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Billy The Kid

Date of birth : 1859-11-23
Date of death : 1881-07-14
Birthplace : New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-07-12

Billy the Kid , also known as: William Bonney, William H. Bonney, Henry McCarthy, born November 23, 1859 in New York City, New York, United States - died July 14, 1881 is an American gunslinger and a murderer.

Billy the Kid was a hired gun who fought in the Lincoln County, New Mexico, range wars during the 1880s. The true name of Billy the Kid remains unknown, although most historians believe it was Henry McCarthy. He was born to Catherine McCarthy in New York City in 1859, although 1860 has been given as birth year also. His mother remarried and the family moved to New Mexico. The Kid began his career as a petty thief stealing clothes from a Chinese laundry. His stepfather, William Antrim, had the local sheriff jail the 15-year-old boy to teach him a lesson. All the Kid learned was how to escape from jail.

In Arizona, Billy the Kid worked as a ranch hand while stealing horses. He used a string of aliases, including Henry Antrim, William Antrim, Kid Antrim. The Kid hung out in saloons but rarely drank. He killed his first man in 1877 when a drunken bully, Windy Cahill, taunted him. Then Kid broke out of the Camp Grant guardhouse and returned to New Mexico. In September 1877, he joined a group of outlaws under Jesse Evans and stole horses from the Silver City area.

The gang was drawn into the Lincoln County range battle between two competing ranch outfits when Evans signed the crew to rustle cattle for rancher James Dolan to sell cheaply to the U.S. Army. The Kid switched sides and joined rancher John Turnstall. On February 18, 1878, Turnstall was ambushed. The Kid swore revenge, joined Turnstall's foreman Dick Brewer in creating a posse, called the Regulators, to punish those involved. The Regulators killed three men, and the Kid was wanted for all three murders.

On April 4, 1878, the Regulators and Dolan supporters were involved in a shootout at Blazer's Mills, New Mexico. Dolan supporters Buckshot Roberts and Sheriff William Brady were killed, and, again, the Kid was blamed. In February, the Kid returned to Lincoln to come to a peaceful agreement with the Dolan supporters. A drunken party followed, and Huston Chapman died. The Kid and a friend saw the murder and quietly left town.

By March Governor Lew Wallace granted amnesty to all involved in the Lincoln County War, except the Kid, who was under indictment for two murders, and Chapman's unknown killer. The Kid cut a deal with Wallace to reveal the killer if all charges against him were dropped.

The Kid moved north and lived quietly around Fort Sumner, New Mexico. But in 1880, the Kid began a crime spree. In January, he gunned down a man. In October, he and others robbed the U.S. Mail; he also was involved in a counterfeiting ring. In November, when a posse surrounded the gang, the outlaws killed one hostage and escaped. In December, a newspaper named the Kid the leader of the gang, but even though the accusation was untrue, Governor Wallace set a $500 price on the Kid's head.

Lincoln County sheriff Pat Garrett and his men surrounded the outlaws on December 19, 1880, and were able to trap the men inside. On April 9, 1881, the Kid, found guilty of first degree murder in the death of Sheriff Brady, was sentenced to hang on May 13.

On April 28, the Kid outwitted two deputies in the Lincoln County Jail, killed them, and escaped. Garrett delayed investigating, but on July 14, 1881, he went to the home of Pete Maxwell, an acquaintance of both Garrett and the Kid. The Kid showed up at Maxwell's door while Garrett was there and asked "Quien es?" (Who's there?). Garrett recognized the voice, fired his gun, and killed Billy the Kid.

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