The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

April 11, 2008

Apartment, shootout inextricably link Joplin to Bonnie and Clyde

By Wally Kennedy

wkennedy@joplinglobe.com

Buck Barrow had just been freed from prison.

He and his wife, Blanche, wanted to rendezvous at a secluded place with his brother, Clyde, and his girlfriend, Bonnie Parker. They chose a newly constructed apartment at 34th Street and Oak Ridge Drive as the place where the brothers would reunite.

On April 1, 1933, Paul Freeman, the developer of the Freeman Grove addition in south Joplin, was approached by a man who wanted to rent the apartment. The man introduced himself as W.I. Callahan, an engineer from Minneapolis, Minn.

The apartment, at that time, was on the outskirts of town, but it was two blocks from South Main Street.

For 12 days and nights, Bonnie and Clyde, the Barrows and an accomplice by the name of William Deacon “W.D.’’ Jones lived peacefully in the two-bedroom apartment. A delivery boy brought them groceries. The boy would later say that the occupants of the apartment seemed like ordinary folks.

On April 13, their tranquil respite was shattered when a patrol car pulled up in front of the apartment’s garage doors. Five lawmen, tipped to the possibility that outlaws might be in the apartment, approached the dwelling. That would be a mistake.

Without warning, the outlaws opened fire on the lawmen. Harry McGinnis, 53, a Joplin detective, and John Wesley Harryman, 41, a Newton County constable, were shot. Harryman died instantly. McGinnis would die later. The other lawmen, Walter E. Grammar and George B. Kahler, both with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Thomas DeGraff, a Joplin detective, would survive the shootout.

The gang emerged from the garage in Clyde Barrow’s 1932 V8 Ford, but the patrol car was blocking the gang’s exit. One of them got into the patrol car and tried to get it to roll down the hill in front of the apartment, but couldn’t. They then rammed the Ford into the patrol car to move it out of the way. After that, they fled south on Main Street and eventually escaped through Spring City.

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