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Lancaster Bank Robbery Pivotal in Bonnie and Clyde Saga

Posted by on November 26, 2013
Robbery photo

Dallas Morning News photo{1}

February 27, 1934. Clyde Barrow and fellow gang member Raymond Hamilton rob the R.P. Henry & Sons Bank, in Lancaster’s Town Square, taking over $4000. Olin Worley, a customer in the bank, and Laurence L. Henry, one of R.P. Henry’s sons and the cashier, were held at gunpoint while the bank was looted. Another gang member waited in the getaway car by the side entrance while Bonnie Parker waited in another car near Kleberg.{1} Less than 3 months later, on May 23, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow would be dead, shot in an ambush in Louisiana.

It was in a disagreement over the splitting of the money from this robbery that Raymond Hamilton left the gang.{2} In a written statement witnessed by the Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid, Texas Ranger Jim Shown, and other officials, John Mullen, one of the Barrow gang members, reported that Bonnie Parker had insisted on an equal share of the loot and that this angered Hamilton.{3} Blanche Caldwell Barrow also wrote of the incident. In her memoir, My Life with Bonnie and Clyde, she wrote that “it was Mary O’Dare, Hamilton’s girlfriend, who drove a wedge between Barrow and Raymond Hamilton. Barrow told Hamilton to dump his girlfriend or leave. Hamilton left.”{4}

It was not until April of that year that the public learned of the split. In a letter sent to Dallas attorney Albert Baskett, dated April 5, 1934, Hamilton asserted that he hadn’t been with Clyde Barrow since the Lancaster bank robbery. The letter, which was on hotel stationary, was intended to prove Hamilton had an alibi when the Barrow gang had committed a murder in Oklahoma.{5}

The R.P. Henry & Sons Bank was the first official bank of Lancaster. It was founded by Rene Paul Henry in 1889. The bank was located in southeast corner of the historic town square.{6} It was apparently one of only six daylight bank robberies by the Barrow gang in 1934 and the only one in Texas.{7}  The historic building was hit head on in the devasting tornado of April 1994 and was subsequently razed.

Read the articles:
“Bank Bandits, Thought to Be Barrow And Hamilton, Get $4,138 and Escape”
“Hamilton Parts Ways With Barrow, He Writes Lawyer, Remitting $100”
“Ex-Convict Bares Inside of Barrow Feud With Chum”
“Ask Death for Ray Hamilton”
“Funerals to Inscribe Finis On Bloody Saga of Outlaws”

citations

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