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Wild West Outlaws and Lawmen

Billy the Kid




Billy the Kid was born Henry McCarty in 1859 in New York City. He moved west with his widowed mother, ending up in New Mexico in 1873. When his mother remarried, he took his stepfather's name of Antrim, then later adopted the alias of William H. Bonney. He was usually known as just Billy the Kid.

His life of crime began in Silver City, New Mexico when he was 15. He then fled to Arizona after a brush with the law over a petty theft. He shot and killed "Windy" Cahill in a saloon fight on August 17, 1877 and he ran off again, now back to New Mexico.

He soon became embroiled in the Lincoln County War which was a conflict between rival mercantile firms. He signed on with the Tunstall-McSween "Regulators" at the age of 17. In gunfights with Murphy-Dolan forces, he showed himself as a fearless fighter and crack shot.

He and five others participated in the ambush slaying of Sheriff William Brady in Lincoln on April 1, 1878. He went on to rustle cattle from stockmen in the Texas Panhandle between 1879-1880. He was arrested by Sheriff Pat Garrett following a shootout at Stinking Springs in December 1880. Billy was convicted of Sheriff's Brady's murder and was sentenced to hang. On April 28, 1881, he overpowered and killed a guard then killed another deputy before escaping.

Sheriff Pat Garrett tracked Billy, who was now 21 years old, to the old Fort Sumner. Then, on July 14, 1881, Garrett confronted Billy in a darkened bedroom of one of the old military houses. He fired twice and killed Billy instantly.

Billy's reputation grew over the years, sparked by dime novel stories of his exploits. In actuality, he killed four men on his own and participated in the killing of several more. He did some minor cattle rustling. But he never did rob a bank, store or stagecoach. He was generally a well liked young man but it had a deadly temper. His legend as a famous bandit is undeserved.

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