Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch
Last Of The Old-Time Gangs
Wild Bunch outlaws thrived during a period of five years from 1896 through 1901. The gang was a group of usually ten or so outlaws banded together. Wild Bunch outlaws worked out of the Hole in the Wall located in the southern Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Brown's Hole located in a desolate valley near the Wyoming, Colorado and Utah border was a second home for the Wild Bunch outlaws. In the winter Wild Bunch outlaws other 's worked out of Robber's Roost located in the desert of southeastern Utah a famous outlaw winter resort. The membership was loose and varied considerably from time to time the leadership was controlled by Robert Leroy Parker, forever known as Butch Cassidy and his sidekick, Harry Longbaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid
Western frontier outlaw, William R. "Will" Carver, born September 12, 1868 in Wilson County, Texas. Died April 2, 1901 in Sonora, Texas. He is buried in the Sonora Cemetery in Sutton County, Texas. He was a likeable West Texas cowboy who turned outlaw after the untimely death of his young wife Viana. A crack shot with either hand, he robbed trains and banks with The "Black Jack" Ketchum Gang, and also rode with Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid as a member of "The Wild Bunch". He is standing on the left in the famous photo taken by John Swartz in Fort Worth.
He was shot and killed in Jack Owens Bakery the night of April 2, 1901 in Sonora, Texas, by Sheriff E.S. Briant and his deputies. With guns drawn on entry, they attempted to arrest Carver and George Kilpatrick on suspicion of the murder of Oliver Thornton in Concho County. Kilpatrick made a fumbling motion and Carver's gun never cleared leather before he was shot six times. Kilpatrick lived, and later cleared Carver of the murder. It was later thought that Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan was responsible for Thornton's murder.
Willard Erastus Christianson ("Matt Warner," "Mormon Kid")
Matt Warner, as Willard Erastus Christianson was known, was the son of a Swedish father and a German mother who had come to Utah as Mormon converts. During a fight as a teen-ager in 1878 he thought he had killed an antagonist, and he ran away from his parents' farm near Levan to become a cowboy. He soon fell in with rustlers, however, and became known as the Mormon Kid.
For a time Warner operated out of Utah's Robbers Roost area, before leaguing with Butch Cassidy. While on the run, Warner married a girl named Rose Morgan, and for a time he and Tom McCarty ran a cattle ranch in Washington's Big Bend country. After several robberies Warner returned to an old ranch of his on Diamond Mountain, Utah, and lived there with his wife and daughter, Hayda. But because of a shooting scrape in 1896 he was sentenced to five years in the Utah State Prison, and shortly thereafter his wife died, having given birth to a son just before her death.
Warner was released for good behavior in 1900, and he remarried and had three more children. He settled in Carbon County, Utah, where he was elected justice of the peace and served as deputy sheriff. Warner was also a night policeman and detective in Price, while moonlighting as a bootlegger. He died peacefully at the age of seventy-four.
George Curry ("Flat Nose," "Big Nose")
Curry migrated with his family from Canada to Chadron, Nebraska, where he spent his childhood. At the age of fifteen he drifted west, eventually becoming a stock thief. At some time during his career a horse kicked him in the nose, producing the alteration which earned him his nicknames.
Curry joined the Wild Bunch in several bank and train holdups, and in 1897 he was wounded and taken prisoner by a posse. He and two cohorts escaped, however, and he spent the following summer breaking horses with Harvey Logan and the Sundance Kid on various ranches in Nevada.
In 1899 Curry was involved in a train robbery at Wilcox Siding, Wyoming, and after a lengthy pursuit he was chased down and killed in Utah. Following his death, souvenir hunters stripped skin from his chest and made it into wallets and moccasins, and he was dumped into a grave in Thompson, Utah. Several months later his father appeared, had his body disintered, and shipped it back to Nebraska for final burial burial in Chadron.
Ben "Tall Texan" Kilpatrick
Ben Kilpatrick was born in Concho County in about 1877. He worked as a cowboy in Texas before joined an outlaw gang that included William Carver, Sam Ketchum and Tom Ketchum. After a failed train robbery in New Mexico he fled to the Robbers' Roost in Utah and joined what became known as the Wild Bunch. As well as the leader, Butch Cassidy, the gang included Sundance Kid, Ben Kilpatrick, Harvey Logan, George Curry, William Carver, Elza Lay and Bob Meeks.
