(Reeds Spring encounter)

First - about the Contributor: Robert H. Gibbons

Robert H. Gibbons is Past President of the Greene County Historical Society in Springfield, Missouri.
He had the good fortune to have met and interviewed Bonnie and Clyde kidnap victim - Officer Tom Persell
before he had died. Mr. Gibbons was also instrumental in getting a museum in the Old Calaboose Jail near
the Public Square in Springfield. On display in the Old Calaboose are a Thompson sub-machinegun and shotgun
supposedly owned by Bonnie and Clyde and donated to the police department by a man named Max Larimore
who had an armored car service in Springfield. Mr. Gibbons displayed the weapons July 4, 1976 at his Bicentennial
Museum a couple of blocks from the current Old Calaboose Jail, which also serves as a police substation.

Robert's father, John Robert Gibbons had come to the Ozarks in 1932 from Illinois
and was a traveling salesman for the P. Lorillard Co. selling Old Gold cigarettes.

Mr. Gibbons has communicated with the President of the Old Wilderness Road Society who
revealed that Highway 13 in the 30s and today follows the Old Wilderness Road into Arkansas.
The gentleman told him that one of the witnesses to the Barrow gang driving by, is still
living, but is laid up at his home. A woman who lives near Yocum Pond where the main gun
battle occurred, has some tommy gun shells. Many years ago Mr. Gibbons went to the Saunders
Gun Museum in Berryville, Arkansas and they had a hat that belonged to Clyde Barrow when
he robbed the bank at Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The Old Calaboose Jail in downtown Springfield is within a construction site for a new parking structure immediately
to its west along Market St. The original Police Station was where the parking structure is being built. To the north
of the Old Calaboose Jail and parking structure is the construction site for a 14-plex movie theatre called College Station.

Springfield, MO Leader and Press, February 13, 1934
The notorious Barrow desperadoes kidnapped and later released two men on their dash
through the Ozarks country was interrupted yesterday by a gun battle with officers near
Reeds Spring. The Texas outlaws, led by Clyde Barrow and his cigar-smoking sweetheart
Bonnie Parker, today were reported in the vicinity of the federal penitentiary at
Leavenworth and the Kansas State prison, although southwest Missouri officers had expected
them to head for the Oklahoma badlands after their trail was lost at Eureka Springs,
Arkansas last night. Joe Gunn, 40, eccentric farmer who batches in the hills nine miles
southwest of Reeds Spring was a captive of the Barrows when they riddled an officer’s car
with machine gun and rifle bullets, he reported today.

Famished and fatigued when picked up on a highway near Reeds Spring at 11:30 o’clock
this morning, Gunn described Barrow perfectly and identified Bonnie Parker by a small growth
on her nose which Motorcycle Officer Tom Persell had noticed when kidnapped by the Barrow
gang a year ago. They rode in the front seat during the flight from officers, he said. In
the back seat with Gunn, he said where two men, one of whom officers believed was Raymond
Hamilton, who escaped from a Texas convict road gang when Clyde and Bonnie battled the guard
several weeks ago. A man whose name Gunn did not learn, was kidnapped from the roadside at
the edge of Berryville, Arkansas as the bandits fled south and released simultaneously with
Gunn a few minutes later. Gunn said they both walked into Berryville without speaking. Gunn
then described his solitary all-night walk back to Reeds Spring in a conversation relayed to
Springfield by a telephone operator. Gunn’s story this morning revealed that he was the man
who sat in the car during the gun battle with officers, rather than Barrow, as officials had
believed and that Barrow himself had done most of the shooting. Gunn’s report of his
experience today revealed the inner story of the dash which began in Springfield, when Mrs.
George Thompson, 1304 East Walnut Street saw two men roll the new Thompson sedan out of the
driveway and sped away. She identified one of them as Barrow from his rogue’s gallery picture.
Not long afterward, the machine containing several persons roared through Hurley. Sheriff
Tuttle was notified and picked up the chase at Galena, but the stolen machine was far in the
lead when abandoned for Barrow’s own maroon sedan before reaching Reeds Spring. J.O. Tolley,
Reeds Spring school superintendent saw them changing license plates and obeyed a signal to
drive on. Sheriff Tuttle took charge of the stolen car and Deputies Sam Thompson and Ernest
Hayes continued the chase. City Marshall Dale Davis was waiting for the car at Reeds Spring.
The Barrow gang, which already had picked up Gunn, saw the trap, stopped, shot until the
deputies were out of ammunition and then continued.

