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As an academic, the onus is on me to not stray too far from the facts. When I make an assertion, it needs to be substantiated in the literature or as an outcome of my research. If not, I have to qualify the statement with ‘may be’ or similar. In this professional blog I have a bit more leeway, which I enjoy, but I never lose sight of how my writing affects my reputation as an authoritative voice.
My guest blogger, Brian Mida Bleecker, has more freedom than I do to opine, draw conclusions and speculate. Therefore, while I stand behind all of my own statements on the Dowe photo, most significantly my conclusions that it depicts Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Brian’s comments expressed below (unexpurgated) are by him and him alone.
Brian is an Old West art/artifacts trader and an archival/conservationist framer. Brian is a collector by profession and inclination, and for many years had a shop in Old Town Temecula California, a historic Old West town that was once a stop on the Butterfield Stage route. For the past two years he has been researching the known histories of Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh as part of the background to the Dowe photo, particularly the early days of their outlaw careers as they gained their reputation as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He has also been investigating the work and travels of the photographer of the Dowe photograph, Oscar S. Dowe.
Here Brian talks about his perspectives on the many barriers to popularizing newly-proven Wild West artifacts on the world stage.
Guest Blogger Brian Mida Bleecker
Brian Mida Bleecker with Dowe photograph (© BMBC)
There is only one historian on Earth claiming that The New Evidence is Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid – that is me. Hundreds of Wild West experts, reporters, publishers, and academicians have been officially notified. Three different versions of The New Evidence have been tossed onto the internet. The Scar on Butch Cassidy’s face has been matched! Yet, there is nothing but silence from a world afraid to think for itself.
It is strange to be all alone with history, gazing at these high-resolution images, into the eyes of men who would one day be so revered by those who cannot manage to recognize them. Dr Caldwell also knows this twilight zone. She has emailed many of her fellow researchers, declaring her stunning confirmation, only to receive a hail of deafening silence. It is hard to know whether they think they can disprove us or merely languish in deep denial.
Old to Young Regression
It is quite difficult to surmise the appearance of young 19th-century celebrities, before their fame, from just a photo or two taken during their heyday. Hair and clothing styles changed constantly, just like now, and photography itself was an evolving affair. Furthermore, the ability to identify thirty-somethings in their early twenties is demonstrably rare among the uninitiated, and virtually absent amongst the predisposed. Such is certainly the case with The New Evidence. Most people have formed their extended concept of the Wild Bunch from the Fort Worth Five photo, taken in 1900. And, let’s face it, for most purposes (chat rooms, drinking bets, theme parties, etc.) that is sufficient.
Now, tell folks they must pull Butch & Sundance from the Texas saloon, strip them of their fancy derbies, unbreak their noses, and send them sailing backwards in time eleven years, dressed as young mineral investors, to a travelling photography tent in Southwest Colorado. Well now, that is going to require some imagination, intelligence, and maybe even some independent thought. Heck, during all that thinking, one might even discover things about these famed outlaws that do not fit one’s pre-conceptions. Ooh, that could get real messy.
Let’s cut to the chase, instead. People cannot see that which they have already chosen not to see.
Mysterious Fourth Man
The digital age excels at casting light on new discoveries and this one is particularly consequential. My studies indicate that The New Evidence dates to June of 1889, and that it reveals volumes about the early association of these two famous outlaws. Now would not be a good time for turning blind eyes to such an important development in Wild West research. The following is a perfect example.
Eye-witness accounts from 1889 implicate four riders in the June 24th robbery of the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride, Colorado. This has become known as Butch Cassidy’s first major heist, although at that time he was known by his birth name, Robert Parker. Newspapers of the day, including the Pueblo Daily Chieftain (below), spread the word about this brazen daylight crime, which netted the perpetrators over $20,000. 
1889 Pueblo Daily Chieftain News: A Bank Robbery at Telluride.
Special to Denver Times- Silverton, Colo., June 25.— Sheriff May, of San Juan county, was notified yesterday that three men had robbed the San Miguel Valley bank of Telluride of its loose cash and escaped with their plunder, going in the direction of the Ute reservation. The report stated that they entered the bank soon after it opened for business, while the cashier was out making collections and the bookkeeper was alone. The latter was overpowered and compelled to do their bidding on peril of his life. A fourth man held their horses while they were in the bank, and the four rode away before the bookkeeper could give the alarm. The last heard of the robbers was at Trout lake between Rico and Telluride, evidently intending to convey the belief that they were heading for Arizona; but as they are believed to be familiar with the country in and around the Sierra La Salle mountains it is believed by all that they will endeavor to reach Utah. Strong posses are in hot pursuit from Telluride, and the authorities at Durango, Rico and Grand river have been notified to organize and head them off if possible. The amount stolen is about: $20,750. The depositors will suffer no loss, as the officers and stockholders are wealthy. 
Yet, the dossier on this event has always been incomplete. Events during the posse chase and subsequent investigation identified three of the bandits: Robert Parker, Matt Warner, and Tom McCarty. However, the fourth bandit was not named by detectives or by later personal accounts. Living descendants of Harry Longabaugh insist to this day that their ancestor, the Sundance Kid, was that fourth man.  Until now, there has been no solid indication of Longabaugh’s participation, although many authors have speculated. While it may not be outright proof of Harry’s involvement, The New Evidence strongly implicates him as the unknown Telluride bandit.
And there is so much more to learn…
You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to read the rest of Brian’s comments!
 According to Historical Currency Conversions (Alan Eliason), $20,000 dollars in 1889 had the same buying power as $525,051 current dollars. https://futureboy.us/fsp/dollar.fsp Accessed 28 Dec. 2017
 Pueblo Daily Chieftain. Wednesday Morning, June 26, 1889. p.1 Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/cgi-bin/colorado?a=d&d=CFT18890626-01.2.10&e=–1888—1889–en-20–21–txt-txIN-Telluride——-0- Accessed 10 December 2017
 Patterson, Richard, Butch Cassidy: A Biography; 1998, University of Nebraska Press, pages 21-31
© BMBC means Copyright Brian Mida Bleecker Collection