Butch Cassidy

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For other uses, see Butch Cassidy (disambiguation).
Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy with bowler hat.jpg
Born Robert Leroy Parker
(1866-04-13)April 13, 1866
Beaver, Utah
Died November 7, 1908(1908-11-07) (aged 42)
near San Vicente, Bolivia
Cause of death Gunshot
Nationality American
Other names Butch Cassidy, Mike Cassidy, George Cassidy, Jim Lowe, Santiago Maxwell,
Criminal charge Horse theft, cattle rustling, bank and train robbery
Criminal penalty Served 18 months of 2-year sentence; released January 1896
  • Maximillian Parker
  • Ann Campbell Gillies
Allegiance Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch
Conviction(s) Imprisoned in the state prison in Laramie, Wyoming for horse theft

Robert Leroy Parker (April 13, 1866 – November 7, 1908), better known as Butch Cassidy,[1] was a notorious American train robber, bank robber, and leader of the Wild Bunch gang in the American Old West.

After pursuing a career in crime for several years in the United States, the pressures of being pursued, notably by the Pinkerton detective agency, forced him to flee with an accomplice, Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, known as the Sundance Kid, and Longabaugh's girlfriend, Etta Place. The trio fled first to Argentina and then to Bolivia, where Parker and Longabaugh were probably killed in a shootout in November 1908.


The white building at right housed the San Miguel Valley Bank, site of Cassidy's first bank robbery in 1889.

On June 24, 1889, Cassidy, Warner and two of the McCarty Brothers robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride in which they stole approximately $21,000, after which they fled to the Robbers Roost, a remote hideout in southeastern Utah.

Cassidy purchased a ranch in 1890 near Dubois, Wyoming. This location is across the state from the notorious Hole-in-the-Wall, a natural geological formation which afforded outlaws protection and cover, so it is possible that Cassidy's ranching, at which he was never economically successful, was a façade for clandestine activities, perhaps with Hole-in-the-Wall outlaws.[2]

In early 1894, Cassidy became involved romantically with outlaw and rancher Ann Bassett. Bassett's father, rancher Herb Bassett, did business with Cassidy, supplying him with fresh horses and beef. That same year, Cassidy was arrested at Lander, Wyoming, for stealing horses and possibly for running a protection racket among the local ranchers there. He was imprisoned in the Wyoming State Prison in Laramie, Wyoming. After serving 18 months of a two-year sentence, he was released in January 1896 after promising Governor William Alford Richards that he would not offend again in that state. He became involved briefly with Ann Bassett's older sister, Josie, before returning to Ann.

1896 plea for amnesty[edit]

Cassidy appears to have approached Governor Heber Wells of Utah, which achieved statehood in 1896, to negotiate an amnesty. Wells appears to have declined, advising Cassidy to instead approach the Union Pacific Railroad to persuade them to drop their criminal complaints against him. Union Pacific Railroad chairman E. H. Harriman attempted to meet with Cassidy through his old ally Matthew Warner. On August 29, 1900, Cassidy, Longabaugh and others robbed Union Pacific train No. 3 near Tipton, Wyoming, violating Cassidy's earlier promise to the governor of Wyoming, and ending any chance for amnesty.


On February 28, 1900, lawmen attempted to arrest Kid Curry's brother, Lonny, at his aunt's home. Lonny was killed in the shootout that followed, and his cousin Bob Lee was arrested for rustling and sent to prison in Wyoming. On March 28, Kid Curry and Bill Carver were pursued by a posse from St. Johns, Apache County, Arizona, after being identified passing currency from the Wilcox, Wyoming, robbery. The posse engaged them in a shootout, during which Deputy Andrew Gibbons and Deputy Frank LeSueur were killed. Carver and Curry escaped. On April 17, George Curry was killed in a shootout with Grand County, Utah, Sheriff John Tyler and Deputy Sam Jenkins. On May 26, Kid Curry rode into Moab, Utah, and killed both Tyler and Jenkins in another shootout, in retaliation for the deaths of Curry and Lonny.

The Sundance Kid The Tall Texan Butch Cassidy News Carver Kid Curry Click for larger image
December 1900 Cassidy is seated on the far right Click a person for more information.

