ES Independent Column – Bonnie & Clyde

I ran across an interesting newspaper article published in the Joplin Globe on Valentine’s Day, 1934 concerning the infamous outlaws Bonnie & Clyde coming through this part of the Ozarks.

Forty year old bachelor farmer Joe Gunn told this story: “I had been to a grist mill southwest of Reed Spring and was walking back home on a side road when the bandits drove up beside me. There was a man and woman in the front seat and two men in the back seat of the red car. 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.” After he was in the car, Joe Gunn continued: “We saw some officers coming and drove into another side road and found we were hemmed in.”

Clyde Barrow is reported to have said, “We’ve got to let ’em have it, boys,” before picking up a submachine gun and shooting at Sheriff Seth Tuttle’s automobile. He emptied his weapon twice with Bonnie reloading it for him while Joe Gunn said he sat “frightened stiff” in the backseat.

Escaping after the gun battle, the criminals continued on to the edge of Berryville, where they stopped and asked a pedestrian for directions to Eureka Springs. Before the pedestrian could answer, he too was kidnapped. The article says that about eight miles south of Berryville, Clyde Barrow stopped the car, tweaked Bonnie’s nose and said, “There’s no use carryin’ this dead weight, baby.”

The two kidnapped men were freed and they walked back to Berryville without speaking. From Berryville, it took Joe Gunn all night to reach Reed Spring on foot. The story of Joe Gunn’s kidnapping was relayed with the help of a telephone operator because Mr. Gunn had never before used a telephone.

Bonnie Parker, 23, and Clyde Barrow, 25, were to be killed in a shootout with law enforcement three months later in Louisiana.