Etta Place and her outlaw lover, the Sundance Kid

The Old West.  Those three words conjure images of dirt trails, majestic horses, and a way of life that after so much time feels worlds away.  But there is a unifying force that ties us inexplicably to our past:  the undying power of love. It is as vital to us as the water we drink-and it was to the women of the West. Etta Place was no exception.

All love stories – somewhere amidst the romantic picnic outings, heated late-night rendezvous, and sometimes tragic futures – have personal morals, even if some of these lovers don’t seem to have any professional morals.  Famed gunfighter the Sundance Kid and his lover, Etta Place, had no problem taking money from banks and robbing miners of their payrolls, but they never considered betraying one another.

Etta Place and the Sundance Kid met in San Antonio, Texas in 1899 and, along with their cohort Butch Cassidy, embarked on a career as train robbers.  Who better to give advice about romance with a famous bandit than Etta?  Here are a handful of lessons she learned:

  1. Know that your relationship is bound to have longevity problems when you’re the paramour of an outlaw.
  2. Share an interest in his work. According to various Old West newspapers, Etta participated in a number of holdups with Sundance and his partner in crime, Butch Cassidy.
  3. Enjoy traveling. When Pinkerton detectives are chasing you night and day, you have to learn to love visiting many different places.
  4. Keep your love life private, Etta never spoke out about her relationship with the Sundance Kid.  Not only did that help keep their location secret, but it added to the mystery of the woman rumored to have been romantically involved with Butch Cassidy before she was involved with the Sundance Kid.
  5. Be prepared to protect your man. Historians acknowledge that Etta was an excellent shot with a rifle, which came in handy when the Sundance Kid needed backup.

For more tips on love and romance from the ladies of the Old West, check out Love Lessons from the Old West: Wisdom from Wild Women by Chris Enss. Visit for more information.