On this day : The 13th April 1866

Butch Cassidy is born

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Born Robert Leroy Parker, he was the son of Mormon parents who had answered Brigham Young’s call for young couples to help build communities of Latter Day Saints on the Utah frontier. Cassidy was the first of 13 children born to Max and Annie Parker.

When Cassidy was 13 years old, the family moved to a ranch near the small Mormon community of Circleville. He became an admirer of a local ruffian named Mike Cassidy, who taught him how to shoot and gave him a gun and saddle. With Cassidy’s encouragement, the young man apparently began rustling, eventually forcing him to leave home during his mid-teens under a cloud of suspicion.

For several years, he drifted around the West using the name Roy Parker. Finally, on June 24, 1889, he committed his first serious crime, robbing a bank in Telluride, Colorado, for more than $20,000. As a fugitive, he took to calling himself George Cassidy, a nod to his first partner in crime back in Utah. Wishing to lay low, for a time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming, butcher shop, earning the nickname that would complete one of the most famous criminal aliases in history, “Butch” Cassidy.

In 1894, Butch Cassidy was arrested for horse theft in Wyoming. After serving two years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison at Laramie, Cassidy was pardoned. He immediately returned to a life of crime, this time gathering around him a local band of carousing outlaws that became known as the Wild Bunch. Cassidy’s most famous partner was Harry Longbaugh, better known as the “Sundance Kid.” Other members included the quick-to-kill Harvey Logan (“Kid Curry”), Ben Kilpatrick (“Tall Texan”), Harry Tracy, Deaf Charley Hanks, and Tom Ketchum (“BlackJack”).

By 1897, Cassidy was solidly in control of a sophisticated criminal operation that was active in states and territories from South Dakota to New Mexico. The Wild Bunch specialized in holding up railroad express cars, and the gang was sometimes called the Train Robbers’ Syndicate. Between robberies, Cassidy rendezvoused with various lovers around the West and took his gang on unruly vacations to Denver, San Antonio, and Fort Worth.

By the turn of the century, however, the wild days of the West were rapidly fading. Once deserted lands were being tamed and settled, and western states and territories were creating an increasingly effective law-enforcement network. Tired of his robberies, railroad executives hired detectives to catch Cassidy and began placing mounted guards in railcars to pursue the Wild Bunch. In 1901, Cassidy fled the U.S. for Argentina accompanied by his lover, Etta Place, and the Sundance Kid.

The trio homesteaded a ranch at Cholila, though Place returned to the United States after several years. In 1904, Cassidy and Sundance learned that detectives had tracked them to South America. They abandoned the Cholila ranch and resumed a life of robbery in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Though there is no evidence definitely to confirm it, Bolivian troops reportedly killed the partners in the village of San Vicente in 1908. The families of both men insist, however, that the men survived and returned to live into old age in the United States.

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6 Things You May Not Know About Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy Gun With Secret Code Hidden in Grip Sells for $175,000

Is this the face of Butch Cassidy

It is one of the most enduring stories to emerge from the American Wild West.

But the death of Butch Cassidy may not be quite as dramatic as we have been told.

A lost manuscript claims that the outlaw did not die in a gunfight in a shootout alongside his partner in Bolivia in 1908.

Mystery: This undated photo of William T Phillips was taken from the Larry Pointer Collection. Was he really Butch Cassidy?
Mugshot of Butch Cassidy from when he was in prison in Wyoming in 1894

Mystery: This undated photo of William T Phillips (left) was taken from the Larry Pointer Collection. The image on the right is of Butch Cassidy when he was in prison. According to the Bandit Invincible manuscript, Butch fled South America to Europe where he has plastic surgery. This would go some way to explain the change in appearance between the two images

The scene was immortalised by Hollywood in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford  running out into a hail of bullets after being  cornered by troops.

