Dallas County and Polk County Auxiliary Images

I need to start today’s post by wishing Bill a happy birthday. Happy birthday Bill!

Bill - Sympathy

March 12, 2019


I hope your birthday is as amazing as you want it to be!


I’m combining the auxiliary images from the town sign harvesting trips I made to Dallas County and Polk County to harvest their town signs for THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT because there really weren’t that many for either town. I don’t know I went to any place in either county that I hadn’t been before, besides maybe Runnells. Some of these pictures are actually taken in Guthrie County and one is taken in Madison County.

Here is the collection:

Dallas County

Dallas County

Dallas County

Madison County

Dallas County

Dallas County

Guthrie County

Guthrie County

Guthrie County

Guthrie County
Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? We do, we do!

Guthrie County
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps? Who keeps the Martians under wraps? We do, we do!

Polk County

Polk County

Polk County

Polk County

Polk County

Polk County

Polk County
Does this mural imply an integrated marriage in Iowa in 1856? I hope Iowa was that progressive in 1856… but I have my doubts.

It is amazing with all the terrible things I say about Masons (particularly in the “Comments” section of these posts) that they haven’t come after me yet. When, I know that one of the people that posts comments sometimes is a Mason. Perhaps I’m under the cloak of his protection. Do I owe my continuing existence to Joe Duff? Have I said too much?

One thing I haven’t said too much about is Dexter, Iowa and its page in the history books on American Criminal Justice.

Remember this picture:

Dallas County

It is really hard to read, but it is a historical mark set near the place where Bonnie and Clyde had a shootout with local law enforcement. While Bonnie and Clyde both escaped, they did manage to capture Clyde’s brother Buck and his wife. Buck ultimately died from injuries he sustained in the shootout.

Here is the story from the Dallas County website:

Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, and the Barrow Gang arrived in Dallas County in July of 1933. They had established quite a reputation throughout the Midwest as thieves and murderers, and had killed several police officers. These fugitives from the law were always on the move, trying to keep one step ahead of the “laws,” as they called them. This was not their first trip to Iowa; several past bank robberies had been attributed to them. On this occasion, their travels took them to a rural area north of Dexter in Dallas County. They chose the remote location of old Dexfield Amusement Park and set up their camp on a wooded hilltop overlooking the park site.

They were on the run from a big shoot-out with police in Platte City, Missouri, a small town north of Kansas City. Gang members arriving in Dexter were Buck Barrow, Buck’s wife Blanche, and a teenager named W.D. Jones. Buck was the older brother of Clyde, and had been severely wounded in Platte City. They spent 4 to 5 days in the Dexfield park area, intending to hide out, rest and recuperate.

The Barrow Gang arrived in Dexter with one car. Due to Buck’s condition they decided they would need a second one and decided to go car “shopping” in Perry. They selected (stole) a 1932 Model “A” Ford belonging to Ed Stoner. Clyde was a great fan of Fords; in fact, he wrote a letter to Henry Ford telling him how much he liked his cars. The funny thing is, Ford used Clyde’s letter to sell more cars.

Clyde, according to several eyewitness accounts, made several trips into Dexter to buy food and medical supplies. The townspeople, not knowing who Clyde Barrow was, sold them the things they needed. During the Depression if someone came in with cash money to spend a merchant was going to do business with that person and not ask many questions. The local police officer, John Love, who worked in a clothing store, sold him shoes, shirts and socks.

A man named Henry Nye, out hunting wild blackberries on his property, came across the camp. He found a bloody map, a shirt with blood stains and used bandages. It seems that Mr. Nye was not the first to discover the camp of the Barrow gang. A troop of fourteen Girl Scouts led by Della Gowdey, camping at the old pavilion of the park, took an early morning hike and walked right into the Barrow Gang campsite. Maxine Schell “Hadley,” a member of this troop, said the campers acted quite surprised. She had no idea who they were. Della and the other girls said good morning; Maxine remembered the campers smiled and returned the welcome. Maxine said she thought nothing about it until the next day when she saw two people in Dexter whom she had seen at the campground. The man was eating an ice cream cone and the lady had none. She thought it was very discourteous of the man not to offer the lady some ice cream as well. These two people were probably Bonnie and Clyde.

Henry Nye contacted John Love and the two men returned to the park together. With binoculars, John could see two cars parked in the campground. He decided to contact Dallas County Sheriff Clint Knee and find out if any outlaws had been reported in the area. The Sheriff informed him of reports about the Barrow Gang being around. Not knowing if this was the Barrow Gang or not John Love told him to bring his “heavy artillery” and come to Dexter.

