Butch Cassidy’s Return

According to the generally accepted story, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid died in a hail of gunfire after robbing a bank in Bolivia, South America; they were buried there.

The fact is, though, that there are numerous accounts of those who knew Butch that he survived Boliva, returned home, and finished his life as a businessman, though no one knows under what name he lived. I have numerous sources, but the two best sources are his former lover, Josie Bassett, and his sister, Lula Parker Betenson. Josie’s account can be read here (one has to go a bit down to read the part about Butch)…and Lula published a book, “Butch Cassidy, My Brother,” which can be bought on Amazon or borrowed from a library.

It is an established fact that Butch tried to get amnesty for his crimes; he never hurt anyone, but was a train and bank robber, and had amassed quite a bit of money…the amnesty attempt fell through, and this is one of the main reasons that Butch and Sundance decided to take a long siesta in South America to get away from the Pinkerton detectives….here is an account from Lula Betenson’s book, of Butch Cassidy’s return home, which I thought would be interesting; note that his real name was Robert Leroy Parker, which is why he is referred to as Bob, or Leroy. Here is chapter 15, from Lula’s book, describing Butch’s return:

After Mother’s death in 1905, Father lived in the brick house in town with his six unmarried children. Since I was the eldest daughter living at home, it was my responsibility to try to keep things together. I am the only one of the girls who stayed in Circleville, and I remained very close to Dad and my brothers.

On New Year’s Eve, 1907, I married Joseph Bet­enson, and we lived in Circleville, where five children were born to us: Pauline, Scott, Mark, John, and Barbara.

Most of the time my brothers were out on the range with the livestock, spending the summers on the mountain and the winters at home, feeding cattle and horses at the ranch south of Circleville. My brothers worked elsewhere as time permitted, but they helped Dad at the ranch also. They had always raised good horses, cattle, and sheep, but were only moderate stockmen.

One day, Jim Gass, a Circleville neighbor, came home from a trip to California and told me he had seen Bob getting on a train in Los Angeles. He and Bob waved to each other, but the train pulled out before they could speak to each other.

Jim had been a close friend of Bob’s when they were boys. He told me of an incident when he and Bob were in the hills together, and a deer jumped out and refused to run away. They rode back and discovered a fawn lying on the ground, pinned down by a log that had rolled onto its leg. Jim said, “We’d better shoot it to get it out of its misery.”

But Bob said, “No, we’ll fix that leg.” They dis­mounted, and Bob took a buckskin string, splinted the leg, tied the string, and turned the fawn loose. A master with knots, Bob did this so skillfully that, as the leg healed, the movements of the deer would wear it off. Jim had always said, “Bob couldn’t kill a dog, let alone a man.”

Jim also told me that Bob was a true conserva­tionist. He said that in the fall of the year Bob always filled his pockets with seeds of wildflowers, and as he rode along on his horse, he scattered the seeds in barren places along the road or trail.

As we pursued our very ordinary lives, occasion­ally a rumor reached us that Butch Cassidy was still alive and had been seen in various localities. Dad seemed so sure that he was still living. We wondered how much he really knew. But if Butch ever communicated with Dad, we didn’t know it.

Dad, eighty-one, was sitting on the step by the kitchen door of the brick house, enjoying the shade and the late afternoon calm. His hair was white, and he wore a thick white mustache. He was a fine-looking man, straight and alert, and, as always, dressed immaculately. The flashy car drove into the yard, and Mark stepped out. Dad was surprised. That morning Mark had left on horseback, headed for the ranch. Rather slowly the driver slipped out on the left side of the car and straightened up. At first Dad wondered who it was.

Bob’s face for once was solemn; perhaps he wondered how he would be accepted. The screen door to the kitchen was open behind Dad’s back. Bob took off his hat and twirled it through the door. It landed squarely on the post of the rocking chair inside. Then he grinned that unmistakable grin. Dad knew him. No one could ever describe that meeting after all the years of uncertainty and separation—forty-one years. That reunion proved the strength of Dad’s heart; he survived it.

Minutes later my brother Mark appeared at my kitchen door and said, “Lula, we’ve got company. Dad wants you to come down and fix supper.”

That wasn’t the first time I had been asked to leave my family and prepare supper for Dad and the boys. Pauline was old enough to take care of our children, but John, the baby at that time, sat up a howl to go along.

Jose went with me to Dad’s. In clean dishtowels I wrapped two loaves of warm bread and a fresh bullberry pie that I had just taken from the oven, and we walked over to Dad’s. We walked in the front gate and around to the kitchen door. I glanced at the unfamiliar car and wondered who it was this time. As we stepped into the kitchen, put down the food, and went on into the living room, the conversation stopped. The stranger stood up as I stepped into the room, and I studied his face in the awkward silence. He wasn’t a stranger, not really, and yet he was. Why did he look so familiar?

Dad smiled. “I’ll bet you don’t know who this is.” I was puzzled. By his features, he had to be family. “Lula, this is LeRoy!” Dad announced.

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John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln… but who killed John Wilkes Booth? | The Verge

Source: John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln… but who killed John Wilkes Booth? | The Verge

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California Vigilante Justice, The Clappe Letters, 1851

This is a fascinating article about one mining town and how they took care of a thief:

They granted him a respite of three hours to prepare for his sudden entrance into eternity.”

