Person:William McCarty (12)

William Henry McCarty, "Billy the Kid"
m. before 1853
  1. Bridget McCartyabt 1853 -
  2. William Henry McCarty, "Billy the Kid"1859 - 1881
  3. Joseph McCartyabout 1863 - 1930
Facts and Events
Name William Henry McCarty, "Billy the Kid"
Alt Name[3][10] William H. Bonney
Alt Name[3][11] Henry McCarty
Alt Name[18] Henry McCarthy
Alt Name[21] William Bonny
Gender Male
Birth[3][6][9][10][15][16][17][18] 23 Nov 1859 New York City, New York, New York, United States
Census[18] 26 Jun 1860 New York City, New York, United Statesage 1 - Ward 1, District 1 [pos match - "Henry McCarthy", age 1 (b. 1859 in New York)]
Residence[11] 1866 Marion, Indiana, United StatesLiving with mother & brother
Residence[12] 14 Sep 1869 Wichita, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States
Other[20] 1 Mar 1873 Santa Fe, New Mexico, United Statesage 14 - named Henry McCarty as witness to mother Catherine's marriage
Reference Number? Q44200?
Census[11][13][21] 17-19 Jun 1880 Fort Sumner and Cedar Springs, San Miguel County, Territory of New Mexicoage 21 - [pos match - "William Bonny, age 25 (b. 1855) in Missouri]
Death[2][4][10] 14 Jul 1881 Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory, United Statesage 21 - killed around midnight in Pete Maxwell's bedroom by Pat Garrett
Burial[5][7][10][14][19] 15 Jul 1881 Old Fort Sumner Cemetery, Fort Sumner, DeBaca, New Mexico, United States
  Genealogy well done. Exemplary WeRelate page with excellent use of original sources.

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Billy the Kid.



Billy the Kid was a famous American outlaw of the old west. His real name was probably William Henry McCarty, but was also known as William H. Bonney. His family moved from New York to Indiana, then to Kansas, and then to New Mexico when he was a child. He frequented saloons and gambling halls and killed several men during his teen years. In 1878, he led a gang in the Lincoln County cattle war, killed two deputies, and engaged in large-scale cattle rustling. In 1880, John S. Chisum and other cattlemen secured the election of a new sheriff sworn to rid the country of the cattle thieves. Billy the Kid was captured, tried, and sentenced to death. He escaped but was again trapped and was shot by Sheriff Pat F. Garrett. [22]

Legend versus Reality

Beginning with the era’s dime-store romances, Billy the Kid's life has been mythologized to the point of making him a beloved folk hero. It’s believed that more motion pictures have been made on him than any other individual.[23] Shortly after shooting Billy the Kid, Sheriff Pat Garrett wrote a biography of McCarty, the hugely sensationalized, The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid. The book was the first of many accounts that would turn the young outlaw into a legend of the American frontier.[24] And his legacy lives to the present time. Even as recent as the year 2010 the governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, announced his decision not to follow through with former Gov. Lew Wallace's promise of a pardon to Billy the Kid from 1879.[25][26][27][28]

Little is actually known about the early life of William McCarty, but it is commonly believed that his father died or left the family when Billy was very young. The reality may have been substantially more dramatic than that. Billy's father, was or became a violent man, and during one of his violent outbursts young Billy stabbed him. While McCarty was recuperating from his injury, Catherine fled with her sons to Indiana. She and her sons used her maiden name until learning of McCarty's death.[29].

Contrary to some early publications that cited that Billy the Kid was short, chubby and ugly, McCarty had a slim physique, sandy blond hair and blue eyes and wore a signature sugar-loaf sombrero hat with a wide decorative band. It was reported he could be charming and polite one moment, then outraged and violent the next, a quixotic nature he used to great effect during his heists and robberies. All those who knew him have said in every description said about him (whether by man or woman) that he was a "fine looking lad" or "handsome with boyish good looks." [30][31]

Legend has it he killed 21 men during his days as an outlaw, one for each year of his life. In actuality, the Kid single-handedly probably killed four men and participated in five shootings, which makes a total of nine men. While not meant to excuse the killings, Billy the Kid researchers and authors have noted some of these men were either killed in self-defense or during acts of war and were dangerous gunmen or corrupt lawmen.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]

Probably the biggest myth was that Billy was not actually the person killed by Garrett in the dark room at the Maxwell ranch in Fort Sumner on 14 July 1881 and actually lived to be an old man.[40][41] Up to 26 individuals during the early 20th century claimed his name, including Ollie P. "Brushy Bill" Roberts of Hico, Texas[42][43][44][45][46][47] and John Miller of Prescott, Arizona.[48][49][50][51][52][53] The persistent unanswered questions to this historical event, the inconsistencies relating to the shooting, and the recorded contradictions of first-hand witnesses have given an air of plausibility to these claims.[54][55][56]

