Women Of the Wild West

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Etta Place 

 

Very little is actually known about Etta Place.  She was thought to be romantically linked to both Butch Cassidy and Harry Lonabaugh (the Sundance Kid)

 

Being a very active member of the gang, she was thought to have kept herself off records by assuming several alias’ and never keeping the same name for very long. 

 

The Pinkerton Private Investigation firm tracked her in 1904 to New York where she was thought to have been with Sundance Kid in Tiffany’s buying a lapel pin and watch before making the voyage to South America aboard the British Ship Herminius.  It was on board where the famous photo of her and Sundance, posing as James Ryan, was taken. 

 

They are thought to have settled in Argentina with her being the first woman granted the right to own land.  She and Sundance bought 15,000 acres and 2500 were granted to her under the new laws in the area. 

 

Constantly evading authorities, Etta and Sundance would make several trips to the US for medical reasons.  After nearly being captured in 1904 they escaped back to Argentina, where by this time arrest warrants were being negotiated and they fled to Chile. It is thought that they were involved in the heist of Banco de la Nacion in Villa Mercedes, Chile.  Fleeing to San Francisco, where they laid low until their separation and her eventual return to Argentina alone. 

 

There are several theories about her true identity which a speculated to be;

 

Ethel Bishop, school teacher turned sex worker who was employed at a brothel frequented by the Wild Bunch. 

 

Ann Bassett, the elder of the known Bassett sisters, due to the similarities in their appearance, however their timelines have proved to have too many differences including a time where Bassett was arrested and briefly incarcerated, Place was active in South America.  It is known that Bassett married her first husband in Utah the same year as Place and Sundance were buying land in South America.

 

Eunice Grey, a bordello operator whose timeline mirrors Place, although Grey never made any claims to be Place and photos found in later years would prove that they were indeed two separate women.

 

Madeline Wilson, another sex trade worker, thought to be US born but later proved to be British.

 

Of all the theories, one thing was for sure Etta Place did not want to be discovered and she made sure that she was never caught and tried for crimes in association with the Wild Bunch.