Born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah on April 13, 1866, Cassidy was the first of 13 children. His Mormon parents had come to Utah from England in 1856. His parents moved over the mountains to Circleville in 1879 and young Roy, as he was known about the house, worked in ranches across western Utah, including at Hay Springs, near Milford. On one of these early jobs Roy had his first run-in with the law – he let himself into a closed shop, took a pair of jeans, and left a note promising to return later to pay his debt. But things did not go well in Circleville for the Parker family – Roy’s dad, Maximilian, lost land to another homesteader in a property rights dispute – and Roy ended up looking to a shady local rancher, Mike Cassidy, in admiration. By 1884, Roy was rustling cattle from Parowan and his life on the lam had begun. He soon took on the name Butch Cassidy, perhaps in honor of his childhood hero.
Roy Parker has been called a sort of Robin Hood of the Western frontier, a man who bristled at the notion that large cattle outfits were squeezing the smaller rancher out of business. In the years following 1884, Roy drifted west to Telluride, Colo., stopping along the way in the back of beyond territory known as the Robber’s Roost, which is in the rough foothills of the Henry Mountains. He also worked in Green River.
Butch Cassidy’s original family home is located approximately two miles South of Circleville, Utah. This old home is frail and weathered and is approaching the point that it is unsafe for the many visitors that stop by to experience the Wild West. Savage Albrecht Engineering is working in conjunction with the Piute County Commission to help restore the deteriorating cabin. Funding has been acquired through State Legislation with the help of Senator Ralph Okerlund. Additional funding has been acquired by the Heritage Highway Fund and State Parks OHV Fund. The State Historic Preservation Office is working to assist in the project which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.
In a way, Cassidy captured the essence of a land that, in many respects, is still wild. Back in 1976, in a story for National Geographic, Robert Redford followed the Outlaw Trail. In his story, Redford wrote: ‘As technology thrusts us relentlessly into the future, I find myself, perversely, more interested in the past. We seem to have lost something – something vital, something of individuality and passion. That may be why we tend to view the western outlaw, rightly or not, as a romantic figure.’