The Sam Pritchard family, which consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard, their daughter and son-in-law, Gladys and Alonzo Cartwright, and their son and daughter-in-law, Jack and Irene Pritchard were sitting on the east porch of their home in 1933 when suddenly a new Ford coupe roared over the hill in front of their house. The car missed a detour at the top of the hill which was to take them over the Salt Fork of the Red River. Instead, the car followed the unpaved road and plunged into the river.
The Pritchards, some 200 yards away, rushed to the burning wreckage and doused the flames inside the car with water from the river. The two men in the car began taking from the wreckage what appeared to be guns. The elder Pritchard insisted that the three be taken into his home, where burns suffered by the woman, Bonnie, could be treated. Alonzo Cartwright offered to drive into Wellington where he could summon a doctor. “No!” said the spokesman for the group. “We’re hot.”
The Pritchards learned that the three individuals were Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and W.D.Jones, fugitives from the law. The Pritchards hardly had time to keep up with activities of this group of desperados who were sweeping Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, robbing banks and leaving a heavy trail of blood. “The Barrow brothers didn’t mean anything to me.” Sam Pritchard later told his wife, “all I knew was they were hurt and needed help, so we just naturally had to help them.”
In all the excitement, Alonzo Cartwright told Bonnie she needed a doctor. She said, “Just don’t send an ambulance.” Cartwright managed to get away from the house to drive to Wellington for help. After he had left the house in Sam Pritchard’s car, one of the Barrows returned to the wreckage for some of the arsenal. Clyde Barrow brandished a roll of bills and offered to pay “for all the trouble we have been to you”, but the elder Pritchard replied, “No, if a man can’t help another man in trouble, things are in pretty bad shape.”
In Wellington, Alonzo Cartwright contacted Collingsworth County Sheriff George Corry and the Chief of Police, Paul Hardy. Alonzo had car trouble and did not return to the farm until after the gang had left. When the law arrived at the farm house they found Bonnie Parker on the bed, apparently unconscious. The two men were outside on the other side of the house.
The lawmen, not knowing the identity of the trio and believing that the men were injured, went out side to see about them and the fugitives got the crop on the lawmen. Bonnie leaped from the bed, went out on the porch and took the guns from the lawmen.
Gladys Cartwright though she should fasten a door at the rear of the house. Not knowing if there were more lawmen in the house, Buck Barrow walked around the north side of the house, firing through the window. When he saw Gladys at the door, he said “Halt!” as he was firing. Twelve bullets from a sawed-off shotgun came from the window, across the room, through her right hand and on through the back door. Gladys Cartwright still lives in Wellington. She said she sometimes has pain from the wound in her hand.
Then, Barrow shot the tires of Alonzo Cartwright’s car that was parked close to the sheriff’s car. The trio took the sheriff and police chief bound by their own handcuffs, and sped off in Corry’s car toward Oklahoma. Shortly after they crossed the state line at Erick, Oklahoma, they were met by Raymond Hamilton Gang of Dallas, friends of the desperados.
They stopped and tied the officers to a cottonwood tree with barbed wire cut from a fence. The group then sped off in Hamilton’s car leaving the Sheriff’s car stuck in a sand bed. Corry and Hardy managed to free themselves and contacted police in nearby Sayre, Oklahoma. A manhunt was started, but the trail was lost.
After the fugitives left, the Pritchards learned the car, which plunged into the river was stolen from a doctor in Madill, Oklahoma and the doctor’s medical bag was still in the vehicle.
As told by Gladys Pritchard Cartwright 1984
From the 1934 Galveston Tribune
Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were killed in an ambush in 1934 on a dusty road near Arcadia, Louisiana. Undertakers said they could not count all of the bullets pumped into the bodies of the pair by the officers who used submachine guns. Ivy “Buck” Barrow was injured several months earlier by police in Joplin, Missouri and died in Dexter, Iowa. Raymond Hamilton was executed in 1934 in the Texas Penitentiary.