Underneath It All Butch Cassidy Wasn’t That Bad

Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch stole everything, including their name. The original Wild Bunch, A.K.A. The Doolin-Dalton Gang ran their operation out of the Oklahoma territory from 1892 to ’95.

Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch was out of Wyoming from ’99 to 1901. They were famous for many things, like Cassidy’s claim that they made every effort not to kill anyone and his methodical way of committing robberies.

The most famous aspect of Butch’s posse was the final chapter of the man himself. He and Sundance kid died in Bolivia, but some historians argue that was not the end for Cassidy.

No Killing

(Rangers mounting up to hunt the Wild Bunch | source: truewestmagazine.com)

(Rangers mounting up to hunt the Wild Bunch | source: truewestmagazine.com)

It’s a nice thought; a gang of outlaws who only steal from the wealthy, then ride out without causing so much as a scratch. It sounds like the tale of Robin Hood.

The claims that Cassidy’s Bunch tried to commit all their crimes without killing anyone were not true. We know for sure that three members, Kid Curry, George Curry and Will Carver killed people during their reign. There’s a good chance that others in the gang killed as well.

Kid Curry killed nine lawmen in five separate incidents, two citizens in two other occasions. “Flat-nose” George, the man who’s named Kid Curry adopted, killed two lawmen also.

Needless to say, whatever Cassidy’s Wild Bunch told themselves in order to get some sleep at night, they had plenty of blood on their hands.

That’s in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars they liberated from banks and trains during their reign.


(source: waymarking.com)

(source: waymarking.com)

Cassidy wanted to get in and out without anyone getting hurt. In one anecdote, early in his career, Cassidy convinced other gang members not to kill a guard who refused to open a safe.

The gang left empty-handed that day, but Cassidy left with a reputation as the guy who wouldn’t kill just to get what he wanted. This wasn’t the only difference between Cassidy and other outlaws.

When he formed the Wild Bunch, he taught them that rushing into a town, then robbing the bank is unwise. It’s better to case the town first. You want to make sure the local lawmen are not too powerful, but also that there are no vigilante groups that may undo your intentions.

He taught his Wild Bunch to also spend some time in the bank, get a feel for the operation of the bank, even talk to employees. This Wild Bunch would spend days studying a take before moving on it.

South America

(source: argentina-excepcion.com)

(source: argentina-excepcion.com)

In 1901, Butch and the Sundance Kid, along with Cassidy’s girlfriend moved to Argentina. There, they assumed different names. They took jobs working in the mines but robbed local banks in their free time.

The gang unraveled during the years after those two left, captured or killed by lawmen.

Kid Curry committed suicide. While in a shootout with lawmen in 1904, he put his gun to his own head rather than let them capture him.

Sometime after Argentina, Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid made their way into Bolivia. For conservative historians, this is where the story ends.

During an attempt to rob a Bolivian payroll, they both died in the resulting shootout with Bolivian cavalry… or did they?

Post Mortem

(William T. Phillips, the man who claimed to be Cassidy | source: truewestmagazine.com)

(William T. Phillips, the man who claimed to be Cassidy resurrected | source: truewestmagazine.com)

Some say Cassidy escaped death that day. The men authorities believed to be Butch and Sundance were never confirmed. The bodies of the two men they were able to connect to the payroll robbers, but nobody identified those two men.

The clues imply it was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two bandits were English-speaking, and they had in tow a mule bearing the brand of mine where the boys worked. Still, it may not have been them.

In one argument, Cassidy returned to Utah, changed his name then lived until 1929. Another account claims that he moved to Nevada, that he didn’t die until the ’40s, somewhere in California.

The accounts of his alleged return from South America are too many to ignore, but good luck confirming any of them.

(source: thegreatwesternmovies.com)

(source: thegreatwesternmovies.com)

Beyond the mystery around Cassidy’s ending, it’s reasonable to believe he was a good man beneath it all.

While most of the bad guys from The Old West scan like untrustworthy sales people, bloodthirsty and reckless, Butch sounds like the kind of guy with whom you could have a drink.

You may not even know he was a wanted man, save the wanted posters hung everywhere.