1867, George Leroy Parker was born into a poor Mormon
farming family in Beaver, Utah. He was to become the
last of the great Western gang leaders. He changed his
name to avoid disgracing his family to Butch Cassidy
in admiration of Mike Cassidy, who had taught him the
trade of rustling and horse theft.
He was generally well
liked. Although a crack shot, he abstained from using
a gun to kill humans. Cassidy is not thought to have
ever killed anyone. He was always polite, even when
robbing a bank. Even his wanted poster described
him as "cheery and affable".
was captured once by authorities for horse rustling,
and was sentenced to two years in prison. The night
before he was to go to prison, he asked to be released
from jail on his promise he would return in the morning.
Surprisingly, he was released. The next morning, he
returned as he promised.
after leaving prison, he started what is thought to
be the largest gang of outlaws in the Wild West,
Wild Bunch. This gang may have numbered as many as
100 outlaws at one time and included Harry "Kid"
Longbaugh of Sundance aka "The Sundance Kid".
Cassidy fell in love with and may have married a prostitute
by the name of Etta Place.
When the Wild Bunch
took to robbing trains, the Union Pacific took a
decidedly business approach to the problem. They
offered to buy out Cassidy with a pardon and a "good salary" to
become an express guard. The deal fell through, and
the Wild Bunch robbed another train.
the Pinkerton company and Union Pacific gunfighters
with high-powered rifles hot on their trail, Cassidy
decided to move his operation to South America. By sailing
out of New York with the Kid and Etta Place.
was always cunning as one Pinkerton agent reports on
his activities in South America, "As soon as
Cassidy entered an Indian village he would be playing
children. When he was hard pressed by the authorities
he would always find a hideout among the native population."
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were ultimately killed
in South America during a raid by authorities fulfilling
the Kid's prophecy, "I'll never be taken alive".