John Dillinger was a well known gangster who operated in the United States until his death in 1934. He had been born in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 22, 1903. Dillinger’s mother died when he was three years old and he was raised by his father and stepmother, with whom he is said to have had a difficult relationship. The family moved around somewhat and Dillinger dropped out of school. Around 1923, he joined the United States Navy. He was assigned to the U. S. S. Utah but only served a short while before deserting, after which he launched his criminal career. Not long afterward, Dillinger was arrested, tried and convicted for a 1924 robbery of a local grocery in his adopted home town of Mooresville, Indiana and was sentenced to the Indiana State Prison. There he was exposed to fellow convicts including a number who had been bank robbers. Upon his parole in the spring of 1933, he and several associates began to commit a series of bank robberies in Indiana and Ohio.
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Constable Cal Campbell was the last lawman to be killed by the Barrow gang. The list of law officers who were victims of the gang is as follows:
Eugene Moore, Atoka, OK, 8/5/1932
Malcolm Davis, Dallas, TX 1/6/1933
Harry McGinnis, Joplin, MO 4/13/1933
Wes Harryman, Joplin, MO 4/13/1933
Henry D. Humphrey, Alma, AR 6/26/1933
Major Crowson, Huntsville, TX 1/16/1934
E. B. Wheeler, Grapevine, TX 4/1/1934
H. D. Murphy, Grapevine, TX 4/1/1934
Cal Campbell, Commerce, OK, 4/6/1934
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.
The headline of the Corsicana Daily Sun, January 16, 1934, read “Noted Texas Desperado Shoots Down Guards On Eastham Prison Farm,” referring to Clyde Barrow. Though Clyde was directly involved in the prison break, the headline overstated Barrow’s role in the death of one guard and the serious injury of another. Guard Major Crowson (Major was his given name) was said to have been shot point blank in the abdomen by convict Joe Palmer. Another guard by the name of Olin Bozeman was shot in the hip, apparently by convict Raymond Hamilton although in early accounts, various other prisoners were said to have shot the guards. Bozeman recovered from his wounds, but Crowson succumbed to his gunshot wound some eleven days later, after identifying Palmer as the one who shot him.
In the latter half of the 1870s in Lampasas County, Texas a feud developed between two families, the Horrells and the Higgins. Prior to that, the Horrell brothers, Mart, Tom, Merritt, Ben and Sam, had come to the attention of state law enforcement officers. In early 1873, during a short period when the Texas Rangers had been disbanded by the federal government, the Horrells were involved in a several incidents. In place of the former Texas Ranger force, reconstruction Governor Edmund J. Davis promoted a state police force around 1870 to be positioned in authority over all state-wide and local law enforcement. This was on the heels of the end of the Civil War and the emphasis was to be inclusive of non-white lawmen when selecting officers, though some whites were also hired. This led to race-related conflicts between the officers and the general population in addition to natural conflicts with criminal elements. The Texas Rangers would later be reinstated in mid 1873.
Belle Starr, the famous “female outlaw” was born Myra Maybelle Shirley on February 5, 1848 to John and Elizabeth Shirley in rural Missouri near the town of Carthage. It was a time when bandits, either male or female, were celebrated in some ways. Her family lived on a farm. Reportedly, they were also slave owners in a time when strong attitudes for or against slavery divided residents especially in so-called border states. Her family later sold their rural property and moved into Carthage where they ran the inn and several other businesses. The civil war came and a brother joined the Confederate army and more specifically the controversial outfit known as Quantrill’s Raiders. Her brother Bud Shirley was killed in Missouri in a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops. The economy had generally deteriorated in Missouri because of the war and the Shirleys packed up and moved to near Scyene, Texas, at the time located southeast of Dallas, around 1864.
Sheriff Pat Garrett is best known for having killed the outlaw Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. He was born in Alabama in 1850 and moved with his family to Louisiana where they owned a plantation but their business was destroyed by the Civil War and his father died a few years after the war’s end. Fewer people probably know that when he was younger, he spent some time working as a cowboy in the vicinity of Dallas, Texas. He then went on to work on the LS Ranch out in the Panhandle area (now Oldham and Hartley counties).