Cowboy Joe – The Last of the Wild Bunch
While thumbing through the Letters to the Editor section of my Fall 1992 issue of Old West magazine I was surprised to discover reference from a reader to an article I had written for Westerner magazine back in 1975. The article was an interview with Joseph Claude Marsters, an octogenarian friend of mine who just happened to be the last known survivor of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. The letter’s author, Mr. Clyde Dykes of Doyle, California, claimed to have recently purchased a piece of ground near Doyle which was once part of Joe Marsters’ old ranch. On that ground, according to Mr. Dykes, was a small cemetery plot containing the graves of Joe, his wife Nellie, and a brother Claude.
I have since heard directly from Mr. Dykes, who sent me photos of the graves, and memories of my old friend Cowboy Joe came flooding back. It seemed appropriate to share a few of those memories in these pages.
Joseph Claude Marsters was born at Tillamook, Oregon, near Portland, in 1894. In 1907, when Joe was a lad of 13, his best friend was his uncle, a young retarded youth in his early twenties. Some local fellows took advantage of the young man’s simpleness to blame a local crime on him, and he was dragged away kicking and screaming, and summarily hanged. Joe had followed, and he witnessed the gruesome death of his favorite uncle. The trauma caused him to run away from home.
“My poor mother,” Joe told me, “was quite a business woman in Portland, Oregon and through the lodges of Eastern Star and Rebeccahs, she had a small reward offered for me.” But Joe was nowhere to be found.
With no money in his pockets, Joe hopped a train and managed to play cat-and-mouse with the conductor until eventually he was caught. He quickly contrived a story about being an orphan, shedding a few crocodile tears over his parents’ supposed tragic death, and inventing an aunt who lived in Green River City, Wyoming as his destination. The conductor was so moved by the story that he put Joe up in a pullman and furnished his meals for the rest of the journey.
When they arrived at Green River City, the conductor asked Joe if he knew where his aunt lived. Joe said that he did, pointing out a yellow house across the street from the depot. “As it turned out,” said Joe, “I picked the worst house in town, for that’s where the Sheriff lived!”
Green River City, at the turn of the century, was one of the wildest towns in Wyoming. Piano music echoed from each honky-tonk as he passed by, while prostitutes solicited business along the main thoroughfare. Traffic was horrendous and the noise of passing trains deafening.
As Joe wandered aimlessly, taking in the sights, he was startled by a voice from behind.
“Where you goin’ to, kid?”
Joe turned around to see a small man with a goatee standing there, carefully scrutinizing him. The boy then realized that he must look somewhat out of place dressed in his “city togs.” He hastily concocted another story, this time saying he was from back East and that his parents had died and he had come to Green River City to find his aunt, but that she no longer lived there…
It was obvious that the little old man did not believe a word of the story, but instead took the boy by the arm and steered him towards a store, saying, “The first thing we gotta do is git you some new clothes and git rid of dat sissy outfit afore you git in trouble!”
Joe tells what happened next, in his own words:
“After I had a change of clothes, the old man took me to the livery stable where he was going to spend the night, and he separated his blankets and made a bed for the two of us. Before we went to sleep that night, he told me about himself. His name was Phil Mass and he was part Indian, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. He had been a Pony Express rider and had driven the first Overland Stage outfit into Salt Lake City. He owned a large ranch on Henry’s Fork south of Green River City. ‘Come mornin’, he told me, ‘I take you home with me. Then you go to school. Boy your age ought to be in school.’
“The next day I rode all the way to Henry’s Fork in the back of Phil Mass’ bouncy wagon. My first day at school was a disaster. I was wearing the new Levi pants that old Phil had bought for me, and I climbed aboard a horse behind this girl who was several years older than me and she was a little surly. She whipped the horse along with a quirt she carried in one hand and everything went along all right until she forced the horse to jump a ditch.
