Thanksgiving has a way of bringing friends, family and complete strangers together. For the townsfolk of Brown’s Park, the “Outlaws Thanksgiving” of 1895 brought more than friends and family together.
Brown’s Park, originally named Brown’s Hole, is a lone mountain valley that resides along the Green River just south of the Wyoming border. Back in the day, Brown’s Park was the perfect hideout for outlaws seeking to lay low among the sparse population of ranchers.
Brown’s Park’s most revered dweller, John Jarvie, was a Scottish immigrant who opened up a general store. Being the only store in the area, Jarvie welcomed travelers from all kinds of backgrounds, including outlaws who spent a significant amount of time at his place. He was also a rancher, the postmaster, and ferry operator of the small community.
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Jarive allowed the outlaws to hide out at his place and took care of them when they came through with food, a fresh horse, a place to stay, or even help in getting rid of the “goods.” Perhaps the most notable outlaws known to spend time in Brown’s Park were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Many other mischievous characters were tolerated in the area at the time.
It just so happens that several of these infamous outlaws organized a Thanksgiving dinner to show appreciation for Jarvie and the other ranchers in Brown’s Park for their “tolerance and understanding.”
Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Matt Warner, Elza Lay and Isom Dart were the unusual hosts of a formal Thanksgiving meal in 1895.
Known as the only “formal affair” to ever take place in Brown’s Park, the men wore dark colored suits with white shirts. Groomed with waxed mustaches and finished with a bowtie, no man could escape the formal attire for the Thanksgiving party. The women also dressed to impress for the occasion. Fitted long dresses with leg-o-mutton sleeves were a must, with hair done on top of the head in a french twist or bun and her bangs curled.
As for the outlaws, each was assigned a specific task. Isom Dart was charged with chef duties. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid waited tables in butcher’s aprons.
As a quick side note, Cassidy was teased by his guests for struggling to pour coffee properly along with his poor attempt at table etiquette. Known for holding up trains and robbing banks, Cassidy was outright frustrated and embarrassed at the simplest of tasks that evening.
After an invocation by Jarvie and some entertainment, the guests were seated and served a plethora of food.
The outlaws went to great length to find and prepare the best food that money could buy. The main course featured blue point cocktails, roast turkeys with chestnut dressing, giblet gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes, candid sweet potatoes and creamed peas. Appetizers were also a delight, consisting of celery, olives, pickled walnuts, sweet pickles. A salad combined with fresh tomatoes on crisp lettuce added a nice touch. Other items such as hot rolls and sweet butter, coffee, whipped cream, roquefort cheese were also available. And to sweeten the night, pumpkin pie, plum pudding, brandy sauce, mints and salted nuts were served for dessert.
The feast lasted for nearly six hours but would forever become an iconic moment for Brown’s Park and the outlaws that spent a great deal of time in the area.
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