Robert LeRoy Parker

April 13, 1866 - November 7, 1908


My Distant Cousin

Robert LeRoy Parker's Great Uncle, David Levi is my Great Grandfather. Robert is the son of Ann Campbell Gillies; Ann is a sister of Christina Gillies who was the first wife of my Great Grandfather David Levi. My grandmother, Katie Bell Levi, was the daughter of David's first wife, Christina Gillies. My Grandmother used to tell stories how Butch Cassidy would ride to his Aunt Christine's in the middle of the night in order to visit without being seen.

Taken From Find A Grave

Son of Maximilian Parker and Annie Campbell Gillies. At the age of 18 he left his parents' home due to a charge of horse theft (that was untrue). He traveled to Telluride, Colorade, and worked there for a mine company, and again was (falsely) accused of stealing a horse. This second time it was his own horse he was accused of stealing. He spent a good deal of time in jail waiting for this false charge to be tried and it was eventually dismissed after his father traveled from Utah to Telluride and testified as to the true ownership of the horse in question.

He was later falsely charged a third time (and a fourth time) of stealing a horse. These false accusations, in part, led him to to a life of crime. He took the name of George "Butch" Cassidy (because in his youth he was mentored by a man named Cassidy) and was involved in a number of bank and train robberies.

Contrary to the false depiction in the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" he did NOT die in Bolivia in a shootout with a small army. There is NO evidence that ever occurred in Bolivian records.

Robert LeRoy Parker, a.k.a. George Cassidy, a.k.a. "Butch Cassidy" was known by a number of aliases throughout his adult life - including J. P. Maxwell while he was in South America and William T. Phillips when he returned to the United States.

The last documented record of him being in South America was a letter written by "J. P. Maxwell" on Feb. 16, 1908, that was mailed from Tres Cruces, Argentina.

It was three months after that, on May 14, 1908, when he was married in Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan, to Gertrude Livesay using the name of William T. Phillips, a man who never existed prior to 1908.

On his marriage record William T. Phillips listed his parents names as "L. J. Phillips" and "Celia Mudge". William T. Phillips death record as well as records from the Elks and Masonic lodges in Spokane, Washington, also gave his date of birth as June 22, 1865 and his place of birth as Sandusky, Michigan, and his father's name as "Laddie J. Phillips". Records in Michigan have no record of anyone named Laddie J. Phillips.

There was a record of a woman named Celia Mudge who was born in Sanilac, Michigan, on November 19, 1852, however, that particular woman would have been only 12 years old when "William T. Phillips" was alleged to have been born in 1865. Also this woman named Celia Mudge was married in 1875 to Hezekiah Snell and her descendants know nothing connecting her to William T. Phillips.

Additionally Sandusky, Michigan, was not even formed until 1870 (five years AFTER William T. Phillips is alleged to have been born there). In other words William T. Phillips did not exist prior to his arrival in Michigan in 1908.

There are literally dozens of individuals who swore that they encountered "Butch Cassidy" LONG after he was (falsely) said to have been killed in Bolivia in 1909. A number of whom were beyond reproach including his own sister Lula (Parker) Betenson (who wrote the 1974 book "Butch Cassidy, My Brother" at the age of 90) and his/their brother Daniel Sinclair Parker and his wife and children. In fact, in her 1974 book Lula (Parker) Betenson related how Robert LeRoy Parker, a.k.a. Butch Cassidy, finally returned to the family home and visited his living siblings and his father (Maximilian Parker) in 1925, i.e., 16 years after his supposed "death" in Bolivia. And 41 years after he left his parent's home in 1884.

According to Lula's book and interviews with her "Butch" died in 1937 in Spokane, Washington

There are two things which absolutely PROVE that the man who went by the assumed name of William T. Phillips (who died in 1937 in the county poor home a few mile South of Spokane, Washington.) was - IN FACT - one and the same as Robert LeRoy Parker, a.k.a. "Butch Cassidy". First and foremost is expert handwriting analysis of two letters (from 1902 written by "J.P. Maxwell" in South America and a letter from 1935 written by William T. Phillips) done by Master Certified Graphoanalyst Jeannine Zimmeman of Aurora, Colorado. Her analysis of these two handwritten letters, written 33 years apart from one another was stated as such:

"It is therefore my opinion that both of these documents"............"were written by the same individual."