Cassidy, Longabaugh, and Bill Carver traveled to Winnemucca, Nevada, where on September 19, 1900, they robbed the First National Bank of $32,640. In December, Cassidy posed in Fort Worth, Texas for the now-famous Fort Worth Five Photograph,[3] which depicts Parker, Longabaugh, Harvey Logan, Ben Kilpatrick and William Carver. The Pinkerton Detective Agency obtained a copy of the photograph and began to use it for its wanted posters.

On July 3, 1901, Kid Curry and a group of men robbed the Great Northern train near Wagner, Montana.[4] This time, they took over $60,000 in cash. The gang split up, and gang member Will Carver was killed by a posse led by Sheriff Elijah Briant. On December 12, 1901, gang member Ben Kilpatrick was captured in Knoxville, Tennessee, with Laura Bullion. On December 13, during another shootout, Kid Curry killed Knoxville policemen William Dinwiddle and Robert Saylor and escaped. Despite being pursued by Pinkerton agents and other law enforcement officials, Curry returned to Montana, where he shot and killed rancher James Winters in retaliation for the killing of his brother Johnny years before.[5]

1902: South America[edit]

Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid) and Etta Place, just before they sailed for South America.

Cassidy and Longabaugh fled to New York City. On February 20, 1902, with Etta Place, Longabaugh's female companion, they departed to Buenos Aires, Argentina, aboard the British steamer Herminius. Cassidy posed as James Ryan, Place's fictitious brother. They settled in a four-room log cabin on a 15,000-acre (61 km2) ranch that they purchased on the east bank of the Rio Blanco near Cholila, Argentina near the Andes.


On February 14, 1905, two English-speaking bandits, who may have been Cassidy and Longabaugh, held up the Banco de Tarapacá y Argentino in Río Gallegos, 700 miles (1,100 km) south of Cholila, near the Strait of Magellan. Escaping with a sum that would be worth at least US $100,000 today, the pair vanished north across the Patagonian steppes.

On May 1, fearing that law enforcement had located them, the trio sold the Cholila ranch. The Pinkerton Agency had known their location for some time, but the rainy season had prevented their agent, Frank Dimaio, from making an arrest. Governor Julio Lezana issued an arrest warrant, but before it could be executed, Sheriff Edward Humphreys, a Welsh Argentine who was friendly with Cassidy and enamored of Etta Place, tipped them off.

The trio fled north to San Carlos de Bariloche where they embarked on the steamer Condor across Nahuel Huapí Lake and into Chile. By the end of that year they returned to Argentina; on December 19, Cassidy, Longabaugh, Place and an unknown male associate robbed the Banco de la Nación branch in Villa Mercedes, 400 miles (640 km) west of Buenos Aires, taking 12,000 pesos. Pursued by armed lawmen, they crossed the Pampas and the Andes to reach the safety of Chile.

On June 30, 1906, Etta Place decided that she had had enough of life on the run, and was escorted back to San Francisco by Longabaugh. Cassidy, under the alias James "Santiago" Maxwell, obtained work at the Concordia Tin Mine in the Santa Vera Cruz range of the central Bolivian Andes, where he was joined by Longabaugh upon his return. Their main duties included guarding the company payroll. Still wanting to settle down as a respectable rancher, in late 1907 Cassidy traveled with Longabaugh to Santa Cruz, a frontier town in Bolivia's eastern savannah.


The facts surrounding Butch Cassidy's death are uncertain. On November 3, 1908, near San Vicente in southern Bolivia, a courier for the Aramayo Franke and Cia Silver Mine was conveying his company's payroll, worth about 15,000 Bolivian pesos, by mule when he was attacked and robbed by two masked American bandits who were believed to be Cassidy and Longabaugh. The bandits then proceeded to the small mining town of San Vicente where they lodged in a small boarding house owned by a local resident miner named Bonifacio Casasola. When Casasola became suspicious of his two foreign lodgers, as well as a mule they had in their possession which was from the Aramayo Mine, identifiable from the mine company brand on the mule's left flank, Casasola left his house and notified a nearby telegraph officer who notified a small Bolivian Army cavalry unit stationed nearby, which was the Abaroa Regiment. The unit dispatched three soldiers, under the command of Captain Justo Concha, to San Vicente where they notified the local authorities. On the evening of November 6, the lodging house was surrounded by the three soldiers, the police chief, the local mayor and some of his officials, who intended to arrest the Aramayo robbers.

