Monday, February 10, 2014

HOLE IN THE WALL GANG BY KIRSTEN LYNNE

By Special Guest Kirsten Arnold

Thank you to the amazing authors at Sweethearts of the West for inviting me back!

Last year my faithful camp cook, aka Cookie, and I introduced you to an obscure outlaw who ended up as footwear. Today we’d like to take you in the opposite direction to one of the most famous outlaw hideouts and introduce y’all around to a few of the more colorful part-time residents of Wyoming.

Oh, Cookie just brought up a good point. Y’all better leave your valuables on your wagons…we’re just sayin’ can’t be too careful at the Hole-in-the-Wall!



In Southwest Johnson County, Wyoming lying between the Red Wall and Big Horn Mountains is the most famous hideout on the Outlaw Trail, the Hole-in-the-Wall. Between roughly the 1860s and 1910, 30 to 40 outlaws stayed in the secluded spot including Jesse James and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.


The area was (and still is) isolated taking about a day’s journey by horseback from any semblance of civilization. It is a steep climb to the top of the Wall, but overlooking the country below it is no wonder this location was chosen. With sweeping 360 views the pass was well situated to spot approaching lawmen and the narrowness of the approach made it easy to defend. The grassy plateau at the top and creek bed of the canyon below made it a good spot to graze all the rustled cattle.

In this area in the 1880s and 1890s, rustlers grazed stolen cattle and provided refuge to outlaws. Inhabitants of the six cabins that stood in the valley were known as the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Members of the gang included Bob Smith, Al Smith, Bob Taylor, George Currie, Tom O’Day, and the Roberts Brothers. Later Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy), Harry Longbaugh (the Sundance Kid), and Harvey Alexander Logan (Kid Curry).



So let me introduce y’all to our hosts. Robert Leroy Parker, born in 1866, was the son of devout Mormons. He was led into a life a crime by Mike Cassidy and adopted the name George Cassidy, some believe as a way of not bringing shame on his family. In 1885, Mike Cassidy disappeared after killing a Wyoming rancher. Parker took a job with Charlie Crouse. Crouse operated a ranch in Brown’s Hole and a butcher shop in Rock Springs, Wyoming. It was alleged Crouse sold meat from cattle he rustled. It was while employed by Crouse, Parker adopted the name Butch.

By 1886, Parker was living near Meeteetse, Wyoming under his real name. It is believed he participated in the robbery of the San Miquel Valley Bank in Telluride in June of 1889. The Telluride robbery saw the introduction of a new tactic used by members of the Wild Bunch. Along the escape route, the robbers stationed fresh horses. The pursuing posse would have to continue the chase on tired horses, therefore the robbers could elude capture.

Butch Cassidy's prison photo

During this time, Parker continued to engage in rustling in Wyoming. He was arrested for horse stealing near Meeteetse and sentenced in 1894 to the State Penitentiary (in Laramie). He was released early in 1896 and returned to a life of crime using a series of hideouts including Robbers’ Roost in southern Utah, Brown’s Hole in northwest Colorado, and of course the Hole-in-the-Wall.

Harry Longabough, aka Sundance Kid


Our second host is Harry Longabough. Born in Pennsylvania in 1867, he moved to Colorado with his family. By age twenty, Longabough was working as a cowboy for the N Bar N owned by the Neidringhaus Brothers in Culbertson, Montana. In 1887, out of work and drifting he stole a horse, gun and saddle from Western Ranches, Ltd, owner of the Three V’s near Sundance, Wyoming. He was arrested and pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 18 months in the Sundance jail. He was pardoned by Governor Thomas Moonlight. Longabough drifted to Bell Fourche, South Dakota, and there as a result of his bravado about the time spent in the Sundance jail he earned the appellation of Sundance or Sundance Kid.

Sundance moved north and worked for a period of time at the Bar U in Alberta and for a short period of time in the saloon business at Grand Central Hotel in Calgary. He then returned to Montana and the N Bar N at its Rock Creek unit.



In 1892, Sundance was implicated with Tom McCarty (an acquaintance from Colorado), Matt Warner, and Butch Cassidy, in the robbery of the Great Northern westbound #23 near Malta, Montana. By 1896, Sundance was reported to be in the Baggs and Dixon, Wyoming area.

George Currie aka Kid Curry


On June 28, 1897, Sundance along with George Currie (Kid Curry), Walt Punteney and Tom O’Day participated in the robbery of the Butte County Bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota.  The bank was a huge target. After the railroad arrived, the town became prosperous as being a loading point for cattle and later sheep. The bank was so prosperous it was acquired in 1903 by Clay, Robinson, and Co., the largest commission agents in the country. John Clay managed the Three Vs, the ranch Sundance had stolen a horse and saddle beginning his criminal career.

