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Daniel Buck
Roger Pocock's adventurous ride, cont'd
Mon Mar 5, 2018 5:17am
108.18.65.208

Between late June 1899 and late January 1900, British adventurer Roger Pocock rode horseback from Fort Macleod, Alberta, to Mexico City, some 3,600 miles across Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. His 1903 account of that journey, A Frontiersman (Following the Frontier in the US edition) was received with some incredulity, many critics treated it as a novel.

It does appear that Pocock actually made the journey. In late November 1899, New Mexico newspapers reported him being found lost and starving near Deming. In late January 1900, Mexico City newspapers reported his arrival in that city. Nonetheless, he did exaggerate his adventures along the way, implying for example that he had entered the inner sanctum of Robbers Roost in Utah and conversed with outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and Tom McCarty. Recent research, including his personal papers and an annotated map from the journey archived with the Bruce Peel Collections at the University of Alberta reveal that he did not enter the Robbers Roost headquarters. Nor does he mention any encounters with Cassidy or McCarty.

In Roger Pocock's A Frontiersman, he never actually says that he went to Robbers Roost or met Cassidy or McCarty. He only suggests in a roundabout way that he did, and if an inattentive reader might get that impression, one might surmise that Pocock would not protest. Travel writers are entertainers.

On the question of Robbers Roost, he writes that he arrived in Monticello, in southeast Utah, and not only did he fail to find a guide to take him to the Roost, the Mormon bishop warned locals against helping him. He waxes on about where Robbers Roost is and what the terrain looks like, but never says he actually went there. He could well have been repeating encyclopedia entries about Mars or Timbuktu.

Second, in an article Roger wrote for the Buenos Aires Herald, "My Most Exciting Adventure," 9 March 1911, he wrote: "I did not find my way to Robbers Roost." That's a fairly straightforward admission. Hard to wiggle around it.

He tells of arriving in Flagstaff, Arizona, and being "especially anxious to penetrate to the central stronghold, the Robbers Roost of Utah." (He does not mention that while in Utah he had made an attempt and failed.) "One-eyed Riley" -- perhaps the Arizona rodeo rider of the era -- gave him convoluted, jokey directions, which even if accurate would have taken him back north more than 300 miles. Pocock laments, "I did not find my way to Robbers Roost."

Third, his handwritten itineraries and his annotated map of the Utah portion of his trek, archived with the Bruce Peel Collections at the University of Alberta, show him traveling from southwestern Colorado through the far southeastern corner of Utah, stopping in Monticello, moving straight south to Bluff, and from there south towards Mexico. Robbers Roost was a several-day trip northwest of Monticello; up and back a week or so. Per Roger Pocock's own trip notes and map, he never went to Robbers Roost.



    • Excellent Pat, Tue Mar 6 9:21am
      I enjoyed your version very much. If I may make an observation here and hope I say it right. You and I live in these western lands ,Utah and Wyoming , where people from the east may not understand... more
      • Re: Excellent Daniel Buck, Tue Mar 6 11:41am
        Pat, If you've read anything we (I &/or Anne Meadows) have written you would know that we discussed & weighed Percy Seibert's stories & exaggerations on a number of occasions, and as well those of... more
        • I do read. Pat, Tue Mar 6 12:42pm
          But I read more than just your little book that got so much wrong. I have emails and phone calls from Percy's granddaughter and great granddaughter which back up what I said. I do know she was very... more
          • PSPat, Tue Mar 6 12:48pm
            In the huge file on Rollo Glass (over 350 pages) that I gave to Mike is a lot of info you have left out. Percy went to La Paz and emptied out Rollo's office of all papers. That is where the... more
    • Roger Pocock's adventurous ride - A ResponseBob Goodwin, Mon Mar 5 9:46pm
      Roger Pocock’s 1899 3,600 mile trek from Ft. Macleod, Canada to Mexico City was a worthy accomplishment. He first wrote about the feat, not in 1903 but in 1900 in a series of articles published by... more
      • Re: Roger Pocock's adventurous ride - A ResponseDaniel Buck, Tue Mar 6 3:30am
        Bob, All quite informative, but it elides the point of my post, that in spite of Roger Pocock's suggestions in his autobiography, A Frontiersman, and the assertions of his biographer, Geoffrey A.... more
        • re: Roger Pocock's adventurous ride - A ResponseBob Goodwin, Tue Mar 6 5:36am
          Dan, You obfuscate the true purpose of your initial post, that is: Since Roger Pocock did not actually get to Robbers Roost, as a casual reading of his works might suggest, then what he wrote,... more
          • re: Roger Pocock's adventurous ride - A ResponseDaniel Buck, Tue Mar 6 5:54am
            Bob, What I wrote was this: "It does appear that Pocock actually made the journey. In late November 1899, New Mexico newspapers reported him being found lost and starving near Deming. In late January ... more
            • re; Roger Pocock etc.Bob Goodwin, Wed Mar 7 12:40pm
              Dan, The bigger question is how much can Roger Pocock be trusted. Yes, he exaggerated, but he does not seem to invent his stories. They are based on core facts, not inventions. He also editorializes. ... more
              • Re: re; Roger Pocock etc.Daniel Buck, Wed Mar 7 2:30pm
                Bob, I'm not sure there is much disagreement between us -- especially because we are both skeptical & attentive (you even more than I on the latter score) readers. That said, three thoughts. His book ... more
              • PocokBob Goodwin, Wed Mar 7 12:44pm
                The bottom line is that I think he can be trusted, in general, you just have to know when he is trying to pull your Calavaras County leg.
    • Early day wows!jim lynch, Mon Mar 5 10:19am
      Not to diminish what that man did when even today that part of Colorado/Utah is still wild(just try to drive from Delta to Naturita in the winter), but how about a cattle drive from Arkansas to... more
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