THE SUNDANCE KID - alias HIRAM BEBEE
by Kerry Ross Boren
WEDNESDAY,April 6, 1949 - THE OLD man would be seventy-nine years old in a little less than two weeks. He looked harmless enough, weighing barely more than one hundred twenty pounds, and looking even less due to his small, wasted frame which had suffered from a rare disease for more than forty years.
The one outstanding characteristic of the old man was his long flowing hair and beard, white with age, but which adorned his head like a crown, of which he was inordinately proud. The only other noticeable trait at that moment was his belligerent demeanor.
"God Damn you, warden ... if you cut my hair, I'll come back from the grave and haunt you! I swear it! " Two burly guards grabbed him by either arm and lifted his feet completely off the floor and set him into the barber chair in the upper floor room of the Utah State Prison at " Sugarhouse, " a section of Salt Lake City, but they didn't keep him there for long. Surprisingly strong for his age and build, he overcame the guards and wrestled them to the floor, and several more had to be called to assist. Eventually, though, they secured him to the chair.
The long white locks fell to the floor in a heap as the prison barber reluctantly sheared the old man, shaving off both his hair and beard in one operation. As the hair dropped off, a tear rolled down the old man's cheek, and he became suddenly docile. Bald and clean-shaven, he was robbed of his pride and dignity, and Hiram Bebee was led back to his cell without protest...
As a historian and founder of the National Association and Center for Outlaw/Lawman History at Utah State University (presently at the University of Wyoming), I spent many years pursuing the elusive trail of this colorful man, and was the first to divulge his alter ego.
However, aside from a few brief mentions - such as a television documentary I did in 1980 the real story of Utah State Prison's most infamous resident has never been told. It is here presented for the first time.
In recent years, whenever the name of the Sundance Kid is mentioned, there is instant recognition. The popularity of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid brought attention to this enigmatic character of the Old West, but even though a flood of information came forth on the life and times of this man, little was really ever known about him outside of speculation and legend.
Harry Alonzo Longabaugh was born April 19, 1868 (by his own statement, however, April 19, 1870), in Phoenixville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, near the little town of Montrose on the Schuykill River, a son and one of five children born to Josiah and Annie G. (Place) Longabaugh. On August 20, 1882, he left home at the age of 14 and, influenced by dime novels he had read, headed West. He left clarinet lessons, a literary society, and the YMCA to join his elder brother, Elwood, who had gone to San Francisco. From August 5, 1887 until February 4, 1889, he served a term in the Crook County, Wyoming jail at Sundance for the theft of a horse and saddle.
Later, at Brown's Park, a notorious outlaw stronghold on the Utah-Colorado-Wyoming border, Longabaugh was given the nickname of "That Sundance Kid" by a man named Cleophas J. Dowd, who hired the young man to break horses. Dowd, who had been schooled in ballistics at the University of San Francisco, who was perhaps the west's greatest gunman, taught the Kid how to shoot, and his prowess with a gun became legendary.
There is little need here to recount the exploits of the Sundance Kid, for that has been ably
done in numerous history books. Suffice it to say that Harry Longabaugh became a member of the infamous Wild Bunch, and a life-long associate of its leader, Butch Cassidy.
Longabaugh was one of the most prolific bank and train robbers in the history of the American West, and, without question, a ruthless and cold-blooded killer.
On February 20, 190 1, Longabaugh, Cassidy, and Etta Place (Longabaugh's beautiful cousin) checked out of their second floor suite in a boarding house at 234 Twelfth Street in New York City (now the location of the Greenwich Theater). Cassidy headed west to rob the Great Northern train near Wagner, Montana, while Sundance and Etta, using the aliases of "Mr. and Mrs. Harry A. Place," boarded the British freighter Herminius, operated by the R.P. Houston and Co. at Pier 32, and sailed for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Cassidy joined them there shortly thereafter.
The Bandidos Yanqui, as they were called there, established a ranch at Rio Pico in the Chubut Valley, near the villages of Cholila and Esquel, in the Districte 16 de Octobere of Argentina. It was a beautiful region of mountains and lakes surrounded by the pampas - not unlike the Great American West from when they had fled. A neighbor at Cholila, Senora Blanca de Gerez (who was living as recently as 1971), reported that the trio left Cholila in 1907. Butch had become interested in a senorita in Buenos Aires Etta had an affair with a neighboring Scottish rancher named John Gardner, Sundance set out to kill Gardner, who fled to Ireland, but the harm was already done. The Kid was already the target of several local ranchers whose wives he himself had compromised. In the spring of 1907 he wrote to a Friend, "Today we leave Cholila. I don't care to see Chubut ever more."
