FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - A historic Dallas home connected to the criminal exploits of Clyde Barrow and the Jan. 6, 1933, shooting death of Deputy Sheriff Malcom Davis is up for demolition.
But Jeff Hill has a plan to salvage it and bring it to Fort Smith. He just needs a carpenter with some tools and a few extra partners to help pay about $11,000 to haul it from Dallas. Well, the front 14 feet of the home anyway.
Hill, a local history enthusiast who has helped track down several Fort Smith connections to the Barrow gang, secured a donation of what is known as the McBride Home at 3111 N. Winnetka in West Dallas from the Wesley Rankin Foundation. It took Hill three years of hounding the foundation’s board. He was notified in November by the foundation that the home would be demolished by the first of 2020 if a place was not found for it.
Hill has made attempts to save other houses with historic ties to no avail. This was the first he’s had a chance to save, he told the Southwest Times Record. The small “shotgun” house is just around the corner from where Clyde Barrow’s father had a gas station, he noted. Lillie McBride was the sister of Raymond Hamilton, a criminal cohort of Barrow’s.
“Fort Smith is a Bonnie and Clyde town,” Hill said of the reason why he would like to see it in Fort Smith. “They used the Dennis Motel on Midland as a hideout, they likely robbed the Monroe Store, which is now Arlie Muck’s downtown, for clothes after a shootout in Joplin, Mo. And they also likely robbed a Fort Smith cigar store.”
Buck Barrow, when running with his more famous brother Clyde, also killed Alma City Marshal Henry Humphrey after robbing a grocery store in Fayetteville.
Clyde Barrow’s nephew, Buddy Barrow, has recently gotten in on the McBride Home salvage, Hill said Friday. They are set to meet Monday at the old home.
Hill would expect the McBride Home to serve as both a visitors’ attraction and a memorial to the officer slain in the line of duty.
A Fort Smith businessman has offered support for the project, and a place for the home, if others also step up to get it from Dallas to Fort Smith. Hill has worked for the past month to find people who will help move the home.
Hill’s research has previously led to the house Bonnie Parker broke into for a pistol which she then smuggled to Clyde for use in the escape from the Waco jail. That building was torn down for a new pawn shop. He also found a Kroger that Clyde Barrow robbed in Springfield, Mo. It was also torn down and turned into a parking lot. He located a Piggly Wiggly that Clyde Barrow robbed in Abilene, Texas, which is still standing. And he has reached out to the Abeline Historical Society about getting a marker.
In the timeline of events for the criminal career of Bonnie and Clyde, the Malcolm Davis shooting was just a few months before the duo became nationally known in the Joplin, Mo., shootout. A roll of film they left behind provided police and the media with photos of the gang.
According to research provided by Hill, police were in the process of investigating a bank robbery involving Barrow’s friend Odell Chambless. It was rumored Chambless might show up at the West Dallas home of McBride. Lillie McBride’s sister tipped officers when the home would be unoccupied. Officers awaited Chambless from inside the home, according to a history of Davis’ killing provided by Hill.
“A dark figure exited the car and approached the porch of the McBride home. It was Clyde Barrow and when he realized that it was a trap he pulled out a shotgun and fired at the window,” the story reads. “Malcolm Davis, a deputy from Tarrant County, ran to the front of the house just in time to catch the second blast from Barrow’s weapon when the shooting began.”
The car took off, driven by either Bonnie Parker and Odell Chambless, or Parker and their new 17-year-old sidekick, W.D. Jones. Clyde Barrow ran off into the darkness and was picked up later. Davis died from his injuries before reaching the hospital.
Hill found two patched over bullet holes on the front of the house he suspects are from Barrow’s shotgun.
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