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Lot #2028
Raymond Hamilton 1934 Autograph Letter Signed and Hotel Bill

Hamilton proves his innocence: "I haven't been with Clyde Barrow since the Lanster Bank Robbery"

Estimate: $1000+
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Hamilton proves his innocence: "I haven't been with Clyde Barrow since the Lanster Bank Robbery"

ALS, two pages, 6 x 9.5, The Lafayette Hotel, New Orleans letterhead, [April 7, 1934]. Letter to his lawyer A. S. Baskett, sent care of Sheriff Smoot Schmid, denying any allegiance to Clyde Barrow. In full (spelling and grammar retained): "I'm sending you a bill from a hotel I was staying at, at the time of that killing in Commerce Okla. I haven't been with Clyde Barrow since the Lanster Bank Robbery. I'm sending you one hundred dollars and won't this put before public & proved right away. I'm sending you more money just as soon as I find out you are doing as I ask. I'm enclosing also my finger prints on this Bill. I'm also leaving a letter at this hotel for you, you can call for it my finger prints will be there when you call for it, you know I try and do keep my promise. I won't you to let the public and the whole world to know I am not with Clyde Barrow and don't go his speed. I'm a lone man and intend to stay that way. I wrote Mrs. M. A. Ferguson but I guess it was in vain. I was in Houston Wed nite april 4 and have been here since Thurs even april 5." Includes the bill from the Lafayette Hotel bearing Hamilton's fingerprints, from April 5, 1934 [erroneously dated as May 5], indicating that he was registered under the alias "F. A. Murphy." In very good condition, with moderate show-through from toned adhesive remnants. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope, addressed in Hamilton's hand.

Hamilton had split from the Barrow Gang after disagreements over his girlfriend Mary O’Dare and an argument about how to share the haul from their robbery of the the R. P. Henry & Sons Bank, in Lancaster, Texas (which Hamilton refers to here as the “Lanster Bank Robbery”). This letter, however, was the first time it came to light that Hamilton left the gang. He was considered suspect in “that killing in Commerce Okla,” where Clyde and his associate Henry Methvin gunned down Constable Cal Campbell on April 6, 1934. Upon receiving this letter, Hamilton’s lawyer began a publicity campaign to cast doubt on his involvement, and had the letter widely published in the press on April 9. Dallas police confirmed Hamilton’s enclosed fingerprints as authentic, and expressed their belief that his claim was true—due in part to the hundred dollars he sent, since ‘cranks who write letters like that do not enclose money.’ Despite proving his innocence in this case, Hamilton was unable to avoid the electric chair—he would be executed a year later on May 10, 1935, for his earlier involvement in killing a prison guard when escaping from the Eastham Prison Farm. A truly remarkable letter used by a desperate outlaw as proof of innocence in a brutal slaying.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Gangsters, Outlaw & Lawmen
  • Dates: #503 - Ended June 23, 2017

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
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