The Evolution of the DPS Uniform

by B.C. Lyon, Retired DPS Captain

After the re-organization of the DPS in 1957, a committee was formed to further redesign the DPS uniform. The prior and 1957 era uniform consisted of a bluish grey, long sleeve shirt with high wool content , and tan pants with a stripe down leg. A tan cap was the official headgear.

The committee was then directed to design a more “Texas western style,” that would reflect the western theme of the Lone Star State. They decided a brown/grey material would be appropriate for the new uniform, along with blue piping (stripe) down the leg, and a western style hat for the new headgear. This new uniform color would be known as “Texas Tan.”

After graduating from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Academy in 1962, B.C. Lyon was assigned to the Highway Patrol and was stationed at Floresville, Texas in Wilson County.  Around the same time, Wilson County rancher, John Connally was elected Governor of Texas. Shortly after his election, Governor Connally was severely wounded during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Governor returned to his ranch to spend a lengthy time recuperating from the injuries he sustained in the Dallas motorcade.

Patrolman B.C. Lyon was assigned to travel to the Governor’s ranch for various duties, and to assist the patrolmen from the Governor's Detail that frequently rotated out of Austin.

While at the ranch, Governor Connally’s wife Nellie was observing B.C’s DPS uniform and made the comment, “there should be some color in that uniform because it looks “drab.” B.C. replied, “Ma’am, the DPS budget is pretty tight. We’re even using re-capped tires on our patrol cars, and limited to 100 miles per day for patrol duty.

A day or so later, Nellie Connally ask B.C. to drive her to Floresville to do some shopping. Nellie asked to be dropped off at a variety store that sold cloth and sewing materials. Nellie purchased long, 1” wide strips of blue cloth and 1/8” wide strips of red cloth. Back at the ranch, Nellie pinned the strips of material to one leg of B.C.'s uniform, and would sit back to view the results. After looking at the different options, Nellie said "I think the wide blue stripe with the narrow red stripes on each side looks best. It gives the uniform a little needed color." B.C. said it looked a little like a band uniform.

Nellie thought the shoulder epaulet should also be blue with red piping stripes and the old black tie should be replaced with a blue tie. Nellie was pleased the color made the uniform "stand out."

Not long after these activities, B.C. was transferred to Laredo, and didn’t think much more about having modeled for the Governor’s wife who was destined to add color to the DPS uniform.

Around 1968 all uniformed DPS officers exchanged their "drab" uniforms for the more colorful uniform of today. The long sleeve wool shirt became part of the winter uniform and a popham lite weight long sleeve shirt with a plain epaulet became the summer uniform shirt.

In later years, the DPS adopted a short sleeve, open collar summer shirt and currently has numerous styles of uniforms based on the duties being performed.

It is not known exactly how much influence Nellie Connally had on the change to the DPS uniform, but knowing how strong Nellie felt about the DPS and her wish for more color, it’s not a coincidence blue and red stripes with a blue tie are a part of the uniform today.

Early Days of the Texas Highway Patrol as Remembered by Me.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY’S INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM

Date: January 1972

Division: THP

TO: Wilson E. Speir, Director

FROM: Herbert Weeks, Captain

SUBJECT: Early Days of the Texas Highway Patrol as Remembered by Me.

Colonel Garrison requested that I write what I could remember about the Highway patrol at the time I entered the service and especially the Second Recruit Training School. He was also

interested in all information about the early days of the Highway Patrol as it seems most of it has been lost or destroyed.

I received my letter of appointment advising me to report on October 15, 1931. I was so broke and needed a job so badly that I left Lufkin on the 13th. Some of my friends who were superstitious advised me not to leave

on the 13th, as they felt that I would never make it to Austin. Not being superstitious and needing a job very much I left on the 13th and got into Austin before they could change their minds about hiring me.