“Now this girl was quite ample in the rear parts and her buttocks stuck over the back of the saddle. There weren’t any strings on the saddle and when she jumped the ditch, I grabbed on to her to hold on and she darn near killed me with that quirt! She accused me of handling her personal parts and no amount of explanation to the contrary would satisfy her. From that time on she had a special pick at me and she would heat the back of my pants up with that whip of hers until the rivets would become hot! It was not long before I swore off school for good and refused to go back.”
At least two of Phil Mass’ sons were members of the Wild Bunch. Johnny Mass, known as “One-eyed Jack” Mass, who had killed Tude Hereford in a gunfight not long before, was the man who introduced Joe Marsters to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. As near as Joe could remember, that had been in September of 1907, at Linwood, Utah, near Brown’s Park. The two famous outlaws had only recently returned from South America where the had been “on the dodge” from the law.
“This kid is lookin’ for a job,” Mass told Butch, when Joe was introduced. Butch, whose real name was Robert Leroy Parker, asked Joe what kind of work he could do, and Joe replied that he knew horses pretty well, so Butch gave him a job gingling horses for him.
“I could see right from the start that Longabaugh wasn’t happy about having a kid along,” Joe told me, “but Parker soon informed him that I was hired and that was that. He told me to call him Butch when I insisted on referring to him as Mr. Parker, and Longabaugh was Sundance. Sundance was surly and I stayed away from him as much as possible.”
The first day on the job they left Linwood and rode north up the Green River, and Joe rode side-by-side with Butch Cassidy. Butch was quite well informed on local history and pointed out a few sites to Joe, keeping him entertained with stories as they rode along. They finally arrived at an old cabin on Bridger Bottom, which Butch pointed out had been built by the old trapper, Jim Bridger.
“The old shack, which no one ever slept in, just stored grub and ammunition, was made of old charred lumber. When we rode in, there was an old man tending the fire, and he greeted me with some suspicion. ‘Who’s the gawd-damned Kid!’ he spouted, and Sundance grumbled something, but Butch soon made me acquainted, although I never did learn the man’s name. He was old and tough and had been around, you could tell that.
“When we first rode in, the old man was the only one in sight, but as the sun began to set behind the badlands, I could see riders appearing as if out of nowhere, topping the ridges in ones and twos, looking around carefully before riding in to camp. They all eyed me pretty close.
“That night we had ten or fifteen men in the camp and it was quite a scene. Butch was very quiet and had little to say. While the others laughed and chattered, he leaned back in a sagebrush away from the fire and played his mouth organ. I watched him curious like a kid and he motioned for me to come over.
” ‘Know what this is?’ he asked me. I told him it was a mouth organ, and he said, ‘Some people call it a harmonica. Did you know it was invented by Benjamin Franklin?’ I shook my head. He asked me about myself, where I come from and all, and I found myself telling him straight about it, about running away. He grew kind of serious for a moment and told me, ‘You ought to have a boot planted in your butt! I would give a hell of a lot if I could just go home.’ Then he smiled and ruffled up my hair and all was forgotten.”
As the men talked around the fire, some of them discussed what they were going to do when they “quit the trail.” Sundance said that he and Etta Place had picked out a place in the mid-west or the deep south where they could buy a farm and raise hogs. Butch forgot his harmonica for a moment and burst into laughter, saying “Gawd, I can see you and Etta now, wallowing up to your butts in pig manure, sloppin’ the hawgs!” The men all had a good laugh, then turned in for some sleep.
The next morning Butch pulled Joe aside and said, “Kid, you come along with me today, and I will show you the ropes.” The other men rode out in different directions that morning, just as they had come in the night before, and Joe wondered what their job really was.
“I tagged along behind Butch,” Joe continued, “and we forded the Green River and rode out towards Brown’s Park. All the way along, Butch showed me how to lead a horse without getting kicked, or how to hold a rope properly to make a throw and a dozen other things.
