Bonnie and Clyde Shootout at Dexfield Park

Since 1933, Dexter, Iowa, has been known for the shootout with the Barrow Gang in Dexfield Park. At that time, the gang consisted of Clyde Barrow, his girlfriend Bonnie Parker, Clyde’s older brother Marvin “Buck” Barrow and his wife Blanch, and teenager W. D. Jones.

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The gang hid out in Dexfield Park campground for five days, recuperating from a Missouri shoot-out. Buck Barrow had a severe head wound. Every day Clyde would drive into Dexter where they bought meals, medicine, and even clothing from Dexter merchants. Dexter was right along White Pole Road, so it was common during the Depression to have travelers from all over and strangers who stayed at the park. Although most people parked in town heading in, but these people always came to town in pairs and backed in their Ford and left the engine running.

Some Girl Scouts, including Maxine Shell, were also camping in Dexfield Park. One morning they took a long hike and came upon some people at a campsite, waved, and greeted them. Later they learned they’d encountered the Barrow Gang.

After someone found bloody bandages and alerted authorities, who began to suspect the campers were indeed the Barrow Gang. A posse of about fifty officers, including Dexter’s lawman John Love and County Sheriff Clint Knee, and other men surrounded the gang early July 24, 1933. Bonnie, Clyde, and Jones escaped north where they hiked to the Vallie Feller farm to steal a car.

 

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Blanch Barrow being restrained. Her husband Buck is on the ground at right.

Des Moines Tribune front page

The Dexter Museum has artifacts, pictures and maps from Dexter’s brush with the notorious brush with the Barrow Gang. Rod Stanley is the local expert on the Barrow Gang and often gives programs about them. So many people asked what happened to them after the Dexfield shootout, so he had a large map made for the museum of their robberies and shootouts.

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Rod Stanley telling about the Bonnie and Clyde gang shootout in Dexfield Park–to riders on the 2017 River to River Retro Road Trip. Photo by Shelley Martin.
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Marker near Dexfield Park, with an original lamp. Also remembers the 1933 shootout with the Barrow Gang, also known as Bonnie & Clyde

This YouTube video tells about the shootout, interviewing Kurt Piper and Marvelle Feller, who were there that day.

Sources: 1968 Dexter Centennial history; Reflections Along the White Pole Road by White Pole Road Development Corporation, 2008. Museum Board member Doris Feller wrote the section in the Reflections book called “Barrow Gang Captured.” Her father-in-law’s “First-Hand Recollection” and Maxine Shell Hadley’s “Witness to Bonnie and Clyde” are also found there.

 

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