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Ann Bassett and / or Etta Place

Ann Bassett and / or Etta Place

Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker) and the Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh) were infamous Utah outlaws known for their reign as train and bank robbers. Both born in the 1860’s, Parker and Longabaugh’s exploits were chronicled in an Oscar-winning film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Katherine Ross starred as Butch’s girlfriend, Etta Place. The outlaws story unfolds in the scenic yet rugged area of Green River, Utah known as Brown's Park. The impassable canyons and unfordable rivers provided an ideal refuge for the fugitives to winter and as a summer range for their stolen stock.

Considered “wild and sophisticated” records disagree on Etta’s birth place - some alleging she was born a native of eastern / central Utah while others claim she was born in New York / Pennsylvania. In 1992 a series of computer generated photo analyses uncovered Etta’s connection to another colorful lady of Utah’s criminal past, Ann Bassett, coined the “Queen of the Cattle Rustlers.”

Accounts relate an almost identical physical description for both Place and Bassett. A description of both women cites to their “classic good looks, intelligence, expert horsemanship, prowess with guns, and reputations as ‘loose’ ladies.” After Bassett's disappearances from Green River, only Place was documented as a member of Cassidy and Sundance’s notorious “Wild Bunch” gang.

Ann Bassett was born in Brown's Park on May 25, 1878, to Herb and Elizabeth Bassett. Two years following her mother’s death, Ann's father enrolled her in St. Mary's Catholic School in Salt Lake City in an attempt to curb her wild side. She was expelled one year later after when the nuns asked the uncontrollable Ann to leave. She returned to her family’s ranch in Brown's Park, where she met Cassidy. The lovers shared a cabin at Robber's Roost, and the Utah Division of State History states that upon returning home, Ann took to cattle rustling and sabotage striking primarily against Two-Bar Ranch, a large cattle company vying for control of Brown's Park.

Meanwhile, the Wild Bunch left Utah and congregated in Texas in the fall of 1900. Using the alias Etta Place, Bassett now a companion of Sundance, and Butch travelled together to South America. In 1902 Ann reappeared in Vernal and married Frank Willis, a cowboy and prospector. She died in 1956 and with the a wish to have her cremated remains scattered in through Brown's Park. Frank drove there but "didn't have the heart to throw Ann out." and her ashes remained in the trunk of his car until he died in 1963. Ann's ashes were then scattered at an unmarked location in Brown's Park.

My alma matter self proclaims on it's website that “since 1921, Judge Memorial Catholic High School has provided an outstanding educational experience, firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition, to students and their families. ... Judge Memorial was co-ed until 1964, until Bishop Joseph Lennox Federal brought in the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales to run it as an all-boys school. At this time, girls attended St. Mary of the Wasatch Academy. In 1970, St. Mary closed and girls once again joined the boys at Judge. That same year, the school added the word "Catholic" to its name.”

Sources: www.JudgeMemorial.com, www.UtahStories.com, www.heritage.utah.gov,


The Real Wild West - Episode 6: Butch Cassidy 

green river, utah

green river, utah