“When we got to the rim of Brown’s Park, Butch stopped and said, ‘Kid, there’s another thing you are gonna have to know if you follow us very long.’ Butch then turned his horse towards where the North Star would be and he showed me exactly where I would have to go to have Jackson’s Hole; then spinning his horse around, he said, ‘This way is Hole-in-the-Wall,’ and again, spinning around, ‘This way to Brown’s Park, this way to Robbers Roost, and this way will take you to our winter range over in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. You learn those directions, Kid, and don’t forget them.’ At the time, I wondered why.
Not long afterward, Joe ran into Clifford Norten. I had heard my father, Edward Boren (1893-1975), talk about Clifford Norten. Norten and a friend of his, Carl Shirts, were deserters from the cavalry stationed at Fort Duchesne. In the fall of 1905 the two men, with a small dog belonging to Shirts, were holed up in a cave in Sheep Creek Gap, a few miles south of Manila, Utah. My father, then a boy of twelve, was paid fifty cents a trip to bring them supplies. Shirts entertained him with tricks performed by his little white dog.
My grandfather, William Coleman Boren, owned a coal mine on the road to Green River City, situated on a hill about a mile northeast of Linwood. In the spring of 1906, Clifford Norten rode alone up to the mine and asked my grandfather for a job. He was put to work in the mine, and continued there for six or seven months. Then one day Will Boren discovered that Norten was seeing his daughter, my aunt Eliza, against his wishes, and drove him off. Norten sneaked back in the night and set the coal mine on fire, and it could never be put out. It burned for more than sixty years, until the entrance was covered with the advent of Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir.
Not long after, Norten joined Cassidy’s “late” Wild Bunch, and there young Joe Marsters had the misfortune of making his acquaintance. The story is better told in Joe’s own words:
“Things went along pretty smoothly until one day one of the bunch, a man named Clifford Norten, decided to show me what a good shot he was. He had me hold a cigarette between my fingers while he shot the end of it off. The bullet came too close and ripped the entire end of my finger off. Blood was running all over the place and Butch came along and dipped my hand down in the sugar sack and that stopped the flow of blood for a time, and then he wrapped it up. It hurt like hell, but I tried hard not to show it.
“That afternoon we all rode to Rock Springs, Wyoming. The men drove a herd of horses with them and they wanted to see the town, having been out in the hills for a long time. Butch and Sundance took me with them up to a big frame house on the south side of Rock Springs and knocked on the door. (This was known as “Baker House,” and passed as a combination boarding house-hotel). A woman answered the door and when she seen me, she turned to Butch and said, ‘You can’t bring a kid into a place like this!’ Butch said, ‘He’s hurt,’ and rushed me right on in.
“Butch made me lay down on the couch because he could see I was kind of white and sick. Of course, I wasn’t so young and naive that I didn’t know I was in a house of prostitution, but right then, I didn’t think about it or care very much.
“Pretty soon, out of a back room through some curtains, came the prettiest lady I had ever seen. When she seen me on the couch, she came over and took a look at my sore hand and turned towards Butch and Sundance and said, ‘Which one of you brave men did this little deed?’
“The lady – who I later learned was Etta Place – told me to wait a minute, and she went back into the room and tossed a shawl across her shoulders and then came back and told me to go with her, and I did. We went down town and into a doctor’s place and he fixed up the finger and she paid him for it. When I protested that I didn’t have any money, she just smiled and said not to worry about it.
“It didn’t take long for me to see that Etta Place was the business head for Butch and Sundance; she even kept books on their expenditures and profits and knew where every penny was spent.
“I’ve got to say right now that, although Etta was living in that ‘house,’ she was certainly not ‘working’ there and I don’t think she was the type, either. She was a beautiful, grand lady in every respect, and I’ll never forget her kindness to me as a boy.”
Clifford Norten eventually got his “come-upance” – he returned to South America with Butch and Sundance under the alias “Dick Clifford,” and was shot down with a companion, after a series of robberies, near Tres Cruces, Bolivia in 1909.
