1866 : Robert Leroy Parker Born, Alias Butch Cassidy

April 13, 2020 all-day

The ‘Wild Bunch’ posed in business dress for this famous photo taken in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1900. ‘Sundance Kid,’ is seated left, front row, Cassidy is at right.

Robert LeRoy Parker (April 13, 1866 – November 7, 1908), better known as Butch Cassidy, was an American train and bank robber and the leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the “Wild Bunch” in the Old West.

Parker engaged in criminal activity for more than a decade at the end of the 19th century, but the pressures of being pursued by law enforcement, notably the Pinkerton detective agency, forced him to flee the country. He fled with his accomplice Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, known as the “Sundance Kid”, and Longabaugh’s girlfriend Etta Place. The trio traveled first to Argentina and then to Bolivia, where Parker and Longabaugh are believed to have been killed in a shootout with the Bolivian Army in November 1908; the exact circumstances of their fate continue to be disputed.

Parker’s life and death have been extensively dramatized in film, television, and literature, and he remains one of the most well-known icons of the “Wild West” mythos in modern times.

The Michigan Connection

Anyone who saw the movie “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” has those two names engrained in their memories.

Butch and Sundance were two real people, real outlaws, who traveled throughout the country, attempting to avoid the law. One of the states visited by Butch Cassidy happens to be Michigan.

According to the My Bay City website, the story says that after Butch’s gang robbed  a train in Wilcox, Wyoming, Butch himself fled across the land to Chicago. From there he went up the eastern coast of Lake Michigan to Frankfort. From there he hit Traverse City and Mancelona, caught a train to Saginaw, and then Bay City.

Still not content to stay still, Butch got aboard a schooner and headed to Harbor Beach (then called Sand Beach) and ended up joining a circus as a wagon driver. Then on to Bad Axe, Cass City, and Pontiac.

Just outside of Pontiac, Butch put on some clothes he took off a scarecrow and began working on a farm. After a week, he figured  the authorities had cooled off their search, so he hopped a train to St. Louis, and back to Wyoming – the state where his train robbery took place.

Now, in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford film, Butch and Sundance go to Bolivia, South America. That part is true, but according to the Bay City website, they did NOT die there. After their stay in Bolivia, they came back to the states and Butch once again went to Michigan. While in Michigan, he visited the town of Adrian, where he met and fell in love with Gertrude Livesay. They married in 1908 and moved to Arizona, thus ending Butch Cassidy’s time in Michigan.

The legends of Butch and Sundance continue and their exact endings are open for speculation. Different versions have Butch dying in South America, in the United States, in the northwest, at his old home boyhood cabin, in 1908, in the 1920s, in the 1930s….there is no conclusive evidence where Butch – or Sundance – met their deaths. But we can pretty much take it for granted that Butch did indeed flee the authorities through Michigan.


Butch Cassidy Wikipedia Entry

John Robinson, “Butch Cassidy Robs Wyoming Train and Flees to Michigan, 1900“, 99.1 WFMK Blog, December 3, 2020l