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Henry and Ivy Methvin

09 Jan

Ivan “Ivy” Terrell Methvin was born April 5, 1885 in Louisiana to Hamilton Terrell and Mary E. Barron Methvin.  Ivy was one of five children and their names all began with the letter I:  Iverson Victor (1876-1952), Izaarh (or possibly Isaiah, 1877- about 1894), Isaac (1879- about 1894), Idonia (the only sister, 1882-1910) and Ivy, all born in Louisiana.  In the 1880 census, Hamilton Methvin’s profession was listed as being a farmer.  In some listings, Izaarh and Isaac have the same years of birth and death, but in the 1880 census, Isaac is not quite one year old while Izaarh (possibly just a misreading of the written name) was at least one year older.  Of the children, Iverson survived the longest, living until 1952, working as a farmer for many years and later working as a cobbler of shoes in Louisiana.  Iverson and his wife Sarah Huggins Methvin had a large family.  The sister Idonia married a man named Campbell and had a small family before she passed away at around the age of 28 in Oklahoma. Hamilton Terrell Methvin died a about eighteen months after Ivy was born.

Not a lot is known about Ivy and some of the other siblings in their early years, but it seems that Ivy was raised by his older brother Iverson.  In the 1900 census, both he and Idonia were living with Iverson and his wife Mildred.  Ivy is also believed to have married Eva Stephens prior to 1910 and the couple had three sons: Terrell (1910), Henry (1912) and Cecil (1914). Ivy seems to have always worked in some aspect of farming and lived in Louisiana.

The middle son of Eva and Ivy Methvin, Henry Methvin, appears to have worked at least for a while on the family farm.  The first newspaper reference to Henry and crime came from the Victoria Advocate of September 22, 1930, under the sensational headline “Cutthroat Victim Is To Live.”  The two-paragraph article stated that Refugio, Texas oil field worker Charles Hughes (56) remained in serious condition after having his throat slashed, but that he was expected to recover.  His throat had been cut, allegedly by passenger Henry Methvin (19) of Ashland, Louisiana, who was arrested in possession of Hughes’ automobile two hours after the attack. About a month later, Henry was convicted of the assault in district court and was sentenced to twelve years in prison.  Presumably this led to him being placed in the prison system where he then met Clyde Barrow.  Henry Methvin was one of the prisoners who escaped in the breakout from the Eastham Prison Farm on January 16, 1934.  Other accounts speculate that Methvin took advantage of the prison break confusion, joined the escape on his own and was allowed to become part of the gang, the membership of which was somewhat fluid over the years. Accordingly, though Henry Methvin is associated with the Barrow Gang, he was only with them off for the few months from the date of the prison break in January until Clyde and Bonnie were killed by a posse in an ambush on May 23, 1934. He is known to have participated in several crimes committed by the gang during this period.

The ambush itself is generally thought to have been set up with the cooperation and participation of Ivy Methvin in exchange for a promise of leniency from the Texas authorities for his son Henry for some (but not all) of the crimes of which Henry was accused. His pardon did not extend to other states. Henry was later tried and convicted of the murder of constable Cal Campbell in Oklahoma.  Henry initially received a death sentence, but it was later reduced to life in prison.  After serving about ten years in the penitentiary, Henry was released.

He did not stay out of trouble with the law.  An article in The Crowley Post Signal from October, 1946 reported the arrest of Henry Methvin and Joe E. Aycock for the theft of two vehicles, one from a Minden, Louisiana taxi driver and another from an individual in West Monroe, Louisiana.  In addition, Methvin was charged with drunk driving.  No other information has been located regarding the disposition of this case, however.

The circumstances of Ivy’s death are not documented in local newspaper archives, but Ivy was involved in an auto accident in the summer of 1946 and died of his injuries about a week later, according to his death certificate.  Ivy was 61 years old at the time of his death.

Henry died in 1948 when he was run over by a train in Louisiana. An article in The Crowley Post Signal in 1948 gave the following details under a headline “Coushatta Man Crushed To Death By SP Train.”  The article stated that a 36 year old man (Henry Methvin) was killed when he apparently tried to crawl across the tracks of a moving Southern Pacific train after the train resumed its route after its 4:00 p. m. stop in Sulphur, Louisiana.  There was one eye witness to the accident, an acquaintance of Methvin, who said that the two had gone to Sulphur to try and locate a brother of Methvin.

There are various conspiracy theories about the deaths of Ivy and Henry, that each of their deaths could have involved revenge in some way, but no one was ever arrested for involvement in either death.  There was also a rumor that circulated not long after the 1934 killing of Bonnie and Clyde that Clyde Barrow had buried some of his money on the farm of Ivy Methvin, but nothing was ever found, as far as we know.  An article from the Abilene Reporter-News in early June, 1934 stated that the only money found in the death car was $505 on Clyde’s body and that this money was given to Clyde’s father when he came to Louisiana to claim Clyde’s body.

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