One of only two images acknowledged by specialists to be Billy the Kid. This is a tintype thought to have actually been takenin Ft. Sumner in 1879-80. A third photo has been discovered, but not all experts have recognized it yet.

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In the summer of 1881, Billy the Kid, hiding out roughly the hamlet of ft Sumner in east-central new Mexico, should have known the Lincoln ar Sheriff pat Garrett would shot to hunt that down and kill him. The Kid had just damaged out of jail in Lincoln, new Mexico, wherein he had actually been sent by a judge and jury in Mesilla, brand-new Mexico, come hang because that murder. He had shot two deputy sheriffs to death during his escape. He had actually learned that his notoriety had actually spread from coastline to coast. The surely interpreted that Garrett would not simply forget around him.

Billy the Outlaw

Although only 21, The kid – likewise known together Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim or william Bonney, names mirroring the shards the his fractured family life – had already given a brand-new dimension come the notion of “outlaw.” He had actually ridden with number of gangs, hustled in the regional gaming halls, busted his companions the end of imprisonment, stolen horses across the territory, rustled cows in new Mexico and Texas, dealt with in the notorious Lincoln ar War, escaped from several jailhouses, gunned down at least four and also possibly as numerous as ten men, and terrorized civilization from the Rio Grande to the Pecos river to the High Plains.

After his escape native jail in Lincoln, Billy the Kid had fled to fort Sumner because he had actually friends there, consisting of many among the hispanic people, who – favor their Spanish ancestors – admired a wild spirit and reckless audacity. Billy knew that he might count top top them for a bunk and a meal in their adobe homes and also sheep camps. He might rely on castle to store a secret. He believed that he could hang roughly the neighborhood until he might put some money in his pocket and also head south for Mexico, beyond the with of beat Garrett, follow to Robert M. Utley in his book Billy the Kid: A Short and also Violent Life.


Meanwhile, from newspapers carried to the by his friends, Billy likely followed the media account of his breakout native the Lincoln jail. Undoubtedly, that realized that he had actually fired publicly interest. From brand-new York to san Francisco, “people waited in fascinated suspense to find out whether the do not be afraid young killer would stay at large,” follow to Utley. Billy for sure knew, too, the the branch of new Mexico had put a price on his head.

While criminal and also murderous instincts lay in ~ his core, Billy likewise had a specific raffish charisma, an especially among the Hispanics, who language he spoke fluently. He had actually not only tested the authorities, he had scorned danger, mocked death and charmed regional daughters. He starred at town fandangos or bailes, whereby he danced come the polkas, waltzes and schottisches perform by the mariachis playing violins and the classic convex-back guitars. The knew that plenty of of the Hispanics thought of him as a folk hero.


Only the second photo ever authenticated that Billy the Kid, this picture is a tintype that was owned at one point by the estate of beat Garrett. It pertained to light in las Cruces, NM, and was verified as Billy the son (right) and also his girlfriend Dan Dedrick (left) in October of 2013. (You have the right to read an ext about the here.)

A modern reporter, quoted through Utley, claimed that Billy, who stood about five feet and eight inch tall and also weighed part 140 pounds, had “clear blue eyes, v a rougish <sic> snap about them; light hair and also complexion. The is, in all, fairly a handsome looking fellow, the only imperfection gift two influential front this slightly protruding prefer a squirrel’s teeth, and also he has agreeable and winning ways.”

While he relocated restlessly approximately Fort Sumner during that summer that 1881, Billy must have actually mused over the chronicle of events that brought him to a suggest where he had to think about leaving the country and heading south.

On a cold and snowy day 6 months earlier, Billy and also his gang had been run to ground by beat Garrett and also a posse in ~ a little rock cabin at Stinking Springs, a couple of miles eastern of fort Sumner. Cal Polk, among Garrett’s posse, remembered the “...Billy cride <sic> out is the you Pat out there. Pat says yes, then Billy says Pat why don’t girlfriend come up choose a man and also give us a fair fite <sic>. Pat claimed I don’t aim to. Billy states that is what I believed of you, friend old lengthy legged son of a bitch...” (The quote showed up in the Angelfire web site’s post “Billy the Kid’s catch at Stinking Springs.) Billy and also his gang shortly starved out. They surrendered.