What else could be added to Billy the Kid's life story to make it even more mythical but to discover he had royal blood connected directly to the Danish throne and that his maternal grandfather was King of Denmark? Unsubstantiated sources imply that Billy's mother, mysteriously known simply as Catherine in virtually all documented history, may actually have been Helsina Katherina Bohne (pronounced Bonney) and was Danish by birth (rather than Irish). Living as a young woman in Denmark she had been sent to work at the Royal Household in 1845 and became the mistress of the King (present or future) shortly there after. Because a son was born of this relationship, she was expelled from Denmark to the United States with a small amount of money, arriving in New York City early in 1846. There she met Michael Patrick McCarty, and William Henry was born as their first child together.[57] Could that be the explanation for Billy using the name "Bonney" as he matured after his mother passed? Intriguing story, but requires additional research and documentation to be considered seriously.

Historical Documentaries

Billy The Kid Mystery In Upstate

Billy The Kid - Wild West Outlaw (Crime Documentary)

Books on Subject


  1.   Garrett, Pat Floyd. The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid: The noted desperado of the Southwest, whose deeds of daring and blood made his name a terror in New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico. (New Mexican Print. And Pub. Co., 1882).

    Biography written by the man who shot and killed Billy the Kid - Sheriff Pat Garret.

  2. "American Items", in England. Newcastle Courant. (Newcastle upon Tyne), Issue 10779, 5 Aug 1881.

    Billy the Kid's death was reported far beyond America. In England, the regional newspaper the Newcastle Courant covered the story on 5th August 1881, although its reporting was more a comment on the state of law enforcement in New Mexico than about the man:
    The inhabitants of New Mexico do not stand upon the technicalities of the law in dealing with desperadoes. A certain Mr McCarthy, formerly of New York, and better known as "Billy the Kid," a promising young man of 21, whose proud boast it was that he had killed a man for every year of his life, has lately been pursued, and shot dead on sight, by a sheriff near Las Vegas. The coroner's jury which sat on the body thus energetically furnished for its use, rendered a verdict of justifiable homicide."

  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Henry McCarty (aka Billy the Kid), in Bad Hombres, 2007.

    "Billy the Kid - 1859-1881 - a.k.a. Henry McCarty, William H. Bonney, William Antrim, Henry Antrim and Kid Antrim. By most accounts, Billy the Kid was born Henry McCarty in New York City, NY November 23, 1859, his parents being Catherine and Patrick McCarty, although it is not known for sure. Another view is that he was born William H. Bonney to Catherine and William McCarty Bonney. Billy did sign letters as William H. Bonney, but this was after he fled the Arizona territory, wanted for murder, so many assume that William H. Bonney was just an alias to hide from the law and that's why he used it signing letters. Another story has it as Billy being born as Henry McCarty to a Joseph McCarty of Cass County, IN. However, in the 1880 census of Lincoln County, NM, the Kid listed his name as William H. Bonney and his state of birth as New York."

  4. Billy the Kid, in Bad Hombres, 2007.

    "On the night of July 14, 1881, Garrett rode to the Maxwell ranch, where he and the Kid supposedly worked together before. It's a little unclear as to why Garrett went there, some say Maxwell set Billy up, others say is was by pure chance. The Kid was there, visiting a young Mexican woman who he spent much time with, Deluvina Maxwell, who worked for Maxwell. Garrett went inside, as his posse waited outside. Garrett was waiting in Maxwell's bedroom. Now either Billy was staying in the main house or he went there to get some fresh beef to take back to the house he was staying in, but Billy was outside walking towards the main house. When he got to the doorway, he heard the sound of horse hooves and called out several times in spanish "Quien es? Quien es?" (Who is it?) Not getting an answer, Billy stepped inside the open door of the house and went to Maxwell's bedroom to ask Maxwell who was there. In the dark, two shots were fired, Garrett shot Billy where he stood, in stocking feet, killing him instantly, according to some, a shot right through the heart, the second shot going wild."

  5. Billy the Kid, in Bad Hombres, 2007.

    "The local Mexican's, after hearing what happened, ran to the Maxwell house, Billy was their friend. They demanded they be allowed to prepare his body for burial. They then moved his body to a carpenter's shed and lay him on a bench, where they set candles all around him and cleaned him, dressing him in clean clothes. The next day he was buried on the Maxwell property. Deluvina Maxwell put a white cross on his grave that said "Duerme bien, Querido" (Sleep well, beloved). Souvenir hunters began arriving, despoiling his grave at the Maxwell ranch. Eventually Billy's body was moved to Fort Sumner and he was buried with two of his best friends, Charlie Bowdre and Tom O'Folliard. The inscription at the top of the tombstone says "Pals", which the boys always told each other, pals to the end, and that they were."