The second conclusive evidence which proves that William T. Phillips of Spokane, Washington, was one and the same as Robert LeRoy Parker, a.k.a. George Cassidy, a.k.a. Butch Cassidy, a.k.a. J.P. Maxwell, was an opal fire ring that was given by William T. Phillips to Mary (Boyd) Rhodes in 1935 and was engraved as "Geo C to Mary B", i.e., George Cassidy to Mary Boyd. When "Butch" Cassidy, a.k.a. George Cassidy, a.k.a. Robert LeRoy Parker was a younger man one of his lady friends was this same Mary Boyd. She was a half breed Indian who lived on an Indian reservation in Wyoming when they first met. And she appeared to have been the "love" of his life. However when "Butch" was sentenced to jail for two years (for the false charge of stealing a horse for the 4th time in his life) she married a man named Rhodes while he was in prison.

This fire opal ring was given by Phillips to Mary (Boyd) Rhodes in 1935 when William T. Phillips was in Wyoming and visited her (among others who all knew Butch Cassidy "in the day"). Mary in turn gave the ring to her daughter and her daughter gave the ring to her daughter. That being Mary's granddaughter Ione. Or rather Mrs. Carl (Ione) Manning of Casper, Wyoming.

When Phillips reunited with Mary (Boyd) Rhodes in 1935 in Wyoming she instantly recognized him (a man who she knew intimately) as George Cassidy a.k.a. Butch Cassidy.

These two things, in and of themselves, PROVE beyond a shadow of doubt that Butch Cassidy, a.k.a., George Cassidy, a.k.a. J.P. Maxwell, a.k.a., Robert LeRoy Parker, were one and the same as the man who died under the assumed name of William Thadeus Phillips in 1937.

After his death at the County Poor home in Spokane County, WA., his surviving wife, Gertrude (Livesay) Phillips, scattered his ashes into the Little Spokane River near Dartford, Washington.

NOTE - To ANYONE who doubts the accuracy of the above I would direct you to A. "In Search of Butch Cassidy" by Larry Pointer and B. "Butch Cassidy, My Brother" by Lula (Parker) Betenson.

Taken From Wikepedia

Robert Leroy Parker was born on April 13, 1866, in Beaver, Utah, to Maximillian Parker and Ann Campbell Gillies, English immigrants who came to the Utah Territory in the late 1850s. Ann Gillies, the mother of Butch Cassidy, was born and lived on Tyneside, in the north east of England, before moving to America with her parents in the 1850s, where she married Butch's father, Maximilian Parker, in Utah. Maximillian Parker's parents, Robert and Ann (Hartley) Parker had lived in Victoria Road in Preston, Lancashire, England. Robert Parker's father Thomas Parker had entered into a business relationship with a cousin named John Dickens, father of the future novelist Charles Dickens. The enterprise failed, and both Dickens and Parker were committed to the Marshalsea prison in Southwark. Robert Parker grew up homeless and starving on the streets of London and Manchester, and according to family history, learned to beg and steal to support his mother. His descendants believed that Charles Dickens used Robert Parker as the model for the character Oliver Twist. Robert Parker joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while working as a master weaver in the woolen mills in the city of Manchester. In 1855 he took his wife and children to the United States, eventually joining a handcart company and arriving in Utah. Robert Leroy Parker, named for his grandfather, was the first of the 13 children of Maximillian and Ann Parker. He grew up on their ranch near Circleville, Utah, 346 km (215 mi) south of Salt Lake City, Utah. He left home during his early teens, and while working at a dairy farm, looked up to, and was mentored by a cowboy and cattle rustler who called himself Mike Cassidy (an alias for John Tolliver "J. T." McClammy). Parker subsequently worked at several ranches, in addition to a brief stint as a butcher in Rock Springs, Wyoming, when he acquired the nickname "Butch", to which he soon appended the surname Cassidy in honor of his old friend and mentor.

Born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah on April 13, 1866, Cassidy was the first of 13 children. His Mormon parents had come to Utah from England in 1856. His parents moved over the mountains to Circleville in 1879 and young Roy, as he was known about the house, worked in ranches across western Utah, including at Hay Springs, near Milford. On one of these early jobs Roy had his first run-in with the law - he let himself into a closed shop, took a pair of jeans, and left a note promising to return later to pay his debt. But things did not go well in Circleville for the Parker family - Roy's dad, Maximillian, lost land to another homesteader in a property rights dispute - and Roy ended up looking to a shady local rancher, Mike Cassidy, in admiration. By 1884, Roy was rustling cattle from Parowan (just over the Markagunt Plateau) and his life on the lam had begun. He soon took on the name Butch Cassidy, perhaps in honor of his childhood hero.

