spirit inn of mission valley

Outlaw couple stopped in Seadrift

January 28, 2005

Editor's Note: Henry will return with his regular column on Wednesday, Feb. 2. This is from a column on Sunday, Jan. 5, 1992. Chasing down old outlaws can really be a chore.


I had been trying to trail Bonnie and Clyde through this area for some years and recently learned they had spent some time in Seadrift, though I am not certain just what they were doing there.
They evidently didn't get into the mischief they did elsewhere, one reason being there was no bank there at the time. The outlaw couple was best known for knocking over small banks during the Depression years before finally being ambushed and killed near Gibsland, La., on May 23, 1934.

I have heard conflicting accounts, one being that Bonnie Parker's mother lived up from Seadrift on the Guadalupe River for a time, also that her in-laws, on her husband Roy Thornton's side, lived at Seadrift.
There are indications Bonnie visited there on more than one occasion.
A native of Rowena, out in Runnels County near where I grew up, Bonnie Parker had married Thornton in September 1926 when they were schoolmates living at Cement, a suburb west of Dallas.
Bonnie and Clyde met in January 1930 after she was estranged from Thornton, a friend of Clyde's having a sister who was married to Bonnie's brother, Buster.
One of the problems with trying to trace the whereabouts of Bonnie and Clyde is that at any one time they were never in a place for long.
The only connection to this area of record was when the couple and Bonnie's onetime boyfriend, Raymond Hamilton, stole a car on Aug. 15, 1932, in Victoria, which would not have been too long after Barrow had been paroled from the state penitentiary.
In another incident in this part of Texas, Hamilton and another man had robbed a bank at La Grange on Nov. 9, 1932, and were later arrested in Michigan.
A native of Telico in Ellis County, Barrow was first arrested as a teenager in 1926 after stealing a car in Dallas, but the charge was dropped. He was first sentenced to prison in Waco on seven counts of auto theft and a burglary in 1930.
Bonnie and Clyde led a sensational life of crime - kidnapping, murdering and knocking off banks - until they were gunned down in Gibsland.
Barrow supposedly committed a dozen murders, took part in several kidnappings and numerous holdups.
Prior to stealing a car in Victoria on Aug. 15, 1932, Barrow, Hamilton and at least one other accomplice were involved in the killing of an undersheriff, Eugene Moore, at a dance in Oklahoma.
Just before arriving in Victoria, Barrow, Parker and Hamilton had kidnapped a Carlsbad, N.M., deputy sheriff, Joe Johns, but left him unharmed beside a road near San Antonio.
As to their being in Seadrift from time to time, it is said they spent a night there on at least one occasion at the old Hotel Lafitte.
Not much is known about their stay, other than that they had a room with windows providing a clear view of Bay Street.
Although he didn't know it at the time, Melvin Blake recalled that he and his brother, Andrew, saw the couple gassing up at Louie Coward's garage and filling station.
"The reason I knew later," he said, "I saw the woman smoking a cigar. That was the funniest thing I ever seen in my life, back then women didn't smoke nothing."
Smoking cigars was something of a trademark for Bonnie Parker.
Blake said he could not be sure of the year, but he was 7 or 8 years old and that would have made it around 1933 or 1934.
Dorothy Wilson said her father, David Williams, who was a city cow herder at the time, had also seen the notorious couple on Main Street getting gas.
Allie Morganroth is another who encountered Bonnie and Clyde in Seadrift, when the pair came to her family's home claiming that they were looking for scrap gold, like in old eyeglass frames, watch cases and the like.
There was never any incident, as such, in Seadrift involving Bonnie and Clyde, though Blake recalled they did ask Coward for directions to the bank and that he pointed out the location where there had been one.
Could be they were running low on cash.

Copyright, (c) 2005, The Victoria Advocate

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Spirit Inn of Mission Valley ~ History
3377 Lower Mission Valley Road ~ Victoria, Texas 77905