Sundance Kid

"Harry Longabaugh" redirects here. For the author who wrote under this name (including the screenplay to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) as "Harry Longbaugh", see William Goldman.
Sundance Kid

Sundance Kid and Etta Place before they headed to South America
Born Harry Alonzo Longabaugh
Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, United States
Died November 7, 1908 (aged 40 or 41)
San Vicente, Bolivia
Cause of death Gunshot
Nationality American
Other names The Sundance Kid
Occupation thief, bank robber, train robber, criminal gang leader
Spouse(s) Etta Place (deceased)
  • Josiah Longabaugh
  • Annie G. Place Longabaugh
Allegiance Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch
The Sundance Kid The Tall Texan Butch Cassidy News Carver Kid Curry
The Sundance Kid is seated first on the left (The "Fort Worth 5" photo) Click a person for more information. Click elsewhere on the image for a larger image.

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh (1867 – November 7, 1908), better known as the Sundance Kid, was an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in the American Old West. Longabaugh likely met Butch Cassidy (real name Robert Leroy Parker) after Parker was released from prison around 1896. Together with the other members of "The Wild Bunch" gang, they performed the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history.

After pursuing a career in crime for several years in the United States, the pressures of being pursued, notably by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, forced Longabaugh, his girlfriend Etta Place, and Cassidy to abandon the United States. The trio fled first to Argentina and then to Bolivia, where Parker and Longabaugh were reportedly killed in a shootout in November 1908.

Early life and career

Longabaugh was born in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania in 1867, the son of Pennsylvania natives Josiah and Annie G. (née 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, Longabaugh traveled westward in 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. During this jail time, he adopted the nickname of the Sundance Kid.[1] After his release, he 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.[2]

Longabaugh was suspected of taking part in a train robbery in 1892, and in a bank robbery in 1897 with five other men. He became associated with a group known as the "Wild Bunch," which included his famous partner Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy.[1]

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"; many articles 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.

Longabaugh and Logan used a log cabin at what is now Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming as a hide-out as they planned to rob a bank in Red Lodge, Montana. Parker, Longabaugh, and other desperados met at another cabin brought to Old Trail Town from the Hole-in-the-Wall country in north-central Wyoming. That cabin was built in 1883 by Alexander Ghent.[3]

Historically, the gang was for a time best known for their relatively low use of violence during the course of their robberies, relying heavily on intimidation and negotiation; nevertheless, if captured, they would have faced hanging. However, that portrayal 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.[4]

They 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. Pinkerton detectives led by Charlie Siringo, however, hounded the gang for a few years.[4]

Parker and Longabaugh, evidently wanting to allow things to calm down a bit and looking for fresh 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.[4]


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 then proceeded to the small mining town of San Vicente, where they lodged in a small boarding house owned by Bonifacio Casasola, a local miner.

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 unit dispatched three soldiers, under the command of Captain Justo 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 the three soldiers approached the house where the two bandits were staying, the bandits opened fire, killing one of the soldiers and wounding another. 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 house, 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, one bandit had probably shot his mortally 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 could not positively identify them. The bodies were buried at the small San Vicente cemetery, where they were buried close to the grave of Gustav Zimmer, a German miner. 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 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. 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 subjected to DNA testing.[5][6][7] Anthropologist John McCullough stated "The material we got from Bill Long, it does not match the material we got from a distant relative of the Sundance Kid."[8]

In 1909, a woman asked Frank Aller (US Vice-Consul in Chile) for assistance in obtaining a death certificate for Longabaugh. No such certificate was issued and the woman's identity is unknown, but she was described as attractive, leading to speculation that she was Longabaugh's girlfriend Etta Place.[9]



Further reading

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