Stone County Sheriff's Office photo

I had been to a grist mill, 2-1/2 miles southwest of Reeds Spring and was walking back home
on a side road when the bandits drove up beside me Gunn recalled. There was a man and woman
in the front seat and two men in the back seat of the red car, he said. One of the men got
out of the back seat and asked me the direction to Berryville. Before I had time to answer
he had a gun on me and told me to jump in the back seat. I did and we started out to the
farm-to-market road between Reeds Spring and Cape Fair. We saw some officers coming and
drove into another side road and found we were hemmed in. "We’ve got to let ‘em have it boys",
Gunn quoted the small dark-complexioned man believed to be Raymond Hamilton, Texas fugitive
made selections from four automatic rifles. There was a pile of shotguns in the back seat
and enough ammunition to say mike, Gunn declared. Twice, Clyde emptied his weapon, Bonnie
reloading it while Gunn sat by, frightened stiff. As her sweetheart’s machine gun threw a
spray of perforations over the officer’s car, the auburn-haired bandit queen was delighted,
Gunn said. 
Barrow gave the signal to drive away after the officers’ ammunition was exhausted. Gunn
said Hamilton climbed into the car, snickered and declared: I sho tried to kill that
______ in back of the car! Gunn believed he was referring to Deputy Ernest Hayes of Stone
County, who was aided in the battle by Deputy Sam Thompson. Gunn said little conversation
took place between the members of the gang during the 46-mile drive to Berryville. On the
edge of Berryville, Hamilton left the car and approached a pedestrian asking directions
to Eureka Springs. The second victim, like the first, did not have a chance to answer before
Hamilton started gunplay. Shanghaied into the front seat, the newcomer directed them toward
Eureka Springs. About eight miles south of Berryville, Barrow stopped the machine, tweaked
Bonnie’s nose and announced: There’s no use carryin’ this dead weight, baby. The captives
took their cue when nudged, Gunn said, and alighted. We have been pretty good to you boys,
so I want you to give us a 40-minute start, Clyde was quoted as demanding before his sedan
rode away in a cloud of dust. It was about nightfall when the captives were liberated and
Gunn said the two walked back to the edge of Berryville without exchanging a single word.
Gunn, a community oddity, has never talked on the telephone and his interview this afternoon
had to be repeated by a telephone operator. He has other eccentricities, his friends at Reed
Springs said. Gunn was found walking along the main highway 5 miles south of Reeds Spring
shortly after 11 o’clock this morning by R. H. Sharp, a road contractor. His heavy cap,
overcoat and overalls were ruined with dust, and he was famished and fatigued. Suede jackets
apparently belonging to Clyde and Bonnie, who are known to delight in them, were found in
the recovered Thompson car. A man’s hat was found aT the site of the shooting.

Raymond Hamilton yelled "We’ve got to let ‘em have it boys"

The old Farm to Market Road looking east. Clyde drove down this hill as the
gun battle ensued He then turned right (south) towards Arkansas state line.

Headstone photo courtesy of Randy Rose
Joe Gunn is buried in Bruner Cemetary - Bruner, Missouri.

Springfield News & Leader, Springfield, MO.
Dale Freeman, Editor

Contributor: Robert H. Gibbons

Joe Gunn was interviewed when he was 77, so that should tell the date of this original material.
Much of it was published when Joe Gunn died. Here is the complete interview:

They were being chased by Stone County officer" Gunn recalls. "Raymond Hamilton and another man were with them.
They turned off on a country road west of Reeds Springs. I was living on lower James River, and was walking to town
that day for my weekly groceries. They stopped me near Fred Tolbert's farm. They said they were lost and ordered
me to get in the green Chevrolet four-door with them and show them how to get into Arkansas.
The car was full of guns. I got in the back seat between Hamilton and the other man they called 'Gibbons'.
Clyde was driving. Bonnie was by him with an automatic rifle in her lap. They were all pretty calm. They didn't
seem nervous or scared. I had them drive to the Cape Fair Road and turn toward Highway 13, south of Reeds Spring.
Just before we got to the junction in a low gap by Yocum Pond, we saw a load of armed officers blocking the road
ahead. They were Galena men".
Bonnie cursed and said "There they are! We had just as well stop and have it out with them!." They piled out of
the car and starting shooting the automatic rifles at Deputy Sheriffs Ernest Hayes and Sam Thompson, who dived for
cover under their car after emptying their pistols. One of their bullets came through the windshield and plunked
into the car by my head. Pellets from a shotgun rattled all over the car. There was an awful noise from the guns.
About that time Deputy Willard Kissee and Reeds Spring's Marshall Dale Davis drove the car over a hill behind us.
Hamilton turned his rifle on them. They backed the car out of sight. I never saw them anymore. The outlaws then
piled back into the car and gave it the gas.  We ran out into the ditch going around the officer's car. Hamilton
and Bonnie showed the car with bullets as we drove by.  Bonnie cursed a lot. I thought they might think I had led
them into the trap, and would shoot me. I was scared stiff. They all looked mean and hard now."
I told Clyde to turn south on 13.  We went about two miles when we saw another carload of officers parked at the
side of the highway. Clyde didn't even slow down. Hamilton and Bonnie opened up with the rifles as we passed.
The officers ran.
When we got to Berryville, Ark., they stopped, gave me $10 and told me to get out. They didn't harm me at all. 