In the spring of 1910 Sundance (using the alias of Bob Evans) was camping in the cordilleras with young Lew McCarty (alias Willie "Kid" Wilson) when they were surrounded by a posse from the province, and riddled with bullets. McCarty was killed instantly and Sundance was shot through the lungs. He was able to ride to the nearby home of a German immigrant named Eduoard Hahn where he was nursed back to health.
In the late years, Mrs. Hahn recalled when the posse rode up to her doorstep, they displayed the grisly relic of the severed head of young McCarty, and asked her to pickle it in ajar so they could preserve it for the reward! At that moment, Sundance was recuperating from his wound in a back room of the Hahn house. (When the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid premiered in Buenos Aires in 1970, a member of this posse, 103 year-old Pedro Pena, residing in a nursing home, reapplied for the reward!)
The Sundance Kid next appeared in Nicaragua as a gun-runner with soldier-of-fortune Tracy Richardson during the Revolution of 1911, where he became adept in the use of a wagon-mounted machine gun. As early as 1906 he had been involved in gun smuggling in Chile, and Etta had paid $1500 to one of her influential relatives in the British Embassy at Santiago to save him from going to prison.
In 1912 Sundance appeared in Chihuahua, Mexico under the alias of Tex McGraf where he worked for a time on the huge Lord Beresford ranch. He also worked as a gunfighter for William Randolph Hearst on his massive Babicora Ranch in Chihuahua. The million-and-a-half acre Babicora had been protected under the regime of Hearst's friend, President Porfirio Diaz, but with Diaz' overthrow in 1911, the Babicora was overrun and looted by irregulars under Pancho Villa, who stole more than sixty thousand head of cattle. Later the ranch was occupied by the Carranza forces and Hearst formed a one hundred-man army of his "Vaqueros," under the leadership of "Tex McGraf" Interestingly enough, one of McGraf s associates in this enterprise was an Oklahoma deputy sheriff he had first met at the St. Louis World's Exposition of 1904- a man who soon became renowned as a silent film western movie star, Tom Mix. They killed more than a score of the bandits in one
pitched battle. After adoption of the new constitution of 1917, the new president of Mexico, Alvaro Obregon, became a Hearst supporter and the ranch flourished.
During this period, Sundance (McGraf) lived in the Mormon town of Colonia Dublan, with the family of Nephi Thayne, president of the Chihuahua branch of the Mormon Church.
It was no coincidence that Sundance chose this family with whom to reside, for Nephi Thayne was his brother-in-law. In January, 190 1, shortly before leaving for South America, Sundance had married pretty Annie Marie Thayne, daughter of John Johnson Thayne, Mormon bishop of Wellington, Utah (with whose polygamous family Etta Place had lived as a girl). The staunchly religious father disowned his daughter for her choice of husbands and she was compelled to leave home, her plight worsened by the fact that she was pregnant and abandoned by Sundance when he fled to South America. Annie Thayne Longabaugh gave birth to a son - Harold Thayne Longabaugh late in 190 1, and she was killed in a train wreck in Oregon several years later. Her son was raised in a foster family and only discovered his true identity many years later, when he met his father in a hotel in the State of Washington, under the alias of Hiram Bebee. Harold Thayne Longabaugh died in a tragic hotel fire in Montana in the 1970s.
The accounts of Sundance's escapades with Pancho Villa in Mexico are legion, and too numerous to recount her. Suffice it to say that he played an instrumental part in the Revolution from 1912-1916. His primary function was to demonstrate to Villa and his men how to stop and hold up trains to secure money and arms shipments. Butch Cassidy, using the alias Tod McClamy, assisted in many of these forays.
After a tour of England, Ireland, France, and Austria (at Vienna, Sundance had a bullet removed from the small of his back, near the spine), he enlisted in the army during the First World War. Following this service, Sundance (still using the alias Tex McGraf) made a tour of the Orient, and while in India, picked up a religious philosophy which became the guiding force in his life. He became a devotee of Omar Khayam, practiced yoga, and spouted oriental philosophy like a scholar. His health declining, he would eat nothing but Ralston food products, believing them to have
Following the war, "Tex McGraf ' returned to the United States and lived for a time at Bums, Oregon. "Cactus" Pete Smythe knew him there in about 1919, and recalled that he was often drunk and boasted about his escapades in the war and with Pancho Villa in Mexico. Smythe reported that ) by this time, McGraf was "a skinny man approaching fifty years old, but looked a lot like a kid because of his slight frame. He was a little hunch-backed, which he said was due to a spinal disease, but he was quick as a cat and could handle a gun like you would not believe. He made a lot of enemies in and around Bums because of his uncontrollable temper."