When I first met Cowboy Joe, more than twenty years ago, he asked me to accompany him to Green River, Wyoming, the county seat of Sweetwater County (and, incidentally, my birth place), on a strange mission. He wanted to confer with the county attorney to learn whether the statute of limitations may have run out on a murder he participated in back in the spring of 1908! When he was informed that nothing could be proven after such a lapse of time – “Hell,” the county attorney told him, slapping him on the back, “at the time it was murder; now its history!” – Joe told me the story.
Butch and Sundance were operating a rustling syndicate, stealing high-grade work horses – mostly Percherons – and driving them north to the wheat fields of Washington and Oregon where they were sold at premium prices. One of the men involved in this enterprise was Dave Lant.
Lant was the son of a Mormon bishop from Payson, Utah. He herded sheep for the church-owned syndicate there for a few years,, then left his polygamous home and showed up at Vernal, Utah about 1894. He herded sheep for John Reader for a time, together with another herder, Walt McCoy. He also herded for Ed Samuels and was taught to shear sheep by W.C. Lybbert of Vernal. For the most part, though wild, Lant was well liked. He had a reputation for drinking too much, and carousing with “disreputable” women.
On February 4, 1897, Lant entered the Exchange Saloon in Vernal, and, being drunk, got into an argument with the proprietor, James McNaughton. Lant stuck McNaughton on the head with a bottle, cutting a deep gash, then reached into his pocket for another bottle. William McCaslin, another proprietor, thinking Lant was reaching for a gun, shot three times at Lant. The third shot struck Lant in the shoulder. Lant staggered from the saloon, mounted his horse, and rode down the street. A short distance away, he fell to the ground. Gus Emert found Lant in front of his home, unconscious. After receiving medical attention both Lant and McNaughton recovered, and no charges were ever filed.
Dave Lant left town with Charles Lovit, alias Charles Fergeson, and bill Johnson, alias William Dalton. On August 19, 1897, the three men robbed the Cook Brothers General Mercantile store at Woodruff, Utah. Lant was caught and sentenced to eight years in the Utah State Prison. On October 8, 1897, Lant and three other convicts escaped from the prison, and Lant returned to the Vernal area with the fellow escapee Harry Tracy.
Sheriff Preece, hearing that the fugitives were in the area, set out in pursuit. The outlaws stole horses in Vernal and fled to the reservation where they traded horses with the Indians. They were next seen on the Duchesne bridge with Bob Atwood, a former convict. (Bob Atwood’s brother, Alonzo, later married Maude Davis, ex-wife of Wild Bunch member Elzy Lay). When Sheriff Preece rode up to the Atwood house, Mrs. Atwood denied that the fugitives were there; they were, however, hiding in the cellar.
With the help of friends, Lant and Tracy made it over Diamond Mountain to Brown’s Park. Here they were surrounded by passes from two states, having been joined in their flight by one Patrick Louis Johnson who had recently shot and killed a fifteen-year-old boy named Willie Strang. Bennett, one of their friends who attempted to bring them supplies, was caught and hanged from the gatepost of the Bassett ranch. In a gunfight with the lawmen, Harry Tracy killed one of the possemen, a Brown’s Park rancher named Valentine Hoy.
Lant and Tracy were eventually captured and placed in the Routt County Jail at Hahn’s Peak, Colorado. They made a daring escape when Tracy carved a fake gun from a bar of lye soap, blackened it with boot polish or stove soot, and forced
Sheriff Charles W. Neiman to release them. (John Dillinger later used this technique to effect an escape, having learned it in a roundabout way from Lant -see The Man Who Taught Dillinger, by Kerry Ross Boren, Southpoint Magazine, 1992).
