Chasing Bonnie and Clyde in Dallas, Part II

In my last entry, I talked a bit about Bonnie and Clyde, who happen to be buried in Dallas (though not together). I even directed the interested onlooker to the grave of Bonnie Parker, which is located in the Crown Hill Memorial Park on Webb Chapel Road, one of our main thoroughfares.

By all accounts, Clyde C. Barrow was by far the more bloodthirsty of the Bonnie-and-Clyde duo. An ex-con, he came from a family full of criminals, which Bonnie did not; she had, in fact, been more or less squeaky-clean before meeting Clyde in 1930. There’s evidence that even once she’d turned to a life of crime, Bonnie kept to the logistical side of the ledger, and rarely if ever soiled her hands by firing a gun. On the other hand, Clyde is known to have shot and killed at least ten people, and probably more (their official death count stands at 12). Together, they were efficient kidnappers, murderers, and robbers <> of banks, gas stations, and stores (the last two Clyde’s specialty).

Bonnie had long foreseen that the couple would die as they had lived, and had expected that they would be buried together; but they weren’t, because the Parker family refused to allow it. Clyde was actually laid to rest in an old, historic cemetery called Western Heights a good distance away from Bonnie, at 1617 Fort Worth Avenue. He’s buried right beside his brother Marvin I. “Buck” Barrow, who’d died in July 1933 in Iowa as the result of injuries sustained in a shootout. (Bonnie and Clyde were killed on May 23, 1934).

Western Heights Cemetery

Given the fact that there are several other Barrow grave markers to be seen in the old cemetery, this was probably the family cemetery for the Barrows, at least at the time. Unlike Crown Hill Memorial, Western Heights Cemetery openly acknowledges the presence of the Clyde, and Buck as well.

Marker

When I visited the cemetery it was in a poor state of repair and was quite overgrown, with tree branches down all over the place; I suspect it’s no longer used for burials, so the caretakers don’t visit it much. The graves of the Barrow boys are at the west end of the graveyard, more or less underneath a huge billboard that’s located cheek-by-jowl with the cemetery fence. It wasn’t installed all that long ago, either. Clearly, no one had any idea of the historical significance of the nearby grave, and I’ve gotta wonder — did they even know it was there? Because it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Here’s what it looks like.

Barrow Grave

As you can see, the two brothers share a stone. Here’s a close-up image of it. Across the bottom it’s got the inscription “Gone But Not Forgotten” — not quite as twee as Miss Parker’s inscription, and quite literally true, still today.

Stone

I couldn’t find mention of how many people attended Clyde’s funeral (there were 20,000 at Bonnie’s), but I doubt it was quite as festive, because Clyde wasn’t quite as popular. People were aware that Bonnie probably didn’t have a direct hand in the actual crimes perpetrated by the Barrow Gang (though make no mistake, she was always a willing accomplice), while Clyde was bitter about the way he’d been abused while an inmate in the Texas prison system, and was willing to take out that bitterness on anyone. People argue today about whether he was really remorseful about his murders (the Warren Beatty character in the 1967 movie was not), but what does it matter? He still killed at least ten people, and dead is dead is dead, to misquote Gertrude Stein. Some of the dead were law officers, so it’s no surprise that the posse that killed him and Bonnie circumvented normal procedures and took them down without demanding a surrender. While the way it was done isn’t really excusable, it’s understandable — cops won’t let cop-killers get away with killing their own. Period.

Western Heights Cemetery is located at 1617 Fort Worth Avenue, and Clyde Barrow’s grave lies on the far western end. Please note that there’s a possibility that you won’t be able to get into Western Heights to see Clyde’s grave. While a gate was open when I visited the first time, when I went by later for more pictures it had been locked. By contrast, Crown Hill Memorial Park, where Bonnie is located, is quite public and still in common use, and opens its gates early every morning.

4 Replies to “Chasing Bonnie and Clyde in Dallas, Part II”

  1. Just a little update from the article. Well, the older I become, the more I am interested in past history in the Dallas area. So, I found Bonnie’s grave and it is well maintained, with artificial flowers on it. Today, October 17, 2008, I found Western Heights Cemetery, on Fort Worth Road, and the pictures in this article showing a chain link gate and fence are no longer present. There is now a black wrought iron fence around the cemetery, and the entrance has no gate, although the entrance is very narrow and filled with potholes. The cemetery seems to be better maintained, mowed and tree limbs removed, although a great number of headstones are broken off or have fallen over. I found the Barrow’s headstone in the southwest corner of the cemetery, closest to Fort Worth Road, between two trees. There were artificial flowers around it, and it seemed to be in good condition. Really seemed surreal, in that such a murderous man was buried there, and that he is famous, but the people he gunned down aren’t. Seems rather backwards doesn’t it??!!

    Anyway, the gravesite can be viewed any day, as I said there are no gates to the cemetery. I have taken pictures of the area and the headstone. So interesting that such famous individuals are buried in the Dallas area.

  2. Hi Phil.

    Thanks so much for the update! I think I’ll go and check it out for myself next time I’m there. I never did get a decent shot of the grave (I’m still not happy with the ones above), and it’s nice to see that they’ve decided to take alittle better care of the place.

    At some point, I plan to go look up some of the other famous people buried in the area…there are a surprising number.

    Cheers,

    Floyd

  3. I enjoyed reading the posts. I’ll have to take my dad by to see the gravesites when he’s here this Thanksgiving. He grew up in Arcadia, LA and has told us about his schoolbus driver taking a detour through town after school to let the kids see the Barrow gang’s bullet-riddled car parked in front of the funeral home. He recalls that most in the community were not too happy with the actions of the police that day, not that they didn’t want the Barrow gang brought to justice but feeling that they exceeded the bounds of civility.

  4. Hi Mike,

    Wow, that’s some memory to have, isn’t it? You shouldn’t have any trouble finding the graves. Clyde’s cemetery has been spruced up a bit lately, and it should be easy to get inside. Thanks for your comment!

    Cheers,

    Floyd

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