passed Salyer's car. He would have had a
clear road back to the Dennis Motel had it not been for the slower-moving blue Chevy
that had just disappeared over the crest of the hill ahead. By the time Buck saw the
car, it was too late.

Driving with all the windows down on that 102-degree day, Salyers and Humphrey
easily heard the crash when Buck rear-ended Wilson's car. As soon as they could,
they turned around and rushed back to the scene. As they approached, Marshal Humphrey
saw the license plate (1933 Indiana 225-646) and told Salyers that it was the one
they were after.

Wilson had just managed to crawl out of his wrecked car when the officers' car
drove up and turned to block the road. Buck picked up Clyde's sawed-off shotgun,
and W.D. took a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle), a .30 caliber machine gun-Clyde's
automatic weapon of choice. When Wilson saw the two armed men, he wisely ran away
into the cane field next to the road.

Whether Marshal Humphrey shouted a challenge is not certain, but as soon as he
appeared out the right-handed door, Buck shot him full in the chest with buckshot,
blowing him into a ditch by the side of the road. Salyers, who was somewhat shielded
by the car, was left with his Winchester to face the pair alone. After a few seconds,
there was a break in the bandits' fire.

Buck's shotgun had jammed or was empty, and he was in the process of throwing it back
in the car and getting his own Winchester Model 1912 16-gauge pump. Knowing they would
kill him if he stayed, Salyers ran toward a house over one hundred yards to the west.
W.D. could not hit the running man, but managed to put bullets into and through the
house itself, into the barn beyond the house, and even into a strawberry field several
hundred yards away, where Walter Collum was working.

Salyers reached the safety of the house's rock chimney and began to reload his
rifle's 7-round magazine. Meanwhile, Buck and W.D. ran for the lawman's car, since
it was the only one that would still run. One of the gunmen went to the wounded
marshal and took his pistol, while the other got in and started the car.

Salyers resumed shooting from the house. In spite of hits from the deputy's rifle,
W.D. and Buck drove back north up U.S. 71, firing at a passing motorist, B.C. Ames
of Fort Smith, on the way. By Monday morning, the 26th, the press had the story.
The morning "Southwest American" ran the headline, "The Barrow Boys Shot Marshal".

By the afternoon deadline, the "Fort Smith Times Record", had pictures of Buck,
Clyde, and Bonnie. They also had another scoop. Now it was murder. Marshal Henry
D. Humphrey died at 10:15 that morning.

Ansel M. "Red" Salyers photo courtesy of James R. Knight

Publication source
Arkansas Historical Quarterly
Vol.LVI Winter 1997 No.4

JUNE 23, 1933
On June 22nd 1933, two bandits, believed to have been Buck Barrow and W.D. Jones,
kidnapped Alma Marshal Henry D. Humphrey and forced him to enter the Commercial Bank
with them. After tying him to a pillar, they loaded the bank's safe into a truck,
and vanished out of sight. Bonnie Parker was still suffering from the burns she
received in the Wellington crash. The Barrow gang's funds were running low and Clyde
was too concerned with Bonnie's welfare to leave her. So Buck Barrow and W.D. Jones
began robbing the area grocery stores alone. On June 23rd Buck and W.D. robbed Robert
and Nell Brown's Grocery store in Fayetteville and headed toward Alma.


Robbed June 23, 1933

Humphrey had heard the radio broadcasts about the two bandits heading his way and
believed that these were the same two men that had embarrassed him on the previous day.
He headed out with his deputy, A.M. Salyer to intercept them on the road to town.
While enroute, they saw a car traveling at considerable speed, pass them and crash
into another vehicle. The victims of the other car were angry at the two men for
causing the crash and picked up a couple of rocks and approached the bandit's car.

When they found themselves looking down the barrel of Buck's shotgun, they dropped
the rocks and ran away. Humphrey and Salyer who had both witnessed the accident went
to assist the victims, not knowing that the victims were in fact the objects of their
search. Buck and W.D. used the car's doors as a shield and began firing away at the
two lawmen. W.D. using a .41 caliber pistol, missed his target but Humphrey took Buck's
shotgun blast to his chest. The deputy ran away and took refuge at a nearby farm house.
Marshall Humphrey died on Monday June 26, 1933.

Hideout Update:
Article in the March 14, 1999 Arkansas Democrat Gazette about Bonnie and Clyde.
On June 24, 1933 Clyde robbed Brown's Grocery Store of $20. That store building is
now owned by the Central United Methodist Church located at 111 W. Lafayette Street,
Fayetteville, AR who is planning to demolish it for a parking lot. Many want the
building restored.

The woman who had treated Bonnie after the accident had claimed that Bonnie's burns
were caused by battery acid which had spilled onto Bonnie while she was pinned under the
car. Bonnie's immediate treatment of bicarbonate of soda would have been a good thing,
as this would have neutralized the effect of the acid.