I got off the train at Congress and about Second or Third Street. I had my earthly belongings in a cheap suitcase. I walked up Congress to the office which was upstairs in about the 1000 block. Entrance to the office was by way of an outside stairway to the second floor. This building and the outside stairway may still be in use; it was a few years ago. I went to the office and asked for Homer Garrison, whom I had known for a number of years. He noted that I was early and I told him I wasn't taking any chances on not getting the job. He said that I was the first of the new men to report. He sent me to the Alamo Hotel to get a room, as most of the Department Personnel stayed there when in Austin.

I picked up my cheap suitcase and walked to the Alamo Hotel. The clerk on duty took one look at me and knew what I was doing in Austin. He explained that rooms were scarce but that I could have one. I told him if he ran out of rooms and any of the other new men came in and wanted to share a room that I was willing. This nearly turned out to be my first mistake in Austin. I was tired so I ate a good supper and went to bed early. I was so relaxed at having a steady job that I really was sleeping hard in a few minutes.

I heard a noise at the door and before I could rouse from the deep sleep the light came on and a big man was standing by my bed and said Wood is my name. Get up and let's go drink some coffee." I tried to get him to go to bed and let's get some sleep but that just wouldn't do. This man turned out to be R.L. (Bob) Wood. We went for coffee and talked for a couple of hours and then. finally went to bed. The next morning we went to the office and sat around for a couple of hours. Finally, Homer Garrison asked a man in civilian clothes to carry us to Camp Mabry. We were told to select a room and clean it up and we could stay there. This man that carried us out there was a Highway Patrolman, so we thought. He had a yellow convertible. All the way to Camp Mabry Wood kept telling both of us what he was expecting this school to be like, what it had better be like, what he would and would not put up with, etc. I didn't get a chance to say anything and for once this was my good fortune.

When we arrived at Camp Mabry we selected a room and started to clean it up. It was really dirty as no one had occupied these rooms since the first school graduated about one and one half years before. We were also short of rags and soap to clean with but we finally got the room cleaned and a couple of beds ready to sleep on. These beds were cots with straw mattresses on them.

Just about the time we finished cleaning the room R. L. (Bob) Crowder and some other man came in. Bob decided that the room that we had cleaned was the one he wanted. We had just started to put up our argument when he or someone advised us that he was Sergeant Bob Crowder and that he would be one of our instructors. We decided that this made a difference and we went and selected us another room and started cleaning it. I can still remember how much fun Bob Crowder had taking our clean room. A few more people came, and all of us stayed at Camp Mabry the night of the 14th.

On the 15th, everybody reported and we had our first General Assembly. Of course Wood and I were still together. Chief Phares and all of the Supervisors were introduced to us and most of them made a few remarks. About the time this was taking place I discovered that the man that took Wood and me to Camp Mabry was also sitting up on the stage with the Chief and others. I elbowed Wood and reminded him of what he had said about what he would and would not do, etc.  He said, "It looks like I played hell, doesn't it." At the end of the first General Assembly Chief Phares asked the Supervisors if they had anything else to say and the man who carried us out stood up and we saw that he had Sergeant Stripes on. He said, "Yes Chief, I need a man for a detail to clean the latrine. He looked the crowd over and yelled, Wood!" This went on for the duration of the school This Sergeant never got off Wood's back. Of course Wood kept talking and the Sergeant kept riding him. Neither of them ever gave up. This Sergeant was W.D. (Bill) Roberts.

Before the day was out we were all assigned rooms by some system which was unknown to us. I was assigned to a room with three others: W.W. Legge, Wilber Hargett and William Hornung. Of course this called for cleaning another room. Legge was older than we were and we caused him considerable trouble at night. He wanted to go to sleep real early and we just couldn't do that.