  6. Billy the Kid, in About Billy the Kid: Frequently Asked Questions.

    "Question: Who were Billy the Kid’s parents? What was his real last name - Bonney or McCarty? What was his birth date? Answer: The true answers concerning Billy the Kid’s birth and lineage has yet to be known; historians, biographers and genealogist have been pulling their hair out trying to figure it out for years. Researchers have traveled the globe (England, Ireland, Scotland, and throughout the states), they have researched birth and death records, marriage certificates, baptismal records, hospital records, passenger arrival list, census records, and more, but yet no document has surfaced to shed some light on who Billy the Kid's parents were, and where and what day he was born. All we know is he had a mother named Catherine (maiden name unknown) and a younger brother named Joseph (middle and last name unknown), and absolutely nothing is known of his biological father. It’s not known whether both boys were fathered by the same man, nor is it known whether Catherine was married to their father (or fathers). So in that case it’s not known whether McCarty or Bonney is her married name, or maybe both were. All we know is she first turns up in the pages of history as a single woman named Catherine McCarty, with two sons. As for Billy the Kid’s birth date, it’s estimated he was born anywhere around 1860-62, possibly in New York, Indiana, or maybe even Ireland or England. We simply don’t know. The life of Billy the Kid before the year 1870 is an utmost mystery."

  7. Billy the Kid, in About Billy the Kid: Frequently Asked Questions.

    "When the Kid was buried, he had a plain wooden board with the name "Billy the Kid" crudely carved into it to mark his grave. Unlike the monument we see today, the Kid was not buried right next to his friends, Charlie Bowdre and Tom O'Folliard, but a few yards a way (but Bowdre and O'Folliard were indeed buried next to each other). Then in 1904 the Pecos River flood over took the cemetery and all the markers and even some remains of the dead were washed away. Another possibility is that the Kid's original grave marker was stolen or vandalized before the flood. Whatever the case, the Kid's grave was left unmarked for at least two decades, until finally in 1932 Billy the Kid's friends got some money together and purchased a headstone with the inscription of William H. Bonney alias Billy the Kid, Tom O'Folliard, and Charlie Bowdre, along with the word "Pals." Shortly after, another much smaller headstone was placed for Billy the Kid in the same spot, and that one has been stolen twice and fortunately recovered. So in order to protect the headstones from thieves, an iron cage was placed over the grave. It's very unlikely that the "Pals" headstone was placed on the exact location of the Kid's original grave, so it's more like a memorial monument then the actually last resting place of Billy the Kid, and most of all, that of Bowdre and O'Folliard. But the Kid was still buried in that tiny cemetery, so those of you who visited the grave or will someday, shouldn't be too disappointed -Billy the Kid's spirit and memory is still there and it doesn't matter if you're standing "right" over his grave or not."

  8.   Billy the Kid, in Gardner, Mark Lee. To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West. (William Morrow, 9 February 2010), 9 February 2010.
  9. Billy the Kid, in GenForum: Bonney Family Genealogy Forum, "Billy the Kid Researchers", 9 October 2009.

    "I just ran across a newspaper clipping called (Earp sets record straight about billy the kid and pat garrett.) Of this article Vincent Earp that knew of billy the kid but it was Vincent Earps father that was very very close to billy the kid. Vincent Earp states in this newspaper article that William H Bonney AKA Billy the Kid WAS BORN IN NEW YORK and was a young boy when he first met vincent earps father not long after he said that billy moved in with a Englishman that pretty much adopted him! well we all know who that was! Newspaper article was written in the early 1950's,I would amagine this vincent earp wanted to tell his story to the newspaper to share what he knew since so many stories had turns!! I wanted to share this with you all because there was a debate as to where william h bonney was born! now we know!"

  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 William "Billy The Kid" Bonney, in Find A Grave, Memorial #94, 1 January 2001.

    Birth: Nov. 23, 1859
    Death: Jul. 15, 1881
    Burial: Old Fort Sumner Cemetery
    Fort Sumner, DeBaca County, New Mexico, USA

    Gravesite of Billy the Kid Marker for Billy the Kid & two friends
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Henry McCarty, in Tuska, Jon. Billy the Kid: His Life and Legend. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), Page 1, 1994.

