Robert Leroy Parker, aka: Butch Cassidy
A Circleville, Utah native and grandson of a Mormon handcart
pioneer, Robert Leroy Parker became a notorious train and
bank robber and the leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the "Wild Bunch" who operated
Robert Leroy Parker was born on April 13, 1866, in Beaver, Utah, the first of 13
children of British immigrants Maximillian Parker and Ann Campbell Gillies. The
Parker and Gillies families had converted to the
Mormon faith while still living
in England and Ireland before immigrating to America.
In 1879, the Parker family moved to a piece of property near Circleville, Utah,
where they farmed and raised cattle.
Robert left home during his early teens and went to work on a dairy farm
where he formed a close relationship with a cowboy and known cattle rustler who
called himself Mike Cassidy (an alias for John Tolliver "J. T." McClammy). Later,
Parker worked on several ranches as well as being briefly employed by a butcher
in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where he acquired the nickname "Butch". Later, he
borrowed his friend's last name and began to go by the name of Butch Cassidy.
Butch continued to work on area ranches until he turned 18 in 1884. He then
moved to Telluride, Colorado, telling his family that he was going to seek work
in the town's silver mines. However, he didn't mention that he
would be driving a herd of stolen horses down to Colorado. There, he took a few
honest jobs while continue to rustle horses. He also met a man named
the owner of a race horse, and Cassidy was soon immersed into the horse race
Cassidy's first bank robbery took place on June 24, 1889, when he, Matt Warner
and the McCarty
Tom and Bill, robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride,
Colorado stealing approximately $21,000 (equivalent to $560,000 in 2016). Fleeing into the rough country, they lost their trackers in a wilderness of
canyons, hidden valleys and high peaks known as Robber's Roost.
In 1890, with his share of the loot stolen in Colorado, Cassidy purchased a ranch on the outskirts of Dubois, Wyoming
where he was known to have rustled cattle and horses. This
location is across the state from the notorious Hole-in-the-Wall, a natural
geological formation and a popular hideout for outlaw gangs including Cassidy's,
so some historians surmise that the ranch was never economically successful, but
rather, was a façade for clandestine activities.
In early 1894, Cassidy became involved romantically with outlaw and rancher Ann
Bassett. Bassett's father, rancher Herb Bassett, did business with Cassidy,
supplying him with fresh horses and beef. That same year, Cassidy was arrested
at Lander, Wyoming, for stealing horses. He was sentenced to two years in the
Wyoming State Prison in Laramie, but, released after 18 months.
Upon his full release in 1896, Cassidy resumed his life as a criminal. With
several other well-known
including his best friend,
William Ellsworth "Elzy" Lay,
Harry "Sundance Kid" Longabaugh,
Texan" Kilpatrick, and
"Kid Curry" Logan, they formed nucleus of the group known as the "Wild Bunch", Cassidy embarked on what is considered the longest stretch of successful train
and bank robberies in American history. Others in the group included Harry Tracy,
Laura Bullion, and George "Flat Nose" Curry. The group took
its name from the Doolin–Dalton gang, who were also known as the "Wild Bunch".
Their first robbery occurred on August 13, 1896, when Cassidy, Lay, Logan and a
man named Bob Meeks robbed the bank at
Idaho, escaping with approximately $7,000. It would be
followed by numerous robberies in South Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada Utah, Wyoming and Montana. Between their robberies the men hid out
at the Hole-in-the-Wall Pass, located in Johnson County, Wyoming, where a number
of outlaw gangs had their hideouts. It was shortly after this robbery that
Cassidy recruited the Sundance Kid
into the Wild Bunch.