Roy Parker has been called a sort of Robin Hood of the Western frontier, a man who bristled at the notion that large cattle outfits were squeezing the smaller rancher out of business. In the years following 1884, Roy drifted west to Telluride, Colo., stopping along the way in the back of beyond territory known as the Robber's Roost, which is in the rough foothills of the Henry Mountains. He also worked in Green River.

San Miguel Valley Bank Robbery in Telluride, Colorado The first major crime attributed to Cassidy is the robbery of the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride, on June 24, 1889. He and three cowboys got away with $20,000 by thoroughly casing the joint first. The bandits then made their way over a choice hideout, Brown's Park, along the Green River at the Utah-Wyoming border. They made forays to Green River and Vernal before moving north to Lander, Wyoming.

Cassidy was one of the first to break ground on the Outlaw Trail, a meandering ghostlike path that began in Mexico, ran through Utah, and ended in Montana. The unofficial trail linked together a series of hideouts and ranches, like the Carlisle Ranch near Monticello, where ranch owners seemed willing to give jobs to outlaw cowboys. The Carlisle, actually, was close to Robber's Roost, and it was here where Butch camped out for a night or two before and after the Telluride holdup.

After Telluride, Butch's notoriety as an outlaw grew - an outlaw fighting for 'settlers rights, as citizens of the united States of America against the old time cattle baron (sic)' as written in a mysterious manuscript now believed to be Roy Parker's memoir. After the cruel winter of 1886-87, these resentments were ripe. Small cattle operations were crippled by the loss of stock, and larger operations paid a premium for rustled cattle. During this time, Cassidy and his gang established what would become their greatest hideout, the Hole-In-The-Wall, in central Wyoming. After spending a few years in a gloomy prison in Wyoming, Cassidy returned to rustling, this time along the Utah-Arizona border. During this period he began to assemble a sort of elite corps of outlaw cowboys, the Wild Bunch, which included Dick Maxwell, Elzy Lay, and Harry Longabaugh, who was perhaps better known as the Sundance Kid. Later the group was joined by Henry Wilbur 'Bub' Meeks, another Utah Mormon escapee, and George Currie.

Montpelier Bank Robbery The first robbery credited the Wild Bunch was the August 13, 1896 holdup of a bank in Montpelier, Idaho. This robbery showed the trappings of what would become the Wild Bunch signature holdup: a well-planned attack. The bandits made off with over $7,000, and Cassidy, in part of an elaborate escape attempt, fled to Iowa, then Michigan, where he came face to face with an old foe - a deputy sheriff from western Wyoming who was on the lookout for him. Narrowly escaping (Cassidy even claimed to have shared a hotel room with a sheriff who was hunting for him but apparently never got a good look at him) Cassidy headed south then west again, where he met the gang and planned perhaps their greatest robbery, the $8,800 heist of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company payroll.

Here, in narrow Price Canyon a few miles from Helper, Cassidy and his gang stole the payroll simply by shoving a revolver into the gut of the paymaster, who forked over the loot. Then, using an ingenious scheme, Cassidy and his gang rode hard for several days, employing a series of cached top-quality horses that could ride for hours at high speeds without tiring. The gang split up, and Butch fled to northern Wyoming, where he persuaded a rancher to hire him temporarily.

Castle Gate was the Wild Bunch's one and only major holdup in Utah. After that, the outlaws held up banks and trains in South Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nevada, and managed to bring home increasingly large sums of money - like an estimated $70,000 for the holdup of a Rio Grande train near Folsom, New Mexico. But by then, the good old days seemed to be over. By this time, the Wild Bunch had an extensive allay of law officers hunting them wherever they went, and Butch had an impressive folio compiled by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, whose operatives seemed to follow his every move, waiting for a slip-up. The Gang often came back to Utah, either for protection or transportation, and once to ask Gov. Heber Wells in 1900 for amnesty in exchange for the promise to shape up. Abandoning that idea, the group later traveled across the Great Salt Lake Desert en route to Nevada, where they robbed the bank in Winnemucca.

Death in South America? The heat was on in a serious way, and by 1902 the group had disbanded, and Butch had gone to England, then Argentina, where Butch, Harry Longabaugh and his girlfriend Etta bought a small ranch. All was well until a stock buyer and former Wyoming deputy came through the country, ending the gang's seclusion. From here, Cassidy went back to robbing trains and payrolls up until his supposed death in 1908.