Mrs. Louise Clappe was the wife of a physician and lived in the mining area known as Indian Bar that bordered the Feather River in Northern California.

In the period from 1851 to 1852, she wrote a number of letters to her sister in Massachusetts describing her experience.

These letters were originally published in Pioneer Magazine (1854-55) and then as a book in 1922.

A copy of this book resides in the Library of Congress.

In a letter written on December 14, 1851, Mrs. Louise Clappe describes how the mining community established its own form of law and order:

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Cowboy Joe – The Last of the Wild Bunch

Cowboy Joe – The Last of the Wild Bunch

by Kerry Ross Boren

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.

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A Thanksgiving Dinner With Butch Cassidy

I have a copy of Ann Bassett’s autobiography on this blog, but if one really wants to get to know Ann Bassett, her sister and the residents of Brown’s park, one needs to read Grace McClure’s excellent and readable book about Ann and her sister, Jose, “The Bassett Women,” which you can get on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle…here is an excerpt about a most unusual Thanksgiving dinner given by the Outlaws, including “the Wild Bunch,” lead by Butch Cassidy, for the citizens of Brown’s Park:

“In that little group of socially acceptable lawbreakers were, for instance, the Bender Gang. These men “worked” in the summer and spent their winters in Brown’s Park. Ann Bassett wrote in detail about a Thanksgiving dinner the outlaws gave for the families in the Park around 1895, recreating it for Esther Campbell so that Esther might use it for a community program. Ann is quoted here, with the faulty spelling and casual punctuation she used in letters to her personal friends:

. . . Brown’s Hole was a rest retreat for the men we called the “Bender gang.” Billie Bender and Les Megs were men of education and refinement. They had several younger men who came with them regularly. It became known in our country that Bender and Megs were agents for smugglers working from the Mexi­can border to Canada. Several years after they no longer came to Brown’s Hole, Bender died in Wyoming and Megs became a real estate broker in Los Angeles. None of them ever gave the people of Brown’s Hole any trouble. They were quiet peaceful citizens while there. Their profession or business was rather a mystery to the settlers but it was not our business to question that since they were well be­haved and kept their boys in line.

Butch and Lay were on friendly terms with Bender and Megs and their boys, so they gave the Thanksgiving party for the Brown’s Hole families together and did not spare expenses in putting over a grand spread of the best delicacies Rock Springs could supply.

Tom Davenport raised the turkeys and the “gang” bought them. The dishes, linens, and silver waS furnished by the women of the Hole.

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The Cary Holliday Interview with Etta Place?

I make no claim as to the truth of this interview…but it feels right. Source

San Francisco, California

June, 1970

Newspapers have me dead twice already—burned up in a house fire and shot by a lover, but I got out of the fire in time, and the bullet missed. The fire was here in San Francisco, and the shooting was in Argentina. Been stalked by the reaper since I was born, in ’78, a yellow fever year.

       I disappeared into the pages of history, yet here I am, ninety-two. But you want to learn about Sundance—Harry Longabaugh. Don’t ask me to spell it.

       For the longest time, the Pinkertons was after Harry and me. Now I miss them. There was one fella who asked to be taken off the trains so he could hunt for me fulltime—oh, a woman likes being chased. Detective or sweetheart, don’t make much difference. The U.S. marshals hounded us too, and private eye-types hired by Wells Fargo and the banks—spies or cops or whatever you want to call them. Thugs, mostly.

       Frank Smith, H.A. Brown, Harry A. Place, Harry Long. Those was Harry’s other names. Alias Sundance.

       You might say Harry and me was in demand.

Butch Cassidy

He was horrible. Write that down. Said he’d tried to please everybody all his life, and all it got him was mad. He picked his nose—with two fingers. Never mind what you’ve heard, I was never his girl. I wouldn’t even touch his sleeve. He and Harry was not as loyal to each other as you might think. George LeRoy Parker was his real name. It took Harry’s image down, to associate with the likes of him. I told him so.

How It All Began

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The Choices We Make Determine the True Nature of Our Character

Every nation has a history and an era that defines that the  nation; when the people of that nation think of themselves, that moment of glory is how they think of themselves as a member of that nation. For England, the national glory was during the era of Empire…Queens Elizabeth and Victoria, Francis Drake, India, the Raj…for France, it is Napoleon and when the Arabs think of their ages of glory, it is the Bedouin lifestyle, and the rise of Islam that forms their self-image.

For the United States, the dominant national image was formed during our Westward expansion; when foreigners think of this country, they think of cowboys and Indians…and most of us, today, who grew up during the 1950’s and 1960’s remember cowboy shows…Wyatt Earp, Daniel Boone, Gunsmoke, Dodge City…this image of the brave settler, the noble Marshall, the fierce, noble savage Indian Warrior was a major part of the nation’s psyche for almost a hundred years. Children at the turn of the 20th century snuck behind the barn to read the latest ‘dime novels’ about Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane.

The unique aspect of the American mythos is its emphasis on goodness. The British Empire had its dark side, Napoleon was a butcher and the Arab Bedouin image is one of lying and deceit, but the American cowboy image was based on honesty, trust and faithfulness. Americans have always seen themselves as good people, moreso than most other cultures. In fact, Americans have often been reviled by the more ‘sophisticated’ Europeans for their naivety, To us it is our strength, to Europe it is our weakness.

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