Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Would-Be Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde's notorious reputation had become so ubiquitous by the spring of 1934, shortly before their deaths, that false sightings of the desperate duo were not unusual. One example occurred in Texas County, Missouri, in early May, just weeks before the real Bonnie and Clyde were killed in Louisiana.
On the night of May 2, an automobile with two young men and a young woman pulled into a filling station at Cabool, and something about them aroused the station attendant's suspicion. The older of the young men and the woman appeared to be a couple, and the other young man seemed to be along for the ride. The attendant concluded that the threesome might be Bonnie and Clyde and a male sidekick, and he notified authorities.
Highway patrolmen Nathan Massie and Ben Graham answered the call. They caught up with the suspect vehicle just north of Cabool, and a brief exchange of fire ensued. Breaking contact once again, the fugitives abandoned their vehicle, and the two men took to the woods, leaving the young woman behind.
Coming upon the abandoned car, the officers placed the young woman under arrest. She gave her name as Florence Iseley and said she didn't even know who the two young men were, because she had simply hitched a ride with them near Charleston, Missouri.
Bloodhounds were called in to help track down the two young men. The dogs located the fugitives' hiding place late the next day, May 3, and another exchange of gunfire ensued. The older young man was killed, and the other one was shot in the arm and surrendered. The wounded man gave his name as Walter Allen and said he thought the other man was Harry Williams of Evansville, Indiana, although Allen, too, claimed at first just to be a hitchhiker. He soon changed his story, however, admitting that the dead man was his older brother, Edgar Allen, and that the woman was his brother's wife.
Young Allen said he was from Quincy, Illinois, was 18 years old, and had been released from the Algoa Reformatory near Jefferson City only four months earlier, having originally been sent there from Hannibal, Missouri.
A shotgun, some burglary tools, some ammunition, and some merchandise thought to have been stolen was found inside the abandoned vehicle. Notified of the shootout, officers in Quincy said the brothers were wanted there for theft of an automobile from a showroom on March 29 and that they had tried unsuccessfully to sell the car in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Both Walter Allen and his sister-in-law were lodged in the Texas County jail at Houston, but I'm not sure what happened to them after that.

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