One night McGraf became so intoxicated he shot up the local hotel and was forced to leave Bums, Oregon "between days." During the early 1920's, Sundance joined the Weaver Gang in the mid-west. This gang rivaled that of Capone for prominence, terrorizing Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and numerous other states with boot-legging, bank robbery, hijacking, and extortion.
At various times this gang consisted of John Dillinger, George "Machine Gun Kelly, Harvey Bailey, and Pretty Boy Floyd, but it also consisted of several old members of the Wild Bunch, including William "Wild Bill" Cruzans and the Sundance Kid, then using the alias Hiram Bennion.
Another member of the gang at this time was Frank W. O'Banion. O'Banion had been a member of one of Scarface Al Capone's "families," but following a feud between the Capone faction
it a try," he told Kolstrom. Kolstrom instead placed a telephone call to the town marshal, Alonzo Theodore "Lon" Larsen.
Larsen arrived at the bar and approached Bebee's table and asked him his mane. Bebee replied that it was "None of your God-damned business!" The marshal was dressed in civilian clothes, and he therefore opened his vest and showed Bebee his badge. "This makes it my business," Larsen said to the old man. Bebee replied, "That badge don't make you a man."
Larsen then asked Bebee to leave the premises. Bebee stared coldly at him and defied the marshal to move him. With surprising quickness, Larsen grabbed Bebee by the shirt-collar and pulled him from behind the table. Then, taking him by the collar and the seat of his trousers, Larsen bodily removed Bebee from the bar. At the door, Larsen stumbled, and both of them fell to their knees. Larsen then recovered and twisted Bebee's arm behind his back and pushed Bebee across the sidewalk and, still being cursed by the old man, shoved him into the cab of Millet's red pickup truck parked near the curb. Bebee's feet were still hanging out of the truck and the marshal pushed them inside and slammed the door shut.
Larsen turned away to re-enter the bar, stopping briefly to speak to Mrs. Bebee, who was just coming out of the nearby drugstore. Glame Bebee distracted the marshal and confronted him with the words, "What are you doing to my husband?" While Larsen's back was turned, Bebee pulled his gun and fired, the bullet piercing Larsen's left arm.
As the marshal fell to the sidewalk, Bebee came up swiftly and pointed the gun at him again. Screaming as he pulled the trigger a second time, "Take that, you little pup!" The second bullet entered Larsen's body near the lower ribs and came out high in the middle of his back. Bebee later claimed that he thought the marshal was going for his own gun, but it was eventually proved that Larsen was unarmed.
By this time, Glame Bebee and Paul Millet had come out of the bar, and the three jumped into the red pickup truck and speeded off toward the nearby town of Moroni. At Moroni, Bebee and his companions were stopped by Moroni City Marshal Russell Bailey who attempted to take Bebee's truck keys from him.
Bebee again pulled his pistol and placed it under the marshal's nose, saying coldly, "If you don't hand over those keys, I'll drill you like I did that guy in Mt. Pleasant." Bailey promptly returned the keys and the trio freely gave him their names and address before driving off, and Bailey quickly placed a call to the Sanpete County Sheriff, Ulysses Larsen (no relation to the murdered marshal).
Bebee and his companions continued on to their rented house in Spring City where Frank W. O'Banion was awaiting them. It will be remembered that O'Banion was a former member of the Capone and Weaver gangs in Chicago.
Sheriff Ulysses Larsen, who was a personal friend of Bebee, speeded to Spring City from Manti where he arrived between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. to discover thirty to forty armed men already waiting at the house. When the Sheriff approached the door, O'Banion opened it a crack and Larsen asked to come in and talk with Bebee. Bebee said it would be all right, if the sheriff came in alone.
However, just at that moment, Lt. Paul M. Christison and Patrolman Reed Collard of the State Highway Patrol, and Juab County Deputy sheriff. E. Winn of Nephi, Utah arrived and walked to the door behind Sheriff Larsen, unseen by Bebee and his companions. When Larsen entered the door, the three officers forced their way in behind him and leveled their guns on Bebee and his companions, taking them by surprise. O'Banion tried to slam the door in their faces, but he was overpowered and thrown to the floor.I At first Bebee refused to surrender his gun, because quite a few armed men entered the house after the lawmen stormed through the door, and he turned his weapon over only after being threatened by a show of arms. Bebee remarked, as he handed over his gun, that he had never been so careless in the past or the lawmen would not have come through the door alive. "I guess I'm getting old," he remarked laconically.
