Robert LeRoy Parker: Butch Cassidy
The man Robert LeRoy Parker went by many names, the most famous being Butch Cassidy. Born in southern Utah, the infamous outlaw would ride through many western states robbing banks, holding up trains, and rustling stock. While people recognize this man for the Wilcox Train robbery and his leadership of the aptly named Wild Bunch Gang, for a time Cassidy lived and worked in Fremont County Wyoming. There, he went by the name George “Butch” Cassidy and became known as a generous neighbor and hardworking cowboy.
Beginning in 1889, Cassidy ranched along Horse Creek just north of the then-named town of Neversweat. Cassidy and his partner Al Hainer made friends with the other homesteaders and ranchers in the Upper Wind River Valley, including the Simpson, Amoretti, and Welty families. Will Simpson once said “Cassidy brought the spirit of frolic with him…those who grinned in silence were beginning to laugh out loud.” According to records, Cassidy once rode non-stop to Fort Washakie and back, a 120-mile roundtrip, during the winter of 1889 to get medicine for the Simpson’s sick child. Often, the bond of friendship and respect between Cassidy and the locals in addition to Cassidy’s pleasant personality got the man out of more scrapes than did his six-shooter.
Eugene Amoretti Jr. worked in the banking business and recorded several encounters with both the outlaw Butch Cassidy and his friend George “Butch” Cassidy. After robbing a bank, Cassidy and his partner brought the money to be deposited in Lander at the Amoretti and Son Bank. Amoretti’s cashier counted out $17,500 in bills. When asked to sign his signature for identification purposes, Cassidy drew his revolver, threw up the card, and shot a hole through it, saying “that’s my identification.” A land patent from the year 1900 stated Amoretti purchased 240 acres from Butch Cassidy along Horse Creek, land that would become the well-known EA Ranch. Almost ironically, Amoretti the Banker and Cassidy the Outlaw would become friends during Cassidy’s years in Fremont County.
Despite Cassidy’s positive reputation around the area of modern-day Dubois, the locals still knew of his bank robbing and outlaw ways. In reference to the outlaw, Andy Manseau once stated “he was good company and easy to meet and talk to…but Cassidy was a bad man.” Indeed, swayed by the charismatic man and the lure of adventure, several men from Fremont County would end up joining Cassidy’s band of outlaws. Lander would become the site of three different arrests, two trials, and one prison sentence to the Wyoming State Penitentiary at Fort Laramie for Cassidy.
The Robin Hood of western outlaws, Butch Cassidy never killed another man during his outlaw days and his kindness to those less fortunate often overshadowed any misdeeds in the eyes of Fremont County communities. What records exist—photographs, official documents, letters to and from family and friends—only paint half a picture of this outlaw’s life, leaving the other half open to wild rumors or practical speculation. Even after Butch Cassidy’s escape to South America and his alleged death, many local families in Fremont County and members of his own family swear that Butch Cassidy returned to the American West.
The Dubois Museum will host “The Wild Bunch Discussion” at the Dennison Lodge May 19, 7pm. George Yarbarough, a Butch Cassidy historian, will be in attendance and people are welcome to bring questions and their own stories about the Wild Bunch to share.
Information from Mary Allison’s Dubois Area History, Esther Mockler’s Recollections of the Upper Wind River Valley, and records from the Dubois Museum Archives.
Next up for the Fremont County Museums
May 19th, 3pm at the Riverton Museum, “History of the Rendezvous”
Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
May 19th, 1pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Pioneer Cooking Day Part 1”
McDonald’s Children’s Exploration Series
May 26th, 10:30am at Riverton Museum, “Historic Riverton Walking Tour”
Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek
June 2nd, TBA at Riverton Museum, “Historic Shoshoni Walking Tour”
Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek
The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum work extremely hard to provide programs, care for the facilities, create exhibits and care for the thousands of artifacts and archival documents in the collections of the museums. In order to consistently accomplish these objectives the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.