Instead, in a plot which could also have come straight out of a movie, Cassidy is said to have fled to France where he had surgery on his face before sneaking back into the U.S. Furthermore, according to the same account, he lived out his final days quietly and anonymously in Washington State – and wrote an autobiography which he disguised as a biography.

American rare books expert Brent Ashworth and author Larry Pointer have obtained a 200-page manuscript from 1934 called Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy written by a William T Phillips which they claim was actually written by Cassidy.

Certain death? New evidence has emerged that Butch Cassidy may have survived the shootout so famously portrayed by Paul Newman and Robert Redford (l-r)

Certain death? New evidence has emerged that Butch Cassidy may have survived the shootout so famously portrayed by Paul Newman and Robert Redford (l-r)

Wild times: This is a famous photo taken of Cassidy and his gang in Fort Worth, Texas in 1900. This is said to show Bill Carver, top left, the Sundance Kid, bottom left, and Butch Cassidy, bottom right. The other two members of the gang are not identified

Wild times: This is a famous photo taken of Cassidy and his gang in Fort Worth, Texas in 1900. This is said to show Bill Carver, top left, the Sundance Kid, bottom left, and Butch Cassidy, bottom right. The other two members of the gang are not identified

They claim the book is Cassidy’s own story of his life as an outlaw.

It describes how after surviving the shootout in Bolivia he went to Paris and had his face altered then went back to the U.S. and reunited with an old girlfriend, Gertrude Livesay.

The authors say they married in Michigan in 1908 and moved to Spokane in Washington state in 1911. He apparently died in 1937, aged 71.

Paul Newman: Butch Cassidy according to Hollywood

Paul Newman: Butch Cassidy according to Hollywood

Redford, left, and Newman in a still from the 1969 film

Redford, left, and Newman in a still from the 1969 film. Stories abound of Sundance living long after his time in South America. But they’re outnumbered by purported Cassidy sightings. A brother and sister of Cassidy’s insisted he visited them at a family ranch in 1925

Iconic: Redford (left) and Newman (right) gave memorable performances as the legendary outlaws

Iconic: Redford (left) and Newman (right) gave memorable performances as the legendary outlaws

Its discovery is the latest of many theories surrounding the life and death of the two outlaws. It is also claimed by other writers that Sundance survived.

Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker in 1866 in Utah, the oldest of 13 children in a Mormon family. He robbed his first bank in 1889 in Telluride, Colorado, and fell in with cattle rustlers who hid out at The Hole in the Wall, a refuge in northern Wyoming’s Johnson County. For 20 years, his Wild Bunch gang held up banks and trains across the West and in South America.

Despite the claims of Pointer and Ashworth, not all are convinced by the manuscript’s authenticity.

‘Total horse pucky,’ said Cassidy historian Dan Buck. ‘It doesn’t bear a great deal of relationship to Butch Cassidy’s real life, or Butch Cassidy’s life as we know it.’

The Last Days of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Last Days of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

At the end the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman and Robert Redford reload their six-shooters and exchange a final round of wisecracks, then dash valiantly into a plaza rimmed with Bolivian soldiers. The movie, a box-office smash in 1969 and a late-night television chestnut today, closes with the wounded outlaws facing almost certain doom. The frame freezes before the antiheroes fall, however, leaving open the barest possibility of their survival.

The movie is based on a true story, which began shortly after the Civil War. The outlaw known as Butch Cassidy, born Robert LeRoy Parker on April 13, 1866, was the eldest of 13 children in a Mormon family in Utah. His admiration for a young cowboy named Mike Cassidy and a stint as a butcher inspired his nom de crime. A stretch in a Wyoming prison for the theft of a $5 horse impelled him toward a life on the run.

The Sundance Kid, born Harry Alonzo Longabaugh in the spring of 1867, was the youngest of five children in a Baptist family in Pennsylvania. After heading west at the age of 15, he ranched with relatives in Colorado, then knocked around the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, working as a drover and broncobuster. He earned his nickname by serving 18 months in jail at Sundance, Wyo., for stealing a horse.