Dave Lant headed immediately for Hole-In-The-Wall in Wyoming. Not long after, he enlisted for a term in the Spanish-American War in an effort to let things cool down. Afterwards he joined the Baron Von Lamm gang, a remnant of the Wild Bunch, robbing banks and trains. In about 1905-06, Lant joined the gang of rustlers stealing and selling work horses in the northwest. He was thus connected when Joe Marsters joined the gang early in 1908.
Now, Cowboy Joe Marsters continues the story in his own words:
“…One of the men, Dave Lant, had sole some of the rustled horses in Washington and had spent all the money on a women in one of the towns (Portland, Oregon) and had come back empty-handed.
“Lant came riding in in a pretty sad way. He hadn’t had any tobacco for most of the trip and he went around begging some from some of the men. Neither Butch nor Sundance were in camp when Lant rode in, and he came over to me and said, ‘Where’s Butch?’ I told him Butch was over in Brown’s Park. He said, ‘Gawd, I’ve got to get to Butch before Sundance finds me. If I just get to Butch, he will understand, but Sundance will kill me, I know it!'”
But Lant was too late. The Sundance Kid came riding in just about then, and he argued with Lant at some length. Finally, Sundance untied a rope from his saddle, put the loop over Lant’s head, and held the slack tight. He then yelled at Joe to kick Lant’s horse from under him. Joe protested that he wouldn’t do it, whereby Sundance drew his gun, aimed it at Joe’s head, and cocked the hammer back. In a cold, deliberate tone, he told Joe, “By God, kid, you do as I say, or you’ll be the next to hang. Now kick that goddamned horse – now!” Joe kicked the horse in the flank, and Lant went kicking and bawling to his final reward. Joe buried him there, at Bridger Bottom on the Green River, beneath the cottonwood tree from which he was hanged. The site is now beneath the waters of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Nevertheless, Joe hadn’t escaped the full influence of Sundance’s violent temper yet. Not long after this event, the “boys” all gathered at the old “Bucket O’ Blood” saloon at Linwood to let off steam. Butch was away visiting an old girlfriend, Minnie Crouse, and Sundance was in charge.
I’ve heard my grandfather, Willard Schofield, tell about what happened next; Willard was bartending for Bob Swift, the owner of the saloon. The Bucket O’ Blood was uniquely situated on the state line between Utah and Wyoming; all that a wanted man had to do was walk out the back door and cross a foot-bridge spanning Henry’s Fork creek to be in Wyoming, and out of local jurisdiction.
On this particular occasion, Sundance was playing cards with Clifford Norten, Pete Miller, and the wild brothers Stanley and Clarence Crouse. Joe was sitting nearby, keeping company with One-eyed Jack Mass and mass’s girlfriend, Hazel Carroll. A little over a year earlier, in 1907, Hazel had murdered her father, Joe Carroll, in Minnie Crouse’s boarding house, but had been absolved at an inquest when she claimed her sick father had committed suicide.
Early in the evening a stranger entered the saloon and began asking questions. He passed himself off as a sheepherder for John Mackay, the “millionaire sheepman” on Henry’s Fork. His questions pointedly dealt with the recent and on-going range war between sheep and cattle interests.
Sundance listened intently for a while, then at last got up slowly from his card game and approached the stranger. Looking the man over closely, Sundance mumbled surily, “You’re no damned Sheepherder.”
“What makes you say that?” asked the stranger nervously.
“New boots, with no wear on the soles, for one thing,” Sundance said. “A sheepherder walks a lot – you’re a rider, not a walker. You’re not a sheepherder, you’re a gawd-damned Pinkerton! I could smell you clear across the room!”
The stranger suddenly reached for a gun under a flap of his coat, but too late. Says Joe: “Sundance drew his six-shooter and fired before the man even put his hand on the butt of his gun. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve known some professional fast-draws on the Wild West Show Circuit.”
