Willard Erastus Christianson

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Willard Erastus Christiansen
BornApril 12, 1864
DiedDecember 21, 1938
Price, Carbon County, Utah, US
Resting placePrice City Cemetery
39°36'30.7"N 110°47'55.5"W
Other namesMatt Warner, Ras Lewis, The Mormon Kid
OccupationFarmer, Cowboy, Rancher, Ferryman, Rustler, Bank Robber, Justice of the peace, Lawman, Bootlegger

Willard Erastus Christiansen, also known as Matt Warner, Ras Lewis, and The Mormon Kid, (1864 – December 21, 1938), was a notable figure from the American Old West who was a farmer, cowboy, rancher, ferryman, rustler, bank robber, justice of the peace, lawman, and bootlegger

Christiansen operated in the Robbers Roost area of southeastern Utah before teaming up with outlaw Butch Cassidy. While on the run from the law, Christiansen married Rose Morgan. For a while he operated a cattle ranch in Washington's Big Bend Country. Later he operated a ranch on Diamond Mountain in Uintah County, Utah using the registered brand of Quarter Circle Bar Quarter Circle, commonly called the Horse Bit brand.

Early life[edit]

Christiansen was the ninth child of Christen Christiansen and Christina Bruhn (Bruun), Danish converts to the Mormon faith who came to Utah in 1853. Born in Ephraim, Sanpete County,Utah, he was raised in Levan, Juab County, Utah where his father was an ordained elder and church leader. When he was fourteen years old, he got into a fight with another young man named Hendrickson at a town dance, fighting over a girl. During the fight, he clubbed Hendrickson unconscious with a fence picket. Thinking that he had killed the young man, Christiansen ran away from home. He joined a crew of cowboys trailing a herd of horses into the Uintah Basin of northeastern Utah. There he soon joined up with cattle rustlers working out of Brown's Hole, earning the name of the "Mormon Kid."[1]

Gunfights[edit]

  • In 1896, Christiansen killed a Mexican man on Diamond Mountain Utah near the Green River. He was sentenced to five years in Utah State Prison.
  • In 1892, Christiansen, Bill McCarthy and Tom McCarthy robbed a bank in Roslyn, Washington. When some bystanders attempted to stop them, two men were shot and wounded.
  • Later in 1892 Christiansen was jailed in Ellensburg, Washington for the bank robbery in Roslyn. He and his cellmate George McCarthy broke out two days before his trial. He shot and wounded one person. Christiansen was later exonerated of all charges.
  • In 1897, in the Uinta Mountains of Northern Utah, Christiansen was involved in a gunfight where two men were killed. He was later convicted of manslaughter for this incident.

Later life[edit]

Soon after Christiansen's release from prison, his wife died. He remarried and settled in Carbon County, Utah. He ran for public office under his real name, Willard Erastus Christiansen, and lost. He then officially changed his name to Matt Warner, the name most people knew him by. Christiansen was elected justice of the peace and then served as a deputy sheriff.

In later years, Christiansen worked as a night guard and detective in Price, Utah. He died a natural death on December 21, 1938, at age 74.[2]

Legacy[edit]

  • Matt Warner Reservoir, Uintah County, Utah

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill O'Neal. "Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters". Books.google.com. p. 57. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  2. ^ "The Complete List of Old West Outlaws - Last Name Beginning with "C"". Legendsofamerica.com. Retrieved 2015-12-30.