Sundance’s companion in the movie was Etta Place. His companion in real life was an enigma. Although she has been described as a prostitute, a teacher, or both, no one knows her true origin or fate. Even her name is a mystery. The Pinkerton Detective Agency called her Etta on its wanted posters, but she called herself Ethel, which may or may not have been her real name. Traveling as Sundance’s wife, she shared the alias Place (his mother’s maiden name).

Butch and Sundance belonged to a loose-knit gang that included the likes of Elzy Lay, Matt Warner, Harvey ‘Kid Curry’ Logan, Ben ‘Tall Texan’ Kilpatrick and Will Carver. Dubbed the Train Robbers’ Syndicate, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and the Wild Bunch, the band held up trains and banks and stole mine payrolls in the Rocky Mountain West, making off with a total of $200,000 (the equivalent of $2.5 million today) between 1889 and the early 1900s.

With $1,000 rewards on their heads and the Pinkertons on their tails, Butch and Sundance fled to South America with Ethel in 1901. The movie takes them directly from New York City to Bolivia, but their initial destination was actually Argentina. After steaming into Buenos Aires on the British ship Herminius in March and taking the train to Patagonia in June, they settled in the Chubut Territory, a frontier zone in southern Argentina sparsely populated by immigrants, pioneers and Indians. Although most of the immigrants were Welsh or Chilean, several North Americans had journeyed to the same corner of the world, looking for open ranges. The bandits’ nearest neighbor, for example, was John Commodore Perry, who had been the first sheriff of Crockett County, Texas. Butch and Sundance also traded and socialized with another Texan, Jarred Jones, who lived a two days’ ride north, near Bariloche.

Calling themselves James ‘Santiago’ Ryan and Mr. and Mrs. Harry ‘Enrique’ Place, the Wild Bunch exiles peacefully homesteaded a ranch in the Cholila Valley, raising sheep, cattle and horses. All three got on well with their neighbors, and if anyone came to know about Butch and Sundance’s shady past, it never interfered with those good relations. So highly were they regarded that when Territorial Governor Julio Lezana visited the valley in early 1904, he spent the night in their home, a well-kept four-room log cabin on the east bank of the Blanco River. During the welcoming festivities, Sundance played sambas on his guitar and Lezana danced with Ethel.

Meanwhile, in March 1903, the Pinkertons had sent agent Frank Dimaio to Buenos Aires, after receiving a tip that Butch and Sundance were living in Argentina. Dimaio traced their whereabouts, then cabled his superiors, saying the rainy season prevented him from going to Cholila. Before leaving Buenos Aires, he supplied the police with translated versions of the bandits’ wanted posters.

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On February 14, 1905, two English-speaking bandits held up the Banco de Tarapacá y Argentino in Río Gallegos, 700 miles south of Cholila, near the Strait of Magellan. Escaping with a sum that would be worth at least $100,000 today, the pair vanished north across the bleak Patagonian steppes. Although Butch and Sundance were never positively identified as the culprits (whose descriptions didn’t fit them as well as the modus operandi did), they were the prime suspects.

Responding to a directive from the Buenos Aires police chief, Governor Lezana issued an order for Butch and Sundance’s arrest. Before the order could be executed, however, Sheriff Edward Humphreys, a Welsh Argentine who was friendly with Butch and enamored of Ethel, tipped them off. In early May, the trio hustled north to Bariloche and took the steamer Cóndor across Lake Nahuel Huapi to Chile.

Almost nothing is known about what the bandits did in Chile, but they apparently spent time in Antofagasta, the center of the nitrate trade on the northern coastal desert. The Pinkertons learned from a postal informant that Frank D. Aller, the U.S. vice consul in Antofagasta, had bailed Sundance (alias Frank Boyd) out of a scrape with the Chilean government in 1905.