Failed attempt at amnesty

Perhaps as a consequence of the loss of Lay, Cassidy appears to have approached Governor Heber Wells of Utah, which had joined the Union in 1896, to negotiate an amnesty. Wells appears to have declined, advising Cassidy to instead approach the Union Pacific Railroad to persuade them to drop their criminal complaints against him. This meeting never took place, however, possibly because of bad weather. The Union Pacific Railroad, under chairman E. H. Harriman, subsequently attempted to meet with Cassidy, through his old ally Matthew Warner, who had been released from prison. On August 29, 1900, however, Cassidy, Longabaugh and others robbed a Union Pacific train near Tipton, Wyoming, violating Cassidy's earlier promise to the governor of Wyoming not to offend again in that state, and effectively ending the prospects for amnesty.

Meanwhile, on February 28, 1900, lawmen attempted to arrest Kid Curry's brother, Lonny Curry, at his aunt's home. Lonny was killed in the shootout that followed, and his cousin Bob Lee was arrested for rustling and sent to prison in Wyoming. On March 28, Kid Curry and Bill Carver were pursued by a posse out of St. Johns, Apache County, Arizona, after being identified as passing notes possibly from the Wilcox, Wyoming, robbery. The posse caught up with them and engaged them in a shootout, during which Deputy Andrew Gibbons and Deputy Frank LeSueur were killed. Carver and Curry escaped. On April 17, George Curry was killed in a shootout with Grand County, Utah, Sheriff John Tyler and Deputy Sam Jenkins. On May 26, Kid Curry rode into Moab, Utah, and killed both Tyler and Jenkins in a brazen shootout, in retaliation for their killing of George Curry, and for the death of his brother Lonny.

Cassidy, Longabaugh, and Bill Carver traveled to Winnemucca, Nevada, where on September 19, 1900, they robbed the First National Bank of Winnemucca, Nevada of $32,640. In December, Cassidy posed in Fort Worth, Texas for the now-famous Fort Worth Five Photograph, which depicts Parker, Longabaugh, Harvey Logan (alias Kid Curry), Ben Kilpatrick and William Carver. The Pinkerton Detective Agency obtained a copy of the photograph and began to use it for its latest wanted posters.

On, July 3, 1901, Kid Curry and a group of men he had gathered robbed the Great Northern train near Wagner, Montana.[12] This time, they took over $60,000 in cash. Again the gang split up, and gang member Will Carver was killed by one pursuing posse led by Sheriff Elijah Briant. On December 12, 1901, gang member Ben Kilpatrick was captured in Knoxville, Tennessee, along with Laura Bullion. On December 13, during a shootout with lawmen, Kid Curry killed Knoxville policemen William Dinwiddle and Robert Saylor, and escaped. Curry, despite being pursued by Pinkerton agents and other law enforcement officials, returned to Montana, where he shot and killed rancher James Winters, responsible for the killing of his brother Johnny years before.

1901 Cassidy and Longabaugh then fled east to New York City, and on February 20, 1901, with Ethel "Etta" Place, Longabaugh's female companion, they departed to Buenos Aires, Argentina, aboard the British steamer Herminius, Cassidy posing as James Ryan, Place's fictional brother. There he settled with Longabaugh and Place in a four-room log cabin on a 15,000-acre (61 km2) ranch that they purchased on the east bank of the Rio Blanco near Cholila, Chubut province in west-central Argentina, near the Andes.

1905 On February 14, 1905, two English-speaking bandits, who may have been Cassidy and Longabaugh, held up the Banco de Tarapacá y Argentino in Río Gallegos, 700 miles (1,100 km) south of Cholila, near the Strait of Magellan. Escaping with a sum that would be worth at least US $100,000 today, the pair vanished north across the bleak Patagonian steppes.

On May 1, the trio sold the Cholila ranch because the law was beginning to catch up with them. The Pinkerton Agency had known their location for some time, but the rainy season had prevented their assigned agent, Frank Dimaio, from traveling there and making an arrest. Governor Julio Lezana had then issued an arrest warrant, but before it could be executed, Sheriff Edward Humphreys, a Welsh Argentine who was friendly with Cassidy and enamored of Etta Place, tipped them off.

The trio fled north to San Carlos de Bariloche where they embarked on the steamer Condor across Nahuel Huapi Lake and into Chile. However by the end of that year they were again back in Argentina; on December 19, Cassidy, Longabaugh, Place and an unknown male (possibly Harvey Logan) took part in the robbery of the Banco de la Nacion in Villa Mercedes, 400 miles (640 km) west of Buenos Aires, taking 12,000 pesos. Pursued by armed lawmen, they crossed the Pampas and the Andes and again reached the safety of Chile.