When the three soldiers approached the house the bandits opened fire, killing one of the soldiers and wounding another. A gunfight then ensued. At around 2 a.m., during a lull in the firing, the police and soldiers heard a man screaming from inside the house. Soon, a single shot was heard from inside the house, whereupon the screaming stopped. Minutes later, another shot was heard.

The standoff continued as locals kept the place surrounded until the next morning when, cautiously entering, they found two dead bodies, both with numerous bullet wounds to the arms and legs. One of the men had a bullet wound in the forehead and the other had a bullet hole in the temple. The local police report speculated that, judging from the positions of the bodies, one bandit had probably shot his fatally wounded partner-in-crime to put him out of his misery, just before killing himself with his final bullet.

In the following investigation by the Tupiza police, the bandits were identified as the men who robbed the Aramayo payroll transport, but the Bolivian authorities didn't know their real names, nor could they positively identify them. The bodies were buried at the small San Vicente cemetery, where they were buried close to the grave of a German miner named Gustav Zimmer. Although attempts have been made to find their unmarked graves, notably by the American forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow and his researchers in 1991, no remains with DNA matching the living relatives of Cassidy and Longabaugh have yet been discovered.

Claims of survival[edit]

In his Annals of the Former World, John McPhee repeats a story told to geologist David Love in the 1930s by Love's family doctor, Francis Smith, M.D., when Love was a doctoral student. Smith stated that he had just seen Cassidy who told him that his face had been altered by a surgeon in Paris, and that he showed Smith a repaired bullet wound that Smith recognized as work he had previously done on Cassidy.[6]

In a 1960 interview, Josie Bassett claimed that Cassidy came to visit her in the 1920s "after returning from South America," and that "Butch died in Johnnie, Nevada,[7] about 15 years ago."[8] Locals of Cassidy's hometown of Circleville, Utah, claimed in an interview that Cassidy worked in Nevada until his death.[9]

Western historian Charles Kelly closed the chapter "Is Butch Cassidy Dead?" in his 1938 book, The Outlaw Trail: A History of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, by observing that if Cassidy "is still alive, as these rumors claim, it seems exceedingly strange that he has not returned to Circleville, Utah, to visit his old father, Maximillian Parker, who died on July 28, 1938, at the age of 94 years." Kelly is thought to have interviewed Parker's father, but no known transcript of such an interview exists.[10]


  • Butch Cassidy
  • George Parker[11]
  • George Cassidy[1]
  • Lowe Maxwell[1]
  • James "Santiago" Maxwell[12]
  • James Ryan[12]
  • Butch Casady[1]
  • Santiago Lowe

Alleged friends[edit]

  • William T. Phillips claimed to have known Butch Cassidy since childhood.[13] Some[who?] have speculated that Phillips was Butch Cassidy, but no evidence supports the claims.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d What's Up With All These Names? Bureau of Land Management. 18 January 2008. Accessed 13 June 2008.
  2. ^ The Outlaw Trail. Bureau of Land Management. 18 January 2008. Accessed 13 June 2008.
  3. ^ The Wild Bunch photo.
  4. ^ "The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City, Utah) 1870-1909, July 05, 1901, Image 1". loc.gov. 
  5. ^ Gibson, Elizabeth. "Kid Curry, the Wildest of the Bunch." WOLA Journal. Spring, 1999. reprinted at HometownAOL.com.
  6. ^ McPhee, John. Annals of the Former World. 1998. ISBN 0-374-10520-0. p. 358.
  7. ^ http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/nv/johnnie.html
  8. ^ http://www.prospector-utah.com/bassett.htm
  9. ^ "Little left of Butch's life in Circleville". Deseret News. July 24, 2006. 
  10. ^ Did Butch Cassidy Return? - WOLA Journal Archive Vol. VI, no. 3 by Daniel Buck & Anne Meadows (1998)
  11. ^ Patterson, Richard. Butch Cassidy's Surrender Offer. HistoryNet.com. February 2006. Accessed 13 June 2008.
  12. ^ a b "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid." The Mythical West: An Encyclopedia of Legend, Lore, and Popular Culture. 2001. reprinted at OurworldCompuserv.com.
  13. ^ Phillips, William T. The Bandit Invincible: The Story of the Outlaw Butch Cassidy. J. Willard Marriott Library. University of Utah. January 1986. Accessed 13 June 2008.
  14. ^ "The Three Outlaws" (1956) at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ "Drop Out on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. April 25, 1969. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 

External links[edit]