AHC in the News! New Theories Emerge from Butch Cassidy Scholar

Wanted Poster for Butch Cassidy, NOLA Collection

Recently, a new theory on the life of Old West outlaw Butch Cassidy from broke worldwide on news outlets from India to Ireland. Larry Pointer, the originator of the theory, is the author of In Search of Butch Cassidy, and his papers are available for research at the AHC. Cassidy, Pointer insists, may not have actually died in a Bolivian gunfight in 1908 as was previously believed. Pointer and Utah rare book collector, Brent Ashworth, claim to have uncovered a two hundred page- manuscript titled “Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy,” dated from 1934, and written by a William T. Phillips, who died in 1937, in Spokane, Washington. The manuscript was written as a biography, but Pointer and Ashworth maintain that it is an autobiography, including details too specific to Cassidy’s life to have been written by anyone else. Of course, there are those who disagree with the new findings, such as fellow Cassidy historian Dan Buck. But reports of Cassidy sightings after his alleged death in San Vicente, Bolivia, abound, and Pointer even claims that Phillips’s stepson, William R. Phillips, believes his stepfather was Butch Cassidy. While the facts of Butch Cassidy’s life continue to be debated by historians, we can all be entertained by the idea of a lawless, Old West figure whose life continues to draw speculation.

Other AHC holdings related to outlaws include the Jim Dullenty Papers, the National Outlaw and Lawman Association (NOLA) Collection, and the Eugene Franklin Thomas Papers.

–Kathryn Brooks, Project Archivist

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2 Responses to AHC in the News! New Theories Emerge from Butch Cassidy Scholar

  1. Daniel Buck says:

    Um, I suspect you are a bit behind the news. Larry Pointer & cadre have recanted all.

    Several hundred media stories last week reported the recent discovery of a manuscript, “The Bandit Invincible,” establishing that a man named William T. Phillips was Butch Cassidy, and that he had escaped the 1908 shootout in Bolivia and returned to the United States, where he later wrote his autobiography. More the 400 media sites around the world carried the news, first published on August 15 by Associated Press.. Less than 48 hours later, a story appeared in the Deseret News that the proponent of the manuscript, Pointer, had announced that Phillips was not Cassidy and the manuscript was not an autobiography, but, well, a fantasy. In other words, “never mind.” The retraction was picked by zero other newspapers.

    None of this is too surprising. Versions of the manuscript, a stupendously amateur attempt at identity theft, have been bouncing around since the 1970s.

    “Anatomy of a Farce,” which I posted yesterday at http://truewest.ning.com/forum/topics/anatomy-of-a-farce
    explains what went down and why. Pointer was the source of both the AP story and the DN story.

    It’s a cautionary tale, indicating that one should never mislead a reporter. And it reinforces Jonathan Swift’s truism: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping behind.”

    Dan Buck

  2. “Anatomy of a Farce,” can now be found here: http://www.kimmacquarrie.com/butch-cassidys-lost-manuscript-a-hoax/#more-414

    A longer version was published as “Anatomy of a Farce, Updated,” Wild West History Association Journal, October 2011. Not online.

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