Norman Rockwell’s work wasn’t the only thing bringing crowds to the Museum of Northwest Colorado Saturday.
A large contingent from Craig and the surrounding area also came to meet and speak with Bill Betenson, a great-grand-nephew to Butch Cassidy and author of the new book, "Butch Cassidy, My Uncle: a Family Portrait." Betenson signed books, did a short presentation about his book and research and met with visitors at the museum from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Rockwell's work has been on display throughout the summer and will be available at the museum through Nov. 2.
During his presentation, Betenson spoke about how his fascination with Butch Cassidy began, when he attended the movie premiere of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" at age 4 with his great-grandmother, Lula Parker. Lula was Cassidy’s younger sister. Cassidy's real name was Robert Leroy Parker.
“I remember watching and thinking that was the coolest thing in the world,” Betenson said.
Eventually, Betenson would turn that passion for Cassidy into 22 years of research and a book.
He also gave a quick account of Cassidy’s life and talked about what he knew of Cassidy’s effect on his family. As would be the case with many people today, Cassidy’s family did not approve of his outlaw lifestyle, according to Betenson’s conversations with Lula Parker.
“He had a devout Mormon mother (Annie Parker), and she walked the field of their ranch crying of heartbreak over her outlaw sons,” Betenson said.
Betenson also took questions from those who had turned up and filled the seats set up at the museum. He was asked a wide variety of questions, including what he had heard about certain Butch Cassidy rumors or what he knew about Cassidy’s dealings in Wyoming.
But the most famous Cassidy mystery was brought up most of the time. Many think Cassidy died with Sundance in Bolivia after going to South America. But Lula Parker claimed he returned to the United States. While Betenson chooses to believe his great-grandmother’s story, he acknowledged the truth still is unknown.
“That’s a mystery and debate that will probably go on all our lives and beyond,” he said.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org