Later, he admitted that he might have still shot -it out with the lawmen and bragged. "Hell, there was only four of 'em. I could have taken them easily, but the house was surrounded by farmers. There wasn't much sense trying to take on the whole country."
The lawmen disarmed Bebee and his companions and placed them under arrest. Searching the house, they discovered a veritable arsenal of weapons. Glame Bebee asked if she could get her coat from a closet because it was cold outside, and the lawmen agreed. Patrolman Collard became suspicious, however, and followed her to the closet where she was in the process of removing a handgun from her coat. Collard seized the gun from her hand and subdued her.
Because of the high feeling in Sanpete County, the four spent only one night in the jail at Manti, and were taken to jail in Salt Lake City for safe keeping. Bebee was charged with first degree murder and held without bail. Glame Bebee was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and released on $5000 bail. Millet was charged with being an accessory to the crime and O'Banion for obstructing an officer in the performance of his duty.
Bebee was questioned for information, but he remained elusive, spouting religious quotations and passages from Omar Khayam, and what information he did give was dubious. When asked his age he replied, " Oh, I don't know. I forgot that long ago. I must be over 100, because I was a young man during the Civil War. " When asked where he was born, he replied, "Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean. "
Much of the information that he gave proved to be true on further investigation. He claimed to have used the alias of "George Hanlon" in California, "Ali Benoadas" in Colorado and California, and "Hi Bebee" in Oregon; but when it was discovered that he had served time in San Quentin, he immediately clammed up. Investigators then discovered that on the San Quentin record, he had given his birth date as April 19, 1870, and his birthplace as being near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This showed him to be 75 years of age, rather than over 100 as he claimed. No one noted it at the time, but the date of birth and location were identical to those of Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid.
Meanwhile, the funeral of Marshal Lon T. Larsen was held in Mt. Pleasant at the South LDS Ward Chapel on Friday, October 19, 1945. John B. McCallister, a close friend and neighbor, who also happened to be the Sanpete County Attorney who brought charges against Bebee, delivered the eulogy.
Larsen was well liked in the community. He was born July 23, 1905 in Mt. Pleasant, son of Andrew and Christina Mateson Larsen, and had lived his entire life in Mt. Pleasant. On September 1, 1937 he had married Helen Jones, and he was survived by several brothers and sisters. The feeling against Bebee was at fever pitch.
The Mount Pleasant Pyramid newspaper printed an article which contributed to public resentment, saying, in part, "It is believed that some expense would have been saved if the sheriff had not been at the scene of the gathering of all those weapons." At the end of this article in bold face type appeared the following:
Eyewitness saw Lon Larsen shot and killed by a man identified by the sheriff as Hiram Bebee. Why Wait?
Another newspaper, in describing the funeral services of the popular marshal, printed the
President S.M. Nielson spoke of the responsibilities carried by Lon and paid high tribute to his character and then he chided society for opening the way for "such degraded trash" to come into our midst and live among respectable people, as did these depraved and degraded outlaws, who struck down this good man. He said the government appropriates funds to destroy predatory animals and little or nothing is done to destroy such demons as those who kill law abiding citizens without cause.
Hiram Bebee secured the legal efforts of a young Salt Lake City attorney named E. Leroy Shields, and his five-day trial began on February5, 1946 in the Sanpete County Courthouse, Seventh District Court, before Judge John H. Hougaard. Duane A. Frandsen, District Attorney in that district, prosecuted the case. Among the witnesses presented was Kanute Kolstrom, the Mt. Pleasant bar owner, and several others.
On February14, 1946 - VALENTINE'S DAY -- Defense attorney Shields submitted a motion to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter, but Judge Hougaard denied the motion. On Saturday, February 16, 1946, Wilford Winch, jury foreman, entered the courtroom and rendered the verdict following a deliberation of one hour and ten minutes, The verdict was guilty of murder in the first degree. Because there was no recommendation for leniency, under Utah law Bebee would automatically suffer the death penalty. He would be given a choice of death by hanging or by firing squad.
Following the guilty verdict, Bebee was remanded to the custody of his friend, Sheriff Ulysses Larsen, who transported him to Salt Lake County Jail for safe keeping, due to the many threats against him in Sanpete County.
