Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Willard Christianson – The Mormon Kid

Willard Christianson - The Mormon KidThe family of Willard Christianson moved to Utah after they had converted to Mormonism. At the age of 14 Willard got in a fight, and thinking he had killed his adversary, ran away from home.  As a young boy Willard fell in with bad company and started rustling cattle. While operating out of Utah’s Robbers Roost area he got the nickname of the Mormon Kid.  
The Mormon Kid met a Rose Morgan, fell in love and got married. Wanting to develop some semblance of a normal life, he and his partner in crime, Tom McCarty started a cattle ranch. But this didn’t last long. In 1892 the two of them went up to Washington and robbed a bank in which two citizens were wounded. Shortly afterward they were arrested and put in jail. But two days before their trial they attempted a jailbreak by wrapping themselves in blankets and blackening their faces to look like Indians. But it didn’t work. Actually, the attempted jailbreak wasn’t necessary because they were found not guilty. 
In 1896 Willard was involved in a shootout that, in reality, could have been considered self-defense. But this time he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison. After his release in 1900, Willard settled down in Carbon County, Utah where he used his earlier training to good effect by being elected justice of the peace and serving as deputy sheriff. He later moved to Price, Utah where he served as a policeman, that is, when he wasn’t busy at his other job… selling white lightning as a bootlegger. 
Willard Christianson was able to live a full life dying peacefully on December 21, 1938 at the ripe old age of 74.    
Willard Christianson - The Mormon Kid

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