The robbery and subsequent pursuit by the law was a comedy of errors with one man, O’Day, being found in a privy behind on of the numerous saloons after O’Day’s horse decided to leave town without him. It took until September for Sheriff John Dunn, Carbon County, Montana, and a small posse to catch up to the other three near Musselshell River. In the ensuing shootout, Kid Curry’s horse was shot through the neck and Curry was shot through the wrist. Curry leaped onto the horse and galloped away, only to have the horse drop dead. All three were arrested and transported to Deadwood Jail. There they escaped, stole horses and gear. They eluded capture on foot, losing horses and swag they had stolen. Ultimately, they made it back to the Hole-in-the-Wall, where as a result of their adventures, they were accepted as full members of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang.

Harvey Logan, Kid Curry, might be takin’ up residence at the Hole unless he’s out…on business. Harvey Alexander Logan was born in Iowa in 1867. After their mother died the four Logan boys, Hank, Johnnie, Lonny, and Harvey moved to Missouri and lived with an aunt. With Johnnie and Lonny, and a cousin, Harvey Logan left home to trail cattle from Texas to Colorado. The four ultimately wandered to the Hole-in-the-Wall where they met George Currie and adopted the last name “Curry.”

In 1894, the “Curry” Brothers established a ranch near Landusky, Montana, in what is now Phillips County.  The town was named after Powell Pike Landusky who discovered gold in the area. Not long after their arrival the brothers had a falling out with Landusky due to the fact Lonny impregnated Landusky’s daughter, Elfie. For some reason, Landusky blamed Harvey for the deed.

Now just to warn y’all, Harvey’s a might quick tempered, especially when he’s had a bit of alcohol to raise his blood temperature. And after enjoying too much Christmas Spirit at “Jew Jake’s” Saloon, Landusky and Harvey decided to settle their differences in a way not keeping with the Season. Harvey, being younger, had the advantage and after bringing Landusky down he proceeded to beat the town founder’s head to a pulp against the floor. Lonnie and another friend kept spectators at bay using their side arms. Landusky reached for a revolver from his pocket. Harvey was handed a gun and shot Landusky dead. Eleven witnesses swore it was self defense, but the brothers fearing Harvey wouldn’t receive a fair trial departed town on a stolen buckboard.

On the outlaw trail, Harvey fell in with Butch and Sundance and participated in the Wilcox and Tipton, Wyoming train robberies…

A trestle across the Union Pacific near Wilcox, Wyoming at 1:00 a.m., June 2, 1899, forces the Overland Flyer to halt. Men wearing masks made from white napkins, possible stolen from the Harvey House Restaurant, boarded the train. One of the men after unsuccessfully forcing the engineer to pull the train forward, pulls the train forward himself. The trestle is dynamited to prevent the second section of train from catching up. The train is pulled forward two miles and stopped.

There the express car was surrounded, and the attendant, E.C. Woodcock, was ordered to open the door. He refused. The car was blown up. Woodcock suffers a concussion from the blast and can’t remember the combination to the safe. The gang blows up the safe and stole $30,000, some of the bank notes being scorched by the explosion or stained with raspberries also in the car.

Train after robbers blew it up


Even though the men were masked immediate suspicion falls on the Wild Bunch.  Other newspapers identified the culprits as the Roberts brothers and reported the robbers to be George Currie and the Roberts brothers. It is now believed the name “Roberts” was used by Sundance and Harvey Logan. Authorities believed some of the robbers were headed for the Hole-in-the-Wall. Posses gave chase. Near Teapot Creek some of culprits were cornered by a posse led by Converse County Sheriff Joe Hazen. In the ensuing fire fight, Sheriff Hazen was killed and the train robbers made their escape by swimming across the river.

On August 29, 1900, train robbers, using the same modus operandi robbed the Union Pacific No. 3 Train near Tipton, Wyoming of $50,000 in gold. Woodcock, if you can believe it, was again the express car attendant. This time he opened the door. The robbers were pursued by a posse led by Sheriff McDaniel of Carbon County, Sheriff Peter Swanson of Sweetwater County and United States Marshal Frank Hadsell until the tracks of the robbers were obliterated by a rain. Five years later an employee on a construction crew for the Farris-Haggarty tramway discovered near the head waters of Cow Creek thee bags in which the money from the Tipton Robbery had originally been held.

Although successful the Wilcox and Tipton Robberies marked the beginning of the end for the Wild Bunch and many of its members fled to Bolivia or Argentina including Butch Cassidy, Sundance and Etta Place.

Butch Cassidy and Etta Place


Of all the Wild Bunch members Etta Place is the most mysterious. She is one of the Wild West’s most legendary women. Beautiful and wild she is reported to have been mistress to both Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Eyewitnesses maintain she was the second woman to ride into Robber’s Roost in the winter of 1897. She was allegedly 20 years old at the time, strikingly beautiful, an excellent horsewoman, and outstanding rifle shot, Etta became Sundance’s primary love interest.