On Monday, February25, 1946, at 3 p.m. Bebee appeared before Judge Hougaard for sentencing. The little courtroom in Manti was filled to overflowing with about seventy-five people crowded inside, some standing due to lack of seating. Judge Hougaard asked Bebee if he knew any legal reason why sentencing should not be passed at that time, to which Bebee replied, "No cause. "
Judge Hougaard then pronounced sentence upon Bebee, stating that he had no choice under the law but to sentence him to death. He then asked Bebee what manner of death he preferred. Without hesitation, Bebee replied, I want to be shot. " Judge Hougaard set the date of execution for April12, 1946.
Bebee was received at the Utah State Prison, in the Surgarhouse section of Salt Lake City, on the same day of sentencing, and appeals in his case began. After serving one year, four months, and six days, the Utah Supreme Court overturned his sentence due to prejudice in Sanpete County, and he was granted a new trial with a change of venue to Carbon County, Utah.
Calvin L. Rampton was the Assistant Utah Attorney General in1946, having recently returned from service in World War 11. He was one of those in charge of arranging a new trial for Bebee according to the Supreme Court ruling dated December 18, 1946.
Rampton, who later became Governor of Utah, in an interview with Lisa Lee Boren, in
February, 1988, recalled meeting Bebee at the Sugarhouse Prison, and informed him that he would need another defense attorney in order to get the appeal processed.
"I recall that Bebee was a frail man, but clean, however bearded. He was opinionated, dogmatic, and not at all civil. His language was very harsh. "
The new trial was held before Judge F. W. Keller in the Carbon County Courthouse in Price, Utah. The prosecuting attorney again was Duane A. Frandsen. Ironically, Judge Keller was a longtime Friend of reformed outlaw Matt Warner, a former associate of the Sundance Kid, who died in 1938.
Bebee was once again convicted of murder in the first degree, but this time the jury recommended leniency, but to everyone's surprise, Judge Keller ignored the recommendation and again sentenced Hiram Bebee to death. Perhaps Keller knew of the deep-rooted animosity between his old Friend Matt Warner (who was also a judge in Carbon County some years earlier) and the Sundance Kid, a.k.a. Hiram Bebee. More likely, however, he was not even aware of the man's real identity. Bebee was recommitted to prison on July 1, 1947.
On Friday, September 7, 1948, Bebee, dressed in white silk shirt, long black tie and "westernstyle trousers," appeared before the Board of Pardons to petition for commutation of sentence from death to life imprisonment. A large delegation from Sanpete County appeared at the hearing to protest the commutation, among them J. Berkeley Larsen, brother of the slain marshal, and Helen Larsen, widow of the murdered man.
L.R. Christensen told the Board, "There is nothing in or out of the record to warrant commutation of sentence. There is nothing sacred in a long, disguising beard, and old age certainly offers no license for crime. The fact that this prisoner could in cold blood and broad daylight shoot a man down is evidence of his deep and evil nature. Justice in this case will be satisfied with nothing less than the death penalty."
Support for commutation came from Glame Bebee, Frank W. O'Banion, Paul A. Millet, and Alfred Sorenson, who said he had known Bebee once twelve years before, in about 1934. Sorenson declared that when Bebee was bodily removed from the beer parlor and placed in the cab of the truck, it engendered a fear in him that he would suffer bodily violence.
"That instinctive fear is faster and quicker than any mental process. Under fear and terror people do unreasonable, foolish things which overtake their reason." said Sorenson.
Paul A. Millet gave his version of events and charged that Sanpete County Attorney John McCallister had told him there was no real case against Bebee, and that Sheriff Ulysses Larsen had advised Millet to take Bebee and hide out in Robber's Roost or the Henry Mountains, areas that Bebee was familiar with from his early days as an outlaw in Utah, Justice Roger 1. McDonough, one of the Board members, called this claim "preposterous."
Frank O'Banion said Bebee would "not hurt anyone without provocation," and Glame Bebee
said that her husband had "been all but murdered several times," which was the reason he packed a gun. Asked why, she said, "Because he had been teaching people to know the constitution and stand by it."
She then became so emotional and incoherent that it became necessary to terminate the hearing.
The Board of Pardons denied Bebee's petition for commutation. When asked by reporters how he felt about it, he replied, "Those men have done what they think is the right thing. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't make any difference.
I still don't believe they know all of the true facts and circumstances; still I hold no malice toward them or any other person on the face of the earth."
Interviewed by reporters, the old man revealed much of his character. When asked why he had shot Marshal Larsen, Bebee replied: "He disturbed my dynamic balance and I let him have it."
