Old text, new wrinkles: Did Butch Cassidy survive?

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  • Dean 'n Gone PROVO, UT
    Aug. 18, 2011 4:15 p.m.


    Too bad, maybe if you had read the manuscript you would have found out more about Phillips in the first place, or maybe asked Larry to see what he has been hiding for 40 years. Larry kept back transcripts of at least 10 interviews that pointed away from Phillips being Cassidy.

    Have you read what Phillips told his friends and family about his birth, youth, and early life. Seems to me he is talking about Phillips, not Wilcox. How do you account for that? Everything that he told his family and friends about his early life can be documented.

    So let me get this straight, Phillips on his marriage record gave his correct birth date, but then lied about his parents names. Why did he do that? Maybe he was bipolar?

  • Sly Parker Horse Creek, Wy
    Aug. 18, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    Dean 'n Gone
    Youre the so called expert on William Thadeus Phillips, the supposed son of Laddie Phillips and Celia Mudge. You dont even know if twelve year old Celia Mudge had a son fathered by Laddie Phillips. At least from the 1880 Clay, Saint Clair, Michigan census we can be fairly certain Flora Mudge Wilcox had a son named William Wilcox born in Michigan about 1873, give or take a couple of years. June 23, 1893. Convicts Received. Wyoming Territorial Prison. William T. Wilcox. Age 24. Nativity, Alton, St. Clair Co., Mich. Comparing the mug shot of William T. Wilcox to the photograph of William T. Phillips leaves little doubt that they are one and the same man. I gather from your saying William T. Phillips for some unknown reason spent nearly eight years in Wyoming as William T. Wilcox, leaving Lander sometime after September 1899. Then for reasons known only to himself, once again became William Thadeus Phillips the son of Laddie Phillips and Celia Mudge. How stupid of me, It never occurred to me that he might be lying about his name, birth date, and parentage. Ed Seeley led me to Wilcox not the manuscript.

  • Dean 'n Gone PROVO, UT
    Aug. 18, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    Sly, you mention that Dan Buck had the Phillips material for 10 years, well Larry Pointer has had this material for almost 40 years, yet he was unable to make any connection until the so called "new manuscript" appeared. Yet all of the clues to Phillips origin were in his material, and for almost 40 years he has suppressed anything that did not agree with his theory that Phillips was Cassidy. Even up to the publication of this AP article Pointer was stating that the manuscript was authentic and that Phillips was Cassidy. Now in two days you change your tune?

    Now I am not discounting that Phillips may have used the name William Wilcox in Wyoming. It is possible that he did. He may have used the name John Brown too for all we know. Though there is evidence that he used the name John Phillips for a while.

    Now let me see if I have this right, Phillips was really Wilcox, he lied about everything he said about himself, including his parents, and birth date, but he put his correct birth date on his marriage record? Or did he lie about that too?

  • Sly Parker Horse Creek, Wy
    Aug. 17, 2011 10:48 a.m.

    The fact is, William Thadeus Phillips was William T. Wilcox, son of John Wilcox and Flora Jane Mudge Wilcox. He served two terms in the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary as William T. Wilcox 1893/1895 - 1897/1898 after his release in 1898, he returned to Lander, Wyoming and was employed as a carpenter until the fall of 1899 spring of 1900. He then left Wyoming, changed his name to William T. Phillips. His mother Flora Jane Mudge Wilcox died 25 Sep 1891, City Of Cheboygan, Cheboygan County, Michigan. His father John Wilcox died 30 Apr 1905, Benton, Cheboygan County, Michigan (Poor Farm.) Sister Margaret E. Wilcox Sheehy died 16 May 1894, Beaugrand Tp., Cheboygan County, Michigan. Take a deep breath.

  • Gazetteer WASHINGTON, DC
    Aug. 17, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    The Deseret News this morning has a story quoting Phillips proponent Larry Pointer as now conceding Phillips was not Butch Cassidy. Well, we already knew that.

    And Pointer seems to be now conceding The Bandit Invincible is a fake memoir. OK, we already knew that too.

    Time for a nap.


  • Gazetteer WASHINGTON, DC
    Aug. 16, 2011 5:43 p.m.

    It doesn't much matter who Phillips was; he wasn't Butch Cassidy. For all I care he could be Annie Oakley -- suitably disguised, that is.