Late that year, the outlaws returned to Argentina on business. On December 19, Butch, Sundance, Ethel and an unidentified confederate heisted 12,000 pesos (worth about $137,500 today) from the Banco de la Nación in Villa Mercedes, a livestock center 400 miles west of Buenos Aires. With several posses chasing them, they slogged west over rain-drenched pampas and the Andes to safety in Chile.

A few months later, Sundance briefly visited Cholila to sell some sheep and mares he and Butch had left with their friend Daniel Gibbon, a Welsh rancher. By then, Ethel was in San Francisco, having returned to the United States for good, and Butch was in Antofagasta, en route to Bolivia.

In 1906, Butch (alias James ‘Santiago’ Maxwell) found work at the Concordia Tin Mine, 16,000 feet up in the Santa Vela Cruz range of the central Bolivian Andes. Sometime after selling the livestock in Cholila, Sundance (alias H.A. ‘Enrique’ Brown) hired on with contractor Roy Letson, who was driving mules from northern Argentina to a railroad-construction camp near La Paz. Sundance worked awhile breaking mules at the camp, then joined Butch at Concordia, where their duties included guarding payrolls.

Assistant manager Percy Seibert, who had first met Butch and Sundance during a Christmas party at the Grand Hotel Guibert in La Paz, knew that his employees were outlaws, but he ‘never had the slightest trouble getting along with’ either of them. He found Sundance somewhat taciturn, but grew quite fond of Butch. After Seibert became the manager at Concordia, they were his regular guests for Sunday dinner. To avoid unpleasant surprises, Butch always took the seat with a view of the valley and the trail to Seibert’s house.

Having been forced to give up his quiet life in Argentina, Butch still wanted to settle down as a respectable rancher. In late 1907, he and Sundance made an excursion to Santa Cruz, a frontier town in Bolivia’s neotropical eastern savannah, and Butch wrote to friends at Concordia, saying that he had found ‘just the place [he had] been looking for 20 years.’ Now 41, he was burdened with regret. ‘Oh god,’ he lamented, ‘if I could call back 20 years…I would be happy.’ He marveled at the affordability of good land with plenty of water and grazing, and made a prediction: ‘If I don’t fall down I will be living here before long.’

The bandits quit their jobs in 1908, after an inebriated Sundance bragged publicly about their criminal exploits. Although there is no proof of their having been anything other than model employees during their tenure at Concordia, Seibert credited them with several holdups in Bolivia. He said, for example, that they had robbed a railroad-construction payroll at Eucaliptus, south of La Paz, in 1908. The payroll was actually robbed twice that year. According to newspaper accounts, the perpetrators of the first holdup, which occurred in April, were ‘three Yankees who had been employed as contract-workers.’ The newspapers provided no details about the second robbery, which took place in August, after Butch and Sundance had left Concordia.

Later that month, they turned up in Tupiza, a mining center in southern Bolivia. Intent on robbing a local bank, perhaps to finance their retirement in Santa Cruz, the outlaws needed a place to lie low while making their plans. They found a perfect hideout at the camp of British engineer A.G. Francis, who was supervising the transportation of a gold dredge on the San Juan del Oro River. Introducing themselves as George Low and Frank Smith, Butch and Sundance appeared at Francis’ camp at Verdugo, 15 miles south of Tupiza, and asked to rest their mules for a spell. Their legendary charm soon won Francis over, and they wound up bunking with him for several weeks.

While Sundance stayed with Francis, Butch made frequent forays into Tupiza, casing the bank and formulating his plans. Unfortunately, a detachment of visiting soldiers from the Abaroa Regiment, the Bolivian army’s celebrated cavalry unit, was ensconced at a hotel on the same square as the bank–too close for Butch’s comfort. Frustrated, and tired of waiting for the soldiers to leave town, the bandits turned their attention to the Aramayo, Francke y Compañía, which had mines in the area. Although the operational headquarters were at Quechisla, three days’ journey to the northwest, the Aramayo family lived in Tupiza, and the money for the payrolls came through the Tupiza office. In conversations with an unidentified Aramayo employee, the outlaws learned that manager Carlos Peró would soon be taking an unguarded 80,000 peso payroll (worth half a million of today’s dollars) to Quechisla.

