William H. Bonney Better Known As Billy The Kid
William H. Bonney Also Known As Billy The Kid
Billy The Kid, 1859-1881 Teenage Rustler And Gunman
In 1881, shortly before his 22nd birthday, Billy the Kid boasted that he had killed 21 men, one for each year of his life. Soon after that, this notorious outlaw was himself struck down by a bullet from the pistol of Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Billy the Kid was born Henry McCarty in New York City around 1859 and moved west with his widowed mother in the 1860s. She married William H. Antrim in 1873 and died the next year in Silver City, New Mexico. Her son, who later became known as William Antrim, William Bonney, and finally Billy the Kid, was only 14 when his mother died.
Did Billy The Kid Kill A Man When Only 13?
Some biographers claim that Billy killed a man who had insulted his mother when he was only 13 years old but this may have been made up to go in a dime western novel years after the death of Billy the Kid. Most historians agree that he killed his first man at the age of 16 in a saloon near Camp Creek, Arizona, in 1877.
The victim was a blacksmith who presumably insulted the hot-tempered Billy. At any rate Billy was thrown in the guardhouse at Camp Grant to await trial. He escaped, however, and took up a career as a horse thief and a gambler until he was hired as a cow-hand by John H. Tunstall, an English rancher and merchant in Lincoln County, New Mexico.
The Lincoln County Wars
Soon Billy was involved in the Lincoln County war of 1877, which had been touched off by rival factions seeking land and political power. Tunstall was killed during this conflict, and Billy retaliated by murdering Sheriff William Brady. Handcuffed and put in jail, Billy easily slipped out of his manacles and escaped. His captors had failed to notice that Billy had very thick wrists and very small hands. Some people think Billy had help and someone hid a revolver in the outhouse for Billy.
Lew Wallace, the territorial governor, offered amnesty to all those involved in the Lincoln County War. But Billy rejected the offer and began riding at the head of a gang of rustlers, who were quick to add murder to their list of crimes when anyone attempted to resist them.
The job of hunting down Billy fell to his former friend and poker-playing crony, Pat Garrett, the newly elected sheriff of Lincoln County. Garrett finally caught up with Billy in December 1880, and the kid was tried for murder and sentenced to hang. But once again, he managed to slip his handcuffs, get a gun, kill two guards, and escape. The tireless Pat Garrett got on Billy's trail once more and tracked him to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where he is said to have killed the outlaw early in the morning before daylight on July 14, 1881.
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Did Pat Garrett Really Kill Billy The Kid
Over the years since the death of Billy the Kid their have been many rumors that Pat Garrett killed another man and not Billy the Kid. Several men over the years have made the claim that they were in fact the real living Billy the Kid but none of those claiming to be Billy the Kid have ever been able to prove they were in fact Billy the Kid. Pat Garrett may have in fact killed Billy the Kid but recent scientific facts say that it may have been another man entirely that Garrett killed that night.
Brushy Bill Roberts told many people over the years that he was in fact really Billy the Kid. In 1949 Brushy Bill as he liked to be called lived in Texas and his real name was Ollie Partridge Roberts. The story that Brushy Bill Roberts had told was told in the 1990 film Young Guns II. It has been reported down through the years that Brushy Bill Roberts knew things about Billy the Kid that he should not have known. He was able to lead people to places where Billy the Kid had hidden items that later proved to have belonged to Billy the Kid. But forensic experts who examined the photos of Brushy Bill Roberts and Billy the Kid said that the two men were not the same man. We may never know. There has been a theory put forward that while Brushy Bill may not have been Billy the Kid that he may have in fact been around Billy the Kid and that may be how he knew what he knew.
John Miller was another man who made the claim that he was really Billy the Kid. Millers grave was dug up and his DNA was taken in 2005 but the matter is still tied up in court and we have never been allowed to know the results of that DNA test. It makes me wonder if they are hiding something. If John Miller really was the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid why would they cover it up. Why indeed.
Where Is The Grave Of Billy The Kid
Most people don't know this but its highly likely that the tombstone and foot stone marking the grave site of Billy the Kid are really not above the grave of Billy. The Pecos river flooded in 1889 and again in 1904 and washed away all the markers of the graves in the cemetery. For over twenty years their was no marker for Billy's grave so it may not even be where the marker is. The bones of Billy the Kid may have even washed away and may not even be in the cemetery at all. No one really knows.
Pat Garrett Was A Friend Of Billy The Kid
It is a well known historical fact that Pat Garrett was a friend of Billy the Kid and he may have helped the kid escape. If he did then another man was killed and buried as Billy the Kid. Some eye witnesses said that the man Pat Garrett shot didn't even resemble Billy the Kid. There were stories for years told by people coming back from old Mexico that Billy the Kid was alive and well and living in Mexico. Some have even said that Billy became a rancher down in Mexico and that he married and raised a family down in Mexico.
I like to think that Billy the Kid died as an old man but I just don't know. What do you think? Do you think Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid or do you think Billy lived to old age. I really would like to hear what you think. Just post your comment below in the comment section.
The Ghost Of Billy The Kid
Over the years many people have claimed to have seen Billy the Kid walking in the cemetery near his grave. Most who have described him almost exactly how he looks in the old photo above. The above photo is said to be the only photo of Billy the Kid known to exist. They have all almost all told the same story that they see him walking rapidly along. Some people have thought it was an actor in costume. But then he is gone as quickly as he appears.
Some people claim that Billy The Kid's ghost is as solid as he is in his photo while other people report that they can see through him. Some people claim to see a foggy mass near the grave of Billy The Kid while other people have reported a shadow figure there wearing a hat with bright red fiery eyes.