One reporter asked him how old he really was, and Bebee pointed out of his cell window toward the nearby Wasatch Range and replied, "Do you see that mountain over there? Well, I was here before that mountain was created, and I'll be here long after it's gone. They can kill my body, but they can't destroy me. I will live forever."
On Thursday, November 18, 1948, at 9 a.m., Hiram Bebee appeared once again before the Board of Pardons. The same Sanpete County protest group appeared at the prison and both sides spoke to Governor Herbert B. Maw and his Board associates, Attorney General Grover A. Giles, and Chief Justice Roger 1. McDonough, the latter of whom became ill during the session and excused himself The Board recessed at 6 p.m.
On Friday at 3 p.m. the Board met again - minus McDonough - to determine the fate of Hiram Bebee. E. Leroy Shields, defense attorney, told the Board that he received "about $100" for three year's work and expenses, and that he was only defending Bebee because he believed in justice and that, when the Carbon County jury had granted leniency, it should have eliminated the threat of the death penalty against his client.
Three prominent Salt Lake attorneys - Willard Hanson, Ray S. McCarty, and Harley W. Gustin -who said they did not know either Bebee or his victim, pleaded the law, stating that leniency must be given to Bebee as it had been given to others under the same circumstances for some years before.
Governor Maw and Attorney General Giles had a conflicting schedule, and postponed their decision until the following Monday, November 22, 1948. When at last they came back with their verdict, it was in Bebee's favor; his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Bebee then settled into prison life, but confinement did not depreciate his notoriety. Within a short time he had organized the other inmates into disciples of his unique religious philosophy, and they would do nothing without his express consent or order. Prison staff lost control of the inmates while Bebee exerted his power over them.
Bebee claimed that he possessed the power of mesmerization and that this, as well as other powers, were contained in his long hair, like Sampson of old. He organized religious services wherein he read passages from Omar Khayam and other eastern philosophers, as well as passages from scripture. While it was being claimed in the press that he was an avowed atheist, this does not appear to have been the case. His strange religious beliefs merely did not constitute the accepted form of theology.
Warden Mason I-Ell had lost control of the prison population, and he came to realize that the only way to regain that control was to stifle Bebee's influence. This was easier said than done, because when he threatened to put Bebee into isolation, the other inmates protested that they would riot. Finally, it seemed that the only way to resolve the issue was to take away Bebee's power by cutting his hair.
For several weeks prior to the event, Bebee began to protest, and his notoriety became nationwide. A local newspaper photographer entered the prison to take some candid shots of Bebee in his cell, and caught the old man opening ajar of honey,
SHAVE AND HAIRCUT BOARD ORDERS BEBEE SHEARED
Hiram Bebee's bushy beard and lengthy hair will be shorn Wednesday afternoon at Utah State Prison - and it promises to be the most celebrated haircut since Delilah clipped her boy friend.
That the task will not be an easy one was shown when Warden Mason Hill brought the matter before the Board of Corrections members during a special meeting. He received a unanimous and resounding OK
Just who will wield the scissors and razor wasn't revealed - but it was a safe bet that the diminutive inmate, who once threatened to hurl bottles at reporters when he was roused, will not cooperate.
Be that as it may, Warden Hill, who described the beard and flowing hair as "unsanitary," said the operation will be completed.
And the fiery self-styled philosopher - granted a life sentence after escaping execution by a firing squad - may not be the only inmate to make an unscheduled appearance at the prison's barbershop. Warden Hill told board members he favors getting a standard length for all prison "residents."
As predicted, it was not an easy task to remove Bebee's locks and beard. He fought violently, screaming, "My hair is my own personal property. I need it to keep me warm. "
But the locks came off in spite of his protests, and a bald-headed, bald-faced Hiram Bebee proved to be no threat at all. He became docile and manageable, seemingly unconcerned about life in general. He no longer spouted religious philosophy or granted interviews. He withdrew into his cell and refused to come out.
In 1952, when Bebee was eighty-two years of age, the old prison at Sugarhouse was closed permanently and, together with the entire male population, he was moved to the new facility at "Point of the Mountain," about twenty miles south of Salt Lake City, and housed on B Block.
Glame Bebee, ever faithful, rented a small house in the nearby community of Draper, and visited her husband every Sunday without fail, sometimes walking the ten mile round trip from her home to the prison, regardless of the weather conditions.
Sometimes Frank O'Banion would come down from his home in Murray and drive her out to the prison.
On Sunday, January 4, 1953, Glame Bebee made her usual visit to the prison. As she climbed the entrance steps near the guard tower she collapsed, and was taken inside the prison where a physician pronounced her dead of a heart ailment. She was sixty-seven.
