Friday, September 18, 2009

Did Great-Grandma run around with outlaws?

When I first became interested in family history, my mom brought over every bit of old family stuff she and my dad had collected or been given over the years. Among the pile was compiled family history entitled, "Family History of Dwight and Rosella Dutton" written in the 1980's. It looks like it was a project of Arthur Nelson Dutton, who is a distant cousin on my dad's side of the family. (He's my first cousin, 2 times removed).

Arthur collected old family photos, memories, and put it all together in a 140 page coil bound book. It really is a treasure.

Among the photos was one that jumped out at me. The caption identifies the following individuals, from left to right: "Butch Cassidy, ???, Clarence, Lottie, Sundance Kid, Alice.

Alice is Alice Dutton, my great-grandmother. Lottie is her sister. Clarence married Lottie. That accounts for those names. What are they doing in a picture with BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID?? Is this true? I don't know where that photo came from. I think I'll try and track down this distant cousin of mine to see where he got that photo.

Alice was born in 1895 in Lidgerwood, North Dakota. Lottie was born the year before. Their parents, Dwight and Rosella Dutton moved to Idaho in March 1902. According to another Dutton sibling, Clarence Moler and Lottie became an item in about 1905 or 1906. Thus, this photo can't be any earlier than that since Clarence and Lottie did not know each other before then.

Could this really be the infamous "Butch and Sundance?"

On the right is a photo of Butch, aka Robert Leroy Parker, in 1896. I can see a resemblance to the man on the left of the group photo, even through the
thin beard. Was he ever in Idaho in the early 1900's? Sundance Kid, aka Harry Longbough is a little harder to identify through the moustache. What do you think?

According to some quick internet research, Butch and Sundance connected in 1900 when Sundance moved to Utah to join Butch's "Wild Bunch." They held up trains, stages, and banks all around the West. In 1900 they robbed the Winnemucca National Bank in Nevada and then headed to South America, along with Sundance's girlfriend, Etta Place. (Could she be the unidentified woman in the photo??)

If you've seen the Redford/Newman movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" you'll remember the climactic end scene with the massive shootout with the Bolivian police that ended their lives in 1908 (or 1911 by some accounts). However, some believe they came back to the United States under assumed names and identities. I found this on a website Legends of America:

"Evidence exists, however, that Butch Cassidy reloacted to Spokane, Washington, where he lived under the alias William T. Phillips until he died of cancer in the county poorhouse on July 20, 1937. Persistent reports also claimed that the Sundance Kid returned to the United States where he allegedly lived under the name of Hiram Bebee until his death in Wyoming in 1955."

The question remains. If this is the real Butch and Sundance, why is great-grandma Alice Dutton (Shelton), her sister and brother in law in a picture with them? Did they run around with outlaws? Or just take advantage of an opportunity to sit for a photo with such an infamous duo? It looks like it was taken at a photographer's studio. It is a mystery. Are there any Dutton descendants out there have any more information? Perhaps there are some Butch & Sundance scholars who can add some insight. I would love to hear everyone's speculations and opinions.

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