Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2017

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12 I lascrucesmagazine.com William Henry McCarty was born around 1859, perhaps in an Irish slum in New York City. ere is no irrefutable proof of exactly where and when he was born. When his mother, Catherine, married William Antrim in Kansas, he assumed his step-father's last name. Even later, he chose the alias William Bonney, from which grew the legendary name, Billy the Kid. Follow his path and walk in his footsteps at these landmarks, right here in Southern New Mexico. Chasing Billy the Kid HISTORY M O R E T H A N 1 3 0 Y EA R S A FT E R H I S D EAT H , T H E L E G E N D O F H I S FA M O U S O U T LAW L I V E S O N S i l v e r C i t y : W h e r e a M a n B e c a m e a n O u t l a w IN 1874, Billy's mother died of tuberculosis while the family was living in Silver City. He may have been 12 years old, as some childhood friends claimed. He may have been 15, if the stories of Billy during the Lincoln County War are accurate. In any case, Billy took up with George "Sombrero Jack" Schaefer, a disreputable friend who supported his drunkenness by stealing. Schaefer broke into Charlie Sun's house and took some $200 in goods from the Chinese laundryman. Then, he convinced Billy to stash the loot in his room. He may even have taken a turn around town wearing some of the purloined women's clothes, an act strictly forbidden in the 1800s. Sarah Brown, who kept the boarding house where Billy lived, notified Sheriff Harvey Whitehill, who arrested Billy, ostensibly to deter future misdeeds. Though the crime carried only a misdemeanor sentence, Billy escaped the jailhouse by shinnying up the chimney. W a r B r e a k s O u t i n L i n c o l n C o u n t y BILLY DRIFTED FOR A FEW YEARS, working as ranch hand, gambler, and gang member and becoming skilled in the use of the Winchester rifle and Colt revolver. In 1878, war broke out in Lincoln County, with Billy on the side of the Regulators against Lawrence Murphy, James Dolan, and Sheriff William Brady. When Sheriff Brady as killed, only Bonney was accused of the murder, although he died from at least a dozen gunshot wounds from six guns aimed at him. The war came to its end when the Murphy-Dolan gang trapped the Regulators in a house and set fire to it. As the Regulators attempted to escape from the back, they were shot dead. Billy and one other man managed to escape. Today, visitors can visit the living history museum in Lincoln and visit many of the buildings that played a part in the war. H o r s e T h e i v i n g i n W h i t e O a k s IN 1880, Billy was attempting to steal horses in White Oaks, right outside Lincoln County. Sheriff James Carlyle formed a posse and cornered the Bonney gang in the ranch house of Jim Greathouse, about 40 miles north of Carrizozo. Negotiating a surrender, Billy agreed to let Carlyle into the house to discuss terms. Some hours later, a man came crashing through a window. Thinking it was Billy, the sheriff's posse opened fire, but the man flying through the window was Carlyle, who died at the hands of his own men. Visit White Oaks and see a collection of historic Victorian Homes, most privately owned, and many built when Billy roamed the area. In the community cemetery, find the grave of James Bell, whose tombstone is inscribed "Died April 25, 1881. Murdered by William Bonney, AKA 'Billy the Kid,' during his escape from the Lincoln County jail." S u r r e n d e r i n g F o r B e e f : S t i n k i n g S p r i n g s ON DECEMBER 21, 1880, Billy and his gang were barricaded in a farmhouse at Stinking Springs, about 15 miles east of Fort Sumner. Pat Garrett and his posse were waiting outside in the biting cold. Garrett sent to the nearby Wilcox ranch for food for his hungry men and, as they cooked steaks, the aroma of the meat penetrated the farmhouse. It was just too much for Billy and his gang. They agreed to surrender if the posse would share the hot meal with them. Written by Bud Russo Illustrations by Bob Diven

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