A few of the men in the school who were older didn't exactly hit it off with the younger ones, and we gave them all the trouble that we could. We had several nick names for them and none were real complimentary. This strained relations more and more. Legge was in this group. One night someone got some Asafetida and went around and put some on the pillow of each one of these people we had placed on the list. Legge thought that I was the one that put it on his pillow and he kept griping and fussing after we went to bed. We had a strict rule that after a certain time lights were out and no one was allowed to turn on a light in the room. Finally, I got tired of hearing Legge gripe and accuse me of putting the Asafetida on his pillow and I got mad. I knew who had done this but of course, I would not tell him. As a result of not telling him we nearly had a fight. He couldn't believe that everybody in the room was getting nearly as much of this odor as the one on whose pillow it had been put. He threw his pillow out the window but that didn't get rid of the odor.

We had several in the group with weak stomachs and we nearly starved them. Catsup was spread on many things so as to affect their weak stomachs. We had oilcloth on the tables and one of our favorite tricks was holding up the edge of this and pouring water in it. Everybody who was awake would hold up the cloth in front of himself and the first guy to fail to see it would catch a lap full of water. Next time catsup would be added to the water, etc. Pop Deats was in charge of the cafeteria and he couldn't keep the oil cloths tacked down to where he couldn't use it to fill some guy's lap with anything that would flow.

One of our names for these guys on our list was "Lieutenant." One morning there was a pair of knee pads made from cardboard with the name of each of these guys on them. These were found hanging from the ceiling of the cafeteria. The bosses decided that this was a little too rough and we didn't do this again.

Bob Crowder was our drill instructor. He could stand in one place and march us all over Camp Mabry. One of the first details we had was to pull the weeds all over the parade ground.  We were not allowed to cut one, they must be pulled. We also picked up every rock or foreign matter from the whole area. I understand the first school had the same detail and the parade ground was in much worse shape at that time. It was bad enough when we had it.

Another detail we had was to build a road by hand from near the cafeteria to­ward Mt. Donnel, a distance (of about one thousand yards, I think. We then cleared the land for a one thousand yard range. Much of this was to keep us busy so we would not give so much trouble at night.

We made several trips looking for lost children, fighting fires near Mt. Bonnel, etc. I received my first sprained ankle on a lost child hunt. George Schauer was our First Aid Instructor and he put my foot and leg in ice water and massaged it up toward the heart. I will never forget how cold the water was and how his fingers dug in that sore ankle.

My most vivid memory is us tearing down the old Travis County Jail on 11th Street where the Highway Building now stands. It seems that the Highway Department wanted to build a building there and the Historical Society was going to get an injunction to prevent the building from being torn down. The story as I have it is that 0’Henry and other famous people spent some time in this jail. I believe his real name was William Sidney Porter. Also there was a gallows in the jail and several had been executed there. Early one morning we were all carried down to the jail and told to wreck it as quickly as possible. When people got downtown we had so much of it wrecked that it would have been nearly impossible to restore it. At the end of three days there was not one stone standing more than three feet high. Most of the debris had also been hauled away. The stone was hauled to the Austin State School at about 4th and Guadalupe. The stone was piled on the back of the lot about where Lamar Building now is located.

Old World War I solid tired trucks were used to haul the debris and stone away. This was before the 7000 pound load limit days.  We stacked stone as high as it would ride and then several men on top of that to unload it.

I remember George Roach walking around the top of the stone wall with a prize bar in his hand tumbling rock four and eight feet in length over the sides and to the ground and then he would yell, ''Headache!"

None will ever forget the bat fertilizer which was in the attic of this place. It was so light "that any movement would fill the air with black dust. It took me several days to get it out of my nose, throat, lungs, etc. I am told that this stuff is very expensive and very good fertilizer. If we had had some way to salvage it we could have raised lots of money.

The amazing thing about this whole operation was that, with 65 of us eager young men, none were killed en1 !believe the only injury was one man let a rock fall on his foot, but this didn't hurt him enough that he couldn't finish the detail.

Another vivid memory is after we had been there for a week or two the Chief got up and announced that instead of being paid $150.00 per month while in training we would be paid only $75.00 per month. I remember the groans that filled the room but not a man quit. I was down there on borrowed money and had made promises to send a certain amount to each of my creditors each month. I promptly wrote to each of them and informed them that I could only send half as much as I had promised. I explained the reason to each of them and this was satisfactory with each one. I have thought many times in recent years about how many men have to report and how many quit the first time something does not go to exactly suit them.

