The Legacy of Butch Cassidy and the Winnemucca Blogger
Montserrat Wadsworth (right) blogs about farming, her family and her love of the gospel.
In his wildest dreams, Butch Cassidy would never have guessed that one of his old stomping grounds would become a hideout for, um, social media. Butch was pretty much antisocial, and the term "social media" wasn't coined for another hundred years.
Nonetheless, the old CS Ranch, located 25 miles east of Winnemucca, Nev., is near the home of a blog that has produced extensive exposure for LDS Philanthropies, the official fundraising organization for the LDS Church.
The blog was started in 2005 by Montserrat Wadsworth. She created it so friends and relatives could keep tabs on her family after their move to a new farm.
"We are isolated because of where we live and how we make a living with farming and ranching," said Montserrat. "It's difficult to share the gospel face-to-face with people because, frankly, we don't meet very many people. But we love the gospel! We teach it to our children and live it with them. We serve faithfully in our callings, but we are limited in how we are able to share the gospel — except for the Internet."
Montserrat's first blog has since become private, but it was replaced by a new, public blog called, of all things, "Chocolate on my Cranium."
Did Butch even like chocolate?
"It really is just a smorgasbord of what I term my cranial hiccups," Montserrat told me. "I write about those good ideas that come to the surface once in a great while."
The readers of Montserrat's blog come from all walks of life and religions. This actually surprised her as she talks about the LDS Church a lot.
"I think the variety of topics brings in a variety of readers," she said. "Some come just for the homeschooling posts, while others visit to see what life on the farm is like. I hosted a month-long 'Celebrate Family' theme this month to mark the 15th anniversary of 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World.' My readers were very excited about it, including some guest bloggers who are not members of our church but believe in the importance of families."
Following the Haiti earthquake last January, Montserrat posted a "widget" (a viral Internet tool) she discovered on the LDS Philanthropies website. The posting was a huge overnight success, with 75,000 unique page views the first month. It quickly spread to other Internet sites, but as of mid-September it tallied 426,000 views on Montserrat's site alone. Predictably, the widget was a significant source of donations through LDS Philanthropies to the Haitian relief effort.
"When I heard about the sheer number of hits the widget received on my blog, I was stunned," said Montserrat. "Literally, I was speechless. I had no idea the impact that taking a mere five minutes to place the widget would make.
"My readers are regular, run-of-the-mill mothers who are just trying to do the best they can," said Montserrat. "And maybe that's the key right there. They're mothers. They have nurturing hearts."
Thank you, Montserrat. By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass.
Oh, yes — the CS Ranch is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid out before robbing a bank in Winnemucca 110 years ago this month.