Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Matt Miller
Expedition Date: January 25 & February 9, 2017
Did you know that famous gangster Clyde Barrow of Bonnie & Clyde fame was arrested in Middletown? Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway portrayed these Depression Era gangsters as folk heroes in the movies. But in real life, they were nothing like that as they robbed banks, killed guards and terrorized people.
In 1930, after Bonnie Parker smuggled a gun into a Waco, Texas jail for boyfriend Clyde Barrow, he used the gun to free him and two others. They drove through Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana stealing cars and burglarizing stores. The gang made several Middletown area thefts including the B & O Railroad ticket office. Following a wild car chase and gun fight through downtown Middletown, the three stopped the car on Auburn Street and took off on foot. Two were arrested and but Clyde eluded the MPD for a while. He stole a car, abandoned it on Wilbraham Road, ran to the canal and threw his gun in the water before being arrested. At first Clyde gave his name as Robert Thomas, but his fingerprints identified him as the 19 year old, short 5 ft. 5 inch, Clyde Barrow from Texas.
BARROW ARTIFACTS & FINDS
I spent a day researching at the Middletown Library where I found the Tuesday, March 18, 1930 “Middletown Journal” blazed the headline “Bandit Suspects Held By Local Police, Gun Fight Plays Part in Capture.” The Wed., March 19, 1930 Journal article describes the chase in detail and the Fri., March 21, 1930 article states the trio will be returned to Waco, Texas.
My son and I were able to view new archives that had just been donated to Carillon Park thanks to curator Gwen Haney. They included a Bonnie and Clyde wanted poster by the Department of Justice and a negative of the set of Barrow’s fingerprints. Clyde’s gun is still believed to be in the canal/river.
Following arrest, Barrow was returned to Waco, where he was given a 14 year sentence. He would be released in February of 1932 and soon thereafter, he and Bonnie became a legend, robbing banks throughout the Midwest until their deaths in a police ambush in Louisiana in 1934. But early in their career, Barrow was arrested here in southwest Ohio just like Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger.