Butch Cassidy built a reputation as the “Robin Hood” of the Intermountain West. He was famous for robbing trains, banks and other types of payroll, but many don’t know that he ran the first successful protection racket in the United States. Ranchers paid him not to rustle cattle, bankers paid him to leave their banks alone, as did other companies.
The story that I am relating here resonates with the times that we have been going through people were losing their homes and farms to banks due to the lack of actual money in the communities. There were valuable trade goods but very little cash in the Town of Torrey. The house and the end of a tree lined lane was one facing foreclosure, the woman who lived in the house and her son were about out of food. Her husband had left to find work where he might be able to raise the money to save the farm.
The woman and her son were readying themselves for a meager meal a little meat and some bread, they heard a rider approaching. The young boy was excited, he thought it may be his father rushed to the door to find a stranger standing there. The woman, a little nervous that it was someone from the bank coming to foreclose on the farm and throw them out was hesitant when the rider asked if she had any food to feed a hungry man.
The woman replied that she had enough for the three of them. The man thanked her, cleaned up and came inside. During the course of the meal it came out that she and her family were to lose the farm if her husband didn’t return with $500 dollars before Monday. The man smiled, did some chores in the yard prior to leaving. The husband, away working had no idea when the bank was going foreclose.
I don’t know what day of the week this occurred but on Saturday night she heard a loud thump at the door followed by a rush of hoof beats as the horse raced away. The woman, scared, opened the door to find a large flour sack with a smaller sack of flour, a side of bacon and a smaller, heavier bag. She lit a candle, and opened the small sack, there was $500 in gold coins inside of the sack.
The woman was sure that this was an answer to prayers, awaited Monday with a smile. Monday came and so did the banker. The woman paid the man the $500 much to his dismay. He climbed back into his wagon and drove back down the tree lined lane, as he neared the end of the lane a man on horseback came from behind one of the trees and stopped in the middle of the road with his rife pointed at the banker.
The banker stopped the wagon and the man walked his horse up to the banker and handed him a sheet of paper. He then instructed the banker to write a receipt for the $500 as payment in full on the farm. He then robbed the banker of that $500. He left with the promise that if he did anything to harm this family or take possession of their ranch, he, Butch Cassidy, would make sure that the banker would have nothing left when he got through with him.
It must have worked, the family kept the farm.