Bill Hornung entertained his roommates on real cold nights by making up his bed with the Army blankets wrapped around the straw mattress real tight. He would then sit on the pillow and draw his legs up and slide between the sheets without loosening the cover at all. He is the only person I ever saw who could do such a trick. In real cold weather we learned that newspaper between the straw mattress and the canvas cot would help to keep out some of the cold from below. There were many nights that we didn't get warm all night. We were told that we had it good though as the first school really had cold, bad weather while they were there. I think this is true because the records seem to bear this out. We didn't need it any colder though.

Bill Hornung was from Gonzales and so was George Schauer. George went home some weekends and carried Bill in a side car. On one of these trips they were returning to Austin when the front connection came loose on the side car and this caused George to run off the road and into a fence. Hornung got scratched up some and George proceeded to give him First Aid. He painted Bill up to look like a wild Indian. Then they came into Camp Mabry we all laughed at Bill and he didn't know why we laughed. He finally looked in a mirror and saw how George had painted him up. Bill didn't see as much humor in this as we did.

At a certain time during the school we had a new man report to the school by the name of Lee Brooks. He made himself unpopular with many of the men there by his griping, etc. Some of them would gripe with him and in a day or two they were called on the carpet and told what they had been saying. We had a Kangaroo Court and this Court tried Lee and sentenced him to be thrown up in the blanket a certain number of times. This blanket was a 20 foot by 20 foot tarpaulin that had been given to us by Ed Sproles Motor Freight. As many of us as could get around this tarp would throw a man as high as we could and keep trying to throw him higher. Lee panicked because we were throwing him so high, or some say he was afraid at a given signal we would all just drop the tarp and let him hit the ground. At any rate we were throwing Lee as high as the oak trees just in front of the barracks. We were quartered in the barracks just in front of the gate to Camp Mabry. Lee scrambled to the edge of the tarp right where I was holding it. He was holding on for dear life. I kept trying to throw him up and in the process plenty of skin was rubbed and burned off both his elbows. He didn't know much first aid and he put iodine on these burns and as a result he was crippled for days. Before long it was announced to us just who Lee Brooks was. Chief Phares told us that this was to teach us not to gripe and complain to every fellow who gripes to us. (Recently I saw the original letter from Chief Phares to Lee Miller giving this assignment; I believe that Meredith in Personnel and Training may have a copy of it. H-2 was to give me a copy and then backed out.)

Near the end of our school a patrolman by the name of Conwell was assigned to ride Lee Miller's motorcycle from Austin to Amarillo. When he left Austin the weather was very cold and wet. I am sure that the temperature was below freezing and this man had to leave Austin and head to Amarillo. Everyone knew that the weather was much worse the further north he would travel. We all surely did feel sorry for that he had to make this ride and make it for the other fellow.

Most of the recruits in the school had a little money and would go to town on Saturday. I was so broke that I only went to town on two Saturdays and that to get a haircut. Many of us went to the Ellis Barber Shop on Guadalupe. Some relatives of 0. D. Ellis, a patrolman from the first school ran this shop. I also went to K. Brill Leather Shop and bought a belt. All good self-respecting Highway Patrolmen needed a Brill belt. I wore it for years. I wanted a holster for the Semi-automatic but just didn't have the money!\

We were given the opportunity to go to church on Sunday and I usually went. Chief and Mrs. Phares made arrangements to get us there and back. None of us had any transportation as we were instructed not to bring any.  This didn't affect me because I didn't have any at home either. Most of the recruits were able to go home during the school but, I was not able to do so for two reasons. First, I didn't have the money and secondly the train did not make the right connections for me to get there and back in the allotted time off. Our school was to last seven weeks but we stayed there about eight weeks. I believe we left there on December 8th.

 Glen Rose. 0. K. Huddleston and I left Camp Mabry together to ride to Houston. 0. K. lived there and Rose lived in Conroe. They had been instructed by Captain Hickman to go to their residences and I was to call Captain Hickman when I arrived in Houston. We got there after dark and Captain Hickman was afraid for me to continue to Lufkin by myself at night due to the dangers of riding a motorcycle, hogs and cattle on the road, etc. I was able to convince him that I could ride a motorcycle before I entered the school and was familiar with the hazards and promised him that I would be careful and he allowed me to go on rather than spend the night in Houston. I was allowed two or three days at home and then reported to Houston for duty. My first partner was J. D. Carr and we were the only Patrolmen stationed in Houston. We worked to Hempstead, Bay City, Wharton, Angleton, Galveston, Livingston, and all points between.

We were given strict orders when WP left Austin to not stop any violators nor try to do any work before reporting to our respective Captains for assignment. Rose, 0.K. and I didn't get 30 miles until 0. K. saw a violator that he just had to stop. I tried to get him to pass it up and go on but he stopped the man anyway. Before long he found another and stopped him also. After about the third stop we told him that if he stopped another man we were going on without him. We had been instructed to travel together. We convinced him we were serious and he didn't stop any more cars.

Our first day on Patrol we rode to Richmond, Rosenberg and about five miles past Rosenberg before stopping. Carr got off his motorcycle and looked around until he found a Prince Albert Tobacco can. He put this up on the railroad row fence and said, “let’s see if that old gun will shoot." I shot and luckily hit the can; in fact I hit the man on the can. I was sort of proud of hitting the man. He said, "It will shoot, won't it." He then proceeded to give me a rundown of what our job was. He made it clear to me that half of the good and half of the bad was mine. He instructed me very clearly in what I was to do and what he would do. After about 20 minutes of

This very serious discussion he said, “what do you think about all this we have been talking about?" I said, it sounds good to me." He then said, "OK, shake and stuck out his hand. We shook hands on the agreement and from then until now I have always had a good, warm, friendly feeling for him. He was truly a partner to a rookie Patrolman. He took care of me when I didn't have experience enough to take care of myself. He taught me many valuable lessons that have stayed with me through more than 40 years of service and I thank him for it. I only wish every young man could have an introduction into the work like I had. We didn't get to work together long because we arrested the wrong man for DWI and he had too much influence and we were both transferred. (Copies of three letters dealing with that subject are attached.

During the time we were in school Chief Phares had Ernest Mayer get up and tell about one time he was escorting the Chief into Houston when a truck driver failed to give them the road and Mayer put the man on the back of his motorcycle and continued the escort and put the truck driver in jail. What he failed to tell us though was that Mayr forgot to file on the truck driver and after several days in jail the Sheriff nearly got involved in a civil suit. T. A. Binford was Sheriff of Harris County at the time. He then started a procedure which I believe is still in effect. "Before putting a man in jail in Harris County you must have a warrant." This caused quite an inconvenience for a time until the downtown Judges Overstreet and Ray, started keeping a Clerk on duty twenty-four hours per day. The Chief having Mayr tell us this story caused us to believe that it was all right to carry a person to jail on the motorcycle. In fact, we carried several before we carried the wrong one and then this became an issue and we were transferred with this given as one of the reasons. It was generally practiced because we had no other way to get a person to jail when a custody arrest was made. Later, when possible, one of us left our motor by the side of the road and drove the violator's car in and then we both rode one motor back to where we had left the one on the side of the road. Most of the time it was reasonably safe to leave your motor out like that. Of course, this caused us to work many hours beyond the normal quitting time too.

At that time we worked seven days a week. For the first two months we worked from twelve to eighteen hours per day. I learned later that Captain Hickman had told Carr to see if I would work; to see if he could make me say "Quit." Every night he would ask me if I wanted to go in and I would say, “It doesn't make any difference with me." and this was right. I was thoroughly enjoying the work and didn't care about quitting. After about two months the Captain told him that he could ease up a little and not work so many hours.

Arthur Fischer was killed on January 18, 1932. He hit a horse with his motorcycle at night on the Hempstead Highway out of Houston. Glen Rose was his partner. We came in about 2:00 a.m. and my wife told me Captain Hickman wanted us to come to the Boulevard Funeral Home. We stayed there until 4:00 a.m. and he sent us home to get cleaned up and be back at 8:00 a.m. We stayed there until about li·:00 P.M. and started to Bartlett escorting the hearse with Patrolman Fisher's body. Near Elgin I hit a series of large holes in the asphalt road and nearly fall in front of the hearse. Captain Hickman was following the hearse and he said he saw the tail light on my motor over the top of the hearse. Fischer's father was riding in the hearse and he nearly had a heart attack because he knew if I fell that the hearse would run over me for he was following so close.

At Elgin Homer Garrison met us and escorted the body on to Bartlett and sent us to Austin to go to bed. He was driving the only car in the Highway Patrol at that time. This was a Buick Coupe that belonged to Chief Phares.

The following morning I had to get a new rear wheel and tire for my motor due to hitting the holes in the road the night before. We went to Bartlett for Fischer's funeral and several of us served as pallbearers.

My motor was dirty and Canady asked me why I didn't wash it sometime. I didn't feel too fresh because I had ridden so much and had so little rest and sleep. He said something else about it and I said "Are you serious?"  He replied that he was. I made a motion and brushed his shoulder and upper arm off and said, "I don't see anything there, before you jump me out you had better get something there." The next time I saw him he had something there all right, he had Captain's bars. I can truthfully  say, though, that he never one time showed that he resented what I had said for he had numerous times to make it hard for me or to turn me down for something, but he never did. He always treated me as good as he could. I guess I did him a favor by challenging him because he got the rank soon. He did have a problem trying to super vise people who were the same rank as he was. In fact, we thought we outranked him for he came into our school about two weeks after it started.

We had only two men to wash out of our school. We had 65 enrolled. A boy by the name of Wilson had to be sent home due to his having blackouts, and one by the name of Wall didn't have enough education to make it.

Engberg got his shoulder hurt wrestling and made it through the school without taking too much part in physical activity. Ed Dorris taught him how to wrestle.

There were five ladies working in the Headquarters office when the second school started. I am not sure of the spelling, but their names were Mrs. Milam, Grace Fowler, Zeda Neff, Connie Catterall and Mattie Havens. Zeda married Lionel G. Deats and Connie married W. E. (Dub) Naylor, two of the men from our school. Grace carried the title of Assistant Chief when the Chief was absent. We had orders that any instruction given by her was to be obeyed. Very shortly, after our school was out, two new ladies went to work, Geraldine Boggs and Mary Nell Kilgo. Everyone now knows Gerry and Mary Nell as Gerry Holland and Mary Nell Garrison.

At the end of school it was customary to all ride four and five abreast up Congress Avenue just before leaving for home. Of course, the Highway Patrol was new then and traffic was not so heavy and the people would stop and look at 60 or more motorcycles riding slow up Congress.

We were not issued any ammunition and many of us had not been to town nor had a chance to buy any ammunition after we found out that they were not going to furnish us any. Many of us rode in the parade up Congress with empty guns. I stopped after the parade and bought enough to fill the gun and two extra clips.

We were issued old National Guard 45 Automatics because the new guns which had been ordered for us had not arrived. We were all handed one of them full of gasoline and told to clean it and not to put any gasoline or kerosene on it to cut the gasoline. This was a pretty good job because none of us had any rags, (except some of our clothing) or anything else to clean the guns with.

