The 130th Anniversary of the death of Billy “Kid” Bonney

I got away from making Thursday blog posts for a while, mainly due to the “surprise” lol July 1st release of my book.  But as of today, I’m back on track. Today is the 130 Year Anniversary of the shooting and death of the outlaw known today as Billy the Kid.  History.com has a brief article on this here: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/billy-the-kid-is-shot-to-death

Below, is an excerpt from my book wherein the principal characters discuss their knowledge of William Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid.  And as you’ll see, I’ve made it somewhat of an interactive experience.  Enjoy.

The following passage is taken from Chapter 8 — Incidentals on the merely Legendary

***

The men around the table discussed their own one-time associations with [James Butler “Wild Bill”] Hickok and their associations with others who knew him, and somehow, it all led back to the question of just how many men such a notorious figure had actually killed. That is, as opposed to the oft-spoken hearsay that had eventually become the tale. And that brought out the subject of the one and only …

“What was that kid’s name?” Virgil asked, “Oh, hell, memory fails me.”

“Who?” Jim asked.

“Called ’em the left-handed gun …” Virgil said.

“Bonney?” Tom offered.

“Billy “Kid” Bonney, that’s him. They’ve written so much about that kid — under no circumstances could all of that possibly be true.” Virgil said, “Maybe some, but not all, not possible.”

“That kid didn’t kill half as many men as they write he did,” Frank said, “He didn’t have time, he was only nineteen when they killed him.

“Well, I think Billy was at least twenty-one, if not twenty-two, by ’81 — ” Tom attempted to interrupt.

“He didn’t, and we know he didn’t, because they’ve written the same exact shit about us,” Virgil said.

There was chatter between the boys, and suddenly J.D. blurted out, “Lincoln County, New Mexico — ”

William Henry McCarty, alias “Kid” Antrim, alias William Harrison Bonney, alias Billy “Kid” Boney, and Billy the Kid — a name known to have been acquired during his lifetime, though no source seems to point to how or when — lived a brief life colored blood-red by violence.  And the facts aren’t clear as to whether he was an instigator of said violence, or merely a victim.  He was a literal “kid,” who never truly reached manhood due to his association with cattle baron Jon Tunstall and his business partner Alexander McSween, during their land and cattle war with a local Sheriff, and a band of rustlers in the Sheriff’s employ.

(Various Unauthenticated Photos, Purported to be of Billy the Kid)

“Jesse met that kid back in ’79 — hotel in Hot Springs, New Mexico,” Frank said.

“Is that right?” Jim said.

“Jesse ask him to join up with him.  Kid declined the offer.”

“Why’d they call him the left-handed gun, sirs?” Sean asked.

“You boys wanna know how ‘the kid’ got called the left-handed gun … ” Tom began.

“You know about that, I heard about that as well — ” Frank was saying when Tom cut him off.

Standing from his chair, Tom proceeded to illustrate. “Billy Bonnie had a man come up behind him, knowing he was right-handed; grabbed Billy’s right arm and twisted it behind to keep him from drawing on him; Kid twisted his wrist around and pulled his right gun with the left hand; pointed the barrel underneath his arm and behind him — and shot that sucker dead!

When he finished, the other men were staring at him, dumbfounded.

“Now Tom, that’s not what I heard,” Frank said.

“Now what I heard, either,” Virgil said.

“I don’t remember reading that,” J.D. added.

Jim was laughing, “He just made that up — I know he did.”

Horn simply smiled, mischievously.

Virgil said, “You’re not helping history at all, Tom.”

“I heard that every time he would have to draw in a hurry,” Jim said, “He would draw from his right holster, with his left hand across his chest — border style, like Virgil here.”

“Heard his wrist was double-jointed,” Frank stated.

“Heard it was hogwash,” Virgil stated.

Scuttlebutt had Billy the Kid drawing his pistol in a variety of styles to justify the nickname, “the left-handed gun.”  And it was rather comical the way the men around the table offered up their individual versions of how Bonnie would draw a pistol.  There were all manner of complex movements suggested to explain away “The Kid’s” famous nickname.  And the explanations depicted Bonney from one end of the spectrum to the other.  From smooth, calculated gunman to utter buffoon, who shot men clumsily and mostly by luck or accident.  But in documented fact, the reason for the misnomer was a famous “verified” photo of William Bonney, with a pistol strapped at his left waist, and a rifle being held to the floor with his right hand.  It was a photo, which at some early point in its history had been reversed, erroneously placing his six-gun on his left side.  A fact which only came to light late in the 20th Century when someone noticed that the rifle’s ejector in the photo was on the wrong side.

Still, there are today those who continue to argue that Billy drew “border style,” meaning across himself, with his left hand.  A belief which can best be described by this author as charming.

“I know you won’t believe this,” Tom began again, “But I crossed paths with him, just not long ago, under a different name.”

The other men exclaimed utter disbelief at this, and instantly began shouting over one another in response.

The boys merely laughed.

**

**

In the immediate years following his death, “The Kid” was seen and identified by a handful of persons who claimed to have known him during his lifetime.  Persons who may, or may not, have ever met him when he was alive.  Today, most historians believe this to have been the catalyst generating the myth that William Bonney either survived being shot by Pat Garret, or was simply never shot by Garret at all, and lived out the remainder of his life under an alias.  It’s a truly bizarre myth that has fascinated even educated scholars, as well as filmmakers, who retold the legend as a framing device for the motion picture Young Guns II.

**

**

Nonetheless, Billy the Kid’s reincarnation, as it were, appears to have been nothing more than repeated fanciful attempts by aging men wishing to reclaim his identity in their golden years.  All instances of those claiming to be the aging Bonney were in time disproved using the advanced science of DNA analysis, good detective work, and basic rudimentary math.

"Brushy" BIll Roberts - the man who claimed in the 1950s to be the actual Billy the Kid

“Hell, I was born in the mornin’, but it wasn’t this mornin’,” Frank said.

“I’m serious. Garret didn’t kill him. I don’t know who that was he killed, but it wasn’t Bonney,” Tom continued.

“He was killed in ’81, Tom!” Jim argued.

“I saw him alive and kicking, right in front of these eyes, I’m tellin’ ya!” Tom replied.

“And I say maybe he had a twin brother!” Frank laughed.

“Okay men,” Virgil laughed, waving both arms across the table. “Call if off! Call it off!”

**

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3 responses

  1. gary chambers

    Pat garrett if history is to be believed only succeeded twice in his prophessional life. First in catching billy and second in murdering him. So what are the odds?

    October 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

  2. I personally wanted to present this post, “The 130th Anniversary of the death of Billy Kid Bonney Written By James Allder”
    along with my pals on facebook. Ijust simply desired to distribute your very good posting!
    Many thanks, Dino

    February 4, 2013 at 8:42 PM

  3. Another spurious photo of Billy.

    August 18, 2015 at 9:33 PM

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