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Chapter 15: Arizona Rampage

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub

CHAPTER 15

Arizona Rampage

The Pinkerton’s Denver office sent detective Frank Murray to Alma in about early March to investigate some Wilcox money that had been deposited in the Silver City bank by the storekeeper in Alma. Murray, who was later promoted to the assistant superintendent of the Denver office, came to the WS and questioned William French concerning Jim Lowe. When he showed French a photograph of a group of men, he recognized the only man that was sitting down as Jim Lowe. Murray then asked him if he knew that Lowe was also known as Butch Cassidy. French replied that he did not, and in return, asked the detective if he was going to try to arrest him. Murray said he was not foolish enough to attempt to arrest Cassidy in that neighborhood without the backup of “a regiment of cavalry.” He was more interested in tracing the stolen money than running down Cassidy.1

The Alma storekeeper had told the detective earlier that a WS cowboy named Johnny Ward had spent the bills. To French’s surprise it turned out to be Little Johnny Ward instead of Big Johnny Ward, the latter he knew to be a member of the Wild Bunch. Little Johnny said he got the bills from a former WS cowboy named “McGonigal” in payment for two horses. This was Clay McGonagill, who had worked with Cassidy and Elzy Lay at the Erie Cattle Company in Arizona previous to the WS. Murray was determined to track him down, not knowing that McGonagill had gone back to Arizona.2

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Chapter 18: Hiding in Plain Sight

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press ePub

CHAPTER 18

Hiding in Plain Sight

Will Carver may have been in a hurry to get to Texas because he wanted to see his girlfriend, Laura Bullion, whom he had promised to marry. Laura was born in Washington County, Arkansas, in October 1876. When her father died in 1881, Laura’s mother moved her three children to their maternal grandparents’ Dove Creek ranch near Knickerbocker, Texas. Laura reportedly left home not long after her mother died in 1891, and it is believed that she worked as a prostitute in San Antonio, possibly at Fannie Porter’s Sporting House. It is known that she returned to the Knickerbocker area for visits and to attend dances over the next few years. Will had been married to Laura’s aunt, Viana Byler, for less than six months when she died of pregnancy complications on July 22, 1892. He was devastated by her death, and it is said he began courting her niece because she greatly resembled Viana. He had left Laura in San Antonio before going off to rob the bank in Winnemucca.1

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Chapter 9

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 9

Red Lodge and Capture

I

t is not certain whether the Belle Fourche bank robbers were in the

Hole-in-the-Wall when the famous fight occurred there between the rustlers and some invading cattlemen on July 22, 1897. The latter party consisted of twelve men, which included two Montana livestock inspectors, and was there to round up all the stolen cattle that could be found. One of the inspectors was Joe LeFors, who would later figure prominently in tracking members of the Wild Bunch.1 Bob Divine was there representing the CY, and according to Brown Waller, he had warrants in his possession for the Belle Fourche robbers.2 Waller does not cite his source for this; however, it shouldn’t be discounted since Divine stated in a January 1, 1897, letter that he wanted warrants turned over to him from Natrona County Sheriff H. L. Patton and Johnson County

Sheriff Al Sproal, in order to bring in Currie, O’Day, and other members of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang for rustling.3

During the roundup three men of the rustler clique, Al Smith, Bob

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Chapter 20

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 20

Winters’ End

K

id Curry and his cohorts most likely hid out in the badlands between the Little Rockies and the Missouri River until the majority of manhunters left the area after mid-July 1901.1 This would have been the most opportune time for Curry to leave his hideaway for a visit to his friend Jim Thornhill and Jim’s common-law wife, Lucy Tressler.

She was most likely the “old lady” Curry had in mind as the recipient of the bolt of green silk he lifted from the Wagner robbery. He would have been greeted at the door by three curious children, one his four-yearold namesake, Harvey D. Thornhill, nicknamed “Man.” When Jim later moved to Arizona, Man became a top roper and won several rodeo competitions. The others were three-year-old Sarah, and Jim’s son George, born December 27, 1899.2

Some histories state that Curry even took time out to visit his friend

Sid Willis in Great Falls. He first took a room in the Minot block, not bothering to hide his identity. He then supposedly asked the Mint Saloon owner to act as a go-between in finding someone who would forge signatures on the unsigned Bank of Montana money. Whether Willis refused or just couldn’t find anyone willing to sign the bills, Curry nevertheless left Great Falls without the desired forgeries.3

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Chapter 12

Mark T. Smokov University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 12

Train Robbers Syndicate

I

n March 1899, the trio reunited at Brown’s Hole and again traveled to northern Nevada, ending up in Elko.1 They checked into

Johnny Craig’s rooming house under the names Frank Bozeman,

John Hunter, and Joe Stewart. For about a week they frequented the saloons along Railroad Street, flourishing large amounts of money and breaking hundred dollar bills while gambling.2 This ostentatious display may have been part of a plan to allay suspicion from the real reason they were in town. They had made plans, probably in Brown’s Hole, to strike the Union Pacific at Wilcox, Wyoming, and needed a stake to finance the robbery.3 It was rumored that the safe in the Club Saloon contained a considerable amount of cash, and would be easier to rob than the local bank.4

It was going on midnight on Monday, April 3, 1899, when owner E.

M. James Gutridge closed up after town constable Joe Triplett had left the premises. With the safe behind the bar open, Gutridge and bartender

C. B. Nichols began counting the evening’s receipts, when Kid Curry,

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