In late October, Francis moved his headquarters to Tomahuaico, three miles south of Verdugo, on the west bank of the San Juan del Oro. Shortly thereafter, Butch and Sundance decamped to Tupiza, where they staked out the office behind the Aramayo family’s Italianate mansion, Chajrahuasi.

Early on the morning of November 3, Carlos Peró picked up a packet of money wrapped in homespun cloth and set off from Chajrahuasi with his young son Mariano, a peon and several mules, trailed discreetly by Butch and Sundance. Peró and his companions spent the night at the Aramayo hacienda in Salo, then resumed their journey at dawn. The outlaws were now ahead of them, watching through binoculars as the group made its way up Huaca Huañusca (Dead Cow Hill), the peon and the boy on mules and Peró on foot in the rear.

At 9:30 a.m., Peró’s party rounded a curve on the far side of the cactus-studded hill and found the trail blocked by Butch and Sundance, wielding brand-new small-caliber Mauser carbines with thick barrels. Dressed in dark-red corduroy suits, with bandannas masking their faces and their hat brims turned down so that only their eyes were visible, the bandits had Colt revolvers in their holsters and Browning pocket pistols tucked into their cartridge belts, which bulged with rifle ammunition.

Sundance kept his distance and said nothing. Butch politely ordered Mariano Peró and the peon to dismount and asked Carlos Peró to hand over the payroll. Unable to offer any resistance, Peró replied that they could take whatever they wanted. Butch began to search their saddlebags but could not find the money, so he told Peró to open their luggage. Speaking in English, Butch explained that he was not interested in the money or personal articles of Peró or his companions but only in the 80,000 pesos they were carrying for the Aramayo company. When Peró replied that they had only 15,000 pesos (worth $90,000 today), the larger payroll having been scheduled for the following week, Butch was stunned into silence. Perhaps as compensation, he took not only the packet of money but also a fine dark-brown mule that belonged to the company.

After the bandits departed, Peró’s party continued north toward the village of Guadalupe. At noon, they encountered a muleteer named Andrés Gutiérrez. Peró scribbled a note in pencil and gave it to Gutiérrez to deliver to the Aramayo hacienda in Salo. Another messenger took the note from Salo to Chajrahuasi, and the alarm went out via telegraph to local authorities in surrounding communities, as well as to Argentine and Chilean officials in all the nearby border towns. Military patrols and armed miners (whose pay had been stolen) were soon combing the ravines, watching the roads, guarding the train stations, and looking for strangers in villages throughout southern Bolivia.

Peró spent the night in the mining camp at Cotani, a day’s journey shy of Quechisla. In a letter detailing the morning’s events to his superiors, he surmised that the brigands had ‘undoubtedly planned their retreat carefully; otherwise, they would not have left us with our animals, or they would have killed us in order to avoid leaving witnesses or to gain time.’

In the meantime, Butch and Sundance had made their way south, through rough, uninhabited terrain. They skirted Tupiza under cover of darkness and arrived at Tomahuaico after midnight. Butch was sick and went to bed at once, but Sundance stayed up late, telling Francis about the holdup.

The bandit also spoke of having ‘made several attempts to settle down to a law-abiding life, but [said that] these attempts had always been frustrated by emissaries of the police and detective agencies getting on his track, and thus forcing him to return to the road.’ Nonetheless, he averred, ‘he had never hurt or killed a man except in self-defense, and had never stolen from the poor, but only from rich corporations well able to support his ‘requisitions.” Although Francis disapproved of his visitors’ misdeeds, he had found them ‘very pleasant and amusing companions’ and did not intend to betray them to the authorities.