When guards approached Hiram's cell to inform him of his wife's death, only moments after it occurred, he looked at them expressionless and remarked without apparent emotion, "Well, that's her problem, isn't it?"
Hiram Bebee faded into anonymity during the last several years of his life. He died Thursday, June 2, 1955. His obituary appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, June 3, 1955, on page B5:
DEATH CLAIMS BEBEE
IN PRISON CLINIC
dressed only in his long-johns. Angered at the invasion of his privacy, Bebee threw the jar of honey at the photographer, breaking it on the bars of the cell, as he cursed and raged. The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday, April 6, 1949, the day of the event, gave the following account:
A colorful chapter in Utah's criminal history closed Thursday morning when white bearded, convicted murdered Hyram Bebee died at Utah State Prison or causes incident to age.
Death came at8:3 5 a.m. while the wizened, once sharp-tongued inmate lay in a coma in the prison hospital, where he had been confined periodically for nearly a year.
Although an atheist and practitioner of Yoga, Bebee, according to prison doctor J.O. Jones, "softened in the last days and lost his past braggadocio."
.... Bebee's pride and joy, his beard, brought him national attention in1949 when Mason Hill, warden at the time, ordered Bebee's long hair and whiskers shorn. Regulations were enforced, and the inmate was subjected to what he termed just another attempt to regiment him into society's pattern.
Funeral arrangements for the man who said he would "live forever" were not complete Thursday and prison officials still were attempting to locate relatives.
Hiram Bebee was buried in the pauper's section of the Salt Lake City cemetery, not too distant from the grave of his common law wife, Glame.
Verification of the identity of Hiram Bebee being identical with Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, alias Sundance Kid, has been obtained from several reliable sources. The most pertinent of these is the family of Longabaugh himself, notably his nephew, William Longabaugh of Pennsylvania, who provided information from the diary of Samana Longabaugh Hallman, sister of the Sundance Kid. Of course, Hiram Bebee provided verification of his own, albeit unwittingly, when he supplied his birth date and place for the record at San Quentin. Further proof was provided by one of the sons of Paul A. Millet, who kept notes on the life story of Hiram Bebee, prior to his own death in1956. There can be very little doubt that Hiram Bebee was the notorious outlaw known to western history as the Sundance Kid.
During the late1970's, this writer interviewed Dr. J. 0. Jones at his home in Midvale, Utah. Dr. Jones, then well advanced in years, had been the attending physician at the prison during the final year of Bebee's life.
Dr. Jones verified two important factors which not only verified Bebee's true identity, but explained a mysterious facet
of his past life. The good doctor indicated that Bebee had long suffered from a "degenerate spinal disease," probably brought about due to a bullet wound near the spinal column, which had, in connection with another malady that was either malaria or syphilis, caused him to waste away to a mere semblance of his former stature. This malady had likely aided him in disguising his true identity, especially from the persistent Pinkertons. Moreover, Dr. Jones recalled several bullet wounds and scars which matched those of known wounds inflicted upon the Sundance Kid during his notorious career.
The fife and death of the Sundance Kid has been frequently depicted in books and movies, and his deeds have been glorified in legend. But in the life and death of his alter ego, Hiram Bebee, history is more circumspect, and the truth emerges as a lesson for all who may have believed otherwise -- Crime does not pay!
EPELOGUE - A PEACE OFFICER REMEMBERS HIRAM BEBEE
. When Hiram Bebee first arrived in Southern Utah, he made his presence known by his erratic behavior. On October 17, 1935, he was charged with malicious mischief On June 18, 1938, he was charged with vulgar and abusive language, for which he got six months in jail in November 1938.
Upon completion of his jail sentence, Hiram Bebee rented a house and property just across the old bridge spanning the Virgin River in the little town of Rockville, Utah, close to Zion National Park. Here he lived with his common-law wife Glame, Paul Millet, and Frank O'Banion. The house was rented from Arthur Terry, and, in 1980, eighty-eight year old Marvin Terry, Arthur's brother, remembered the unlikely little group. He recalled that Bebee was about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, sturdily built, sometimes smooth-shaven, sometimes with a beard. He described Bebee as a "grouchy egotist" who traded at Terry's general market which is now a residence.
Terry recalled that Bebee would sit in front of his house and watch the cars driving along the state road across the river. Terry's father was accustomed to taking a short-cut across Bebee's land on his way to visit one of his sons. One afternoon as Terry passed the house, Bebee began "yelling and cussing" at him, brandishing a gun, and warning him that if he ever caught him there again he would shoot him. The elder Terry complained to the sheriff who paid a visit to Bebee, warning him not to repeat the threat.
