Monday, July 21, 2014

A little on "Billy the Kid"

William H. Bonney born William Henry McCarty, Jr. was born on November 23, 1859 and better known as "Billy the Kid", but also known as William Antrim. According to legend, he killed 21 men and the first of those on April 1, 1877 at the age of 18. Bonney, was described as being friendly and personable and favored an unadorned Mexican sombrero. Billy was relatively unknown during most of his lifetime but was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico's governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head for the murder of men, cattle rustling and theft. He was known to use the Colt single action .44 and Colt double-action .41 caliber called the “Thunderer.” He may have also used the .38 caliber version called the “Lightning.” But a Winchester '73 rifle was his weapon of choice. Noted for escaping more than once when being detained, it wasn't until Pat Garrett was elected sheriff /US marshal that Billy was brought down on July 14th, 1881 at the age of 21. He was buried the next day in Fort Sumner cemetery.

There have been a lot of debates over about the history of  Billy the Kid's death--was it true or not. Did Pat Garrett really kill Billy? Was Billy alive and well living in Hamilton County Texas as Ollie L. Roberts "Brushy Bill" in the 1940's? A petition was even brought forth to exhume Billy and his mother for DNA testing to prove his death, but the petition was denied. With no DNA testing or real proof and the fact the Pat Garrett's grandson said his grandfather never got Billy the kid, we may never really know? What do you think?
I've watched movies over the years related to Billy the kid, but most do not tell the real story but only bits of it. Billy had a bad childhood with no father and his mother dying when he was young. Trouble started for him at an early age and he ended up hanging out with the wrong crowd. What is little known is that he was very likeable and the men he did kill were far worse than he ever thought about being. Movies such as Young Guns has a bit of the story right but if you read the history of Billy, there is a lot more to the story than shown on television of course. He's a very interesting read and regardless of all the truths or myths, Billy the Kid still remains a hero to those who love the old west and the cowboys found there.


  1. Aw, crud, blogspot ate my comment....:( It was all about choices. Even if he was killing bad guys, still, to kill people at that age? What does that say about him?

  2. You are right B. But in the cowboy days he was on the better end of bad or at least intriguing enough with all his escapes to become a legend.