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Did Butch Cassidy Really Die in Bolivia?

Everyone who has seen the movie knows that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed by the Bolivian police in 1908, a few days after robbing the payroll of the Aramayo mining company. Right?

Not so fast. Police reports from the incident report clearly that two English-speaking men who were wanted for the robbery were killed in a shootout on the night of November 6, 1908. It is also true that famous bandits Robert Leroy Parker (who went by “Butch Cassidy”) and Henry Alonzo Longabaugh (a.k.a. “The Sundance Kid”) were in the region, having left the United States for South America in 1901 in an effort to escape the high price on their heads. Most people, then and now, believe that the two dead Americans were, in fact, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (the people of the Bolivian town of San Vicente certainly do: they’ll take you to see the graveyard!).

But doubts about the identity of the two men began right away. Although the thieves had allegedly stolen a lot of money, there was little on the two after the shootout. The Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had been on the trail of Butch and Sundance, wasn’t convinced and didn’t call off its search for them.

Some think the second man was not Butch Cassidy but Harvey Logan, a.k.a. “Kid Curry,” a bandit who had worked with Cassidy and Sundance before in the American west. Butch Cassidy’s sister, Lulu Parker Betenson, claimed that he returned and visited her in 1925. She always maintained that he died in Spokane in 1937 (oddly, her son disputed her claim, saying that his grandfather, Butch’s father, had told him that Butch had never returned from South America).Some believe that Butch Cassidy changed his name again, this time to William T. Phillips, and moved back to the west.

In 1991, the graves were dug up and forensic tests were done on the remains. The results were inconclusive.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Bolivia: The History of Bolivia, History, The Literature of Bolivia, History, Northwest Bolivia: History, Central Highlands History, History and History of Copacabana.

08 Apr 2009

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