Thursday, September 18, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 160

The Wild Bunch – Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, 1900

The photo on this postcard was taken in Fort Worth, Texas in 1900 and shows some members of the notorious Wild Bunch, a gang of old West outlaws run by Butch Cassidy and his friend Elzy Lay.   The card was one of those made from vintage or classic photos published by Mountain West Prints and found at the Park City, Utah Museum.  Standing at the back:  William “News” Carver and Harvey Logan known as “Kid Curry.”  Sitting at the left is Harry Longabaugh “the Sundance Kid,” Ben Kilpartrick “the Tall Texan” in the middle and Robert Leroy Parker “Butch Cassidy” on the right end. 

The Wild Bunch was known for horse stealing, cattle rustling, train and bank robberies.  Following a robbery the gang would split up to avoid capture and later meet usually at Robbers Roost in Utah, Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming or Fannie Porter’s brothel in San Antonio, Texas.  Apparently these five members of the gang met in Fort Worth, Texas and had the picture taken shortly after a robbery in Winnemucca, Nevada. 

Butch Cassidy’s friend and co-gang leader, Elzy Lay, had been cornered and captured in Carlsbad, New Mexico while he was gathering supplies following a train robbery in 1899.  He was sentenced to life in prison.   He became a trustee at the prison and significantly helped the warden during a prison revolt that eventually allowed him to receive a pardon and early release from prison after serving 7 years.  When he got out he left the life of crime behind, got married, and settled down.  He was the only one who did not die as a result of a gunshot or hanging.  The other gang members died between the ages of 38 and 42 years.

A few of a Wild Bunch had also been members of the Black Jack Ketchum Gang.  Most of these men carried guns but did not shoot or kill people; the exception was Kid Curry who was said to have dispatched 9 lawmen in five gunfights.  He was perhaps not as well known as some of the others but he later became known as the “wildest of the Wild Bunch.”  It was rumored that he could drop a silver dollar from his hand and get off five shots before the dollar hit the ground.  With a Pinkerton detective hot on his trail Curry was caught by a posse near Parachute, Colorado and took his own life rather than be captured. 

Carver earned his nickname "News" because he loved to see his name and exploits in print.  He was ambushed and killed by Sheriff deputies in 1901.   Ben Kilpatrick the Tall Texan spent 9 years in prison and returned to crime after his release.  He was killed while robbing a train near Sanderson, Texas in 1912. 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fled to Bolivia where they died by gunshot in 1908 although some rumors persist that they escaped and returned to the United States to live for several more years.   

In 2003 the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress selected the 1969 movie about Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford for preservation as being culturally and historically significant.  It was the top grossing film the year it came out. 

For more information about the members of the gang and that era of the Wild West see:

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