Henderson Jordan

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Henderson Jordan

Sheriff of Bienville Parish, Louisiana
In office
1932–1940
Preceded by J.E. Currie
Succeeded by Prentiss Oakley

Born October 11, 1896
Died June 13, 1958 (aged 61)
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Annie Gloer Jordan
Children Gloria J. Madden

Larry L. Jordan

Residence Arcadia, Louisiana

Henderson Jordan (October 11, 1896 — June 13, 1958),[1] as the sheriff of Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, was among six law enforcement officers who on May 23, 1934, apprehended the fugitives Bonnie and Clyde in a deadly capture on Louisiana Highway 154 between rural Gibsland and Saline.

According to his grave marker in Arcadia, Jordan (pronounced JER DEN) served as a private first class in the 83rd Infantry during World War I.[1] He was elected sheriff in 1932 and served two terms, having left the office in 1940, when he was succeeded by his chief deputy, Prentiss Oakley, another participant in the capture of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow[2] The other personnel involved, including Robert Alcorn, were from the office of Sheriff Richard A. "Smoot" Schmid of Dallas, Texas.[3] Among those were Frank Hamer (1884-1955), a Texas Ranger, and deputy Ted Cass Hinton (October 5, 1904 – October 1977), the last survivor among the officers involved in the capture. Jordan learned from a tipster that Bonnie and Clyde were preparing to rob the First National Bank of Arcadia.[4]

Jordan had been tracking Bonnie and Clyde for six weeks. In late May, he learned that the couple would pass through Bienville Parish en route to the northern part of Natchitoches Parish, as he told The New York Times in a 1934 interview.[5] Jordan had been in contact with the relatives of Henry Methvin (April 8, 1912 — April 19, 1948), one of the accomplices of Bonnie and Clyde. He induced Methvin to betray his associates. Bonnie and Clyde stopped on the highway as Methvin was hidden in the nearby forest when they saw Methvin’s truck jacked up as if it were disabled.[3]

The officers opened fire without warning on the fugitives, who were believed to have killed at least fourteen persons, including nine law enforcement personnel. Oakley and Jordan later expressed regret that Bonnie and Clyde were not allowed to surrender before being killed in a blaze of bullets from the officers. An attempt should have been made to take the pair alive, Jordan and Oakley said.[6] Another account, however, quotes Jordan as having said that the posse did briefly attempt to warn Barrow to surrender: "We hollered to Barrow to halt as we wished to give them a chance. They went for their guns, and we let them have it. In the car we found three submachine guns, two automatic sawed-off shotguns, four .45-caliber automatic pistols, two .38-caliber automatic pistols and one .45-caliber revolver, [and] a large quantity of ammunition."[4]

Jordan at first refused to return the bullet-ridden car driven by Clyde Barrow, having argued that the officers deserved the vehicle as a bounty for risking their lives for killing the fugitives. Eventually, a court ordered Jordan to release the vehicle,[6] a 1934 Ford Model 730, to its original owner, Ruth Warren of Kansasthough the car had Arkansas plates.[7]

In 1932, at the age of thirty six, Jordan was elected sheriff to succeed J. E. Currie, who had served in the position since 1908.[2] He was married to the former Annie L. Gloer (February 10, 1899 — August 29, 1961).[1] The couple had two children, Gloria J. Madden (born 1925), wife of the late Johns "Bud" Madden, and Larry Jordan (born c. 1931), both of Arcadia. Oakley died in 1957; less than a year later, Jordan was killed instantly in an automobile accident in nearby Lincoln Parish.[8] On Friday, June 13, 1958, Jordan, then sixty-two, was traveling west in the eastbound lane on U.S. Highway 80, near Ruston, when he struck a car head-on. In the other vehicle was 31-year-old Buford Caldwell, who died an hour later at a hospital. Ronald Webb Fullilove, a 10-year-old in another vehicle also succumbed within an hour. Several others were injured in the crash.[9]

Jordan and Oakley and their wives are interred at Arcadia Cemetery off Hazel Street in Arcadia. Their heirs, particularly those of Jordan, have continued to serve Bienville Parish as mayor, police juror (known as county commissioner in most other states), hospital board chairman, or banker.[10]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Arcadia Cemetery records, Arcadia, Louisiana.
  2. 2.0 2.1 List of Bienville Parish sheriffs, Office of Sheriff John Ballance, Arcadia, Louisiana.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Museum exhibit, Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum, Gibsland, Louisiana.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Arcadia Sheriff Tells How Barrow Rode into Trap". Historybuff.com. Retrieved on June 10, 2009.
  5. "On This Day: The Fall of Bonnie and Clyde". Finding Dulcinea.com. Retrieved on June 10, 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Neal Phillips, Running with Bonnie and Clyde. Google Books. Retrieved on June 10, 2009. 
  7. "The Warren Car". Texashideout.tripod.com. Retrieved on June 10, 2009.
  8. Jeff Guin. Go Down Together. Google Books. Retrieved on June 9, 2009. 
  9. "The Lawmen at Rest". Texashideout.tripod.com. Retrieved on July 5, 2009.
  10. "Area Towns Find Revenue in Bonnie and Clyde". Vickie Welborn, The Monroe News Star, May 20, 2009. Retrieved on June 7, 2009.