Sundance-Kid

Harry (or Henry) Alonzo Longabaugh (1867 – possibly November 6, 1908), better known as the Sundance Kid, was an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, in the American Old West.

Together with the other members of “The Wild Bunch” gang, they performed the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history.

In the 1969 film, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, Robert Redford played Sundance, opposite Paul Newman, as Butch Cassidy.

Video comes courtesy of YouTube:

So much for Hollywood.

Here’s what history has to tell us:

Sundance’s Early Life and Career

Longabaugh was born in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, in 1867, the son of Pennsylvania natives Josiah and Annie G. (born Place) Longabaugh. He was the youngest of five children (his older siblings were Ellwood, Samanna, Emma and Harvey). Longabaugh was of mostly English and German ancestry and was also part Welsh.

At age 15, the young Harry Longabaugh traveled westward on a covered wagon with his cousin George.

In 1887, Longabaugh stole a gun, horse and saddle from a ranch in Sundance, Wyoming. While attempting to flee, he was captured by authorities and was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail by Judge William L. Maginnis. It was during this jail time, that he adopted the nickname of the Sundance Kid.

After his release, Longabaugh went back to working as a ranch hand, and in 1891, as a 25-year-old, he worked at the Bar U Ranch in what is today Alberta, Canada – which was one of the largest commercial ranches of the time.

The Wild Bunch

Longabaugh was suspected in 1892 in a train robbery, then again in 1897 in a bank robbery, along with five other men.

He soon became associated with a group known as the “Wild Bunch”, which included his famous partner Robert Leroy Parker – better known as Butch Cassidy.

Although Longabaugh was reportedly fast with a gun and was often referred to as a “gunfighter”, he is not known to have killed anyone prior to a later shootout in Bolivia, where he and Parker were alleged to have been killed.

He became better known than another outlaw member of the gang dubbed “Kid” – Kid Curry (real name Harvey Logan), who killed numerous men while with the gang.

The “Sundance Kid” was possibly mistaken for “Kid Curry”, since many articles simply referred to “the Kid”.

Longabaugh did participate in a shootout with lawmen who trailed a gang led by George Curry to the Hole-in-the-Wall hideout in Wyoming, and was thought to have wounded two lawmen in that shootout. With that exception, though, his verified involvement in shootouts is unknown.

Historically, the gang was for a time best known for their lack of violence during the course of their robberies, relying heavily on intimidation and negotiation. However, that view of the gang is less than accurate, and mostly a result of Hollywood portrayals depicting them as usually “nonviolent”.

In reality, several people were killed by members of the gang, including five law enforcement officers killed by Logan, alone.

“Wanted dead or alive” posters were posted throughout the country, with as much as a $30,000 reward for information leading to their capture or deaths.

The Hole in the Wall

The Wild Bunch began hiding out at Hole-in-the-Wall, located near Kaycee, Wyoming.

From there they could strike and retreat, with little fear of capture, since it was situated on high ground with a view in all directions of the surrounding territory.

Nonetheless, Pinkerton detectives led by Charlie Siringo hounded the gang for several years.

Pastures New

Parker and Longabaugh – evidently hoping for a respite, and looking for fresher robbing grounds – left the United States on February 20, 1901.

Longabaugh sailed with his “wife” Etta Place and Parker, aboard the British ship Herminius for Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Death of the Sundance Kid – Maybe

The facts concerning Longabaugh’s death are not known for certain.

On November 3, 1908, near San Vicente in southern Bolivia, a courier for the Aramayo Franke y 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 Longabaugh and Parker.

The bandits made for the small mining town of San Vicente, where they lodged in a boarding house owned by a local miner named Bonifacio Casasola.

When Casasola became suspicious of his two foreign lodgers (a mule they had in their possession was from the Aramayo Mine, and bore the mining company’s brand), Casasola left his house and informed a nearby telegraph officer, who notified a small Bolivian Army cavalry unit (the Abaroa Regiment) stationed nearby.

The cavalry unit dispatched three soldiers, under the command of Captain Justa Concha, to San Vicente, where they notified the local authorities.

On the evening of 6 November, the lodging house was surrounded by a small group consisting of the local mayor and a number of his officials, along with the three soldiers from the Abaroa Regiment.

When two of the soldiers approached the house where the bandits were staying, the bandits opened fire, killing one of the soldiers and wounding the other. A gunfight then ensued.

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 building, after which 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, judging from the positions of the bodies, that 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 investigation by the Tupiza police that followed, the bandits were identified as the men who robbed the Aramayo payroll transport, but the Bolivian authorities did not know their real names, nor could they positively identify them.

The bodies were buried at the small San Vicente cemetery, close to the grave of a German miner named Gustav Zimmer.

Attempts have since been made to find their unmarked graves (notably by the American forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow and his researchers in 1991), but no remains with DNA matching the living relatives of Parker and Longabaugh have been discovered.

This uncertainty has led to many claims that one or both survived and eventually returned to the United States

A Survivor?

One of these claims was that Longabaugh lived under the name of William Henry Long in the small town of Duchesne, Utah.

Long died in 1936, and was buried in the town cemetery.

His remains were exhumed in December 2008, and testing was performed to determine whether he was Harry Longabaugh, but the results did not support the William Long theory.

Meanwhile, research at San Vicente is ongoing.

I have to be going now, too.

Till next time.

Peace.

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