Few things capture our imaginations like true stories from the Old West. Throw religion into the mix, and you have the stuff of enduring legends. Mormons are known for honesty, integrity, morality, love of country, love of God, and love of fellowman—hardly the qualities one normally associates with outlaws. So it comes as a sort of shock to some that among the rough-riding, horse-stealing, cattle-rustling, bank- robbing, gun-slinging outlaws of the Old West were a fair number of Mormons. In this entertaining volume you’ll get to know quite a few of these desperado Mormons. Some are household names—like Butch Cassidy. Others you may be meeting for the first time. You’ll find out who’s who and what they did and where they hid. You’ll even get a peek at the Mormon lawmen who dedicated their lives to pursuing the Mormon outlaws.
I really enjoyed Kathryn's latest collection of stories about those few famous ruffians who roamed the state during the late 19th century. And perhaps these stories grabbed my interest because some of my ancestors were right in the mix of things with some of these outlaws.
One of my ancestors is Celia Vidalia Huntsman (my great-great grandmother), whose portrait hangs at the far south end of the Fillmore Historical Museum's basement. She was not the prettiest of women, as you'd be able to see from the portrait. On the other hand, she was as rough and tough a woman as you could ever hope to avoid. To set the record straight, Huntsman was her married name (the first and most intimidating wife of Ezekiel Huntsman). Zeke met Celia as youngsters in Fairview, Utah. Celia was a tom-boy and was tougher than all the boys her age, which Zeke liked. Eventually, they decided to tie the knot, though friends and family never noticed any romance between them. Rather, they were kindred spirits. They both loved to shoot, swear, swig, and spit (not uncommon with our LDS forefathers back in those rough and tumble years).
Zeke ran a logging and shipping business that would cut timber in the Monument Peak area of Central Utah and also near modern-day Ford Ridge and deliver logs to mining camps in Carbon County. It was while running his large and heavy duty wagons up towards the hills north of Price in late April 1897, that he and several of his employees ran into the Wild Bunch, who had just committed a payroll robbery in Castle Gate.
Zeke's men were not sufficiently armed to deal with the Wild Bunch. Zeke was shot (not sure by whom), but not mortally wounded. When word got back to Celia, however, things started popping. She loaded up two six-shooters, and two Remington rifles and took off towards the direction of the Wild Bunch. She followed them all the way up Cedar Creek to near where the town of Mohrland used to be. She claims that they never noticed her until she unloaded much of her ammo on them. According to her diary, she shot three of the Wild Bunch's horses, scared off the other two, and also shot Camilla Harris (known also as Deaf Charlie).
No one can know for sure whether any of Celia's claims are true. And Camilla Harris was still around for another five years after this supposed incident.
Celia and Zeke eventually became temple ordinance workers in the Manti Temple during their last years. The story about the Wild Bunch is what we cherish most about our beloved Celia Huntsman.
Listened to this book on CD. Although the subject was interesting I found that the author repeated herself many times throughout the book, telling the same story several times. At times the story was overly sensational. The reader also made mistakes in citing locations. I couldn't tell whether this was the way the text read or not. I would be interested to read the bibliography to see what was actually supported and what was just rumored tales. I don't want to be mean, but I felt like I was listening to a 9th grader's literary project.
What an amazingly fascinating book!
So who are these Mormon Outlaws?
Orrin Porter Rockwell was sometimes the law, and sometimes an outlaw.
Robert LeRoy Parker joined the cattle rustlers and became the well-know Butch Cassidy; and twenty of the sixty in his gang of bandits were Mormons.
Willard Erastus Christianson, while walking home from a Church dance whacked a rival on the head with a rock and feared he had killed the guy so he ran away from home and became the outlaw, Matt Warner or "The Mormon Kid."
John Tomas McCarty was raised a Mormon. He later married Matt Warner's sister and mentored Matt in the ways of crime. "On March 30, 1889, Tom joined his two buddies -- Matt Warner and Butch Cassidy-- in pulling off one of the largest bank robberies of the day!
Learn about these men and more who were considered Mormon Outlaws.
Learn about the legendary Outlaw Trail and some of the most famous outlaw hideouts.
Grab a copy of this book then sit back and enjoy the tales of the
Wild West and the ways of the outlaws.
A VERY FASCINATING READ!