Sheriff Clint Knee quickly organized a posse that included Des Moines police officers and detectives; a Des Moines dentist, Dr. Hershel Keller, who brought his own submachine gun, and many locals, in total about 50 people. The posse converged on the campsite at 5:00 a.m. on July 24, 1933 in what quickly became the biggest shootout in Dallas County history.

The Barrow Gang was up and eating breakfast when they noticed movement in the brush around their camp. The posse opened fire. The gang returned fire with Browning Automatic Rifles: military guns that had been stolen from National Guard armories. The posse retreated under heavy fire, giving the gang time to attempt an escape.

They all piled into one car; Clyde was hit in the shoulder and ran the car over a tree stump. Unable to free the car, they fled to their other car. It had been shot up by the posse and would not run, so Bonnie, Clyde, and W.D. Jones took off, leaving Blanche and Buck. Everyone in the gang had been wounded except Blanche. Bonnie, Clyde, and W.D went east and then north towards the South Raccoon River. Clyde tried to go back to the road through the old amusement park. He was met by two members of the posse: Deputy Evan Burger and the editor of the Dexter Sentinel, Everett Place. He exchanged gunfire with them and went back to Bonnie and W.D. Together they crossed the river and worked their way behind Spillers Cemetery. They were all wounded and losing blood.

Leaving Bonnie and W.D., Clyde approached the farmstead of Vallie Feller, intending to steal a car. Mr. Marvelle Feller later recalled this encounter. Vallie, Vallie’s son lvlarvelle, and hired man Walt Spillers were on their way to milk the cows when they saw a small bloodied man walk out of the cornfield. Clyde pointed a. 45 caliber revolver at them. As the Feller’s dog barked and bounded toward him, Clyde told them to pull off the dog or he would kill, it. He then told them he needed help. He whistled and WD came up the fence carrying Bonnie. As Marvelle and Vallie helped lift her over the fence, Vallie dropped her. Clyde was quite irritated by this and told them to hold on to her. He next told them he needed a car. The Fellers had 3 cars on the place but no money for fuel. The only car that was running was the Feller family car: a blue 1929 Plymouth. During this exchange, Marvelle’s mother and 9-year-old sister came out of the house to see if the men knew anything about all the shooting going on. She walked right into the rest of her family being held at gunpoint by Clyde, and became quite excited and very upset. Clyde told Vallie to settle her down. He said “the laws are shooting the hell out of us and all we need is the car to get out of here.” Bonnie and W.D. Jones got into the back seat of the car and Clyde got into the driver’s seat. The car started right up, but Clyde had never driven a Plymouth, and Marvelle had to show him how to shift the gears. Clyde thanked Marvelle for all their help and said he would pay them back someday. For a long time afterwards, the authorities censored the Feller mail but nothing ever arrived. It is interesting to note that after W.D. Jones was captured and confessed, he said Clyde was out of ammunition when he confronted the Feller family that day. Marvelle said he thought he could have taken them on but did not want to risk Clyde testing his .45 caliber revolver on him.

With the Feller car, Clyde drove to Polk City, about 38 miles northeast of Dexter. Here they wrecked the car, so they held up a gas station and stole another car. They doubled back 40 miles to Guthrie Center. There they were spotted and surrounded by 200 men in a posse. Incredibly, they managed to escape again, mostly through the driving skills of Clyde, and were last seen about 60 miles northeast of Sioux City. Buck and Blanche Barrow were captured by the Dexter posse. Buck had been severely wounded. He was taken to the Dexter Hospital where he was treated by Doctors Chapler and Osborn. He was eventually sent to King’s Daughter Hospital in Perry, where he died five days later. Blanche was eventually taken back to Missouri and tried for her part in the Platte City shoot out. She was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison and served six years of that sentence before being released on good behavior. She led a crime free life after that. W.D. Jones eventually left the gang and went back to Texas. A co-worker there turned him in to the police, and he served time in prison for his role with the Barrow Gang. Bonnie and Clyde had escaped this time, but the shoot-out in Iowa was the beginning of the end for them. In less than a year, on May 23, 1934, they were ambushed and killed in Gibsland, Louisiana. Bonnie and Clyde may have died that day, but the “Legend of Bonnie and Clyde” continues to this day.

I hope it warms up soon and the backroads in Iowa get cleared up, so I can check out more of these historical Iowa treasures.