Under security by Garrett and also his men, Billy and the various other prisoners talk by wagon to ras Vegas, new Mexico, whereby they were met by a boisterous mob. Billy smiled and waved to the crowd, enjoy it the attention. In jail, Billy to be “cheerful and upbeat,” stated a reporter for the Las vegas Optic, follow to the internet site “Chronology that the Life of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln ar War, part 9.”

On December 27, still under safety by Garrett and also his men, Billy and also the other prisoners boarded a train. It take it them come Santa Fe, whereby they spent three month in jail. When he composed letters native his cabinet to the governor of new Mexico, pleading because that a pardon, Billy and his other gang members go their ideal to dig a tunnel come freedom. After ~ officials uncovered the escape attempt, Billy uncovered himself in solitary, shackled to the floor that a cell together dark as a cave.

Near the finish of March, Billy and one other gang member, guarded by three deputy U. S. Marshals, including an old enemy, Bob Olinger, boarded a train southward for Mesilla, wherein they would face trial. Billy sustained tormenting by Olinger transparent the trip.

On April 9, in a one-story adobe building on the southeast edge of Mesilla’s plaza, Billy stood before the bench, the jury having discovered him guilty of gunning down Sheriff william Brady in a revenge death in Lincoln three years earlier. ~ above April 13, Billy heard his sentence: He would be sent to Lincoln, where he would certainly be hanged.

On April 16, Billy started the trip, by wagon, come Lincoln, under a seven-man guard, including, again, the hateful Bob Olinger. For the entirety five-day trip, Billy, shackled to the floor that his wagon, ignored Olinger’s taunts. When in Lincoln, Billy came once an ext under the custody of play Garrett, who had him bound to the floor the his courthouse cell and placed under the safety of Olinger and also Deputy James W. Bell.

Late in the afternoon 12 job later, Billy watched as Olinger left the prison with 5 other prisoners, heading to the hotel throughout the street for dinner. Billy inquiry Bell to take it him external to the privy. Top top the method back into the courthouse and his cell, Billy, although bound with hand and leg cuffs, bludgeoned Bell with the chains. The seized the deputy’s pistol, follow to Utley. Billy shooting the deputy, leaving him to stagger outside and also collapse, dying nearly immediately in the arms of a passerby named Godfrey Gauss. Despite impeded by his shackles, Billy conveniently made his way upstairs. That raided the armory, acquisition Olinger’s prized double-barrel shotgun, a brand brand-new firearm. Billy stood in ~ an open second-story home window like a wolf spider waiting for prey. Within moments, as he anticipated, he witnessed Olinger pass on the soil below, rushing back from the hotel to the courthouse to investigate the gunfire. Godfrey Gauss shouted, “Bob, the Kid has actually killed Bell.” Billy looks under on Olinger and said, mockingly, “Hello, Bob.” Startled, Olinger looked up and saw Billy in the window above. He said, “Yes, and also he’s killed me, too.” and Billy did. That fired both barrels full into the face and chest the his tormentor, death him instantly.

With the aid of friends, Billy freed himself from his shackles. He “borrowed” horses. End the following two weeks, the drifted southern along the drainage that the Pecos River, northeast throughout the High levels of Texas, then ago southwest come his old haunts about Fort Sumner. Now, that looked southern toward Mexico. The thought about freedom from Sheriff play Garrett’s pursuit.

Tracking under Billy the child

Garret, who would become a legend in his own right, believed that Billy would certainly surely head south immediately, into Mexico, past the with of the law. Without discovering Billy’s whereabouts, Garrett waited, biding his time. He began to check out newspaper accounts and hear rumors that Billy the son “sightings” native Mexico come Tombstone, Arizona, to Denver, Colorado, to Austin, Texas. Still Garrett waited, v May, v June, into July.

