Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave

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Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave
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Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave
Wetzel, David N.
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:39:42 AM] Home Butch Cassidy: Beyond the GraveButch Cassidy: Beyond the GraveSubmitted by nwharton on 12-12-2012 09:03 AMAuthor: W. C. Jameson Publishing: New York: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2012. Index, bibliography, black-and-white photos. 6 x 9. viii + 189 pages. Reviewer: David N. Wetzel People who live beyond their death become shades. They appear here and there, like ghosts, and its almost impossible to catch them in the flesh. Such is the case with Robert LeRoy Parker, who becameduring his criminal heyday in the late nineteenth centurythe ubiquitous outlaw Butch Cassidy. As anyone knows who saw the classic 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the outlaw and his partner died in a desperate shootout in San Vicente, Bolivia, in 1908. But the Pinkerton Detective Agency never wrote Cassidy off its booksand Pinkerton persisted in its research as do many historians. One of those historians is W. C. Jameson, who believes that the Pinkerton agency was right to hang fire on the fate of Butch Cassidy. Jameson, his authors blurb claims, has written seventy books, 1,500 articles and essays, one musical, three hundred songs, and dozens of poems (189). His familiarity with dramatic narrative enlivens Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave, which lays out its theme in a scene at the books beginning. Butch Cassidy, states Jameson, fictionalizing an encounter between the outlaw and his parents in 1925, remained standing next to the Ford coupe, his heart beating fast and heaving with anticipation. For four decades, he had stayed away from his family for fear the presence of an outlaw in their home would bring them shame and they would be ostracized by their neighbors (vi). The rest of Jamesons book is but a prelude to that momentand to the next seven years, when Cassidy, we are led to believe, visited old friends in Wyoming and searched for money he had stashed away during his lucrative career as a bank and train robber. The man whom Jameson thinks returned to his home in Circleville, Utahsecretly as Butch Cassidywas William T. Phillips, a Spokane machine-shop owner. Phillips seemed to have emerged from nowhere in 1908the year Butch Cassidy supposedly diedand married Gertrude Livesay. Jameson thinks Phillipss blank record before that date gives credence to the notion that Cassidy returned to the United States in that year to marry and live quietly and happily with Gertrude for the next three decades. Well, not quite happily. Their last years were clouded by infidelity. When Phillips died in 1937, Gertrude told an investigator that her husband was not Butch Cassidy. She did this, Jameson thinks, out of spite. After all, multiple friends and family members had seen and spoken to Butch Cassidy in Utah, Colorado, and Wyomingthe most important being Lula Parker Betenson, Cassidys sister, who testified to the Circleville reunion. Moreover, before his death Phillips wrote a remarkable manuscriptThe Bandit EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanNow, thats wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States. Colorado Gov. Ralph Carrs response to Executive Order 9066 forcing Japanese into internment camps during WWII.


Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:39:42 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Invincible, a thinly veiled story of his life suggesting he was Cassidy. According to Jameson, this could only have been written by someone with an extraordinary knowledge of Butch Cassidys life and his activities in both North and South America. In 1973 this manuscript, The Bandit Invincible, came into the hands of Larry Pointer, a Cassidy biographer who later published In Search of Butch Cassidy (1977), which defended Phillipss claim based in part on The Bandit Invincible. In 2011, a newly discovered, longer version came to light, which Pointer also examined closelyand which led him to identify William T. Phillips as a pseudonym for William T. Wilcox, a small-time outlaw who joined Cassidy in the Wyoming State Prison in the 1890s and borrowed his name from time to time (see Butch Cassidy Imposter Exposed, Deseret News, August 16, 2011). In effect, Pointer used the tools of his craft to reverse a position he had held for forty years. It also repudiates much of Jamesons argument. The discrediting of the Phillips story makes the prospect of Cassidys life beyond the grave even more elusive. One crucial argument supporting the Phillips theory was that his visits to Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah coincided with sightings of Butch Cassidy. The words of long-ago witnesses who had once reliably identified Cassidy, including Lula Parker Betenson and other family members, now testify to the fallibility of memory and skills of a knowledgeable, look-alike imposter. Jameson, whose book shows he was not aware of Larry Pointers damaging 2011 discovery, was wise enough to leave himself an escape route. He concludes: Lurking around the periphery of this case . are niggling reminders we need more evidence, evidence we hope will . clarify and support what we already believe (173). At this point, any evidence that Butch Cassidy outlived the Bolivia shootout and returned to the United Statesalready thinned considerably by the exposure of Phillips as an imposterwill have a high bar of skepticism to overcome. As a biographer of Butch Cassidy, Jameson assumes the air of a senior authority who surveys the literature, scolds both the history profession and amateur researchers, respectively, for their elitism and carelessness, and offers a point-by-point rebuttal to the evidence that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid died in Bolivia. Yet his overview of Cassidys outlaw career rests on little more than hearsay and speculationfor it lacks any kind of scholarly documentation. Throughout the book we hear what nameless researchers think or suppose, catch a hint of something alleged, or are inundated with phrases like some historians claim or it has been concluded or the general consensus is. These-will-o-the-wisp connections leave the reader with the feeling that more mysteries lie before the grave, in Cassidys case, than beyond it. Perhaps thats as it should be. Reviewer Info: David N. Wetzel, former chief editor for the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado), has written on Denver architecture, Plains Indian ledger art, and childhood in early Colorado. He has just completed a manuscript on the nineteenth-century healer and messiah figure Francis Schlatter.