Amy and Bill were building their dream at La Sal, Utah in 1902 when Bill was murdered. Their oldest son, Bill Jr, was then 4 years old and the loss of his father forever colored his attitude toward life.
When Amy remarried a few years later, Bill Jr turned his anger on her new husband, a man the youngster regarded as inferior. To save both her son and her marriage, Amy moved Bill into her parents’ house, where he enjoyed the steadying influence of her brothers.
Nonetheless, growing up in Moab brought fights, threats, and pranks gone wrong. He spent the waning years of his childhood in the state reform school.
When he returned to Moab after a stint in the Army during World War I, Bill, his mother, and one of her brothers formed a partnership to run their cattle in the difficult Elaterite Basin and Robbers Roost country. As drought took the grass from their pastures, Bill moved their herd to the Big Flat, an already well-populated cattle range. In short order Bill was again running from the law, accused of cattle rustling. His knowledge of the Robbers Roost would save his life.
Last of the Robbers Roost Outlaws (Canyonlands Natural History Assoc., 2010) is Tom McCourt’s recounting of the Bill Tibbetts story. From a combination of historic documents, newspaper articles, and family lore, McCourt narrates Bill’s life in southeastern Utah as both man and community matured from Wild West to law abiding.
The book is well-written and easily read, and effectively portrays the hard-scrabble life of a man given to settling the score.