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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Stone Gardens: Henry Dallas Humphrey - Struck down by members of the Barrows Gang near Alma in 1933

Alma Town Marshal Henry Dallas Humphrey

Although revisionist history sometime tends to cause us to romanticize the outlaws and gangsters that have emerged from our heritage as "folk heroes". the unvarnished truthy is that most participated in evil, wanton acts that impounded our communities st the time they plied their crimes in our region.

Crawford County has known the stings of arrows of criminal activities over the years and one of the most egregious of all foul deeds occurred in 1933 when Alma Town Marshal Henry Dallas Humphrey was shot and killed by the notorious outlaw gang led by Bonnie and Clyde.

Marshal Humphrey was working the night shift and in the early morning house of June 22, 1933, two men captured himas he was making his rounds outside the Commercial Bank building in downtown Alma.

They bound Humphrey with baling wire, stole his flashlight and pistol, and broke into the bank where they went to work securing the bank safe. Law enforcement didn’t realize until later that it was the Barrows that stole the safe.

The next day, June 23, 1933 Marshal Humphrey got a call from his office alerting him that there had been an accident on the old highway going through Alma.

He was given the license number and was notified of another robbery in Fasyetteville at Brown’s Grocery, and a car theft. Crawford County Deputy Sheriff Ansel “Red” Salyers, a friend of Marshal Humphrey’s, offered to go with him. Due to the urgency, they took Deputy Salyers’ car.

As the Marshal and Deputy Salyers drove north on Highway 71, they passed a slower-moving blue Chevy truck driving south. Seconds later a Ford sedan sped by them, also going south. The sedan disappeared over a hill and the officers heard a loud crash as the sedan rammed into the back of the Chevy truck. Marshal Humphrey quickly turned around and rushed to the accident.

Buck Barrow and W.D. Jones

He then realized the sedan was the car they were looking for - it was Buck Barrow and W.D. Jones, who had robbed the Fayettevile store and stolen the Ford. The gang quickly recovered from their crash and grabbed their guns as Deputy Salyers’ car approached and blocked the road.

Marshal Humphrey drew the Smith & Wesson .38 revolver he had borrowed from his brother-in-law, as his weapon had been stolen the day before, and as he appeared out the door of the vehicle, Buck Barrow shot him full in the chest with buckshot and he fell into the ditch.

Two or three minutes of gunfire erupted between Deputy Salyers and the suspects before Buck’s shotgun jammed or was emptied.

Deputy Salyers took this opportunity to find cover and ran toward a house nearly one hundred yards to the west of the scene.

The second suspect fired at him but missed, although bullets passed through the house and barn and nearly hit a man working in a nearby strawberry field.

As Deputy Salyers re-loaded, Buck and W.D. ran to the Deputy’s car where Marshal Humphreys was still laying, grabbed the wounded Marshal’s gun and drove away. The Marshal was taken to the hospital and on June 26, 1933 he died after having only been with the agency two months.

The two criminals were finally shot and killed in Louisiana when Texas and Louisiana task forces ambushed them.

Marshal Humphrey had been with the agency for only two months and was survived by his wife and three children.

He is buried in Alma City Cemetery, Alma, Arkansas. The City Complex Building in Alma has erected a plaque commemorating the Marshal for his service and sacrifice.

The Bonnie and Clyde Gang was responsible for the murder of law enforcement officers in four states - Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas - between 1932 and 1934.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow started their criminal career by robbing banks and quickly became notorious murderers wanted for the murders of nine law enforcement officers.

The two criminals were finally shot and killed in Louisiana when they were ambushed by a task force of Texas and Louisiana officers.

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