Leader of the Wild Bunch

The life and death (?) of Butch Cassidy.
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The life and death (?) of Butch Cassidy.
Credit: agefotostock.com Butch Cassidy's mugshot from the Wyoming Territorial Prison.

Credit: agefotostock.com Butch Cassidy's mugshot from the Wyoming Territorial Prison.

Butch Cassidy was born Robert Leroy Parker in 1866—the same year the James-Younger Gang launched their felonious career. Generally credited with leading a loose agglomeration of desperadoes known alternately as the Hole in the Wall Gang and the Wild Bunch, the affable outlaw ranged from the Canadian border to Texas, though always returned to Wyoming or his native Utah. 

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right, and in portraying Butch as a genial, easy-going sort, film-makers have come close to the truth. In a profession where violence was often an unavoidable by-product, he eschewed the use of his gun. Although he was reputed to be a skilled gun-handler, Butch preferred brains to bullets. 

Not so for some of his companions. One of the deadliest was Harvey Logan, known to peace officers as Kid Curry. He killed without compunction and chalked up an impressive tally of victims before taking his own life when cornered by a posse.

One historian referred to Harry Tracy, another sometime member of the gang, as the “Mad Dog of the Wild Bunch.” The murderous Tracy escaped from Oregon State Prison in June 1902, and eluded capture for nearly a month and a half. He was finally run to ground in a wheat field outside Creston, Wash., where he shot himself. 

The most famous of Butch’s associates, thanks again to popular culture, is the Sundance Kid, so-called for the brief time he spent in prison for stealing a horse near Sundance, Wyo. More famous in death than in life, Sundance and Butch are said to lie in obscure graves in rural Bolivia, where they were reputedly placed after an encounter with local troops in 1908. Then again, there are those who swore to having seen the two bandits back in the States several years later. It’s another of history’s mysteries that will likely never be solved.


Butch Cassidy is just one of the bandits and badges profiled in Legends Collector's Issue: Outlaws & Lawmen.Purchase your copy here.