GREEN RIVER — The Sweetwater County Historical Museum had a special visitor this week: Gaile Meeks, the grand-niece of Henry Rhodes “Bub” Meeks, a member of Butch Cassidy’s “Wild Bunch” gang.
Cassidy – whose real name was Robert Leroy Parker – began his old west criminal career in the 1880s, and his “Wild Bunch,” which included outlaws such as Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, Elzy Lay, Harry Tracy, and George “Flat Nose” Curry, committed a range of bank holdups, train robberies, and livestock thefts over the years.
On August 13, 1896, Cassidy, Lay, and Meeks robbed the bank in Montpelier, Idaho, and got away with about $7,000, which would be well over $200,000 in today’s currency. Meeks was later caught, found guilty at trial, and sentenced to 35 years in the Idaho Penitentiary.
During an escape attempt from the prison, Meeks was shot in the leg. The wound was severe, and the leg was amputated. In 1903, he was judged insane and sent to the Idaho Insane Asylum in Blackfoot from which, despite his missing leg, he was able to successfully escape. He eventually surfaced in Uinta County, Wyoming, where he died at the Wyoming State Insane Asylum in Evanston in 1912.
In the museum’s collection, though not currently on display, is a rifle believed to have been owned by Meeks, a Model 1894 Winchester lever-action carbine chambered for the .25/35 cartridge. According to museum records, it was recovered in the Brown’s Park area by Joe Davenport, who served as a turn-of-the-century deputy sheriff in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, Moffat County, Colorado and, in later years, as a Rock Springs, Wyoming police officer.
Gaile lives in Loveland, Colorado, and was in Green River visiting family. Gaile, who is a historian herself, knew of the Winchester and asked if she might handle it. Museum staff members were happy to comply, and Gaile shared with them anecdotes about her outlaw grand-uncle.