At Perry’s Violet Hill Cemetery, when the women in my family took home-grown flowers to arrange into bouquets for Memorial Day, my mother pointed out the headstone of Clint Knee, one of Iowa’s first state patrolmen.
His named came up again when I learned that he was part of the posse during the 1933 shootout in Dexfield Park. But he’s been an elusive man to learn much about, a quiet Iowa hero.
C. A. Knee was born southwest of Perry in Dallas County in 1887 and attended Jamaica country school.
For some time he was a stationary engineer on the Milwaukee Railroad in Perry. Knee served in World War I as a private in a transportation unit in France.
He served on the Perry City Council, and was elected Dallas County Sheriff in 1931. He served five terms and was also elected president of the Iowa Sheriffs’ Association.
As sheriff, Knee was part of the posse that arrested Buck and Blanche Barrow in July 1933, when the Barrow Gang hid out in Dexfield Park near Dexter. During the ensuing shootout, Bonnie, Clyde and their driver escaped.
The Iowa State Patrol was created in 1935, originally composed of 50 men. Knee became one of the early state troopers. He was appointed chief of the Iowa State Patrol in 1939. One of his first actions was to establish the Patrol Special Accident Investigation Unit.
Knee died in 1946 and was buried at Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry alongside his wife, Elva Knee.
Source: Iowa State Patrol by Scott M. Fisher, clipping from the Jan. 18, 1939, Dallas County News
From Jeremy Rodman, who found my April 19, 2020 story about Clint Knee in The Perry News: “My wife’s grandfather Richard Shinn of Adel, Iowa inherited C.A. Knee’s gold watch he received for retirement from the State Patrol. The watch is now under our care. Thank you I have wanted to learn more about this Iowa hero.”
I asked how her grandfather knew Mr. Knee, and asked for a photo of the watch.
Answer: “Richard ‘Dick’ Shinn, grandfather of my wife Daisy Hutzell-Rodman, was taken under Chief Knee’s wing and was Richard’s surrogate grandfather. Richard later owned the Shinn Grocery in Adel Iowa. After Richard’s death a few years ago Daisy and I went to his home now in Estes Park, CO where we were allowed to pick a few items to remember grandpa Shinn. I asked about the gold watch as no one wanted it and was allowed to keep it.”
The inscription reads “To Chief C.A. Knee from ISP 12-25-44”