    "Although there has been much speculation about it, the truth of the matter is that it cannot be said with documentary certitude where the man known later in life as Billy the Kid was born. He himself between 17 and 19 June 1880 in Fort Sumner told census taker Lorenzo Labadie, a former Indian agent and Juan Patrón's brother-in-law, that he was born in Missouri, that both of his parents were born in Missouri, and that he was twenty-five years old at the time. Except for those who are enamored of his legend, there does not seem to have been any credible reason for him to have lied about either his place of birth or his age. The problem that has existed stems primarily from those who created the legend insisting he was born elsewhere and that he was younger than he said he was. It is documented that his given name was Henry McCarty and that in 1866 he was living in Marion County, Indiana with his mother Catherine McCarty and his elder brother Joseph McCarty. It was at this time that Catherine McCarty became acquainted with the man she would eventually marry, William H. Antrim of the town of Huntsville, located between Indianapolis and Anderson. Antrim had been honorably discharged as a private from Company "I" of the 54th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry on 26 September 1862. On an application for the U.S. Bureau of Pensions executed on 2 April 1915 at El Paso, Texas, then his home, William H. Antrim claimed that it was his understanding that the natural father of Henry and Joseph had died in New York. This definitely need not have meant that Henry's father was a native of that state, merely that that is where he was living when he died."

  12. Henry McCarty, in Tuska, Jon. Billy the Kid: His Life and Legend. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), Page 1, 1994.

    "Catherine McCarty suffered from tuberculosis. In 1869 she, her two sons, and Antrim left Indianapolis for Wichita, Kansas. On 14 September 1869 Mrs. McCarty purchased a town lot in her own name in Wichita and the following March she filed on a quarter-section of public land near the town upon which she settled on..."

  13. United States. Bureau of the Census. 10th census, 1880. New Mexico, 1880 federal census : soundex and population schedules. (Washington [District of Columbia]: The National Archives, 19--?), Jun 1880.

    Address: Fort Sumner and Cedar Springs, San Miguel, New Mexico
    Name: Wm. Bonny
    Relation: Self
    Gender: Male
    Race: W
    Age: 25
    Birthplace: Missouri
    Occupation: Work in cattle
    Father's birthplace: Missouri
    Mother's birthplace: Missouri
    [POSSIBLE MATCH - many researchers believe so, but it is not certain.]

  14. Billy the Kid, in Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War, Page 9.

    "The body of the dead man is buried in the afternoon in the old military cemetery besides Charlie Bowdre and Tom Folliard."

  15. Billy the Kid, in, 2012.

    "Billy the Kid was born William Henry McCarty on November 23, 1859 in New York City."

  16. Billy the Kid, in TruTV: Outlaws & Thieves.

    "Little is known about Billy the Kid's genesis, except that he came into this world (according to his own testimony) in an Irish section of the Bowery slums of New York City sometime (it is estimated) between September and November, 1859. Since he was born in the days before documented record-keeping, both his parentage and real name remain unsettled. For years, scholars generally agreed he was christened William Henry Bonney, his parents being William and Kathleen (nee McCarty) Bonney. More recent research, though, unearths clues that point to his having been born with the name Henry McCarty, to a Patrick and Catherine (nee Bonney) McCarty. The confusion stems from Billy the Kid's later use of the name William H. Bonney as his legal name — but it now appears that he may have simply created that alias from by blending his mother's maiden name (Bonney) with the first name of the man with whom his mother lived (William Antrim) after his natural father either died or abandoned the brood."

  17. Billy the Kid, in >of< Polsearch: Christian VIII of Denmark.

    "Billy the Kid was born in New York City on November 23, 1859 to Helsina Katherine Bohne (pronounced Bonny) and Michael McCarty."

  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Henry McCarthy [sic], in New York, New York, United States. 1860 U.S. Census Population Schedule, 26 Jun 1860.

    Year: 1860; Census Place: New York Ward 1 District 1, New York, New York; Roll: M653_788; Page: 176; Image: 177; Family History Library Film: 803788.
    Name: Henry Mccarthy
    Age in 1860: 1
    Birth Year: abt 1859
    Birthplace: New York
    Home in 1860: New York Ward 1 District 1, New York, New York
    Gender: Male
    Post Office: New York
    Household Members: Name Age
    Patrick Mccarthy 30
    Cthn Mccarthy 29
    Bridget Mccarthy 7
    Henry Mccarthy 1
    [POSSIBLE MATCH - some researchers agree. Identifies Henry McCarthy [sic], age 1, b. 1859 in New York, as a child in the household of Patrick and Catherine McCarthy.]

    1860 US Census (New York) identifying McCarty family & possibly William listed as "Henry" (age 1)
  19. Billy the Kids's Grave, in Cemeteries & Cemetery Symbols, 17 Oct 2007.

    "Old West outlaw William Bonney, aka 'Billy the Kid,' was famously shot by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico on July 14, 1881. He was buried in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery alongside Tom O’Folliard and Charlie Bowdre, two members of the Kid’s gang, who had both been killed by Garrett’s posse in 1880. The Kid’s individual grave marker, which wasn’t placed until 1940, has been stolen and recovered twice. It is presently in shackles inside an iron cage."

  20. Marriage Record. William H. Antrim and Mrs. Catherine McCarty, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States. First Presbyterian Church Marriage Records.

