It's been more than a century since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed their way across North and South America, but there is still interest in their story.
One of the big discussion points among those interested in the Old West outlaws is the relationship between Harry Alonzo Longabaugh — better known as the Sundance Kid — and Etta Place.
Fresno's Vincent Garcia thinks he found photo proof that they were married. A 5X7 photo taken of Sundance and Place in New York just before they sailed to South America in 1902, which Garcia had enlarged to 16X20, shows Place wearing an engagement ring.
"When I had the photo enlarged, I had it done in sepia. Once it was enlarged, you can see the ring. You can kind of see it in black-and-white, but it's kind of a blob," Garcia says. "It became more notable in sepia because there is a contrast difference. That made it apparent they actually had a courtship and an engagement."
The enlarged photo also offers more clues to a marriage. Place is wearing a necklace that can be seen over an ascot, which keeps with what was a tradition in Victorian times of wearing three items of jewelry that are proof of an engagement. Garcia contends the way the necklace is being worn is proof of a long courtship.
Kerry Ross Boren, a writer who specializes in European, Medieval, Renaissance, Ancient history, and Western Lore, agrees with Garcia's assertions.
"To the best of my knowledge, the ring has always been visible in the photo. I believe Vince was the first to enhance and identify it," Boren says.
Before his detective work with the photo, Garcia had a passing interest in Butch and Sundance. Place wasn't even on his radar because so little was known about her. He became more interested in them when he found a 1906 copy of the Denver Republican newspaper with a long article on them. The photo accompanied the story.
His interest in Place spawned his research.
Garcia shared his theory with Butch and Sundance expert Dan Buck, who told Garcia that while nothing is absolute proof, Garcia's discovery swings the pendulum toward the idea that they were married.
The discoveries add to the interest in the outlaws and that's the best part of all the efforts for Garcia.
"What I've gotten out of the long journey with this photo is contributing something to the Wild Bunch history," Garcia says. "I've done a lot of research about the Wild Bunch and may write a book."
Go to www.centralcal.com/timeline.htm for more info.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355.