    Researching this topic as well as most others, though, involves a bit more than wandering around on Google land. The Internet is great, saves lots of time where records are digitized, but nothing beats shoe leather, visiting archives, peering at yellowed documents.

    Speaking of diligent research, Bob Goodwin has done an incredible amount of good research on Phillips, where he came from, where he lived and worked. I think you will like it.

    As for crow, as long as it's Old Crow, OK by me. Dan

  • Sly Parker Horse Creek, Wy
    Aug. 16, 2011 8:48 a.m.

    Dan Buck had the Phillips material at his home for 10 years; the Phillips material has been available to the public for almost 30 years. Yet Buck nor none of his minions was able to determine just who that guy William T. Phillips was. Or who died in Bolivia. Granted the internet has given us access to research material, unavailable a few years ago, but this Phillips identity fight has been discussed on numerous blogs for over five years. In your quest to prove William T. Phillips wasnt Butch Cassidy, you have given us the genealogical history of William T. Phillips complete with the recollections of a man whos great-grandfather took in the illegitimate son of Celia Mudge, (W. T. Phillips). You yourselves called Phillips a con-man and liar, in your zeal to prove he wasnt Cassidy, you overlooked the obvious, if he lied about being Cassidy, he probably lied about being Phillips. Eat some Crow.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    He's still alive. He lives in that huge house here in Bountiful.

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 1:54 p.m.


    With respect, I do not necessarily believe the Phillips story. I tend to have more confidence in Parker's sister's version. But my previous post indicated that there were multiple first person accounts from people that knew Cassidy as Parker from Circleville, UT. A former resident of Circleville, long since passed on, knew the Parker family and this former resident told me of a personal encounter between him and Parker well after "Cassidy" was supposedly killed in Boliva. This encounter happened in the Vernal-Roosevelt UT area. Both men recognized each other from Circleville. At least one other person was there as well. As I stated, there are multiple accounts of Cassidy alive in Utah after his South America live. Some from people that actually knew Robert Leroy Parker.

  • Ghosttown Bob Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 1:35 p.m.

    Hi Sly, nice to see you still skulking around the Des News boards. I'm still waiting with baited breath for your revelations on William T. Phillips, or shouldn't I hold my breath? Seems like you are long on hints and short on facts.

    That being said, I doubt that Phillips went by that name when he was in and around Lander. We do know however that he was a card dealer at Lost Cabin, and that James Regan knew both Cassidy and Phillips and said that they were different people. Phillips himself claimed that his parents were "Laddie" Phillips and Celia Mudge.

    As for William Henry Long, I admit that I went down the wrong road for a while, but just who was it that found William Henry Long was really the son of James Long and Anna Harvey of Iowa and Washington?

  • Vernal grandma Vernal, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 12:31 p.m.

    I totally agree with Fitz. Anyone who is interested in this history, knows that Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabough did not die in Bolivia. I have read his sister's book as well as studied other things written by people here in Utah and the Brown's Park area. The historians who despute these things aren't from here and discount first person accounts of seeing them both alive after they were reportedly killed. I don't know about this William T. Phillips. But Butch Cassidy did not die in Bolivia.

  • Gazetteer WASHINGTON, DC
    Aug. 15, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    These matters have not been ignored, they've been examined & re-examined by historians for decades There are more than 60 different versions of Cassidy's demise in North and South America and in Europe; only one of them can be true. Phillips's and Lula's stories by the way are at odds; they can't both be right. If you believe Phillips, Lula is wrong; if you believe Lula, Phillips is wrong. I think they're both wrong. Most of the Parker family members discounted Lula's story of the 1925 visit. Cassidy's own father said he never came home. Doesn't get more first person than that.

    BTW, we only dug up one Caucasoid in San Vicente, a German named Gustav Zimmer.

    Nonetheless, it's fascinating subject, one that will be debated until the cows come home.


    Aug. 15, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    Who cares what happened to them, I think this kind of stuff is really cool, I am all about the old west gun slingers.

  • Sly Parker Horse Creek, Wy
    Aug. 15, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    Are you absolutely certain William T. Phillips was the illegitimate son of Laddie Phillips and Celia Mudge? Have you ever found any references to a William T. Phillips in or around Lander, Wyoming? As I recall, you wrote a similar account of the life and times of William Henry Long, the son of Alexander and Mary Jane Long (Wrong Long ). What if, he wasnt William T. Phillips? Given a few more clues and a little more time, you might figure out who William Thadeus Phillips really was. Although, I believe it will all be revealed to you shortly.