Local residents believed that Bebee and O'Banion were boat-lagers; they peddled small bottles of "mineral water." Lieutenant W.R. Regland of the district attorney's office in Las Vegas, Nevada, a native of Rockville, remembered Bebee living there with a woman he described as being very large. Regland recalled that none of the strange little group liked to mingle with people. Not long after this, under pressure from local residents, Bebee and his followers left town, next appearing at the little town of Redmond, and at Fountain Green.
Kennard Anderson, who is presently County Bailiff at Gunnison, Utah, served as Sanpete County Sheriff for eight years, and has been a member of law enforcement for twenty-five years. In a recent letter, written expressly for this article, Mr. Anderson recounted his memory of Hiram Bebee:
In the fall of 1943, I was on convalescent leave from the army after having appendix surgery. I returned home to Redmond, my home town, two or three days before the opening of the annual Utah Deer Hunt. I and a friend of mine decided to go deer hunting.
One afternoon we rode our saddle horses to the foothills west of Redmond to site (sic) in our rifles. While we were there, we heard shooting around the city dump so we rode our horses over to see who was doing the shooting. There was an old man there who had a beard that came down to his chest, and he was target practicing at old cans and bottles in the area. He was Hiram Bebee.
My friend asked if we could shoot his pistols so he put one-round in each pistol and gave them to us. Then he said, "now boys, I will show you how this is done." He loaded up both pistols and then he found an empty milk can, and I remember it was'Morning Milk.' He tossed the can in front of him about 20 ft., and started to fire the pistols, one in each hand. The can flew! I believe he hit the can almost every shot!
Sheriff Anderson had heard rumors that the old man was the legendary Sundance Kid.
"I didn't have much doubt about it after I saw him use those guns," Anderson said in an interview. "I figure I used his guns that day in Redmond, and he didn't shoot me, so I must be one of the gang," the Sheriff grinned, speaking of the Wild Bunch. "And I must be about the only one left who ever shot with him."
1.William Longabaugh, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, nephew of Harry Longabaugh; William
Longabaugh died in 1976.
2.Wyoming Prisoners Register, June 22, 1887, and August 5, 1887.
3.Pinkerton Detective Agency files.
4.In Patagonia , by Bruce Chatwin, Jonathan Cape, Ltd., London.
5.State of Utah v. Hiram Bebee, appeals minutes provided by Utah Governor Calvin L.Rampton, February 1988.
6.Salt Lake Tribune/Deseret News.
7.Manti Messenger-Enterprise, Thursday, June 12, 1980.
Harold Thayne Longabaugh
Cactus Pete Smythe, Burns, Oregon
Clifford McMullin, St. George, Utah
Ethel McMullin George, Leeds, Utah
Reed Collard, Utah Highway Patrol
Calvin L. Rampton, Salt Lake City
Nellie Spilsbury Hatch Romney, Colonia Juarez, Mexico
Kennard Anderson, Gunnison, Utah
1. Longabaugh family Bible; a diary, kept in the bible by Harrys sister, Samona, states:"Phoenixville, August 20, 1882: Harry A. Longabaugh left home for the West."
2. Wyoming Prisoners Register: Harry actually entered the jail on June 22, 1887, andbegan serving his sentence, after trial, on August 5.
3, Pinkerton files: much of the research done on the activities of the trio in New York
City most be attributed to the efforts of Edward M. Kirby, a member of the Outlaw Trail History Association Board of Directors
4. Interview with Mrs. Eduoard Hahn, courtesy Mr. Bruce Chatwin
6.San Francisco Examiner, May 21, 1916
7.Information supplied to author by members of the Thayne family, including Mr. G.Burnett and Mrs. Nellie Spilsbury Romney.
8.Interviews with Harold Thayne Longabaugh.
9.Interviews with Cactus Pete Smythe, Bums, Oregon, 1971-72.
10.Interviews: Clifford McMullin, St. George, Utah; Mrs. Ethel McMullin George,Leeds, Utah
11.Interview with Reed Collard, Utah Highway Patrol.
12.Information supplied by relatives of Lon T. Larsen, Provo, Utah
13.State of Utah v. Hiram Bebee, appeals minutes supplied by Utah Governor Calvin L.Rampton, February 1988.
14.Interview with Calvin L. Rampton, Salt Lake City, Utah by Lisa Lee Boren, February1988.