MY THOUGHTS ON THE KID
Well I’ve finally finished the saga of Billy, The Kid. Now I would like to ramble on a little bit about this adventure. This is the last verse of the ballad:
“THERE’S MANY A MAN WITH A FACE FINE AND FAIR,
WHO STARTS OUT IN LIFE WITH A CHANCE TO BE SQUARE.
BUT JUST LIKE POOR BILLY, HE WANDERS ASTRAY,
AND LOSES HIS LIFE IN THE VERY SAME WAY.”
Alas, I recon this is true, a single mistake can lead to a chain of events that leads to doom.
Lets look at some of Billys legend.
“WAY OUT IN THE WEST WITH A GUN IN HIS HAND,
AT THE AGE OF TWELVE YEARS HE KILLED HIS FIRST MAN.”
We have seen in the previous chapters that Billy’s first brush with the law was about the age of sixteen. He was jailed for the theft of the Chinamen’s cloths. After that we have him in New York city, where it is claimed he killed the Irish youth with a cheese knife. This is not generally recounted in the wild west tale, but this is number one.
Next we find him in Camp Grant, where he tangled with the Blacksmith, Frank “Windy” Cahill, and shot and killed him in the fight. I kinda feel this was a act of self defense myself. This is number two.
Then comes the Lincoln County conflict, where he becomes known as The Kid. After his employer John Tunstal was killed The Kid, still a minor gunhand, was part of a posse that captured Frank Baker and Willim “Buck” Morton, two men that were part of the group that killed Tunstall. Billy and another posse member killed them, claiming they were trying to escape. Do we give Billy both of them ? If so this makes numbers three and four.
Next on April 1, Sheriff Brady and George Hindman were ambushed and killed by a group of which Billy was a particapant. Billy later was tried and found guilty of Brady;s murder. Let’s be generous and give Billy both of these also – numbers five and six.
Then there was the shoot out with “Buckshot Roberts”. This one probably was not Billy’s to claim, but heck, make it number seven.
Now comes the shoot out at McSween’s house. Billy is said to have killed a deputy at McSween’s door. number eight.
After the truce Billy killed a man in a saloon brawl. number nine.
Then Deputy Carlyle, at White Oaks – Billy denied this killing, so lets let it pass.
Finally comes the murders of Deputies J. W. Bell and Bob Olinger in the Linclon jail break. This makes the total questionably at eleven.
“THERE’S TWENTY-ONE MEN I’VE PUT BULLETS THROUGH.
SHERIFF PAT GARRET MUST MAKE TWENTY-TWO.’
Well the song, like most of Billy exploits, has been greatly twisted out of shape and fact. Most of the “experts” credit Billy with seven to eight killings. Pat Garret wrote with a ghost writers “A true Account of Billy, the Kid’s Life”. In it he claimed that Billy saved a wagon train from attacting Indian’s with an axe. Hollywood has done no better. In the late sixties Paul Newman potrayed Billy in “The Left Handed Gun” , based on the reversed negetiave photo, mentioned in the first chapter.
Lord I love Sam Peckenpa’s “Pat Garret and Billy The Kid” with James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson. They both are two old for the chacaters, but the story loosely follows the plot. But what I love is that the film has a veritable who’s who of vetran Chacater actors in it.
The later “Young Guns” , with Emilio Estaves, probably capatures Billy’s manner best of all. But while it pretty closely follows the time line, the young gang members do not blend with the facts.
In one of my books with great photos I, have a page with a photo of a Whitney-Kennedy lever action 44-40carbine given by Billy, The Kid to U. S. deputy Marshal Eugene Van Patten. I have not encountered this marshal’s name or the event in any of my readings . On the same photo are two pistols that belonged to Pat Garret. Also shown are a warrant to Bob Olinger for the arrest of Billy The Kid. The items are in the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Also in one of my books is a picture of the shotgun with the stock wired together that The Kid used to kill Bob Olinger, and a double action pistol said to have been in Billy’s possession when he was killed. These are also on display at the Aurty Mesuem.
I have been to the Western Heritage Museum in the past, it is loaded with Historical Western Treasures from the past and from hollywood. It is well worth the effort for any one with a love of our old west.
So I finally come to the close of this exaustive portion of my blog.
Once again, let me re-emphasize that I do not claim to be an expert on anything about
which i write. I just quickly ride through someone’s books and rustle a few tidbits of
information. Nothing you cannot find on the internet yourself.
Thanks for riding along on this rambling word raid with me.
let’s hope we don’t wind up litterally on the end of someones rope!
Related reading on Billy The Kid from Rambling Bob: