1920s: Unwanted Families, Including Clyde Barrow’s, Settle in Untended part of Dallas

During the 1920s, many families faced poverty. After World War I, Texas farmers had to find other ways to provide for their families due to cotton and food prices crashing. Clyde Barrow’s family were among the individuals looking for new opportunities and headed to the city of Dallas. However, the city didn’t want families like the Barrow family staying in Dallas. Other individuals seeking help during this challenging economic time included widows, children, and the elderly (Blumenthal, 2020).

These families were instead pushed to “…settle in a “free campground” in West Dallas, an unincorporated and untended area of Dallas County that was poor by design” (Blumenthal, 2020, para. 9). Although Clyde didn’t meet Bonnie until 1930, Bonnie arrived in West Dallas under similar circumstances. Her mother could not provide for her children after her husband passed away and moved to Cement City with Bonnie’s grandparents (Guinn, 2012).

(Blumenthal, 2020)

Individuals had a difficult time finding jobs during this time. Poverty, lack of city services, and law enforcement led the media to portray West Dallas as crime-ridden and dangerous (it eventually became known as the “Devil’s Back Porch”). Although after World War II, crime calmed down because the economy recovered and people started leaving, West Dallas was still left behind by the people that ran the city (Collins, n.d.).


Blumenthal, K. (2020, February 9). Clyde Barrow’s still-standing home in West Dallas represents more than infamous killers in love. The Dallas Morning News. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2020/02/09/clyde-barrows-still-standing-home-in-west-dallas-represents-more-than-infamous-killers-in-love/

Guinn, J. (2012). Go down together: The true, untold story of Bonnie and Clyde. United Kingdom: Simon & Schuster UK. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Go_Down_Together/uZv9yMrfMmYC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=when+did+bonnie+arrive+at+cement+city+west+dallas&pg=PT7&printsec=frontcover

Collins, C. (n.d.). The story of West Dallas from Bonnie and Clyde to Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. KERA News. http://stories.kera.org/no-place/2017/04/23/the-story-of-the-place-on-the-other-side-of-the-trinity/