One of the most successful train robbing gang’s during the Old West era was Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch Gang. They were just one of a few loosely organized gangs operating in Wyoming. Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker) was the leader and other members included Cassidy’s closest friend Elzy Lay, the Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh), Tall Texan (Ben Kilpatrick), News Carver (William Carver), Camila “Deaf Charlie” Hanks, Laura Bullion, Flat-Nose Curry (George Sutherland Curry), Kid Curry (Harvey Alexander Logan) and Bob Meeks.
They claimed to make every attempt to avoid killing anyone, and Cassidy would boast that he never killed a man. Unfortunately, that proved to be false because Kid Curry alone killed 9 lawmen while with the gang, and another two civilians during shootouts, becoming the gang’s most feared member. Elzy Lay killed another two lawmen following a robbery, for which he was wounded, arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. “Flat-Nose” George Curry killed at least two lawmen, before being killed himself by Grand County, Utah lawmen.
The gang was also closely associated with female outlaws Ann Bassett and Josie Bassett, whose ranch near Browns Park supplied the gang often with fresh horses and beef. Both Bassett girls would become romantically involved with several members of the gang, and both would occasionally accompany the gang to one of their hideouts, called “Robbers Roost”.
June 2, 1899, Cassidy, Sundance Kid, Harvey Logan and Lay robbed a Union Pacific train near Wilcox, Wyoming. They wore masks made from white napkins, and during the holdup, they stole between $30,000 and $60,000. The gang split up and several fled to New Mexico. On July 11, 1899, gang members robbed a train near Folsom, New Mexico (without Cassidy’s presence). The pursuit by a posse led by Sheriff Ed Farr ended in two gun battles, during which Sheriff Farr and two deputies were killed.Elzy Lay was wounded and captured during this gunfight.
Cassidy and the other members regrouped in Wyoming. On August 29, 1900, Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Kid Curry and another unidentified gang member believed to have been Will Carver, held up another Union Pacific train at Tipton, Wyoming. Less than a month later, on September 19, 1900, they raided the First National Bank of Winnemucca, Nevada, stealing $32,640.
In early 1901, Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Cassidy’s girlfriend Etta Place relocated to Patagonia, Argentina where they spent time at La Leona located outside a Province of Santa Cruz, to escape the pursuit of Pinkerton detectives and other lawmen. That same year on April 1, Will Carver was wounded by lawmen and died in May. Ben Kilpatrick and Laura Bullion were captured in Tennessee in December 1901; he received a 20-year prison sentence and she was sentenced to five years. Kid Curry killed two lawmen in Knoxville, Tennessee; he escaped capture and traveled to Montana, where he killed the rancher who had killed his brother Johnny years before. He was captured on his return to Tennessee, but escaped again. Kid Curry killed himself in Colorado in 1904 during a shootout with lawmen, for he had said that no lawman would ever take him alive. In 1908, Cassidy and Sundance were killed in a shootout with Bolivian cavalry. Etta Place disappeared without a trace.
Elzy Lay was released from prison in 1906, and after a brief visit to the Bassett ranch in Utah, he relocated to California, where he became a respected businessman; he died there in 1934. Ben Kilpatrick was released from prison in 1911, and was killed during a train robbery in Texas in 1912. Laura Bullion was released from prison in 1905 and lived the remainder of her life as a seamstress, dying in Memphis, Tennessee in 1961, the last of the Wild Bunch. Their notoriety led to many films and books about their escapades which led to their popularity. Their legend still lives on today.