Does anyone here have definitive information about Frank Hamer's specific law enforcement affiliation during his pursuit of Bonnie & Clyde.
According to his own account, reprinted in Webb's THE TEXAS RANGERS, having resigned from the Rangers some years previously over political disagreements with the Fergusons, he was sworn in as a Texas Highway Patrol officer and assigned to pursue Bonnie & Clyde on behalf of the Texas Prison System.
According to other accounts, he was hired directly by the Texas Prison System and commissioned as a special investigator to hunt down Bonnie & Clyde after their having masterminded an escape, and the Texas Highway Patrol was represented by Hamer's deputy, Manny Gault, who was hired and assigned to the case following the murders of two motorcycle troopers.
Was Hamer commissioned by the Highway Patrol and seconded to the Prison Bureau, or commissioned directly by the Prison Bureau and given a Highway Patrol partner later in the case?
According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, in which Hamer is a member, he was commissioned as a Special Investigator to the Texas prison system in 1934 to pursuit The Barrow gang.
According to "On the Trail of Bonnie & Clyde: Then and Now," by Winston Ramsey, page 240, Lee Simmons, boss of the Texas prison system, established a special post: Special Escape Investigator for the Texas prison system and gave it to Frank Hamer on February 10, 1934.
According to "Bonnie & Clyde: A Twenty-First-Century Update," by James Knight and Jonathan Davis; Simmons created a new (job) position just for Hamer calling it the "Special Escape Investigator for the Texas Prison System," on page 139.
Lastly, John Neal Phillips states in his 1996 book,"Running with Bonnie & Clyde: The Ten Fast Years of Ralph Fults," on page 180 that on February 1, 1934, Simmons drove to Austin, Texas to meet with Hamer. He delivered to Hamer a Commission in the Highway Patrol. Phillips' endnotes refer to "The Texas Rangers," by Walter Prescott, page 539, "Fugitives," by Fortune, page 247 and "Assignment Huntsville," by Simmons, page 166.
These are the three main writers concerning Bonnie & Clyde, the first two being the most recent ones.
I hope this can help!
Harrison Hamer, Frank's grandnephew, states that Lee Simmons also arranged for Hamer to receive a commission from the Texas Highway Patrol. Harrison is currently working on an article on the four Hamer brothers for the On the Spot Journal. All four served at one time or another as Texas Rangers and served in various other law enforcement capacities at different times.
According to Frank Hamer Jr., his father made three phone calls immediately after the killing of Bonnie and Clyde, reporting it first to Lee Simmons, then to the Texas Highway Patrol in Austin. The third call went to his wife Fannie. In this context, it makes sense that Hamer was probably working jointly for the Texas Prison System and the Highway Patrol. After the Grapevine killings especially, the Highway Patrol had as personal a stake in the Barrow manhunt as did Simmons.
Sadly, Frank Hamer Jr., who also had a career in law enforcement and once served as a Special Ranger, died on September 18, 2006.
Mr. Koch and Maddog,
Thank you both for your responses.
I'll be looking forward to that book about the Hamer brothers.
Another note that may be of interest: A film about Hamer, based on Gene Shelton's novel MANHUNTER which fictionalized the famed lawman's career, is in development.
The following information has never been published as far as I know.
When Frank Hamer was commissioned to hunt down Bonnie & Clyde he went to Houston, Texas to look up Texas Ranger Major Hardy B. Purvis. When Purvis joined the Texas Rangers one of his first assignments was to travel to Borger, TX to deal with the seedy elements of the oil field boon era. Hamer was his boss on this assigment.
Anyway, Hamer went to Houton to see if Major Purvis could help him capture Bonnie & Clyde. He discovered that his good friend had just suffered from a heart attack and was in the hospital. Hamer visited with Purvis and Purvis told him "I'd sure go with you if my ticker hadn't done a flip on me, Mike."
Source: Grandson of Hardy Purvis.
Note: No known relationship to the FBI Purvis.
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