Wild West History Association Dedicated to the history and lore of the American West
Wild West History Association Dedicated to the history and lore of the American West
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Billy the Kid

 

(1859- July 14, 1881)

 

Billy the Kid is one of the best known characters of the Old West. Unfortunately, parts of the his life have been built on legends and misinformation.

 

Basically, Billy was born in the east and moved west with his mother to Silver City, NM. At a young age he was jailed for a minor offense and escaped. In Bonito, Az, he killed Frank Cahilll.

 

Billy arrived in Lincoln, NM during a time when the Murphy-Dolan Faction and John Tunstall were trying to secure beef contracts with the military in Fort Stanton. Tunstall had befriended Billy and a number of young drifters. The conflict between the Murphy-Dolan Faction and Tunstall turned ugly. John Tunstall was killed. Angered by the death of their friend, the drifters formed a group known as the 'Regulators'. As a self-impose police force, they tried to round up the people responsible for the death of Tunstall.. Many people died during this pursuit.

 

The plot becomes more complicated and Billy is a wanted man. Pat Garrett becomes sheriff of Lincoln county and begins his pursuit of Billy. The cat and mouse game between these two lasts about a year and a half. Billy is cornered, but escapes. Billy is caught and sentenced to die, but escapes. Finally, Pat Garrett waits for Billy in a room at Pete Maxwell's home in Fort Sumner, NM. Billy enters and Pat Garrett fires.

 

Billy the Kid is buried in the old Fort Sumner Post Cemetery near present day Fort Sumner, New Mexico. There are plenty of signs directing you to the grave.

 

 

Information compiled by Steve Grimm

Drawing by Richard Florence

 

Books About Billy the Kid

 

The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid by Bob Boze Bell

 

This is a fun and fact filled book. Presenting an easy to read chronological sequence of Billy's life, this book really shines with it's extensive photo collection (many seen for the first time), maps, illustrations and drawings (by Bob Bell). I don't know why I waited so long acquiring this book.

 

Trailing Billy the Kid by Phillip J. Rasch

 

If there is a better Billy the Kid book out there I would like to read it. This recently publish book contains notes and obscure published articles by the author.

 

Warriors of Lincoln County by Phillip J. Rasch

 

Another book in the series printing Phillip J. Rasch's insight, notes and years of research. A must have for Billy the Kid fans

 

Gunsmoke in Lincoln County by Phillip J. Rasch

 

Yet another book in the series printing Phillip J. Rasch's insight, notes and years of research. A must have for Billy the Kid fans.

 

The Life and Death of John Henry Tunstall by Frederick Nolan

 

Here is a book recommended by a visitor to my web page and a descendant of Tunstall. The person stated it may be out-of print, but this author has done other books which may be useful.

 

Violence in Lincoln County 1869-1881 by William A. Keleher

 

This book concentrates on the Lincoln County War, but provides accurate information about Billy during that period.

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© Wild West History Association - a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation

http://www.WildWestHistory.org