Victoria’s Brush with Infamy
The year was 1932 when a seemingly run-of-the-mill apartment complex was the site where a couple of notorious outlaws were reportedly seen making a car swap. The apartment was a 4-plex located at the corner of North Glass Street and West Stayton known as the Tracy Apartment building.
According to the account published in The Victoria Advocate's "Vanished from Victoria" column, the outlaws were none other than Bonnie and Clyde.
Sid Weisiger recounts the events in his Vignettes of old Victoria: Sometime after noon of August 15, 1932, a Ford coupe drove up and parked at about 205 W. Stayton St., Victoria. Three people, two men and a woman, were occupants of the car. The Tracy Apartment Unit at 508 N. Glass had a four-car garage building in the rear, facing Stayton, and set well back from the street.
One of the male passengers in the coupe got out, walked to the garage, got into a 1932 V-8 Ford sedan and drove away. This sedan belonged to C. H. Hawkins, district agent, Sinclair Oil Co., Victoria. Mrs. Hawkins had just driven into the garage, parked the car, and gone to her apartment when the Ford was stolen.
Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins, as well as another tenant, witnessed the theft of the sedan. Leaving Stayton Street, the stolen vehicle followed the coupe and both were seen driving at a high rate of speed on Rio Grande Boulevard headed in the direction of Houston.
The other tenant of the apartments who saw the car stealing gave chase but claimed motor trouble kept him from overtaking the vehicles. After he found out who he was chasing, his complexion got pretty pale."
The thieves were none other than Bonnie and Clyde. Also in the car was an accomplice, Raymond Hamilton. The two cars sped down U.S. Highway 59 toward Wharton where gunfire was exchanged with lawmen at the bridge over the Colorado River.
Weisiger continues: "The Ford coupe (bearing Cherokee County license plates) that brought the trio to Victoria was found abandoned, with the windshield shot out, a few miles from the encounter with lawmen.
The outlaws went out Rancho Grande Road (present Farm-to-Market Road 961) through Glen Flora, Egypt, and on to Eagle Lake.
At Bellville they were said to have tangled up in another gun fight with officers. The next major strike of the outlaws appears to have been a bank robbery of $1,401 at Cedar Hill, south of Dallas where Hamilton parted company with Bonnie and Clyde. The Ford sedan, stolen and driven away from Victoria on Aug. 13, 1932, was recovered in Carthage, Mo., according to information received by the Victoria Sheriff's Department on Sept. 19, 1932. Fingerprints found in the abandoned coupe identified the outlaws as Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker, and Raymond Hamilton, three of the most ruthless law breakers Texas has ever produced.
"Vanished from Victoria" is written by Gary Dunnam and submitted by Victoria Preservation Inc.