    [as transcribed by Charles Sanders, 2008 ]

    ... Also, March 1st 1873. Mr. William H. Antriem and Mrs. Catherine McCarty, both of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
    Witnesses, Mary Edwards, Henry McCarty, Joseph McCarty, Sons. A. R. McFarland and Miss Katie McFarland. Joined under my hand and seal, this day and date above witnesses.
    D. F. McFarland. "Seal"
    Pastor of Pres. Church Santa Fe
    [Identifies Henry McCarty as a son of Mrs. Catherine McCarty.]
    [would be nice to add a scan of this record, if possible]

  21. 21.0 21.1 William Bonny, in San Miguel, New Mexico, United States. 1880 U.S. Census Population Schedule.

    Year: 1880; Census Place: Fort Sumner and Cedar Springs, San Miguel, New Mexico; Roll: 803; Family History Film: 1254803; Page: 436B; Enumeration District: 037; Image: 0871.
    Name: Wm. Bonny
    Age: 25
    Birth Year: abt 1855
    Birthplace: Missouri
    Home in 1880: Fort Sumner and Cedar Springs, San Miguel, New Mexico
    Race: White
    Gender: Male
    Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
    Marital Status: Single
    Father's Birthplace: Missouri
    Mother's Birthplace: Missouri
    Occupation: Work In Cattle
    Household Members: Name Age
    Wm. Bonny 25
    A. B. Bennet 38
    Wilis Pruitt 20
    [POSSIBLE MATCH - many researchers believe so, but it is not certain.]
    [Note: Wm. Bonny (#286) is listed in the same dwelling house (#240) immediately after the family of Charles Bowdre (#285) who is generally accepted to have been a close friend of Billy the Kid and to have been buried near him.]