I would like to correct the information which is on the motorcycle which is parked in the lobby at the main entrance of the Headquarters building. This information on it says that each man that went through the schools rode this motor. This information is not correct. This motorcycle was assigned to Sergeant W. D. (Bill) Roberts and no rookie was allowed to crank it, let alone ride it. If it had to be moved we were instructed to push it and do not, under any circumstances, crank nor ride it. We were also instructed to report any unusual circumstances or happening. I was one of about five rookies who were assigned, to move the row of motorcycles which belonged to the sergeant's and Lieutenant's. We were to move them to another location so we could practice lining up n Company Front. In pushing this motor, Number 40, I accidently let it get overbalanced away from me and I had to lay it down to keep from dropping it. I laid it down and got some sand in the end of the handle bar grip. When Sergeant Roberts found the sand he asked who had moved the motorcycle and I told him that I did. He asked why I didn't report getting the sand in the grip. I told him that I had not thought that this constituted the kind of thing that we were supposed to report. He was mad and gave me latrine duty for several days. Several days later his wife asked me why I hadn't told the Sergeant how this happened and said he would not have given me the extra duty. I told her that this was all right that the extra duty didn't hurt me any. She said he was sorry and would not have given me this extra duty had he known how it happened. She kept telling me this and finally I told her that I did not expect a Sergeant to apologize to me but if he did owe me an apology I would rather he gave it in person rather than send it by his wife. This made her very mad and she left immediately. If you will check with anyone who went through the second school they will all tell you that they did not ride motor number 40. Some years later. I understand, it was used in some of the schools and some of the men from the second school may have ridden it at that time, but they did not ride it during the second school. That was the Sacred Cow and we were not allowed to touch very much. I believe if the motorcycle which the Department kept for show purposes had been any motor other than number 40 the feeling would have been entirely different. I knew it would have been as far as I am concerned.

 I was not smart enough when the Sergeant's wife was talking to me to know what was happening. We were standing at the end of the upstairs porch. We were in semi-darkness but anyone on the ground could see us clearly and see what we were doing. I have believed for many years that he planned this and was on the ground watching to see if I wouldn't make a pass at her. Then he could run me off. Maybe I wasn't that good but I wasn’t that dumb.

 On April 1, 1934 THP Patrolmen Wheeler, Murphy and Ivy were on routine patrol near Grapevine. Ivy was riding a motorcycle with sidecar. Wheeler and Murphy had gotten ahead of him and evidently out of his sight. They saw a car some distance off the highway and went to investigate it. Later their bodies were found and it was determined that they had been killed by Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.

I was stationed in Texarkana in the Dallas District at this time. We were all pulled off regular duties and worked our entire time hunting for these killers. Clyde and Bonnie were known to travel through this area quite often and they were familiar with most of the roads.

All THP personnel in the Dallas District were furnished a phone number in Dallas and we were instructed to call this number if we had any information that might be of value. Our instructions were to give the information to anyone who answered this phone. We were assured by Captain Hamm that either he, Frank Blake, Agent in Charge of the FBI in Dallas, or Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police would always be at this number.

We did not ride motorcycles during this time but used our personal cars and worked with any Officer who had transportation.

At one period of time we set up roadblocks at crossings of Red River in Arkansas. In our area we had blocks at Index, eight miles north of Texarkana, Fulton, about twenty miles east and at Garland City about twenty-two miles east of Texarkana. I was on the Index Bridge. My partner, C. L. Tolbert and I were there alone for more than twenty-four hours before we were relieved. Later Captain Homer Garrison, W. E. (Dub) Naylor and a few others from the THP joined us. We also had an FBI Agent by the name of McCormac with us. We manned this blockade for several days. Sheriff of Little River County and was very co-operative with us. The Sheriff offered to stay with us although we were not in his county. Our base of operation was in Miller County.