An inquest was held at the saloon within the hour before Justice of the Peace George Solomon; “Sol” was a close personal friend of Butch and Sundance, and the out-come of the inquest was never in doubt. Joe later recalled: “The inquest turned into an all-night drinking party. The dead man was laid out on a table in the middle of the room while toasts were made over him. As daylight drew near, somebody suggested that maybe it was time for an official verdict. Judge Solomon made a speech and rendered his verdict, saying, ‘I hereby find that the deceased came to his death by gunshot wound inflicted by a party or parties unknown, and the official record will state that the deceased died by suicide, for being stupid enough to believe he could beat the other party to the draw!'”
As soon as the sun had risen, Sundance boosted the body off the table and carried it outside and unceremoniously dumped it on the ground. Seeing Joe standing there watching, he turned to the boy and said, “Bury him.”
Joe tied his neckerchief around the dead man’s hands and with great effort lugged the body across the foot bridge to a patch of sagebrush across the line in Wyoming, and there buried him. Coming back to the saloon, Sundance confronted him about whether the job was done, and Joe assured him it was.
“Where’s your neckerchief?” Sundance asked. Joe told him he had left it tied to the dead man’s hands.
“Damn it, kid, get back there and dig him up! Don’t you know they can trace that neckerchief back to you? Don’t come back without it!”
In 1975, Cowboy Joe took me to the grave. As we stood at the site, amidst the sagebrush, Joe took off his hat and said, “I don’t know whether or not he was a Pinkerton. But he was a man, and he needs to be remembered.”
Not long after, Butch and Sundance returned to South America. Joe wanted to go along, but Butch lectured him on remaining on the right side of the law and doing something constructive with his life.
Joe lived for a time with my paternal grandfather, William C. Boren, at Linwood, Utah, and then went to work for my maternal grandfather, Willard Schofield, as a sheepherder. The latter job nearly got him hanged.
There was a sheep and cattle range war going on along Henry’s Fork. The cattlemen resented the “woolies” on their cattle range and emphasized their distaste by violence. My grandfather Schofield had been shot at Sawmill Springs on Phil Mass Mountain, and not long after that a sheepherder named Ernest Garside was murdered.
Then one day about twenty cattlemen caught Joe riding alone up Henry’s Fork, and started to string him up to a lofty cottonwood tree. Joe was terrified of hanging, having already witnessed two of them in his young life. As he was literally lifted from the back of the horse and was strangling to death at the end of the rope, “Willard Schofield came along and cut the rope and backed down more than twenty men – it took more guts than I have ever seen, and he saved my life.”
Realizing that he could no longer remain in that part of the country, Joe said final farewells and rode away. It was not late in 1909, and Joe was barely fifteen. After wandering briefly and aimlessly, he met the famous frontiersman
“Pawnee Bill” (Gordon W. Lillie) who induced him to join the famous Miller Brothers 101 Wild West Show. Under the tutelage of Colonel Joe Miller and his brother Zack, Joe’s career as a showman blossomed, and his life entered a new phase.
Joe – now known as Cowboy Joe – became renowned as a rodeo performer. He became acquainted with some of the best in the business: Tom Mix, Art Acord, Johnnie Mullens, Yakima Canutt, to name but a few. This became his occupation for the next decade of his life, and continued off-and-on into his old age.
“While riding in this show (101 Wild West Show) at the San Francisco World’s Exposition, in 1915,” Joe said, “I had just made a spectacular ride on a bucking steer while shooting my six-shooter into the air, when a dressed up cowhand jumped over the fence and into the arena and complimented me on my ride.
“He said my old boss thought I had improved since he had last seen me. Looking up in the audience in the direction the cowboy was pointing, everyone leaving now that the performance was over, Butch, with that big bright smile he often displayed, threw up his arm, so as I could locate him. He didn’t appear to want to carry the incident further.”
After the show, Joe hurried back to the tent of Buffalo Bill, behind the main arena, where Cody was entertaining Wyatt Earp. Joe burst into the tent, exclaiming excitedly, “You will never guess who I just saw in the grandstands – Butch Cassidy! Earp became flushed with anger, spouting, “Damn it to hell, you can’t go around blurting things like that. What’s the matter with you, boy? Ain’t you got any sense? We know he’s here, but we don’t go around advertising it.”