  22. "Billy the Kid." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2008. retrieved 29 January 2012 <>.
  23. "'Billy the Kid' presents factual life story of fabled outlaw", Blair Howard, Salt Lake City Desert News, 7 January 2012 <>
  24. "Billy the Kid,", (accessed Jan 30, 2012).
  25. Billy the Kid:The Pardon;
    "9:00 PM, March 17, 1879---Governor Lew Wallace sat inside the Lincoln house of John B. "Squire" Wilson, waiting for his guest to arrive. Around this time, Wallace and Wilson heard a knock at the front door. "Come in," called Wallace, and in stepped William H. Bonney, alias Billy the Kid. In his left hand was a .44 pistol; in his right a 1873 Winchester rifle. "I was sent for to meet the governor at nine o'clock. Is he here?" asked Billy. Wallace rose from his seat and outstretched his right hand. "I am Governor Wallace," he said as he shook hands with Billy. The two of them then sat down. "Your note gave promise of absolute protection," said Billy to Wallace. "Yes, and I have been true to my promise. This man," Wallace continued, pointing to Wilson, "whom of course you know, and I are the only persons in the house." After this, Billy holstered his .44 and lowered his rifle. For the next few hours, Billy, Wallace, and Wilson discussed a particular murder that Billy had recently witnessed. By the end of the meeting, Wallace had made a proposition for Billy. Billy left Wilson's house, promising Wallace he would seriously consider the proposition. On March 20, Billy wrote a letter to Wallace saying he would commit to the deal."
  26. Billy the Kid may get Pardon from NM Governor from <> (2003)
    "New Mexico Governor Richardson will appoint a defense counsel and prosecutor to present evidence in hearings planned for Fort Sumner, Lincoln, Mesilla and Silver City, all towns having a part in the Billy the Kid legend."
  27. Good Morning America interview with Gov. Bill Richardson announcing his decision to refuse to pardon Billy the Kid, The Daily Beast, (31 December 2010)
  28. Old West Outlaw Billy the Kid Fails to Win a Pardon, Stephanie Simon, Wall Street Journal (31 December 2010)
    "The iconic outlaw Billy the Kid will not receive a posthumous pardon after all, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Friday, his last day in office. Mr. Richardson had been considering whether to give the Kid a pardon based on sketchy, but plausible, historical evidence that the gun-slinging, cattle-rustling, sheriff-shooting outlaw had been promised clemency by the territorial governor in the 1880s, Lew Wallace. Historians had produced several newspaper articles from the time quoting Mr. Wallace as saying that he had promised to wipe clean a murder charge against the Kid in return for his testimony against three men in an unrelated killing. The Kid did testify in that case, but no pardon was forthcoming. But in the end, 'the governor just felt there wasn't enough conclusive proof,' said Eric Witt, deputy chief of staff for Mr. Richardson. 'He takes the power of the pardon very seriously.'"
  29. Fun with Genealogy: Billy the Kid and the Mormons by Clark Goble, April 6, 2008
    "Meanwhile back in New York McCarty is becoming more and more violent. One incident in 1872 leads Wlliam to stab his father. While McCarty is recuperating from the stabbing Helsina and her two sons flee to Indiana. Initially they use her maiden name but when they hear of McCarty’s unrelated death go back to using McCarty. (Which sounds weird to me, given his nature.) Helsina also starts using her middle name, Katherine and the Americanizes it to Catherine. This is the name you usually read in the Billy the Kid biographies."
  30. "Billy the Kid,", (accessed Jan 30, 2012).
  31. Pat Garrett, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid (1882)
    "All who ever knew Billy will testify that his polite, cordial, and gentlemanly bearing invited confidence and promised protection - the first of which he never betrayed, and the latter he was never known to withhold. Those who knew him best will tell you that in his most savage and dangerous moods his face always wore a smile. He eat and laughed, drank and laughed, rode and laughed, talked and laughed, fought and laughed, and killed and laughed. No loud and boisterous guffaw, but a pleasant smile or a soft and musical "ripple of the voice." Those who knew him watched his eyes for an exhibition of anger. Had his biographers stated that the expression of his eyes - to one who could read them - in angry mood was cruel and murderous, they would have shown a more perfect knowledge of the man. One could scarcely believe that those blazing, baleful orbs and that laughing face could be controlled by the same spirit. Billy was, at this time, about five feet seven and one half inches high, straight as a dart, weighed about one hundred and thirty-five pounds, and was as light, active, and graceful as a panther. His form was well-knit, compact, and wonderfully muscular."
  32. About Billy the Kid: Fact vs. Myth
    "Contrary to the myth, Billy the Kid did not kill a man just to see him kick or to prove his toughness."
  33. Spartacus Educational: Billy the Kid
    "Most experts believe he was only responsible for nine deaths."
  34. TruTV Crime Library: Henry McCarty: The Wild West's "Billy The Kid"
    "According to the special edition Time-Life Book, The Wild West, which states, 'When it comes to the gunfighting legends, truth is usually much less sensational and romantic than fiction,' much of Billy's trigger-nerve reputation may have been exaggerated. The West in the last quarter of the 1800s was occupied by slippery-inked blue journalists who traveled the iron horse locomotive to the burgeoning frontier beyond the Mississippi to add a little more color to an already colorful scenery. Billy's notches may not have passed a total of four."
  35. Encyclopedia of World Biography: Billy the Kid Biography
    "He did not kill twenty-one people; he killed four men and participated in the killing of several others."
  36. Billy the Kid: How bad was he? by Marcelle Brothers
    "Billy the Kid is known as being one of the most famous outlaws in American history, but when we look at his outlaw status, he really wasn't a badman by outlaw standards...Billy the Kid wasn't a hero or a villain, but a victim of circumstances."
  37. Apr 9, 1881: Billy the Kid convicted of murder, This Day in History
    "There is no doubt that Billy the Kid did indeed shoot the sheriff, though he had done so in the context of the bloody Lincoln County War, a battle between two powerful groups of ranchers and businessmen fighting for economic control of Lincoln County. When his boss, rancher John Tunstall, was murdered before his eyes in February 1878, the hotheaded young Billy swore vengeance. Unfortunately, the leader of the men who murdered Tunstall was the sheriff of Lincoln County, William Brady. When Billy and his partners murdered the sheriff several months later, they became outlaws, regardless of how corrupt Brady may have been."
  38. Apr 17, 1882: Life of Billy the Kid arrives at Library of Congress, This Day in History
    "Far from being a simple cold-blooded killer who took 21 lives (the actual number was probably closer to 10), Billy the Kid was a literate and ambitious young man who tried valiantly to find a niche in law-abiding society...As a participant in the Lincoln County War, Billy killed several men in alliance with a local constable, which gave his actions some semblance of legality. Fighters on both sides of the bloody skirmish attempted to claim the legal high ground for their murders, though neither was fully justified. Nonetheless, Billy was the only killer to be charged with murder and pursued by the law."
  39. Aug 17, 1877: Billy the Kid kills his first man, This Day in History
