The Wild Bunch - Outlaw Gang

The Wild Bunch

Robert Leroy Parker (a.k.a. Butch Cassidy) had his first with the law, when on June 24, 1889, he joined Tom McCarty, Matt Warmer, and Bart Madden in a robbery of the Telluride, Colorado bank for $10,000. they got away cleanly. The following spring, the group was joined by Tom's brother Bill and Bill's 17-year-old son Fred. They robbed the Wallowa National Bank at Enterprise, Oregon on October 8, 1891. Butch wasn't along for that ride. Nor was he along when on September 3,1893, McCarty and his band robbed a bank at Delta, Colorado. Bill and Fred were killed by citizens of the town and Tom escaped and was never heard from again. All this was enough to put a taste in his mouth for the outlaw life.
Butch worked as a ranch hand in Utah and Wyoming after that and saved enough to buy a horse ranch in Wyoming. In 1893, he was arrested for stealing horses but he was never charged. In 1894 he was caught with a stolen herd and sentenced to two years in the Wyoming State Prison in Laramie. He was pardoned after 11û2 years with a promise not to commit any more crimes in Wyoming. He was released on January 19, 1896. From there he went to Brown's Hole where he formed his own band, later called the Wild Bunch, and joined up with Kid Curry.
The following men were the core of the Wild Bunch:
* Harry Longbaugh (a.k.a. Sundance Kid), nicknamed possibly from Sundance, Wyoming, where he was caught as a horsethief
* Ben "The Tall Texan" Kirkpatrick, known as the lady killer of the group
* Bill Tod Carver, the quickdraw
* Camila "Deaf Charlie" Hanks, partly deaf in one ear
* Elza Lay (a.k.a. William McGinnis), one time geology student
* Tom "Peep" O'Day, court jester; Joe Chancellor, skilled safecracker and poker player
* Jim Lowe, bartender
* Jesse Lnsley, the dapper dresser
* William "Bill" Cruzan, best horse thief
* Dave Atkins, already on the lam when je joined the group
* Walter "Wat the Watcher" Punteney, jack of all trades
* Willard E. Christiansen (a.k.a. Matt Warner), part of McCarty's gang
* Bob Meeks, cowboy
* Laura Bullion, rode for a while
* Etta Place, a prostitute
* Annie Rogers, a favorite of Kid Curry
* Lillie Davis, a prostitute
The first job they pulled was robbing the bank at Montpelier, Idaho. This robbery, on August 13, 1896, was to finance an attorney to defend Matt Warner in a murder trial. They hired Douglas V. Preston. Warner was still convicted but he got a relatively light sentence of five years. After this they robbed the bank at Belle Fourche, South Dakota. On June 28, 1897, Kid Curry, Sundance, O'Day, and Punteney only got $100 from the bank. O'Day was captured at the scene; the others were caught a month later by a posse. After each robbery the gang would hole up at Fanny Porter's Sporting House (a brothel) in Texas.
Their next target was the Overland Flyer train near Wilcox, Wyoming. They pulled the job on June 2, 1899. They got $30,000 this time. There was a shootout, but the bunch got away. They next robbed the Union Pacific train at Tipton, Wyoming on August 29, 1900. There was only $50.40 on the train. This time the robbers were identified by people on the train as Butch, Sundance, Kid Curry, Tall Texan, and Bill Cruzan. By this time Butch had going to South America in mind, for fresh pickings and no barbed wire. To finance the plan, he took the Bunch to Winnemucca, Nevada to rob the bank. One September 9, 1900, they got $32,640 from the bank.
The Winnemucca bank was to be the last robbery. Perhaps Butch felt they didn't have quite enough money yet to flee the country. So they pulled one last job. Butch, Sundance, Kid Curry, and Camilla Hanks robbed the Northern Pacific Train. On July 3, 1901, they robbed the train near Wagner, Montana for $40,000. After that, the Bunch scattered. On February 20, 1902, Sundance and Etta sailed for Buenos Aires. The Tall Texan was arrested and got 15 years in Atlanta. He was later killed in 1912 while holding up a train in Texas. Deaf Charlie was killed in San Antonio, Texas, on April 17, 1902. Carver was killed in Texas. Three former members were state penitentiaries. In November 1902, Kid Curry escaped from the Knoxville, Tennessee penitentiary. He was later killed in a shoot out.
Butch then went to Argentina. The Pinkertons knew where he was, but it wasn't until March 8, 1903 that they made their move. Agent Frank Dimaio was dispatched to find them. He found their banks and their home easily. He started distributing wanted posters up and down the coast. He believed that Butch and Sundance were just biding their time before they started banditry in South America. For the next three years, they increased their horse, cattle, and sheep herds and improved their land.
On March 1906, they robbed the bank at Villa Mercedes. Many other desperadoes from the U.S. and elsewhere were hiding out in South America, so it was easy to get partners. A young Texan named Dey helped them. The police raided their ranch at Cholito, but they were already gone. They robbed the bank at Bahia Blanca a month later. They robbed another bank at Eucalyptus in Bolivia. Then they hid out for awhile in Rio Gallegos in Argentina. Next they robbed a train at Eucalyptus. A man named McVey helped on that job.
Percey Seibert, a mining engineer at the Concordia Tin Mines in Bolivia supplied the story for the rest of their lives. Butch and Sundance had hired on at the mines. They never robbed the mines, but from time to time, the owners heard of robberies elsewhere. At one point, Etta returned to the states for an appendectomy and never returned. After awhile, the army started putting pressure on all the outlaws. Butch and Sundance robbed the Chocaya Tin-Silver Mine, their last robbery. They stole the loot while it was strapped to a mule in a convoy heading for San Vicente, Bolivia. After a short standoff at San Vicente, Sundance was killed, and Butch committed suicide. They were buried there about 1922.

-copyright 2005 by Beth Gibson