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Bob Goodwin
The Women of Robbers Roost
Sat Feb 3, 2018 8:36am
73.228.72.237

Vince,

There are four, possibly six women (girls) that were associated with Robbers Roost.
Two Women (girls) from Castle Valley were mentioned as being at the Roost early in 1897, and are the ones usually referred to as being with Butch and Elzy over the winter of 1896/7 They were the ones who supposedly bought ammunition and supplies weeks before the Castle Gate hold up. These two were Maude Davis Lay, Elzy Lays wife, and one other, who was probably Sarah Nielsen, daughter of Jens Neilsen. Maude's presence there is not in doubt and is well attested. The other, Sarah Neilsen, was named by Pearl Baker as being one of the possibilities, along with Rose McGuire, and Nancy Ingalls. Rose McGuire was already married by 1897 and could not have been one of the women, Nancy Ingalls was a sickly girl who died right around this time and could not have been there.

Sarah Nielsen, was the daughter of Jens Nielsen. She married John Murning in 1899. John Murning, the son of Peter Murning was also known as Jack Moran, and Sarah his wife was also known as Sadie Moran, Sadie Murning, or Saad Moran. She most certainly knew both Elzy and Butch during the late fall, winter , and spring of 1896/7. Several accounts have Butch and Elzy working at both the Nielsen and Moran, along with the Meeks ranches around Huntington off and on during the fall, winter and spring of 1896/7. Sarah Murning told her children many times that she had acquaintance with Butch and during this time home at the ranch, serving them meals when they were at the ranch. It was one of Sarah's brothers that held the horses at Huntington for them after the robbery. When the posse got there and questioned him, he refused to tell them which direction they had gone. There is every possibility that she accompanied Butch to the Roost at this time, as Butch and Elzy were in and out of the Roost repeatedly over the winter. She is undoubtedly the "other" woman at the Roost referred to in the newspaper stories.

There were also reports after the Castle Gate hold up of women staying at the Roost and going out for supplies and ammunition. These are the women who Charles Kelly was referring to. He just had things mixed up. Who these ladies were is unclear. Kelly names Maggie Blackburn and Millie Nelson, both daughters of local Wayne county residents. There may have also been a mentally handicapped girl that some of the outlaw took advantage of for a while, until they were shamed into returning her home. (yet to be fully investigated)

Whether there is any truth to these last stories and women, ie. Millie and Maggie are true is unclear. For the fact is, there were two other women associated with the Roost, who were there, and actually died retrieve supplies and ammunition for the boys. The were Ella, or Nora (depending on who was writing) Moore, the wife of Jack Moore, and Ella Butler, the wife of Mont Butler whom Jack brought in, along with his wife, from SW Colorado to work at the ranch. Both women have fascinating histories of their own. both are shrouded in mystery. Both Ella's came into the Roost area in 1896. Ella Butler, lived in the Cottrell cabin, the one described by Pocock where she kept house for Mont and the other boys when they were around. She also spent considerable time at the Granite ranch headquarters with Mrs. Jack Moore and J. B. Buhr. She was around during the winter of 1896/6. Mrs, Jack Moore was brought in with Mont Butler. She stayed at the Granite ranch headquarters and nursed J.B. Buhr. until the. two of them left the area in 1899 after the death of Jack Butler in 1898.

So there were four, and possibly six women associated with the Roost during 1897, all of them identified.

  • Re: The two girls at Robbers RoostVince Garcia, Fri Feb 2 12:25pm
    My main interest is the two girls. Assuming he heard the story from locals (who may have had semi-accurate info), he may be pinning down where they may have come from, which is valuable knowledge for ... more
    • The Women of Robbers Roost — Bob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 8:36am
      • Re: The Women of Robbers RoostDaniel Buck, Sat Feb 3 9:25am
        Bob, Thanks. Both your posts this morning are excellent. Do you know any of the women you mentioned were either in the newspapers or known in, say, Monticello, at the time Pocock was coming through?... more
        • re: the Women of Robbers RoostBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 11:43am
          Dan, Ella Butler had left the Roost area around the time of the Springville Bank Robbery. In later life she used the name Florence in California where she was living after 1920. In 1898 Mont Butler,... more
        • re: the Women of Robbers RoostBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 11:17am
          Dan, Ella Butler had left the Roost area around the time of the Springville Bank Robbery. In later life she used the name Florence in California where she was living after 1920. In 1898 Mont Butler,... more
          • re: the Women of Robbers RoostDaniel Buck, Sat Feb 3 12:02pm
            Bob, Thanks. Much appreciated. Your several posts are granular in the best sense of the word. Pocock, p. 289, blends two sets of women into one compound sentence: "The house is cheered by the... more
    • Robbers Roost in 1899Bob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 7:24am
      In spite of Dan's humorous reply, Robbers Roost in 1899 was about as Pocock described it; whether he was actually there or got his information second hand. The Roost by the fall or late summer of... more
    • Re: The two girls at Robbers RoostDaniel Buck, Fri Feb 2 12:48pm
      Vince, here's a question, when we say -- or Pocock says -- Robbers Roost, what are we really talking about. How big an area, smallest to largest estimates? Second, could he not have wandered into the ... more
      • Re: The two girls at Robbers RoostVince Garcia, Fri Feb 2 2:15pm
        That may be true. In fact, he may never have gone further than camp out at the Flattops. What's important to me is the lore about the two girls' place of origin he may have gotten from locals,... more
        • The FlattopsBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 6:44am
          Vince, The Flattops are a good fifteen miles north of the Roost in the middle of the San Rafael Desert. To get there from Monticello would mean taking the northern route to Green River and back down. ... more
        • Re: The two girls at Robbers RoostDaniel Buck, Sat Feb 3 5:06am
          Vince, Read Pocock's Following the Frontier (1903), "The Trail of the Outlaw," but only if you are a glutton for confusion. The chief moment of clarity is p. 287, where he says that he arrived in... more
          • The trail to Robbers RoostBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 6:39am
            Here is the full quote from page 289 (Roger Pocock "Following the Frontier, 1903:" "The tract of land on top of the Orange Cliffs, entirely surrounded by canyons, can only be reached by one or two... more
            • Southwest Coloradojim lynch, Sat Feb 3 11:28am
              For anyone with an interest in that part of Colorado, starting in Grand Junction head east on hi-way 50 towards Delta. Turn south on 141 towards Whitewater and cross the Dolores River. Follow the... more
              • Unaweep CanyonBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 11:38am
                Jim, Unaweep is the route that Pocock took South from Grand Junction following roughly the course of route 141.
              • re: Southwest ColoradoBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 11:34am
                If you actually take the time to travel down there, don't forget to stop at Dove Creek for some Anasazi beans. Low on gas, and very tasty. Dove Creek is the Bean capital of the U.S.
                • re: Southwest Coloradojim lynch, Sat Feb 3 12:34pm
                  I was raised in Cortez and mined uranium on Long Park near Naturita. This is pretty close to heaven!
            • Re: The trail to Robbers RoostDaniel Buck, Sat Feb 3 6:59am
              Bob, I'm not familiar with the area, that is a given. But I have read (and, alas, reread, Pocock). In the chapter from Following the Frontier (1903) under discussion, "The Trail of the Outlaw," he... more
              • re: the trailBob Goodwin, Sat Feb 3 7:42am
                Dan, Your clarity and alacrity are always astounding. Yes, you are correct, Pocock never in his narratives says that he actually visited the Roost himself. And, as you have mentioned often, in his... more
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