    "Just how many men Billy the Kid killed is uncertain. Billy himself reportedly once claimed he had killed 21 men-'one for every year of my life.' A reliable contemporary authority estimated the actual total was more like nine-four on his own and five with the aid of others. Other western outlaws of the day were far more deadly."
  40. Wikipedia: People who claimed to be Billy the Kid
  41. Billy the Kid may get Pardon from NM Governor from <> (2003)
    "New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson thinks it's a good idea to determine once and for all if Billy the Kid was actually killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14th, 1881 in Fort Sumner, NM. Some historians think someone else was killed and Garrett actually was complicit in letting the Kid escape."
  42. About Billy the Kid: Fact vs. Myth.
  43. About Billy the Kid: Billy vs. Brushy
  44. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War
  45. The Truth About Brushy Bill Roberts
  46. Billy the Kid may get Pardon from NM Governor from <> (2003)
    "The hitch in the giddyup of the Billy the Kid legend was a guy named Brushy Bill Roberts of Hico, Texas. Dead now, he claimed he was actually Billy the Kid and had escaped that dark bedroom where Garrett was supposed to have killed him. He actually came to New Mexico one time and asked the Governor for a full pardon for the murders of the two deputies. The then Governor refused. Governor Richardson's predecessor, Gov Gary Johnson, also refused a pardon after objections from the family of one of the men Billy The Kid was convicted of killing. The claims of Brushy Bill Roberts are being taken at least somewhat seriously by two county sheriffs in southern New Mexico. They want to dig up the remains of Billy The Kid's mother, and Billy's remains, and run DNA testing to settle once and for who Sheriff Garrett actually killed."
  47. The Billy the Kid DNA Investigation, Allen Butler, Yahoo! Voices (17 April 2006)
    "Although stories of being Billy the Kid have abounded throughout the southwest since his death, two have been seen as the most prominent. The most well-known case is that of Brushy Bill Roberts, who made headlines in 1950 when he petitioned the governor of New Mexico for a pardon. Roberts actually met with the governor, but was denied the pardon because in the eyes of the governor it was not shown he was in fact the Kid. His story has become fairly famous, and he was even featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Young Guns II, where he is represented as being the real Billy the Kid and the story of the Kid's life after the Lincoln County War (which was shown in Young Guns I) is narrated by him in the film."
  48. Another Billy the Kid?
  49. John Miller: Billy the Kid Claimant, Multilingual Archive
    "John Miller (1850? – November 7, 1937) was said to have claimed to be the famous Western outlaw Billy The Kid. Because Miller never obtained the fame of Brushy Bill Roberts, another claimant, he has not been as deeply researched, and therefore his life is even more mysterious and cloudy than Brushy's. Another thing that makes Miller unique as a claimaint is that he never told his story publicly. Rather, his claim only began to receive recognition when his various friends and associates began to propagate it after his death. Since Miller never publicly spoke of his claim, all that we know of it is based on second-hand information, making it almost a claim of a claim."
  50. Excerpt from Ernst Albert Tietjen - Missionary and Colonizer By Gary Tietjen, Chapter 7 'Locomotives and Longhorns'
    "In the online book '[ Ernst Albert Tietjen - Missionary and Colonizer
    ' By Gary Tietjen, this excerpt tells about John Miller, an old timer living in Candy Kitchen, NM, who many thought was really Billy the Kid."
  51. Billy the Kid investigation resurrected: Investigators say they plan to do DNA comparison, Genealogy on (8 November 2005)
    "Two investigators say they have obtained DNA from a cowboy who claimed to be Billy the Kid. Before dying in the 1930s, John Miller purportedly told friends and a son that he was the legendary Western outlaw. Former Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan and Capitan Mayor Steve Sederwall say they obtained the DNA last May from Miller's remains, which are buried in Prescott, Ariz. They say they will compare it with blood traces taken from a 19th-century bench that is believed to be the one the Kid's body was placed on after he was shot by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881. The bench was discovered on a Fort Sumner ranch. Should the samples match, Sullivan and Sederwall say they could have a break that upends accepted historical accounts of the Kid's life and death."
  52. A New Billy the Kid?: The mad search for the bones of an American outlaw icon has come to Arizona, Leo W. Banks, Tucson Weekly (13 April 2006)
    "The latest twist in the Kid's ever-expanding legend came last May, when two New Mexico men traveled to Prescott to exhume the body of John Miller, a complete unknown whose most memorable life deed was claiming that he, in fact, was Billy the Kid. Miller died in 1937, which, if his claim is true, means that Sheriff Pat Garrett did not kill Billy with a bullet through the heart in Fort Sumner, N.M., on July 14, 1881, as the official version says."
  53. The Billy the Kid DNA Investigation, Allen Butler, Yahoo! Voices (17 April 2006)
    "John Miller. Miller never went public with his claims and his story is thus much less well known. However, prior to his death he told many of his friends that he was the real Billy the Kid, and after Miller's death in 1937 these stories began to spread. According to Miller's story, Miller was shot by Garrett in the Maxwell home. (Brushy Bill claims he knew something was up and sent someone else to the house in his stead). However, after being carried away by the townspeople he showed signs of life, having only been playing dead for Garrett. Billy was spirited away and his body was replaced with that of a Mexican who had died the previous day. He was nursed back to health by a woman named Isadora whom he would marry in August of 1881, the first appearance of a man named John Miller occurring in the public record of New Mexico."
  54. Questions & Inconsistencies Regarding the Killing of Billy the Kid
    "Almost from the second that the man Sheriff Pat Garrett killed in Pete Maxwell's bedroom hit the floor, questions began to arise about the aspects of the shooting. Today, over 120 years after the event, it's fair to say the shooting was not as cut-and-dry as Garrett tried to make it seem."
  55. Billy the Kid may get Pardon from NM Governor from <> (1 April 2004 update)
    "It seems that Sheriff Pat Garrett's widow, back in 1940, told a 9-year-old kid that Garrett conspired with Billy The Kid to fake his death. At least that's what a 72-year-old California man has sworn to in an affidavit. Problem is, Apolinaria Garrett died in 1936. Garrett's widow, according to Homer Overton, said the Kid and Garrett were actually very close. They met to arrange the fake death so the kid could go to Mexico and not be bothered anymore."
  56. Chapter 7. Locomotives and Longhorns, Ernst Albert Tietjen - Missionary and Colonizer By Gary Tietjen (1992)
    "Another story that Billy was not dead was told by Ben Kemp. Kemp had made the acquaintance of Henry Cox at Ft. Davis. When he next saw Cox, 'They told him that after leaving Fort Davis, they had moved to White Oaks, New Mexico where they had lived for two years. During this time, Henry Cox’s daughter, Tibitha, married a cowboy by the name of John Collins. Later, the family learned that Collins had been a friend of Billy the Kid. He had warned the Kid against going to Pete Maxwell’s house in Ft. Sumner on the night of July 14, 1881, when Sheriff Pat Garrett supposedly killed him. Collins claimed the next day he helped bury the corpse of the man Garrett killed and it was not Billy the Kid.'"
  57. Billy the Kid and the Mormons referencing article at