Etta was reportedly a refined, highly educated woman of Eastern birth and rearing. She’s also alleged to have been a prostitute from Texas. Others claim she was a schoolteacher from Denver, Colorado with music as her primary discipline. Even her relationship(s) with Butch and Sundance is a mystery. It’s been said she was Butch’s mistress then Sundance took an interest and she went with him. There are even rumors the three lived as a ménage a’trois. Even her name has been debated as five different women who road with the Wild Bunch used the alias Etta Place.

We do know, Etta traveled to Argentina and Bolivia with Sundance and Butch returning to the United States three times during their time in South America. After returning to the United States in 1908 with Sundance, where he left her in Denver, Etta Place was never heard from again. Many claimed to be her, or claimed to be her son or daughter with Butch, but nothing was ever verified. But once Butch and Sundance were run to ground in South America Etta disappeared, as well.

The six cabins no longer stand at the Hole-in-the-Wall, and time has covered their foundations. But if you’d like a Wild West experience you can stay at the Willow Creek Ranch. The Willow Creek Ranch dates to 1882 when it was founded by Kenneth MacDonald, an immigrant sheep rancher. The area’s small ranchers, such as MacDonald, aided the outlaws because they didn’t want any trouble, and outlaws rustle from large cattle barons and robbed trains with well-filled strong boxes.



Today, a rugged dirt road leads from ranch headquarters to the former hideout. Guests can walk threw the chunks of foundation remaining and picnic beneath the old cottonwoods by Buffalo Creek while dreaming of the days when Butch, Sundance and the gang would seek refuge at the Hole-in-the-Wall.

Okay folks, we’re gettin’ close so get yer hand off the heel of your gun before ya get us all blown to bits. Smile big and look like ya belong! It’s sure to be a high kickin’ time with this bunch!

 
Kirsten Lynne

A Wyomingite through and through after six years in the DC area, Kirsten Lynn had enough of the big city and returned home to Wyoming. Centered in the communities in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains, she writes stories based on the people and history of this area that holds her heart.  When she’s not roping, riding and rabblerousing with the cowboys and cowgirls who have taken up residence in her endless imagination, she has the honor of helping to preserve the history of Wyoming managing the artifact collection of a local museum and writing the histories of local ranches.
She is truly blessed to be living in and writing about the Wild West! Come visit Kirsten round the campfire at www.kirstenlynnwildwest.com.

   

9 comments:

  1. Kirsten, thanks so much for sharing your talent with us. Great post!

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  2. Dang, Rustler. Guess we're gonna have to start callin' you the Jailbreak Kid. I could've sworn we had you locked up good'n tight in Wyomin' Territory, but evidently not. :-D

    Great post, as usual! I love the way you bring out little-known details about your vict... er, subjects. Of course, I'm never too surprised when you know more than the average bear about outlaw hangout, considerin' your, uh, "profession" and all. ;-)

    Come back and visit again soon! :-)

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  3. Caroline,

    I'm thrilled the Sweethearts of the West are letting me spend the day here and share a bit about my favorite hideout...I mean Butch and Sundance's favorite hideout. :)

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  4. Thanks for stopping by, Tex!! You should know by now it takes more than a few iron bars and a lanky sheriff to keep this gal locked up. ;)

    I always enjoy researching those "bad boys...and girls" of the West. It's not always pretty, but it's always fun. :) Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  5. Kirsten--I have always loved the story of the Hole in the wall Gang. Much of the details are familiar to those of us in the Western Romance/History group, but some things were rather new.
    I'm so happy you had a chance to come on Sweethearts and tell us about these bad guys, that in in the end, we all loved. Don't we all have a little of that in us? Good girls who love bad girls.
    Thanks so much!

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  6. Haha, That should be "Good girls who love bad guys." Lord, I did not mean the first!

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  7. LOL, Celia, you almost put a whole new twist to the story. :) But I agree, we all like a bad boy at least in legend and fiction.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  8. Kirsten, wow. Just wow. What a fantastic post! But of course, being the historian that you are, it would be. You probably know all this by heart, don't you? I remember when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came out and I had a poster in my room that was about 6 feet tall, floor to (almost) ceiling of that scene at the end where they're running out of the shack together to jump off the cliff. Oh, how I LOVED that movie. Of course, as Hollywood always does, it was quite romanticized, especially in my adolescent brain. Thanks for this very enlightening post about the Hole in the Wall Gang. SO interesting!
    Cheryl

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  9. Cheryl,

    Thanks so very much!! I loved that movie, too, but then again I don't mind things being romanticized I do it all the time. :)

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