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    There are a number of first person accounts by people that knew Butch Cassidy as Robert Leroy Parker from Circleville, UT, where Butch grew up. For some reason, that is poorly explained by historians, first person accounts of seeing and talking to Butch Cassidy after he and Sundance came back from South America are ignored. It would seem historians like the dramatic ending of these two bandits dying in a shootout in Boliva. There was an effort to establish this false ending by exhuming two American bodies in Bolvia and testing there DNA. The DNA tests did not match any of the known relatives of these two bandits. Yet historians still ignore first person accounts (like that of his baby sister) that clearly say Butch and Sundance came back to the USA and died here. Sometimes, it seems, historians want to write history that has some huge dramatic ending that does not adhere to the facts. The historians ending to Cassidy is, using Cassidy historian Dan Buck's line "total horse pucky."

  • Joe Bauman Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 11:32 a.m.

    This is not a new story, and it's bogus. The "Bandit Invincible" manuscript has been known and debunked for at least a decade. Dan is right.

  • Gazetteer WASHINGTON, DC
    Aug. 15, 2011 10:47 a.m.

    William T. Phillips as as likely Butch Cassidy as he is Jimmy Hoffa or Judge Crater.

    Left buried in the story is an inconvenient fact. Phillips was married in Michigan several months before the November 1908 shootout he claims he escaped from before his marriage. At the time Phillips wrote his fantasy memoir, the actual date of the shootout was not known, plus it's doubtful he ever thought anyone would go through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb. It would be like fact-checking Peter Pan.

    Phllips writes of holding up trains in Bolivia that were not yet built at the time Cassidy was down there, but were in operation in the 1930s when Phillips was writing "The Bandit Invisible."

    You know you are in fraught waters when Larry Pointer, the chief proponent of the alleged Cassidy autobiography, describes the work as "fiction."

    In other words, "The Bandit Invincible" is to autobiography what the jackalope is to zoology.

    Dan Buck

  • Ghosttown Bob Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 9:23 a.m.

    Before Phillips married Gertrude he sent her several post cards from Des Moines. His romance with Gertrude was not a hurry-up romance in 1908. After Phillips and Gertrude married, they eventually ended up in Spokane, Washington where Phillips was later able to open his own machine shop.

    Phillips had a passing resemblance to Butch Cassidy, and after several people in Spokane mistook him for Cassidy, he then hatched the idea to travel back to some of Cassidy's old haunts to try and find some of the Wild Bunch's "hidden" bank loot that was never recovered. Phillips had at least 5 or 6 recorded trips to Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah between 1924 and 1935. On these trips he presented himself to many of the locals as the now returned Butch Cassidy. Controversy raged during the 1930's as to whether Phillips was Cassidy or not with those that had only a passing acquaintance Cassidy claiming that he returned, and those that knew Cassidy the best saying that Phillips was not Cassidy. It was while he was on these trips that Phillips probably learned his "inside" information that he included in his "Bandit Invincible" manuscript.

  • Ghosttown Bob Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    I agree with Dan Buck - - double horse pucky.

    William T. Phillips by his own admission was the illegitimate son of "Laddie" Phillips and Celia Mudge of Michigan. At age 14 he ran away from home to the Black Hills, where he worked for several years tending store. He later moved to Wyoming and, according to his adopted son "lived with the Indians" probably on or near the Wind River Indian Reservation. It was here during the 1890s that he became acquainted with Mary Boyd (Rhodes) his "Lander Sweethart," with whom he may have lived for a time as a common-law husband and wife. Later William T. Phillips traveled around the Mid-West helping to paint and decorate State Capitols buildings and County Courthouses, including doing some gold leaf work on some of the Domes. He finally ended up in Des Moines Iowa where he worked as a painter (presumably on the courthouse) in 1906. While living in Des Moines, he traveled to Lenawee Co., Mich to seek funding to start a machine shop business. There he met he Gertrude Livesay whom he later married.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Aug. 15, 2011 7:33 a.m.

    I just hope that the return address on the "rare manuscript" wasn't from the Point of the Mountain.