External Links

  1. Billy the Kid investigation resurrected: Investigators say they plan to do DNA comparison,, 11/8/2005
  2. About Billy the Kid, Ms. Marcelle Brothers, Last website update 07/27/2011
  3. Wild West History Association: Billy the Kid
  4. H2G2: Billy the Kid - Outlaw
  5. Billy the Kid
  6. Find-a-Grave: William "Billy The Kid" Bonney
  7. "Only surviving photo of Billy the Kid auctioned Saturday", Denver Post, 26 June 2011
  8. "'Billy the Kid' presents factual life story of fabled outlaw", Blair Howard, Salt Lake City Desert News, 7 January 2012
  9. The Truth About Brushy Bill Roberts
  10. "Billy The Kid Or Lookalike? You Decide: Upstate Man Claims He Owns Billy The Kid Tintype", Tim Waller, WYFF News 4, 2012
  11. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 1)
  12. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 2)
  13. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 3)
  14. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 4)
  15. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 5)
  16. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 6)
  17. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 7)
  18. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 8)
  19. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 9)
  20. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 10)
  21. Chronology of the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War (Page 11)
  22. "Billy the Kid"
  23. Spartacus Educational: Billy the Kid
  24. TruTV Outlaws & Thieves: "Henry McCarty: The Wild West's 'Billy The Kid'" by Joseph Geringer
  25. "The Death Of Billy The Kid, 1881", EyeWitness to History, <> (2001)
  26. "Billy The Kid - Teenage Outlaw of the Southwest", Kathy Weiser, Legends of America, <> (December 2011)
  27. Gov. Lew Wallace's promise of a pardon to Billy the Kid
  28. Good Morning America interview with Gov. Bill Richardson announcing his decision to refuse to pardon Billy the Kid, The Daily Beast, (31 December 2010)
  29. Billy the Kid Case: Truth, Not Legend
  30. Today I Found Out: “Billy the Kid’s” Real Name was Not William H. Bonney, <> (December 27, 2011)
  31. Billy the Kid may get Pardon from NM Governor, <> (2003-2005)
  32. The Story of Billy the Kid, Chas. M. Russell, Oakland Tribune Magazine (11 February 1923)
  33. Billy the Kid Media, <>
  34. Nov 23, 1859: Billy the Kid born, This Day in History
  35. Sep 23, 1875: Billy the Kid arrested for first time, This Day in History
  36. Sep 23, 1875: Billy the Kid is arrested for the first time, This Day in History
  37. Aug 17, 1877: Billy the Kid kills his first man, This Day in History
  38. Apr 9, 1881: Billy the Kid convicted of murder, This Day in History
  39. Jul 14, 1881: Billy the Kid is shot to death, This Day in History
  40. Apr 17, 1882: Life of Billy the Kid arrives at Library of Congress, This Day in History
  41. Letters From Billy The Kid On Display, <> (5 January 2012)
  42. Notorious Gunslinger Remembered 130 Years Later: Books, movies, plays and paintings all immortalize Billy the Kid, Faiza Elmasry, Voice of America (27 July 2011)

Image Gallery