The next morning, a friend hastened to Tomahuaico to warn the bandits that a military patrol from Tupiza was headed in their direction. Butch and Sundance packed their belongings and saddled their mules. To Francis’ horror, they insisted that he accompany them. Expecting them to flee south to Argentina, he was surprised when they said they were going to ‘Uyuni and the north.’ (Their destination may have been Oruro, a city with several thousand foreign residents, among whom the outlaws would have been inconspicuous. Oruro was also Sundance’s last known mailing address.)

Fearing that he would be caught in the cross-fire if the soldiers overtook them, Francis nervously led the bandits south and west along the San Juan del Oro, then north through a narrow, twisting ravine to the village of Estarca. Francis arranged for them to spend the night in a room at the home of Narcisa de Burgos. Early the next morning, Butch and Sundance thanked Francis for his help and let him go, with instructions to tell any soldiers he encountered that he had seen the bandits making for the Argentine border.

They paused for directions in Cucho, 10 miles north of Estarca, then followed the long, rugged trail to San Vicente, a mining village in a barren, dun-colored bowl 14,500 feet up in the Cordillera Occidental. At sundown on November 6, 1908, they rode into town on a black mule and the dark-brown Aramayo mule, stopping at the home of Bonifacio Casasola. Cleto Bellot, the corregidor (chief administrative officer), approached and asked what they wanted. An inn, they responded. Bellot said that there wasn’t one but that Casasola could put them up in a spare room and sell them fodder for their mules.

After tending to their animals, Butch and Sundance joined Bellot in their room, which opened off Casasola’s walled patio. They asked Bellot about the road to Santa Catalina, an Argentine town just south of the border, and the road to Uyuni, about 75 miles north of San Vicente. They then asked where they could get some sardines and beer, which Bellot sent Casasola to buy with money provided by Sundance.

When Bellot took his leave, he went straight to the home of Manuel Barran, where a four-man posse from Uyuni was staying. The posse, made up of Captain Justo P. Concha and two soldiers from the Abaroa Regiment and Inspector Timoteo Rios from the Uyuni police department, had galloped in that afternoon and had told Bellot to be on the lookout for two Yankees with an Aramayo mule. Captain Concha was asleep when Bellot reported the arrival of the suspects, but Inspector Rios and the two soldiers loaded their rifles at once.

Accompanied by Bellot, they went to Casasola’s home and entered the patio. As they approached the bandits’ room in the dark, Butch appeared in the doorway and fired his Colt, wounding the leading soldier, Victor Torres, in the neck. Torres responded with a rifle shot and retreated to a nearby house, where he died within moments. The other soldier and Rios also fired at Butch, then scurried out with Bellot.

After a quick trip to Barran’s house for more ammunition, the soldier and Rios positioned themselves at the entrance to the patio and began firing at the bandits. Captain Concha then appeared and asked Bellot to round up some men to watch the roof and the back of the adobe house, so that the bandits couldn’t make a hole and escape. As Bellot rushed to comply, he heard ‘three screams of desperation’ issue from the bandits’ room. By the time the San Vicenteños were posted, the firing had ceased and all was quiet.

The guards remained at their stations throughout the bitterly cold, windy night. Finally, at dawn on November 7, Captain Concha ordered Bonifacio Casasola to enter the room. When he reported that both Yankees were dead, the captain and the surviving soldier went inside. They found Butch stretched out on the floor, one bullet wound in his temple and another in his arm, and Sundance sitting on a bench behind the door, hugging a large ceramic jar, shot once in the forehead and several times in the arm. According to one report, the bullet removed from Sundance’s forehead had come from Butch’s Colt. From the positions of the bodies and the locations of the fatal wounds, the witnesses apparently concluded that Butch had put his partner out of his misery, then turned the gun on himself.

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The outlaws were buried in the local cemetery that afternoon. The Aramayo payroll was found intact in their saddlebags. Once their possessions had been inventoried and placed in a leather trunk, Captain Concha absconded to Uyuni with the lot, leaving the Aramayo company to battle for months in court to recover its money and its mule.

