We many all recall the movie of this story .Butch played by actor Paul Newman and that of Sundance Kid played by Robert Redford. It is an epic film but is it based on real hard fact.Well ! no as even if we all agree it looked terrific as they went down fighting gun style over the cliff no off this ever happened in truth.
We go back in time to Bolivia South America 1908 and that shoot out with Bolivian Army cavalry. The two men caught in a trap inside a mud walled house Sundance Kid shot and in pain both men seeing no way out of this and so Butch shot Sundance Kid in the forehead and then shot himself. That is more than the 1969 movie tells. It is however perhaps the real truth of the matter Or not.Here we are to try to sort this out.
We can go through all imposters stories but too boring as same with Billy the kid. It seems even though these men were criminals some will want to live as they using the dead mans name for self praise and our amazement, or even hero worship. To me they are nothing but hardened thieves and bandits totting guns.
Now Ill try to get into the legend facts as a mystery it may be but an end may be found in records. All records now examined ,read on.
Butch Cassidy born 1866 as Robert Leroy Parker in a poor Mormon family in Utah. He the youngest of 13 children went to work for a young farmer and liked him well. His name was Mike Cassidy. When moving on to cattle rustling Parker adopted the surname and added Butch so as not to bring bad reputation to his own parents. He fully intended a life of crime by so doing.
Sundance Kid took the prefix from the prison in Sundance Wyoming on the charge of cattle rustling 18 months for first offense .It is how he took the code name as Sundance Kid. His real name being Henry Longabough.
In around 1901 the two men robbed a bank then a train together but planed for a gang to make it less of a strain.
THE WILD BUNCH. Butch on right Sundance left with Kid Curry leaning on Butch shoulder next to butch Tall Texan, behind him and Sundance, Butch friend , Bill .
Soon, as birds of a feather flock together, many more outlaws joined them becoming known as the Hole in the wall Pass gang. Then a newspaper reported called them the wild bunch and so we have the potted tale in one. The Wild Bunch they were. Drinking and party life even brought them to cook dinner for a whole town and it really happened. Maybe to have their loyalty but they remained to party and dance with the girls until day break. The local news reported the event and so passing into legend this alone gave the Wild Bunch and Cassidy Robin Hood status. They entered into folk law and loved it.
Some 80,000 dollars the gang stole from banks and then railway trains made more.Some say millions. In time as no one could stop them as they vanished so fast that even Union Pacific begged Butch Cassidy to give up and be forgiven, even offered a job with pension as train guard. Cassidy said no thanks. The Union Pacific then turned to capture by employing the Pinkerton detective agency. The Wild Bunch now saw it was not as easy to operate so eventually decided to leave USA to safer live outside of it.
Here we come to the last interesting part. Did then Butch and Sundance really die in a gun battle with Bolivian army at the hold up in San Vincente village that sunny day in 1908. Well here we have evidence that the grave of the two bandits was exhumed in 1966 by none other than the President of Bolivia one Rene Barrientos. DNA was performed and both Bolivian and USA labs came up with results. Not the remains of either bandit.
No record of any battle with bandits in Cavalry Army records announced Barrientos to the world. So we know for fact that Butch and Sundance invented it all and sent the story back to hide them in peace as dead as far as USA knew. Asking the Bolivian Embassy of any record of the shoot out existed was told it never happened,
Butch had escaped on perfect planning that had kept him safe all the years he robbed banks and trains. His exploits makes him the most famous and successful master criminal in American history.
More than that no record exists of him or Sundance ever killing anyone.
So where did they go is the only real mystery on hold now.
Large arrows point to Argentina and a certain cattle farm owned by three Americans. Etta Place we know was more than a girl friend to the Sundance kid so as no record of here dying in USA exists can we say she died in Argentina?
In 1925 Butch came to see his sister living in USA. She told all the family who believe it was Robert alias Butch that sat drinking coffee in her lounge room with her.
Then some man called William T Phillips wrote a book called the invincible Bandit. This was published in 1920s and in the many pages he told things that perhaps only Butch could know. It was found that Phillips even looked like Butch Cassidy. He was not but may have spent time in jail with Butch in the early days.
When Butch as a young man was caught rustling cattle he was arrested but asked if he could have the night to see to things and come back in the morning to serve his 18 month jail term. The sheriff must have known his man as it was agreed. Next morning back came Butch and the sentence was served to the end. It was the last time he would see behind bars as he planed far better his actions after this.
Most research into facts leads no place as Butch planed a master stroke in fact to hide forever the bandits .But what happened to the Wild Bunch and Butches best friend was Bill Ellworth Ley. The other members are Ben Kilpatrick the Tall Texan. and Kid Curry birth name of Henry Logan. Well now all of them knew their way around cattle. So as no sign of any of them ever turned up in the States my guess is a farm in Argentina
So ends this record as completed. Unless ,of course more facts come up as to where they all are buried would put the top hat on this story for all of us.
Looking at it sideways if it had been me chased by police would I have wanted to die or escape and if all was that way would I have though of the border and invented story to live on. A farm and money to pay in cash for a roof over my head. Cattle to sell and in Argentine no problems selling cattle for British shipping in the biggest meat sales in the world .Argentina steak in cans was the best protein in shops in the war of 1918. Butch would have been 52 and a cattle Baron then. Plan was a good one and again a thief escaped law. Robin Hood he may have been and by all accounts a nice gentle kind man with respect for mankind but a will to be a gangster more than work for his crust he demanded the best. Hard not to admire him,then a man of such as could steal from another is not a man to be famous but it is what the common folk then raised to higher thought in mind.
Argentina cattle ranch of today unchanged by time.
An Ethel Place bought a farm in Argentina around 1904 it is filed as her land. The Argentina people could not pronounce her name so she may have become simply Etta owing to this. Four years later her lover Sundance Kid and his partner Butch Cassidy ended their career not in Bolivia as told but went farming in Argentina as planed long before.
1904 photo of Ethel Place and Henry the Sundance Kid
Hero on a stolen horse is the province love by the populace over centuries with the suppressed people seeing justice against society in the fame of bandits. A mystery may be solved by fact only .I added up all connecting results and came up with what is my answer on research done. There can be no more doubt in my mind that these outlaws out lived the faked deaths by many years. I even doubt that they ever went to San Vincente or even crossed the border into Bolivia. Butch had planned the whole thing down to the minute detail. Then invincible he was.
Thank you for reading, Sir Kevin
Copyright Kevin Parr Bt Jan 6th 2019