I guess most of us remember the famous movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid. In the movie, they were portrayed as witty, fun loving men who just happened to rob banks and railroads for a living. Robert Redford liked his character so much he named his film festival Sundance. At the end of the movie, the two sort-of heroes are battling it out with the government officials in Bolivia, South America after they robbed a mining payroll and we assumed they both died that day.
So, is that what Butch Cassidy was really like? Was he a happy-go-lucky guy who just made a living by stealing, or is there more to the story? Did good ol’ Butch have a dark side? And did Butch die that November day in Bolivia with his friend, Sundance?
First, a few factoids: Butch Cassidy’s real name was Robert Leroy Parker and he was born in Utah to Mormon parents on April 13, 1866. I guess that would make him a post Civil War baby like my Grandfather McNeal who also was born the year after the Civil war. He worked as a rancher and a butcher before he took up his life of crime. Cassidy formed the Wild Bunch gang in 1896 after he got out of a short term in prison and they went on a string of robberies unmatched in American history. The Union Pacific Railroad exerted great effort as well as the U.S. government to do something about the robberies and the pressure on Cassidy became so great he intended to surrender, but when that didn’t work out, he fled to Bolivia with the Sundance Kid.
With theatrical license, movies about Butch Cassidy and his partner seem to tell the story of two guys who hated violence and were just having a good time, but as it turns out, Butch wasn’t exactly a nice guy. He actually murdered innocent people.
There is a bit of mystery surrounding Butch Cassidy’s death. Some report that he died with his partner and friend, Sundance at that shoot-out in Bolivia on November 6, 1908, but there is evidence that suggests he may have escaped and returned to the United States to live in obscurity until July 28, 1938. Since there is dispute between historians about the date of his death, I suppose we will never really be certain about when he died. I am of the mind that a good mystery is always way more intriguing than cut and dry facts. Until I did this research, I always thought that Paul Newman’s portrayal of Butch Cassidy was the whole truth and nothing but. I have to admit that I am disappointed to learn that Butch Cassidy was just a villain after all.
HARMONICA JOE'S RELUCTANT BRIDE (western/time travel)
A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny.
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FOR LOVE OF BANJO (western/WWI historical and sequel to Harmonica Joe)
Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.
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