On June 30, 1906, Etta Place decided that she had had enough of life on the run and was escorted back to San Francisco by Longabaugh. Cassidy, under the alias James "Santiago" Maxwell, obtained work at the Concordia Tin Mine in the Santa Vera Cruz range of the central Bolivian Andes, where he was joined by Longabaugh upon his return. Ironically, their main duties included guarding the company payroll. Still wanting to settle down as a respectable rancher, Cassidy, late in 1907, made an excursion with Longabaugh to Santa Cruz, a frontier town in Bolivia's eastern savannah.

1908 The facts surrounding Butch Cassidy's death are uncertain. On November 3, 1908, near San Vicente in southern Bolivia, a courier for the Aramayo Franke and Cia Silver Mine was conveying his company's payroll, worth about 15,000 Bolivian pesos, by mule when he was attacked and robbed by two masked American bandits who were believed to be Cassidy and Longabaugh. The bandits then proceeded to the small mining town of San Vicente where they lodged in a small boarding house owned by a local resident miner named Bonifacio Casasola. When Casasola became suspicious of his two foreign lodgers, as well as a mule they had in their possession which was from the Aramayo Mine, identifiable from the mine company logo on the mule's left flank, Casasola left his house and notified a nearby telegraph officer who notified a small Bolivian Army cavalry unit stationed nearby, which was the Abaroa Regiment. The unit dispatched three soldiers, under the command of Captain Justo Concha, to San Vicente where they notified the local authorities. On the evening of November 6, the lodging house was surrounded by three soldiers, the police chief, the local mayor and some of his officials, who intended to arrest the Aramayo robbers.

When the three soldiers approached the house the bandits opened fire, killing one of the soldiers and wounding another. A gunfight then ensued. At around 2 a.m., during a lull in the firing, the police and soldiers heard a man screaming from inside the house. Soon, a single shot was heard from inside the house, whereupon the screaming stopped. Minutes later, another shot was heard.

The standoff continued as locals kept the place surrounded until the next morning when, cautiously entering, they found two dead bodies, both with numerous bullet wounds to the arms and legs. One of the men had a bullet wound in the forehead and the other had a bullet hole in the temple. The local police report speculated that, judging from the positions of the bodies, one bandit had probably shot his fatally wounded partner-in-crime to put him out of his misery, just before killing himself with his final bullet.

In the following investigation by the Tupiza police, the bandits were identified as the men who robbed the Aramayo payroll transport, but the Bolivian authorities didn't know their real names, nor could they positively identify them. The bodies were buried at the small San Vicente cemetery, where they were buried close to the grave of a German miner named Gustav Zimmer. Although attempts have been made to find their unmarked graves, notably by the American forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow and his researchers in 1991, no remains with DNA matching the living relatives of Cassidy and Longabaugh have yet been discovered.

The Other Story Recently, diligent scholars like Larry Pointer, who wrote In Search of Butch Cassidy, have dug up evidence showing that in all likelihood Butch Cassidy did fake his death in San Vicente, Bolivia. They suggest that after making it big in Bolivian train, payroll and bank robberies, Cassidy sailed to Europe, got a facelift, moved back to America, married, then became an entrepreneur in Washington. Some of the evidence is convincing, especially a detailed manuscript about Cassidy which actually appears to have been authored by Cassidy.

After a trip back to Europe, Cassidy returned to the United States, this time with the name William Phillips. Phillips went to Michigan, where he met and fell in love with Gertrude Livesay. The two were married in May, 1908. The happy couple moved to Arizona, where Phillips apparently made a little cash on the side by fighting with Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution, then north to Spokane, where he founded the Phillips Manufacturing Company and later worked for Riblet, who made chairlifts and tramways. But things went downhill, and Phillips was close to bankrupt. He embarked on a few desperate trips back to Utah and Wyoming in hopes of finding some buried caches, but he apparently was unsuccessful. He was diagnosed with cancer, and died on July 20, 1937.

Wanted Poster

Another Reward Poster

Butch Cassidy

San Miguel Valley Bank

Ann Bassett, Butch Cassidy's companion

Ethel "Etta" Place, Harry Longabaugh's companion

Robert's Sister, Lulu Christene Parker Betensen.

William Thadeus Phillips, aka. Robert LeRoy Parker after plastic surgery

Harvey Logan, one of the Wild Bunch

Laura Bullion, one of the Wild Bunch

Harry Longabaugh, alias The Sundance Kid

Harry Longabaugh and Etta Place

Ben Kilpatrick, one of the Wild Bunch

Will Carver, one of the Wild Bunch

First Governor of Utah, Heber Wells, who declined amnesty for Butch Cassidy


This page last updated on April 19, 2012 .