Five Desperadoes Escape into Oklahoma Hills After Shooting It Out With Officers
Barrow Outlaws Flee After Battling Officers
The Stone County News Oracle, Wednesday, Feb 14, 1934

Clyde Barrow and has gang of outlaws, including the cigar-smoking gungirl, Bonnie Parker,
paid Stone County a visit on Monday of this week and created considerable excitement in the
vicinity of Reeds Spring when local officers attempted to stop the bandit car. Barrow and his
gang had stolen an automobile from the Thompson Tire company in Springfield and headed south
with it and another car. Barrow and his woman companion were riding in the new car.

The cars went through Hurley and officers at Crane and Galena were notified to be on the
lookout for the gang. Sheriff Seth Tuttle and other officers, including Sam Thompson, Robert
Weaver, Ernest Hayes, and Robert Galloway started to the highway north of town and just as
they reached the Pine Run bridge, the bandit cars sped past and continued toward Reeds Spring. 

The officers gave chase and came upon the new car parked on the highway about two miles
east of Galena where it had been abandoned. Evidently the car became heated and failed to
run further. Sheriff Tuttle took possession of the stolen car and other officers continued
the chase. In the meantime Constable Dale Davis of Reeds Spring had been notified and had
the highway near the underpass at Reeds Spring blocked. As the bandits approached the underpass
they saw the road was blocked, turned their car around and retraced their path to the Finis
White place, turned off on the Bear Den Road and proceeded south. Constable Davis pursued the
machine, but a fusillade of bullets from the bandit car put the Davis machine in the ditch.

Other officers had gone through Reeds Spring and turned west on the farm-to-market road to
Cape Fair in the hope of heading them off. About a half mile out on the road the officers saw
the car coming and stopped their car. The bandits also stopped their car about 200 years away.
Three men got out of the car with blazing guns. Two of them had machine guns and the third an
automatic rifle. The officers were driving in the Chevrolet sedan of County Clerk J.A. Hall.
The occupants of this car were Deputy Sheriffs Ernest Hayes and Sam Thompson and a recruit,
Robert Galloway, all of Galena. One of the officers had a shotgun and the other two men
pistols. They emptied their guns at the approaching bandits but soon ran out of ammunition.
One of the bandits’ bullets went through the windshield and through the rear door of the Hall

The rear door was open and Earnest Hayes was crouched behind the door as the bullet whizzed
through the door just above his head. Another bullet went through both front and rear fenders
on the left side of the car and a third hit the right front drum of the wheel putting the car
out of commission. When the bandits saw that the officers had fired all their ammunition they
returned to their car and drove past the officers, struck the highway and headed south. They
turned off on the Baxter farm-to-market road south of White River and near Baxter they turned
south again and headed toward Berryville, Ark. The bandit car was trailed through North Arkansas
and was lost in the Oklahoma hills. Just as the bandits abandoned the stolen car east of Galena,
Superintendent J. O. Talley of Reeds Spring came along and saw the outlaws changing the license
plates to the other car and slowed down to get the license number, but was waved on by the

The stolen machine was returned to Galena and was turned over to the owner Monday night. In the
car that was abandoned, Sheriff Tuttle found two suede jackets presumably belonging to Barrow
and his woman companion. A new hat was also found near the scene of the gun battle, as well as
an empty machine gun clip and empty shells used in the rifle. South of the Finis White place the
bandits came upon Joe Gunn, who they kidnapped and compelled him to show them the road south to
Berryville. They let him out of the car near Berryville and he returned to Reeds Spring about
11 o’clock. He said the bandits tried to kill Earnest Hayes during the gun battle and that Hayes
broke the windshield of the bandit car with a bullet, but that none of the occupants of the car
were injured. Evidently Hayes had saved part of his ammunition to use on the bandits as they
came by his car.

Partial article where Margaret Gracey Ellison adds to Reeds Spring story
"My mother enjoyed taking my friends and me to the country on nature hikes,
one of which became unexpectedly exciting. In the early 1930's she and several of
us were walking south on Highway 13. As we approached the junction of Highways 13
and 76 going to Cape Fair, we saw police cars pull off the highway. The policemen
yelled at us to climb the fence and lay face down on the ground because Bonnie
Parker and Clyde Barrow, the notorious outlaws were on their way and they wanted
to head them off at the pass. In a short time, Bonnie and Clyde turned the corner
and there was heavy gunfire from their car and from the police cars as they careened
around the corner. I saw Bonnie shooting out the back window. It was an experience
I'll never forget. Fortunately no one was injured.