Two weeks after the shootout, the bandits’ bodies were disinterred, and Peró identified them as the pair who had held him up. Tupiza officials conducted an inquest of the robbery and shootout, interviewing Peró, Bellot and several other area residents, but were unable to ascertain the dead outlaws’ names.

In July 1909, Frank D. Aller, Sundance’s benefactor in Antofagasta, wrote the American Legation in La Paz for ‘confirmation and a certificate of death’ for two Americans–one known as Frank Boyd or H.A. Brown and the other as Maxwell–who were reportedly ‘killed at San Vicente near Tupiza by natives and police and buried as‘desconocidos’ [unknowns].’ Aller said that he needed a death certificate to settle Boyd’s estate in Chile. The legation forwarded the request to the Bolivian foreign ministry, stating that the Americans had ‘held up several of the Bolivian Railway Company’s pay trains, as also the stage coaches of several mines, and…were killed in a fight with soldiers that were detached to capture them as outlaws.’

In late 1910, after considerable procrastination, the Bolivian government finally responded with a summary of the Tupiza inquest report and ‘death certificates for the two men, whose names [were] unknown.’

In May 1913, a Missouri carpenter named Francis M. Lowe was arrested in La Paz on suspicion of being George Parker (Butch’s real name, according to the Pinkertons’ wanted posters). With the aid of the American Legation, Lowe established that his was a case of mistaken identity. In filing a report on the matter, an official at the legation advised U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan that ‘certain Englishmen and others here assert that a man known as George Parker [whom the La Paz police were seeking] had been killed in one of the provinces two or three years ago while resisting’ arrest.

Shortly before Lowe was detained, William A. Pinkerton had heard about the San Vicente shootout, but had dismissed ‘the whole story as a fake.’ The agency never officially called off the search for Butch and Sundance. Indeed, in 1921, Mr. Pinkerton told an agent that ‘the last we heard of [the Sundance Kid]…he was in jail in Peru for an attempted bank robbery. Butch Cassidy had been with him but got away and is supposed to have returned to the Argentine.’ Needless to say, the Pinkertons never caught up with the pair.

This article was written by Anne Meadows and Daniel Buck

Butch Cassidy Master Train Robber?

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Butch Cassidy’s folk hero image actually exceeded his outlawry.  In 1898, a Chicago newspaper referred to him as the “King of the Bandits,” and the “worst man” in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho.  The article also claimed he was the leader of a gang of 500 outlaws, “subdivided into five bands.”

It’s not certain how many train robberies Butch actually participated in but he wasn’t the notorious train robber of lore.  He was recognized at the Tipton robbery, but his name was added to the list of train robbers at Wilcox after he became famous.  The Pinkertons believed Butch and Sundance were heading to Winnemucca, Nevada.

According to historians Dan Buck and Anne Meadows, seven train robberies were committed by various members of the gang; Malta in 1892; Wilcox and Folsom in 1899; Tipton in 1900; Wagner in 1901; Parachute in 1904; and Sanderson in 1912.  Butch was not implicated in the Malta, Folsom, or Sanderson robberies.  He was in Argentina at the time of the Parachute heist and dead when the train was robbed at Sanderson.  So it looks like he participated in only one train robbery,but was Butch involved in the Wagner, MT, train robbery with Kid Curry in 1902 ?

Butch Cassidy summary: He was baptized Robert Leroy Parker and was born in Beaver, Utah. He was the oldest of thirteen children in a family of Mormons. Both his parents were immigrants from England. They met and married in the United States.

For a while, Robert worked as a butcher in Wyoming. There he acquired the nickname “Butch” which seemed to stay with him. He wanted to carve out a better life for himself, so he left home as a teenager. Working on farms and ranches, he met rancher Mike Cassidy who did not have a stellar reputation. Butch took a liking to Cassidy and in time, added Cassidy’s last name to his nickname and, thus, he became Butch Cassidy.