Garrett, one ex-buffalo hunter, had actually drifted right into east central New Mexico in 1878, according to Utley. A lanky young guy well over six feet tall, Garrett had actually swiftly developed a reputation together “a tough, resolute fellow, quiet and also soft-spoken however not to it is in trifled with. ‘Coolness, courage, and determination were composed on his face,’ provided one who knew him.” referred to as “Juan Largo,” or “Big John,” through the Hispanics, he, choose Billy, danced at neighborhood fandangos come the music of the mariachis. the married an hispanic woman, and also after she premature death, that married one more Hispanic woman. Garrett had friends the his very own in the region. He winner his office top top a “law and order” platform in the lawless and disorderly Lincoln County.

Near mid-July, Garrett lastly got reliable intelligence on Billy’s location. His quarry, the learned, had actually not run instantly for Mexico, however had holed increase somewhere roughly Fort Sumner. Garrett got ready come pounce. The enlisted two deputies, man W. Poe and also Tom “Kip” McKinney. They headed for ft Sumner.

Showdown Time

As both The Kid and also Garrett definitely knew, fort Sumner had been the setting for memorable chapters in the history of the Southwestern frontier. During the polite War, it had actually served as a concentration camp because that the Navajos and Mescalero Apaches, who lost countless of their world in the insect-infested fields and fetid waters that the Pecos flow valley. That had come to be the northernmost suggest on the Pecos flow leg of the Goodnight-Loving Trail, i beg your pardon Texas cowmen provided to drive 10s of hundreds of longhorn cattle to markets as far north together Wyoming. ~ abandonment by the army in 1868, the fort – the heart of the community – fell into the hand of Lucien B. Maxwell, a livestock baron, and at one time, the biggest private landowner in the unified States. The former officers’ quarters had actually been recast as a big and lavish house for the family and also servants, lot like a mexico hacienda. The compound passed into the hands of boy Pete Maxwell when Lucien passed away in 1875.

Both Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett knew the Maxwell household well. No knew, however, that, by sheer coincidence, they would certainly converge in ~ the Maxwell location on the heat moonlit night that July 14, 1881.

Around 9:00 p.m., claimed Utley, Billy lounged ~ above the ground with friends in a nearby peach orchard, chatting in Spanish. The wore his customary sombrero, boots, and a dark vest and pants. He climbed from the ground, walked the end of the orchard, lept over a fence, and also disappeared right into the Maxwell compound. The either checked out the room of a girlfriend (or, possibly, come the room that Celsa Gutierrez, pat Garrett’s sister-in-law) along the old officers’ row.

Around 9:00 p. M., Garrett, v Poe and also McKinney, appeared in the peach orchard, plan to talk in mystery with Pete Maxwell, hoping he could know other current about Billy. Garrett and his men kept to the shadows. They saw guys sitting top top the ground. They heard them speaking in Spanish. As they watched quietly, they witnessed in the moonlight someone, who wore a sombrero, boots and also dark vest, climb from the ground, walk the end of the orchard, leap over a fence and also disappear right into the compound.


Near midnight, they moved silently come the southeast corner of the Maxwell house, just outside Pete’s bedroom. Garrett left Poe and McKinney on the porch. He gone into quietly v the open up door into the darkened bedroom come awaken Pete and also question him.

Near midnight, Billy, having taken off his hat, vest and boots, decided that he wanted something to eat. He developed a chef fire. He took his knife – and, apparently as a precaution, his Colt pistol – and he walked, in his socks, throughout the link to reduced a item of meat from the carcass the a freshly eliminated yearling steer hanging from a rafter over the porch exterior Maxwell’s bedroom.

Simultaneously, within the bedroom, Garrett started to concern Maxwell, that was aggravated around having been awakened.

Just external the bedroom, ~ above the porch, Billy discovered the shadowy numbers of Poe and also McKinney. “Quien es?” Billy demanded, leveling his pistol on Poe. “Who room you?” He relocated toward the door come Maxwell’s bedroom, probably thinking instinctively that it would certainly serve as a sanctuary.

Garrett and also Maxwell heard the concerned voices ~ above the porch. They dropped silent.

Billy gotten in the room, his pistol ready. “Who room those fellows outside, Pete?” that asked Maxwell, follow to Utley.

