Prentiss Oakley

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Prentiss Morel Oakley (April 7, 1905—October 15, 1957)[1] was a member of the six-man posse that gunned down the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde in 1934 in Bienville Parish in north Louisiana. Then a deputy under Sheriff Henderson Jordan (pronounced JER DEN), Oakley fired the first two shots through a Remington Model 8 semi-automatic rifle which instantly killed Clyde Barrow.[2] L.J. "Boots" Hinton (born ca. 1933), son of posse member Ted Hinton, retired from Dallas, Texas, to Gibsland, Louisiana, to operate the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum, housed in a former cafe where Bonnie and Clyde ate their last meal, a breakfast. The ambush occurred as planned some ten miles south of Gibsland on Louisiana State Highway 154 toward Sailes. Hinton recalls that his father clearly reported that Oakley "fired the first two shots, bull barrel 35 Remington - hit Clyde right there. That was it."[3]

A subsequent volley of shots killed the screaming Bonnie Parker. Alcorn, Gault, and Oakley guarded the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde as the other officers went to nearby Arcadia, the seat of Bienville Parish government, to find the coroner so that he could certify the death certificates. Onlookers, however, tore through the police blockade to grab souvenirs of the fugitives, extract some hair or to touch the bloody bodies.[4]

Bonnie and Clyde were embalmed at the former Conger Funeral Home in Arcadia and transported to Dallas for separate funerals and burials.[5]Oakley claimed that he was bothered by the ambush for the rest of his life because no warning of surrender had been offered to the fugitives.[6]Sheriff Jordan too expressed concern that Bonnie and Clyde, who had killed perhaps fourteen perons, including nine law-enforcement personnel, had not been allowed to surrender.[7]

Jordan had requested Oakley's participation in the ambush because of the deputy's excellent marksmanship. Oakley borrowed the rifle from a friend, an Arcadia dentist named "Shehee", and procured a .30 calibre Winchester rifle for use by Sheriff Jordan. Oakley and Ted Hinton of Dallas County were the youngest members of the posse, which also included the legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, Bob Alcorn, and B.M. "Manny" Gault, all sent by Dallas County Sheriff Richard A. "Smoot" Schmid. Hinton (October 5, 1904—October 1977),[8] was the last surviving member of the posse. Son "Boots" Hinton has devoted his last years to honor his father's legacy.[5]

Oakley was elected sheriff in 1940, when Henderson declined to seek a third term. Her served three terms, handing over the office in 1952 to Hubert N. Davis, a former member of the Louisiana State Police.[9]Oakley was married to Zelma Oakley (February 26, 1902—April 17, 1996), who resided in Bakersfield, California at the time of her death.[8] The Oakleys had a daughter, Gayle. Oakley died in 1957 at the age of fifty-two, and Jordan expired almost exactly one year later from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.[1] Oakley and Jordan and their wives are interred at Arcadia Cemetery off Hazel Street several blocks from the Bienville Parish Courthouse.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Jeff Guin, Go Down Together. Google Books.Go Down Together indicates that Oakley was twenty-nine on May 23, 1934, and that he died in 1957. The Arcadia Cemetery records, confirmed by caretaker Charles Butler, verify this.
  2. Ted Hinton and Larry Grove, Ambush: The Real Story of Bonnie and Clyde, Shoal Creek Publishers, 1979. ISBN 0-88319-041-9
  3. "Love and Bullets: The Real Bonnie and Clyde". Columbia Broadcasting System News.
  4. Nate Hendley, Bonnie and Clyde: A Biography. Google Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Area Towns Find Revenue in Bonnie and Clyde". Vickie Welborn, Monroe News Star, May 20, 2009.
  6. John Treherne, The Strange History of Bonnie and Clyde., Stein and Day, 1985. ISBN 081283030X
  7. John Neal Phillips, Running with Bonnie and Clyde. Google Books.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Social Security Death Index. Rootsweb.ancestry.com.
  9. "List of Bienville Parish Sheriffs", Bienville Parish Sheriff's Department, Arcadia, Louisiana
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