Billy The Kids Death

Billy the Kid

Hunter Jones

HSTA 160

October 30, 2015

Billy the kid was an important character in shaping the west that we know today, he was the peoples hero. Although he was no hero, he was a hardened criminal who robbed very important men of the time. The common people in the west looked up to Billy, since they didn’t have the courage to do what Billy did. His criminal activities sparked some of the very first man hunts in the country but people would look the other way when he killed and the people of the West would say “it was out of revenge, not cold blood”.[1] How did Billy the Kid actually die? The myth of Billy the Kids death has been heavily debated ever since he died. The debates on his death includes the date of death, who killed him, where he was killed, how he was killed and where he is actually buried.

How was Henry McCarty, who called himself William Bonney, and who was better known as “Billy the Kid,” killed? According to sources, Henry McCarty was killed on the date of July 15, 1881 by Sheriff Pat Garrett.[2] McCarty was placed in jail on 1880 after he was proven guilty for the murder of rancher John Tunstall and the murders of the two law men in pursuit of the kid for the murder.[3] The two law men who were killed are Deputy George Hindmen and Sheriff Brady. After the murder of Brady, the Kid was the most wanted man in the West. Between his incarceration in 1880 and his murder of Sheriff Brady he then managed to killed a few more people, which set in motion in the pursuit of the Kid by Sheriff Pat Garrett, who then caught Billy and put him in jail.[4] Before Henry McCarty’s trial came the Kid escaped from jail by killing two guards, that’s when Pat Garrett went on a three-month pursuit for McCarty’s capture. Garrets pursuit was successful in killing the Kid, after tracing the Kid to the Maxwell Ranch, Garrett shot him to death.[5] No legal charges were brought against him since the killing was ruled a justifiable homicide. The Kid was then laid to rest in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery, Fort Sumner, NM.[6] Or was he, he could be anywhere.

The day that Billy the Kid was thought to be killed was on is July 14, 1881 but some skeptics have other ideas on when his death actually happened. There are some people who say that the Kid escaped from jail the night of July 14, 1881 and was later killed in Mexico on March 1, 1883.[7] Others think that he met a Navajo woman in New Mexico, then adopted a son to keep suspicion low and became a rancher where he died on April 23, 1928.[8] Arizona State University professor Robert J. Stahl says that “within hours of Billy’s death a death certificate was made by Spanish men who were on the jury of the investigation of his death, who also knew the Kid.”[9] After studying the document, Stahl came to the conclusion that the Kid actually died July 15, 1881 at 12:30 a.m. instead of July 14, 1881 at midnight. The experts at the History Channel also agree with Stahl that the actual date of death was July 15, 1881.[10]

The killer of Billy the Kid could be multiple people or no one due to the many conspiracies. The better known story of Sheriff Pat Garret who was though to have killed the Kid might actually be wrong. Other sources such as About Billy the Kid suggest that Billy the Kid escaped from jail in late 1880’s and was never found and died after he lived a full life of being a rancher know as “Brushy” Bill Roberts.[11] But most scholars, historians and sources like the History Channel agree with the majority of the people in that the kid died by the hand of Sheriff Pat Garrett on the morning of July 15, 1881.

How was Billy the Kid actually killed? The most popular story of the Kids death according to the History Channel is the pursuit of the Kid by Sheriff Pat Garrett, who then caught Billy and put him in jail.[12] Before Henry McCartys trial came the Kid escaped from jail by killing two guards, that’s when Pat Garrett went on a three-month pursuit of McCarty. Garrets pursuit was successful in killing the Kid After tracing him to the Maxwell Ranch, Garrett shot him to death. No legal charges were brought against him since the killing was ruled a justifiable homicide.[13] Other sources like Angel Fire who are experts in Billy the Kid says that Henry McCarthy was never killed and lived under the name of “Brushy” Bill Roberts and lived to be an old man and died on his ranch in Texas.[14]

The last thing in the debate on Billy the Kids death is where he is he buried, because two states claim the gravesite of Billy. Desert News says that “one grave is just outside Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where Billy the Kid was buried after being shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881.[15] The other is in Texas in Hamilton, just down the road from Hico, the hometown of one “Brushy Bill” Roberts, who claimed that Garrett shot the wrong guy and he, in fact, was Billy the Kid”. [16]

After analyzing all of the data that I have researched, I have concluded that there can only be one way that Billy the Kid died, one place that he is buried and one killer. Billy the Kid was killed by Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico on July15, 1881 and was later laid to rest in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery. The information is still not clear on the Kids death, and will probably never be solved, which means no one will ever be sure where Henry McCarthy was laid to rest or what actually happened to the famous outlaw who helped shape the west that we all know today.

[1] Answers. Answers Corporation, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

[2] “Billy the Kid Is Shot to Death.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 29 Oct.         2015.

[3] Ibis., 6

[4] “Billy the Kid Is Shot to Death.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 29 Oct.         2015.

[5] Ibis., 8

[6]  “Texas, New Mexico Both Claim Billy the Kid Gravesites.” DeseretNews.com. N.p., 29 Nov.     2011. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

[7] “Billy The Kid – Along The Ancient Way.” Billy The Kid – Along The Ancient Way. N.p., n.d. Web.           13 Nov. 2015.

[8] “About.” About. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

[9] Ibis., 11-13

[10] “Billy the Kid Is Shot to Death.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 29 Oct.        2015.

[11] “About.” About. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

[12] “Billy the Kid Is Shot to Death.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 29 Oct.        2015.

[13]  Ibis., 5-6

[14] “Billy the Kid: Outlaw Legend.” Billy the Kid: Outlaw Legend. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

[15] “Texas, New Mexico Both Claim Billy the Kid Gravesites.” DeseretNews.com. N.p., 29 Nov.     2011. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

[16] Ibis., 4

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