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1850's New York City

Billy the Kid was born in Manhattan, New York City, on September 17, 1859. He was christened as Henry McCarty. He had a younger brother called Joseph McCarty, who was born in 1863. His family eventually relocated to Silver City, New Mexico - and this is where Henry started to have problems with the law. Some petty thefts led to the future renegade to relocate to Arizona Territory, where things would get worse for the young man...

Dan the Info-man
His father, Patrick, died when Henry was just a child. His mother later remarried.

Bonita, Arizona

By now, the teenage McCarty was making a name for himself as a thief and minor outlaw. He was stealing horses and gambling. On August 18, 1877 he first mortally wounded someone. In the town of Bonita, Arizona, he managed to get into a personal dispute with a man called Francis "Windy" Cahill, a dispute that ended in a gunshot and Cahill's later demise. McCarty fled the area, joined a gang of cattle rustlers and started calling himself William H. Bonney. If he hadn't decided to go to work in Lincoln County (New Mexico), he may have lived a long and relatively uneventful life...

Billy the Kid plays croquet with the Regulators

Things got very ugly for Bonney in 1878. His employer, John Tunstall, was murdered, igniting what came to be known as the Lincoln County War. Two factions clashed in a number of gunfights which left over 20 people killed, and Bonney was wanted for murder. At this time, he was known as "William H. Antrim, alias Kid, alias Bonny [sic]" (his mother, Catherine (née Devine) McCarty, had married a man called William Henry Harrison Antrim). A number of scrapes, escapes and escapades ensued, with Bonney evading capture and being involved in more killings. But Governor Lew Wallace (April 10, 1827 – February 15, 1905) had grown weary of Bonny's exploits...

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Old West lawman Pat Garrett and his posse had been chasing Bonney throughout the Territory, spurred on by Governor Wallace's $500 bounty. The group caught Bonney and took him to trial in Mesilla, New Mexico (1881). However, Bonney managed to execute a daring escape, leaving at least two deputies lying dead in his wake. The outlaw's notoriety was growing exponentially, but he was clearly a dangerous and ruthless criminal. Whether he was "Wanted: Dead or Alive" was becoming rapidly irrelevant, as his rapid trigger finger made people nervous around him...

A notorious quote...

There is a famous quote attributed to Bonney in regard to his trial in April, 1881. Upon passing sentence, Judge Warren Bristol said to the outlaw that he would hang until he was "dead dead dead" - to which Bonney responded with "you can go to hell, hell, hell!"

Historical court records state that Bonney had nothing to say after his sentence was passed, meaning the quote is likely to be legendary. However, it fits the outlandish rogue's character to respond in such a manner to a sentence of death.

The final moments of Billy the Kid

Pat Garrett soon caught up with Bonney once more. Bonney had been staying in a friend's house near to Fort Sumner (New Mexico). Garrett waited for the wanted man in the room he had been hiding out in; by the time Bonney returned it was dark and although he realized someone was in his room, he could not tell it was Garrett. The infamous gunfighter drew his revolver, but Garrett had shot twice before Bonney could return fire, killing the famous outlaw. Billy the Kid was dead (July 14, 1881).

Last words...

Bonney's last words were "¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?" (Spanish for "Who is it? Who is it?") upon entering the dark room where Pat Garrett was waiting for him.

Billy the Kid

Pat Garrett died in 1908, aged 57. The lawman was shot and killed - in a business/land dispute. There is a grave marker for Billy the Kid at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. This outlaw's legend has grown over the decades and many books and films have been made about him. Movies include The Kid from Texas (1950) starring Audie Murphy, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, (1973) with Kris Kristofferson as Billy, James Coburn as Pat Garrett, and with a soundtrack by Bob Dylan and also Young Guns, Christopher Cain's 1988 motion picture starring Emilio Estevez as Billy and Patrick Wayne as Pat Garrett.