“That’s him!” Maxwell stated to Garrett.

Billy, startled, observed the dark form of Garrett. “Quien es?”

“...I jerked mine gun and also fired,” Garrett would say later, quoted by Utley.

Afraid the Garrett may have actually wounded a lion in the darkness, Garrett and Maxwell scrambled the end of the room, which fell silent.

Garrett said, “...I think ns have acquired him.” castle heard nothing.

Garrett watched together Maxwell lit a candle and placed that in the window of the bedroom to irradiate the interior. Garrett, Poe and McKinney peered with the window, and in the flickering light, they can see a number sprawled ~ above the floor, motionless.

Billy the Kid, through Pat Garret’s cartridge lodged in his chest, just over the heart, place dead. Bereaved Hispanic females gathered in ~ the sound the the gunfire. They carried The Kid’s body to a nearby room, laying his human body on a bench. They placed “...lighted candles around it follow to their principles of effectively conducting a ‘wake’ for the dead,” said Deputy Poe, together quoted through Utley. The afternoon of the next day, the community buried Billy the kid in the fort Sumner cemetery, next to two old friends and also gang members.

Or was it really Billy the child they buried that warm July afternoon?

Now come Brushy Bill

In 1949, an aging man called Ollie L. “Brushy Bill” Roberts, who resided in Hamilton County, Texas, about 100 miles southwest of the Dallas/Fort worth area, claimed that play Garrett had actually not killed Billy the son that night in ft Sumner, follow to the Angelfire web site. Rather, Brush bill contended, Garrett had actually killed an additional man, whose name was Billy Barlow. Brushy Bill declared that he was the genuine Billy the Kid. He said that he, in fact, had escaped and fled ft Sumner. He stated he had actually lived in Mexico through the Yaqui ind until points in the U. S. Cooled down, then he returned to work, he claimed, together a Wild West performer, a law enforcer, and a mercenary, life under a dozen various aliases. He claimed that he served with Pancho Villa in the mexico Revolution. The married 4 times.

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Undeniably, Brushy bill bore certain physical resemblances to Billy the Kid. He showed up to know an exceptional amount about Lincoln in 1881, The Kid’s escape indigenous the Lincoln jail, and also events in ft Sumner. He had old acquaintances that vouched for him.

On the other hand, Brushy Bill never seemed come have described why so many world who knew and also revered Billy the boy grieved in ~ the funeral ~ above July 15, 1881. Brushy Bill’s variation of the killing find no support in any kind of other modern-day account. His story sometimes shows up to operation contrary to well-known history. Photographs that Brushy Bill together a young boy perform not seem to enhance up specifically with the one recognized photograph the Billy the Kid.


Unfortunately, prior to anyone could resolve the conflict in the story, Ollie L. “Brushy Bill” Roberts collapsed and also died that a heart strike in Hico, Texas, ~ above December 27, 1950. The question of whether Pat Garrett really shot Billy the son that night in Pete Maxwell’s bedroom remains unanswered to this day.

Tracking under Billy the Kid

You can track Billy the boy – as a son – from new York City to Indianapolis, to Wichita, to Denver, to Santa Fe, to southwestern new Mexico’s silver City. You can track the – together an outlaw – from east Arizona across new Mexico come the Texas Panhandle.

You will discover that Lincoln, essentially a museum frontier village located in the Bonita river canyon between eastern brand-new Mexico’s Sacramento and also Capitan Mountains, is a great place to start your quest. A number of the historic sites and buildings native the Billy the son era have actually been preserved. They are open to visitors. For extr information, contact:

Visitors center Highway 380 Lincoln, new Mexico 88338 Phone: 1-505-653-4025

Fort Sumner, situated on the Pecos River around an hour and a half drive north of Roswell, is a great second stop. At the old army fort, friend will find a marker, reflecting the place of the Maxwell house, where Garrett shot Billy the Kid, and you have the right to visit The Kid’s grave, just south the the Old ft Sumner Museum. For extr information, contact:

Fort Sumner room of commerce 707 North 4th Street P.O. Box 28 fort Sumner, brand-new Mexico 88119