On 29th August, 1900, Kilpatrick, Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, Harvey Logan, and William Carver held up the Union Pacific train at Tipton, Wyoming. This was followed by a raid on the First National Bank of Winnemucca, Nevada (19th September, 1900) that netted $32,640. The following year the gang obtained $65,000 from the Great Northern train near Wagner, Montana.
Kilpatrick was with William Carver when he was ambushed by Sheriff Elijah Briant and his deputies at Sonora, Texas, on 2nd April, 1901. Carver died from his wounds three hours later. He fled to St Louis but was arrested with his girlfriend, Laura Bullion, on 8th November, 1901. He was found guilty of robbery and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Released in June 1911, Kilpatrick returned to crime. Ben Kilpatrick was killed with an ice mallet while trying to rob a Southern Pacific express near Sanderson, Texas, on 13th March, 1912.
William Ellsworth Lay ("Elzy," "William McGinnis")
Born in Ohio. Lay and his family migrated to farms in Iowa and near Laird and Wray in Colorado. In his late teens Lay went farther west to work as a cowboy. Lay soon married, but after he helped Butch Cassidy loot the Castle Gate, Utah, mining camp of eight thousand dollars in April, 1897, his wife quickly left him. Lay then became an active member of the Wild Bunch and was reputed to have planned several robberies.
On July 11, 1899, Lay helped the Ketchum gang pull a train robbery, and in the subsequent pursuit he was badly wounded. He escaped and began to recover from his wounds, but another posse found him, and after a fight he was arrested.
Lay was sentenced to a life term in the New Mexico Territorial Prison, but after he helped to quell a riot, he was pardoned on January 10, 1906. He then ran a saloon in Baggs, Wyoming, where he had once worked as a cowboy on the Calvert ranch. His first wife had divorced him while he was in prison. But in 1909 he married Mary Calvert, and they raised two daughters. For a while Lay tried his hand at drilling oil wells, but after he went broke, the family moved to California. Lay then disappeared for a few years, working as a professional gambler in Mexico. He spent the remainder of his career as the head watermaster of the Imperial Valley Irrigation System, and after suffering a heart attack, he retired to Los Angeles, where he died in 1934.
Lonie and his brothers Harvey (the oldest), Johnny, and Henry were orphaned in the 1870's and were reared by their aunt, a Mrs. Lee, in Dodson, Missouri. In '1884 Harvey, Lonie, and Johnny left Missouri to go west and become cowboys. Joined by their cousin, Bob Lee, they reached Wyoming and began rustling livestock. About four years later the Logans and Lee drove a herd of stolen cattle into Montana and bought a small ranch near Landusky, a mining town.
During the Johnson County War the Logan brothers hired their guns to Nate Champion's Red Sash Gang, but they returned to their ranch after Champion was killed. Lonie and Harvey were members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, but in the late 1890's, when the Pinkertons began closing in, Lonie left the gang and bought a saloon in Harlem, Montana. But Charles Siringo and other detectives were hot on his trail, and he sold the saloon for fifteen hundred dollars and tried to find a safe refuge. At last he made his way back to Missouri, where he spent several quiet days with his aunt before being killed by a posse early in 1900.
Tom, Bill, and George McCarty were associated with the Wild Bunch, although George never actively participated in outlawry. Reared on a Mormon ranch in Utah, Tom married Teenie Christiansen, sister of Matt Warner, when he was eighteen, but wedlock failed to settle him. He drifted into a life of banditry, frequently in alliance with Warner, his brother Bill, and other desperadoes. But Warner was finally imprisoned, and Bill and his nephew Fred were killed while trying to rob a bank in Delta, Colorado. Tom secluded himself in Montana as a sheepherder, but he was shot to death around the turn of the century.
Born and reared in Wisconsin as Harry Severns, he changed his name to Tracy to shield his family from his misdeeds. He headed west under a cloud, where he soon was imprisoned in Utah for burglary. In 1897, Tracy and Dave Lant escaped and sought refuge with the Wild Bunch at Brown's Hole, a forbidding valley extending through Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Tracy killed Valentine Hoy in 1898, and when he was arrested, he escaped jail, was recaptured, and then escaped custody again.
He fled to Oregon, where he married the sister of Dave Merrill in 1899. The brothers-in-law began a series of store and bank robberies. Tracy and Merrill were apprehended and sentenced to the Oregon State Penitentiary, but they shot their way out of prison in 1902. An intensive manhunt ensued, during which in an act of treachery Tracy killed Merrill. Tracy terrorized the Northwest through the summer of 1902, but in August he was finally hunted down and shot to death.
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