9 thoughts on “Dallas County and Polk County Auxiliary Images”

  1. I made it into a post. Exciting!

    I would put in a good word for you if I could, but realistically, I don’t have that kind of influence. Sorry to say (I can hear Chris now, “But isn’t that what someone with influence they are trying to hide would say?”….).

    Happy Birthday to Bill!

  2. Then good. I’m some how keeping of the radar. However, if you ever get to the Bohemian Grove, let me know. Off the record. WINK*WINK.

    A friend of mine is a big time Mason. Like 4th degree black belt. His wife says that she can get me into some Scottish Temple thing in Des Moines, where I will 100% not be used as a human sacrifice. I’ll let you know before I go, so you can use that influence that you “don’t have” so I can possibly come out of the tour in good shape.

    Don’t know if you keep track of Bill through the social medias, but he tore a quad tendon on New Year’s Eve and has been laid up since then. He just started physical therapy yesterday. He had to move back in with his parents in Saint Louis, but should be back in Omaha soon.

  3. Those first couple of images look like Jason Mantzoukas! (Or, as he’s called on the Parks and Rec episodes that feature him, Dennis Feinstein.)

    I am sure he will appreciate the phrasing “big time Mason. Like 4th degree black belt.” That may be a little bit of an overstatement! But it makes for good TV!

    Before I saw your comments on the mural, I thought, “Oh my gosh – is that an interracial couple in 1856? That seems unlikely.” Especially since it seems that a white man is willingly leading the horse – I have a strong suspicion that not many white Iowa men at that time would willingly work for an interracial couple. But I do enjoy the idea of a small town in Iowa wanting it to be true (even if it’s a rewriting of history).

  4. That dapper gentleman is James W. Grimes. Iowa’s third governor and also a senator. He was a Whig and a Republican, back when being a Republican wasn’t something that you would be embarrassed to say in public.

    As you may have deduced, that sculpture resides in Grimes. At a sports complex of some kind. He has an interesting bit in Presidential Impeachment history:

    “During President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial, Grimes broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators and voted for acquittal. Senators William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle,[3] and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote,[4] defied their party and public opinion and voted against impeachment. They were disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence. After the trial, Ben Butler conducted hearings on the widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson’s acquittal. In Butler’s hearings, and in subsequent inquiries, there was increasing evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards.”

    Jon is big time. While he might exaggerate his desire to watch Indian movies, he is definitely big time. I have no doubt he is very active at the Bilderberg meeting.

    I don’t know about the history of Norwalk. Maybe Norwalk was founded by Chuck Norwalk. Who was a black private dick that was a sex machine to all the chicks. Shut your mouth! But I’m talking about Chuck Norwalk. Then we can dig it.

    Eventually he settled down with his white wife and they moved to a little homestead south of Fort Des Moines and soon a little town sprung up around them. He had a white manservant that was very close with the family horses.

    All of these things could be true. But I doubt it.

    The more I stare at the guy that is leading the horse, I can’t even figure out if he is supposed to be white. He is a weird color. Maybe he is bi-racial.

    All of this being said, I’m sure there were plenty of bi-racial couples in Iowa. And they suffered many hardships. Like my great grandpa and great grandma. And there were many progressive communities in Iowa, like Buxton.

    I just love that the artist went for it, because modern day Iowa is more racist than we care to admit. I’ve heard people of color say that they have experienced more racism in Iowa than they did living in the south.

    I have friends that are minorities that are afraid to go to small towns in Iowa. I know homosexuals that tell horrifying stories of the level of discrimination they faced in their hometowns while growing up.

    I guess my point is Iowa used to suck. Iowa still sucks. Even with its former progressive reputation. I just hope we don’t continue to backslide.

    So bold choice by the artist. They at least triggered this conversation.

  5. I hear the East Side Bar is the real hot spot. One can only imagine what the hotel was before it was strictly modern. I’m thinking communal bath and restroom facilities. Or worse. I have family connections to Norwalk. Yah, that’s them. Coincidentally, my Uncle GT is part of this story. Which by now if you have paid close attention to my GT wonderings should come as no surprise. Some of these comments have been exaggerated for affect. But not by much.

  6. I have my doubts that Earlham is big enough to have both an Eastside and a Westside. But it would be amazing if the Eastside Bar was literally right across the street.

