Willard Erastus Christianson

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Willard Erastus Christianson
DiedDecember 21, 1938
Other namesMatt Warner, Ras Lewis, The Mormon Kid
OccupationFarmer, Cowboy, Rancher, Ferryman, Rustler, Bank Robber, Justice of the peace, Lawman, Bootlegger.
  • Father: Patrick McCarty
  • Stepfather: William Antrim
  • Mother: Catherine Devine
RelativesBrother: Joseph McCarty

Willard Erastus Christianson, 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

Christianson operated in the Robbers Roost area of Southeaster Utah before teaming up with Butch Cassidy. While on the run from the law, Christianson 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 Utah.

Early life[edit]

Christianson was the child of a Swedish farmer and a German mother who had come to Utah as Mormon Converts. During a fight as a teen in 1878, he thought he had killed a man and ran away from his parents home with the intention of becoming a cowboy. He instead became a rustler and earned the name the Mormon Kid.[1]


  • In 1896, Christianson killed a Mexican man on Diamond Mountain Utah near the Green River. He was sentenced to five years in Utah State Prison.
  • In 1892, Christianson, 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 Christianson 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. Christianson was later exonerated of all charges.
  • In 1897, in the Uinta Mountains of Northern Utah, Christianson was involved in a gunfight where two men were killed. He was later convicted of manslaughter for this incident.

Later life[edit]

Soon after Christianson'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 Christianson, and lost. He then officially changed his name to Matt Warner, the name most people knew him by. Christianson was elected justice of the peace and then served as a deputy sheriff.

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


  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.