Howdy folks and greetings from the Great Plains of North Texas!
We're in the middle of a series about two of America's most famous and successful outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In yesterday's post the railroads had hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to hunt down the Wild Bunch and there's also put a bounty on their heads for $3,000 Dead or Alive.
So the pressure and heat were increasing. Butch stayed at the ranch he'd been working at in New Mexico, apparently minding his own business and keeping his nose clean. lol..except for planning famous train robberies!
The Pinkertons show up
One day the owner of the ranch was approached by a Pinkerton agent who showed him photos and asked if he knew any of the men in the photos. He recognized Butch and the agent informed him that he had just identified the leader of the notorious Wild Bunch. The rancher was shocked and wondered if his place had become a refuge for other gang members.
The next day he approached Butch and told him about the visit from the Pinkerton agent. Butch was calm but knew that he had to move on, it wouldn't be long before an army of law enforcement showed up at the ranch. His good friend Elzy Lay had been working at the ranch with him all this time but had moved out and moved on before the Pinkerton agent showed up.
Big trouble for Elzy
Elzy, Harvey Logan, News Carver and another well known outlaw named Sam Ketchum had robbed a train but the posse caught up with them and a gun battle ensued. Ketchum and Elzy were wounded and the Sheriff was killed. After they were arrested Ketchum died from his wounds.
Harvey Logan and News Carver were able to escape.
News and Harvey were regular gang members, they're the ones standing in back, News on the left, Harvey on the right. Harvey was the most dangerous of the bunch.
Elzy was charged with murder even though there was no evidence that he was the one who fired the shot that killed the Sheriff. Nevertheless he was found guilty at the trial and sentenced to life in prison. Evidently as the only member of the Wild Bunch who'd been caught and tried, they wanted to send a message.
Here's Elzy in prison, probably taken during an interview:
Butch was said to be highly distraught about this, Elzy was his best friend. Elzy wasn't too thrilled neither. Especially when his wife Maude divorced him. Can't blame her though. She probably thought his outlaw days were behind him because he'd been working steady at that ranch for a couple of years.
The year was 1900
The 20th Century was the dawn of a new age of technological marvels. Electricity, the telephone, motorized vehicles, roadway networks, AC motors, the Kodak camera... railroads connecting more cities and reaching into every region of the country.
Law enforcement used the telegraph and telephone communication systems, wanted posters were produced on high speed printing presses and distributed everywhere in a short time frame.
The railroads hired their own gangs of gunfighters with high-powered rifles. The express cars holding the safes were fortified and armored. They had special high-speed trains outfitted with box cars with horses to use in the chase.
Bottom line: Outlaws were no longer facing a local posse they had to outpace, they were now facing a SYSTEM which was connected from shore to shore. And in Butch's case, his gang was no longer facing a local Sheriff with a group of farmers and shop keepers in a hastily thrown together posse.
They were now facing Pinkertons...men who were professional trackers using the latest technology with unlimited resources. Outlaws who could rob and stay out of the reach of the law were about as scarce as hen's teeth.
The Wild West was definitely being tamed. The question is, how was Butch going to handle it?
Thanks for reading folks, God bless you all!
the gentleman redneck
PS- Something you will NEVER hear a redneck say:
I'll take Shakespeare for 1000, Alex.