We were called off of this blockade and I was at home soaking my feet in Epsom salt water as they were so sore and swollen that I could hardly keep going when I received a call from a friend in Atlanta telling me that Clyde and Bonnie and a man described as stocky with heavy beard had bought gas in his station. He said they put in a quart of oil from their own can. They were driving a 1934 Ford sedan with Louisiana license. He was positive of his identification of Clyde and Bonnie but did not know who the third person was. I called my partner and we alerted the Police and we started toward Atlanta. We left several Officers about four miles out of Texarkana and we picked up Albert Chilcote, a city policeman (later a Highway Patrolman and Sergeant) and proceeded south. We stopped at the Sulphur River and I called Dallas as we had decided the information might be good. Just as I got the Operator on the line they called for me to come on. I ran to the car and they said, "That's the car.” I could see two tail lights going north toward Texarkana. We started in pursuit' and never got any closer than when we started. They went over a hill and we never saw the tail lights again. What we didn't know at the time was that they turned out their car lights and drove without lights.

When we arrived at the place where we had left the Officers they had all gone. They had left Chilcote's car there with the keys in it. We could not find where the car had turned off the highway nor any other trace of Bonnie and Clyde. I called Dallas and gave them the information that we then had. This was probably about 10:00 p.m. About 1:00 a.m. I received a call from Marshall and they described the car and three occupants as the man in Atlanta had done. A night watchman in Marshall saw them and got a good look at them. They turned at the next corner and he was afraid they were going to come back and kidnap or shoot him and he went upstairs in a building and called the Police station. It was learned several hours later that the car went west but didn't follow the highway but instead travelled on a local road which was parallel for several miles.

About this time a report was received from Shreveport about a stolen 1931 Ford sedan. I believe that this was the same car that they were later killed in.

We felt sure when we were pulled off the special duty and told to go back to regular duty on the motorcycles that something big was planned but we did not know at that rime just what. This something turned out to be the killing of Clyde and Bonnie.

Attached is a copy of Memorandum from Chief Phares regarding the payment for some of the expenses incurred in the use of my personal car. I used it much more than this but only submitted this much. Many good citizens had sent in contributions to be used as rewards or for anything to catch or eliminate these two killers. Chief Phares used part of it to pay those who used their personal cars.

The lack of communication was what enabled Clyde and Bonnie to run loose as long as they did. If we had had radios we could have called ahead and at least we or some of the other Officers in the area could have had a gun fight with them. We could have the information on the car being stolen much earlier etc.

I was off duty on May 23rd for the first time since April 1st. I was so tired and run down that I had my wife take me out to a lake Texarkana and leave me. I did carry some fish hooks but didn't even try to fish much. I just sat around and lay around all day. I had told her not to come for me unless it was absolutely necessary. She didn't come tell me when she heard on the radio that Clyde and Bonnie had been killed. She left me out there all day like I had asked her to do. I was as nearly exhausted at that time as I have ever been in my life.

I could continue with many of the happenings and never finish but I was only asked to write what I remembered about my school and the early days of the THP.

I have now reached the age where I cannot remember what happened last week but do remember clearly many things that happened forty years ago.

Herbert Weeks, Captain

Texas Highway Patrol

Region III., Corpus Christi

HW:jg

 

 

DPS HISTORY 1935 - 1957

The DPS Museum Exhibit Team was going through our archives and found an excellent history of the early days of DPS written by an historian as part of a thesis for the University of Texas. You can read it by going to the following link here.  If the link does not open for you in your browser, try pasting the direct link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AZUpPMIxd2qC-1de4uDpcB71KUbQ8w6-/view?usp=sharing

DPS MUSEUM DAY 2018

Our theme this year is “Picture Yourself in Their Boots.” Chronicle your exploration of TXDPS state of the art law enforcement equipment at “selfie stations.” Wear the gear of a DPS trooper from the past at the vintage trooper, “selfie station.” Meet DPS SWAT, Police dogs, Mounted Patrol, and DPS Motorcycle Unit. Explore the Crime Lab station, the DPS helicopter, plus more at DPS Headquarters, 5805 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78752 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday, September 23, 2018. All participants are encouraged to promote on social media and to tag their photos of the day with #DPSMuseum,  #MuseumDay2018 and #atxmuseums

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