At Perry’s Violet Hill Cemetery, when the women in my family would take home-grown flowers to arrange into bouquets for Memorial Day, a few times my mother would point out the headstone of Clint Knee, one of Iowa’s first state patrolmen.
His named came up again when I learned that he was part of the posse that arrested Buck and Blanche Barrow during the 1933 shootout in Dexfield Park. But he’s been an elusive man to learn much about, making him a quiet Iowa hero.
C. A. Knee was born southwest of Perry in Dallas County in 1887 and attended Jamaica country school.
For some time he was a stationary engineer on the Milwaukee Railroad in Perry. Knee served in World War I as a private in a transportation unit in France.
He served on the Perry City Council, and was elected Dallas County Sheriff in 1931. He served five terms and was also elected president of the Iowa Sheriffs’ Association.
As sheriff, Knee was part of the posse that arrested Buck and Blanche Barrow in July 1933, when the Barrow Gang hid out in Dexfield Park near Dexter. During the ensuing shootout, Bonnie, Clyde and their driver escaped.
The Iowa State Patrol was created in 1935, originally composed of 50 men. Knee became one of the early state troopers. He was appointed chief of the Iowa State Patrol in 1939. One of his first actions was to establish the Patrol Special Accident Investigation Unit.
Knee died in 1946 and was buried at Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry alongside his wife, Elva Knee.
Joy Neal Kidney is a local historian and the co-author of “Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II.”