|Only known photo of Billy the Kid
Although some facts of his early life are sketchy, Billy the Kid is thought to have been born in 1859 to Catherine McCarty, an Irish immigrant. Henry McCarty (Billy the Kid) lived at that time in New York City in the slums. Little is known about Henry’s family. He possibly had two siblings, an older sister and a younger brother. Although his mother is mentioned in some of the old records, the whereabouts of his father has been lost.
In 1873, Henry’s mother married William Antrim in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She developed tuberculosis and the family moved to Silver City for the better climate and the mining. Henry’s mother lived only a few months after that.
Henry had his first brush with the law in 1875. He was arrested for acting as a lookout while his cohort stole money and guns. Henry was charged with larceny and incarcerated, but he shimmied up a chimney and escaped. The next day the town newspaper ran the first of many articles that would be written about Billy the Kid.
Henry traveled to Camp Grant, Arizona looking for work. Here he is first referred to as the ‘Kid,’ possibly because of his youth. In 1877, Henry Antrim, alias Kid, is arrested again, this time for horse stealing. While his guards attended a dance, the Kid sliped from his shackles and escaped once again.
|Billy the Kid, Dick Brewer, Regulators
In February 1878, Tunstall left his ranch with Billy the Kid and four other men to take some horses to Lincoln. On the way, they met a posse sent to arrest Tunstall. When Tunstall approached the posse, he was shot and killed. This is the incident that started the famous Lincoln County War.
Tunstall’s foreman, Dick Brewer, is appointed to gather a posse to go after the men who killed Tunstall. Brewer forms the Regulators, a group that includes Billy the Kid. For the next few months Billy and the other Regulators tracked down the men responsible for Tunstall’s death. At one point, Billy and the Regulators were hiding in a corral and ambushed the Sheriff responsible for Tunstall’s death. They also killed one of his deputies. Billy was shot in the leg, but managed to escape. At this point, Billy is still only nineteen years old.
|1876 Gatling Gun
On the one year anniversary of Tunstall’s death, Billy and four other men met
with Jimmy Dolan, one of the men they've been hunting, and some of his men in the middle of a street.
The meeting almost turned violent, but they do end up shaking hands and agreed to end the war. This followed a proclamation by the Governor declaring
amnesty for all parties involved in the Lincoln County war.
Billy the kid wrote a letter to the Governor, stating, "I have no wish to fight any more. Indeed I have not raised an arm since your proclamation. As to my character, I refer to any of the citizens, for the majority of them are my friends and have been helping me all they could. I am called Kid Antrim but Antrim is my stepfathers name. Waiting for an annser I remain your obedeint servant."
|Billy the Kid's Grave
As of 2012, Billy the Kid had the record for having the most films made about him. Have you ever seen any of these movies? Have you ever read about Billy the Kid? Please leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for the book listed below.
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Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and one grandson. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.