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 Blanche, and teenager W. D. Jones.
Bonnie and Clyde were together only two years, between 1932 and 1934, committing a dozen murders and a string of robberies. Bonnie had been an A student in high school, and was married to someone else. Blanche, Buck’s wife, was a preacher’s daughter.
The gang hid out in Dexfield Park campground for five days in July of 1933, 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, these people always came to town in pairs and backed in their Ford to park and left the engine running.
Some Girl Scouts, including Maxine Schell, 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, surrounded the gang early July 24. Bonnie, Clyde, and Jones escaped north where they hiked to the Vallee Feller farm to steal a car.
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.
Rod Stanley periodically leads tours out to the area where the Barrow Gang hid out in 1933. Check the Dexter Museum Facebook page for his contact information. The museum also has books for sale about Bonnie and Clyde, and the notorious gang is also featured on the museum t-shirt.
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.
Running with Bonnie and Clyde: The Ten Fast Years of Ralph Fults by John Neal Phillips