As a boy Dexter native Rod Stanley remembers searching for bullets that may have been shot by Bonnie and Clyde and the Barrow Gang at the top of a hill near his hometown.
His Boy Scout troop leader would tell the tale of how America’s most wanted couple ended up in a shootout in that very spot.
That spot, where the Dexfield Park Shootout occurred, is one of several in Guthrie and Dallas Counties where the infamous robbers Bonnie and Clyde visited.
More than 80 years later, the duo are still talked about in Iowa.
So much so, the Stuart Revitalization Group has announced the first ever Bonnie and Clyde run/walk.
The run/walk will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 13. The entry fee for the race is $35 before April 5 and $15 after April 5. Anyone can register for the race here. Or, mail in entry fees to Andrew Kaldenberg at 2706 350th St., Stuart, IA 50250.
While Stanley wasn't sure what to think about Bonnie and Clyde as a boy, he now spends much of his life researching the two robbers. He focuses on the time they spent in Iowa.
He knows the story of what happened on that hill near Dexter he used to hang out at well.
As the story goes, Bonnie and Clyde found an abandon campground near Dexter that used to overlook Iowa’s largest amusement park.
The two found a spot in the woods about half-mile up from the campground and settled in for about five days.
Eventually a local man named Henry Nye, who was picking blackberries, stumbled upon the robbers’ camp. He found bloodied shirts and bandages and went into town to tell Dexter night marshal John Love about what he found. Love notified Dallas County Sheriff C.A. Knee in Adel.
They formed a posse, drawing in young men and law enforcement officials from Stuart, Panora, Redfield, Des Moines and even Oskalossa.
Stanley, who has spent much of his life studying the events that unfolded on July 24, 1933, said he’s not sure how many people were in that posse, although he guesses between 50 and 100.
At about 5:45 a.m. July 24, the posse headed toward the camp site.
The men didn’t know what they were getting into. They carried small .410 shotguns and only one person had a machine gun.
Bonnie and Clyde, along with Clyde’s brother Buck Barrow and his wife Blanche, and their accomplice W.D. Jones were ready for a fight.
The posse would later find four Browning shotguns, which could fire 20 shots in 2.5 seconds, and 37 Colt .45s left in the Barrow’s campsite.
Despite the difference in firepower, the posse won out and drove Bonnie and Clyde from the campsite.
Bonnie, Clyde and W.D. Jones took off on foot.
Buck was shot in the back and Blanche was captured.
Word got out around town Bonnie and Clyde were involved in the shootout so a crowd of about 400 people gathered on the streets of Dexter to see Buck and Blanche.
Buck was taken into the Dexter Library to get checked out by Dr. Osborn while Blanche was in handcuffs on the street.
Stanely said those in attendance remember how bad the two smelled, and he suspects the odor was coming from a head wound Buck received a week earlier in Platte City, Missouri.
Buck died five days later at the Kings Daughter hospital in Perry. Blanche was first taken to the jail in Adel. But, the jail didn’t have a women’s ward so they moved her to Des Moines and then extradited her to Illinois, where she plead guilty to attempting to murder the Platte County sheriff.
Nearly a year later Bonnie and Clyde would return to the area. This time, they planned to rob a bank in Stuart.
It was a spring day in April when a car pulled up to the gas station in town. The gas station attendant remembers the occupants of the car were acting funny. They only rolled down their window to hand him their money.
He also noticed the car’s license plate. It had a two-digit code that identified the license plate was from Calhoun County. It had the numbers 1234. 131234, the license plate read.
The gas station attendant nor anyone else in town was too suspicious because odd people rolled through town all the time back then.
Back in the 1930s Stuart had more than 70 businesses and one of the only transcontinental highways in the United States, Highway 6, ran through the town.
“It was bumper to bumper traffic back then,” Stanley said. “Until the interstate was built in the ‘60s.”
Bonnie and Clyde and their new accomplice, escaped convict Henry Methvin, parked in an ally behind the Dexter bank.
Clyde and Henry went to have a soda at the drug store across the street from the bank. Bonnie, who burned her leg in a car crash several years before, stayed in the car.
The two then walked into the bank, showed their weapons and demanded money. They got away with a little more than $1,000. It was the last bank the two would rob.
When Bonnie and Clyde were killed in Louisiana in May of that year, officers found a stack of license plates. The Iowa plate, numbered 131234 was among the plates found.
Stanley said it was the late ‘50s when he started going to the scene of the infamous Dexfield Park shootout location. Back then he thought the tale of Bonnie and Clyde was “ancient history.”
“That’s the way you think when you’re 9 or 10 years old,” Stanley said.
Since then he’s found many people around Guthrie County who encountered Bonnie and Clyde, including Marvel Feller, who claims the Barrows still owe him money.
After the shootout near Dexter, Bonnie and Clyde, who fled the shootout on foot, stole a car from his family’s farm.
Feller told Stanley Clyde apologized for stealing the car and promised to send money. He’s been waiting for the money for 77 years, and supposes at this point he’ll never get it.
Stanley will tell more of his stories during a discussion called Shootout at Dexter: Local History of Bonnie and Clyde on May 4, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. The discussion will take place at the Guthrie County Historical Village and Museum on West South Street in Panora.