    On the road to Earlham there is a big old time silo with swastikas on it. Now, I know the swastika didn’t mean the same thing when it was built and doesn’t mean the same thing to every culture, but it is still kind of shocking to see today. Most fascists just fly the Trump flag these days.

    You have connections to an interracial couple in Norwalk?

    But yeah, it is tough for us “modern” Americans to ever have to share a bathroom with other people. Particularly strangers. But it is the way things were back then I guess. I’m kind of sad that most small town motels have died off. When this pandemic is over, it is definitely on my list of things to do. I figure when the weather gets warmer, I’m going to take a few days off and do a bunch of counties all in a few days. Might stay the night somewhere. Some small town mom and pop motel that I find along the way might just do the trick.

    Of course also on the post-pandemic list is hearing may stories about the legendary Uncle G.T. Now I’m starting to doubt he ever existed.

  7. Not related to an interracial couple in Norwalk. Just a couple. One of which is one of GT’s daughters. Who by the way is named Charlotte. She goes by Char. Her husband was part of Special Ops in the service. One of those guys who could kill a person with just their little finger.
    As for my Uncle GT. Yes he really did exist. Although, when you hear his life stories you might think otherwise. The stories are too over the top to make up. Why would anyone want to? Just stop by the VFW, mention GT.
    If any of his buddies are still around they will buy you whatever you want to drink and confirm the tales.
    As for the person of color in that picture, he might be just helping or along for the ride. I think the man holding the horses’ halter is the husband. Would be worth knowing the back story.
    That’s it for now.

  8. I find it fascinating that Grimes (the town) takes pride in Grimes (the man) not voting for impeachment. I have never really dug into the Jackson impeachment trial, but I have always had the impression that history pretty well agreed with the attempt. But I guess Big Republicans are writing history, so there’s that.

    Yeah, I don’t think a lot of old-school Masons would watch Indian movies. At least from what I’ve experienced at their galas. Mostly a bunch of racist old white dudes. I don’t know that there are a ton of young Masons, but I’m hoping the racist portion goes away as it shifts younger. This is why Christopher D. Bennett needs to join the ranks. BE the change. All that.

    I would dig Chuck Norwalk. That would be a bad-ass town history. I hope that the artist who painted this scenario (which I love and respect – again, even though it’s likely a rewriting) was supported by the town. We have some friends who live in Norwalk (an actual biracial couple – a spectacularly white man, and a wonderful Chinese woman who is is his bride and just won a teacher of the year award). I’ll see if I can ask them, maybe they’ve heard some sort of scuttlebutt. I hope they call it “scuttlebutt.” That’s a word that I think we really need to push to bring back.

    But back on topic. I had several friends in high school that have come out since, and they specifically have said, “I would have been killed in the locker room.” And one of those was one of the super-popular kids. I think it’s hard enough for kids in bigger Iowa towns, I can’t imagine the difficulties people go through coming out in small communities even today. We have some family friends who have two trans children, I just did their family photos this past fall and we talked a little about how brutal it has been for them even in Ames. It makes me horribly sad.

  9. I don’t know that Grimes takes pride in Grimes because of the impeachment. I think they put the sculpture up to honor him generally. But I don’t know much about Grimes the person other than the impeachment thing. It is possible he was a vegetarian. Loved dogs. Painted watercolors. Crap, I’m just describing Hitler.

    It is possible, he had a lovely singing voice. I have no clue what his political record besides his impeachment inaction.

    What is a “spectacularly white man”? Does that mean he is from Ogden? Does that mean he is a Trump supporter? Is he a really bad dancer? If he played basketball, would the announcers praise his basketball IQ and call his teammate Chuck Norwalk athletic?

    For the record, I took the name from David Montgomery’s alter ego Chuck Bruce. So if you are wondering what Chuck Norwalk’s middle name is… it is Bruce.

    If I had the money I would commission a Chuck Norwalk statue and just put it up in a park in Norwalk in the middle of the night. No explanation. No ceremony. Nothing.

    Hopefully they come back with some scuttlebutt, but I feel like nobody even noticed. OR there is a story about it.

    Maybe our interpretations about this being a couple are wrong, but why else would they all be in the coach together. He is dressed very nice. Whatever.

    I know it is a lot more common for teenagers to be out now. I don’t think there was a single person that was out when I was in high school, but no a few people that have come out since then. So I know that has at least improved. While I’m sure it still is awful a bunch of the time, at least people feel comfortable enough to come out while still in high school these days.

    BTW, the SNL “It Get’s Better” follow-up video from last week was hilarious!

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