Joe was confused. He thought Wyatt Earp was a former lawman, and couldn’t understand his attitude. He told him so. Wyatt thereby informed Joe that he and Butch were long-time friends, and had been partners in a gold mine in Alaska in 1912. “Besides,” said Earp, matter-of-factly, “outlaws are not born outlaws – they are made.”
Cowboy Joe’s life thereafter was long and varied. In 1924 he was appointed an agent of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as such was one of J. Edgar Hoover’s original FBI agents. Some years later, Joe was awarded a commemorative plaque by President Truman, thus honoring him for that distinction. He remained an agent, though inactive, from 1924 until his death in 1978 at the age of 84.
Joe did a lot of stunt work and stand-in work in early movies. Notably, he and his friend Slim Pickens did the stunt work for the John Ford production of “Stagecoach,” filmed in 1939 in and around Monument Valley. This was the first western ever made with John Wayne as star. Joe even played a bit part in the film.
I had an opportunity, back in the early 1970’s, to become involved with Cowboy Joe in an intrigue. At that time there was a nationwide search for Patty Hearst, daughter of multimillionaire William Hearst, who had been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).
Joe discovered that Miss Hearst and her captors were camped adjacent to his ranch in Lassen County, California, and allowing their dogs to run free, causing some concern among neighboring stock owners. When he approached them about it, Patty Hearst slipped him a message.
For some years, Joe had been feuding with local authorities over corruption in the sheriff’s and county attorney’s offices. He dared not go to them for assistance, so he called upon his connections as a retired FBI agent to notify officials in San Francisco. At the same time Joe called me and asked me to send a telegram to Patty’s parents, concerning her message to them, which I did. It was an interesting adventure, albeit my part in the affair was minor. Patty Hearst was recovered in San Francisco shortly thereafter, and I have always suspected it was due to Cowboy Joe’s intervention.
In 1973 I founded the National Center and Association for Outlaw-Lawman History (NOLA) at Utah State University. As the founder and first president, I brought together a number of “outlaw” relations with some lawmen who once pursued them. Here was Lula Parker Betenson, sister of Butch Cassidy; Marvel Lay Murdock, daughter of Elzy Lay; Boyo and Joyce Warner, children of Matt Warner; with William C. Linn, Vice-President of Pinkerton’s Detective Agency, and Jospeh Cowley, brother of FBI-man Sam Cowley, who had been gunned down by Baby Face Nelson. Of course, here also was my old friend Cowboy Joe Marsters, and his lovely little wife, Nellie. Joe was the hit of our banquet held June 10, 1974.
On the following year out Outlaw-Lawman Association held a rendezvous at Vernal and Brown’s Park, and once again Cowboy Joe was the central attraction. He was the grand marshal of the rodeo parade at Vernal that year, and had the opportunity to retrace some old trails in Brown’s park, were once he had rode side-by-side with his old boss, Butch Cassidy.
From 1976-1981 I was also following the Outlaw Trail c-narrating a film documentary with Robert Redford, and helping his write his book on the topic. Redford, it may be remembered, was the actor who portrayed The Sundance Kid in the 1969 movie which made him famous. Part of this time I was pursuing research in Central America. While I was away in 1978, my old friend Cowboy Joe Marsters passed away and was buried on his ranch near Doyle, California.
So it was with some delight that I heard through Mr. Clyde Dykes of the discovery of Joe’s grave. Mr. Dykes, as it happens, is the founder of a local historical society at Doyle. Inasmuch as I was formerly Chairman of the Utah’s Governor’s Commission on Historic Sites and Preservation, Mr. Dykes and yours truly are combining our efforts to have Cowboy Joe’s grave registered as a California Historical Site. Any friend of Butch’s is a friend of mine