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So Billy escaped again, with no pardon for his crimes. Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life says that pardon might have meant a chance at "legitimate prosperity. Billy should have been a free man at that point, but instead, with outstanding warrants he had little choice but to return to a life of crime. He formed his own gang of outlaws and started rustling cattle again.

Legends of America says that for a year he lived around Fort Sumner.

There, he happened to become friends with a local bartender named Pat Garrett. HistoryNet even reports that it's "more than possible" Garrett joined Billy and his gang on some of their cattle raids. It's also alleged they're both somewhere in the above photo.

But the West was often one big gray area when it came to who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. So it wasn't that shocking when possible cattle rustler Garrett was elected Lincoln County sheriff on November 2, , after running on a "law and order" platform. Suddenly, Garrett was in charge of actively tracking his old friend down. It was a complicated pursuit, and numerous bad guys were shot and killed, but not Billy.

The sheriff "set-up many traps and ambushes in an attempt to apprehend Billy, but the Kid seemed to have an animal instinct that warned him of danger. Billy took it in stride, telling a reporter from his jail cell, "What's the use of looking on the gloomy side of everything? The laugh's on me this time.

Billy The Kid’s Early Days

Billy spent months in a Santa Fe jail before his trial began in April While he'd committed plenty of crimes by then, the charges were for killing Sheriff William Brady during the Lincoln County War. According to Legends of America , the jury deliberated for exactly one day before finding Billy guilty.

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The sentence was death by hanging, and the execution date was set for May He had no intention of sticking around for that. Billy was under constant surveillance by two guards, James Bell and Robert Olinger, in irons on the second floor of the courthouse. Garrett, who knew the Kid's reputation for successful escape attempts, was taking no chances.

Billy the Kid

But then Garrett went out of town. Somehow, Billy got his hands on a gun. Historians have no solid proof, but it's thought either one of his old gang members hid a pistol in the toilet or he took it off Bell himself. The Kid took out Bell first, then grabbed a shotgun and waited at a window for Olinger, who ran toward the courthouse when he heard the shots.

Billy called out, "Hello, Bob," and blasted him. Then Billy cut off his shackles and stole a horse. Against all odds, he'd escaped custody yet again, but it would be his last time. Two more people were dead at his hands. He was finally living up to the outlaw reputation he'd already become famous for across the nation. The next time, Garrett wouldn't take Billy the Kid alive. Garrett later wrote that people were upset he didn't seem to be very concerned about recapturing the Kid, but the sheriff said he was "quietly at work" "maturing [his] plans of action.

How The West Was Wrong: Digging Up The Bones Of Billy The Kid

He never even left New Mexico Territory. Instead he returned to Fort Sumner and didn't bother to keep a low profile, according to History. Within three months, Garrett was on to him. On the night of July 14, , the sheriff and his posse went to rancher Peter Maxwell's house to ask if he knew where the Kid was. Maxwell absolutely did — Billy was on his way over with some beef for dinner. Garrett was in Maxwell's dark bedroom talking to him when Billy showed up at the door. Sensing someone else in the room but unable to see his old acquaintance-turned-adversary, Billy pulled his gun and shouted, "Who's that?

Garrett wrote it was "the first time, during all [Billy's] life of peril that he ever lost his presence of mind, or failed to shoot first and hesitate afterwards.

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Billy knew he was being hunted, he knew if found either he was going to die or his captors would. Garrett let off two shots; one hit the Kid right in the heart and sent him to be "with his many victims. Billy the Kid had barely spent two decades on Earth and only lived a life comparable to the one he is famous for a few months. But that didn't stop people taking his name and image and turning it into whatever they wanted it to be.

According to Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride , within a year of his death, dozens of dime novels and nonfiction accounts very light on facts were published. Each subsequent generation used Billy to represent something different. In the s, for example, with the Wild West officially in the past, books presented him as the Robin Hood of a "lost pastoral world. He still makes millions for the tourism industry of New Mexico. But a bunch of people truly refused to let Billy die because they claimed to be the outlaw himself.

Vintage News says that one, Brushy Bill, was taken moderately seriously. Living in Texas in the s, he managed to convince the locals, some of the Kid's contemporaries, and a lawyer that he was in fact the supposedly dead outlaw.

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Brushy Bill petitioned the governor of New Mexico for a pardon, but the governor was not convinced. The dramatic aspects of William Bonney's short life and violent death still appealed to popular taste, as they had in the heyday of the dime novels, but eventually an idealized image of Billy the Kid, as one who defends the underdog and fights against social injustice, came to the fore.


Billy the Kid will always be interesting, will always appeal to the popular imagination. Billy the Kid , the first talking picture version of the legend, was released in Nevertheless, Vidor's Billy the Kid set the pattern for Billy the Kid movies for the next fifty years, as other filmmakers followed its formula and made the Kid an instrument of justified vengeance and his enemies the villains of the story.

As Billy the Kid was reborn a romantic or tragic figure in literature and films of the s—s; [48] high culture began to turn its attention to his legend in the late s. Lincoln Kirstein , co-founder with George Balanchine of the School of American Ballet , drew material from Burns' book to write the libretto for a ballet to be called Billy the Kid , performed by his new group, the Ballet Caravan.

The film, directed for the most part by Howard Hawks Hughes got the screen credit , was promoted in a publicity campaign with posters featuring Russell posing in dishabille and her cleavage prominently displayed. The film director Sam Peckinpah attempted an ambitious retelling of the legend in his last western film, [60] Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid , covering the last few months of Bonney's life, [61] in which the violence and physical brutality of the world the protagonists inhabited is portrayed realistically.

The studio's drastically cut release version, disowned by Peckinpah, was initially a failure with major critics and the viewing public. Although its depiction of the Kid as a roguish anarchist opposed to illegitimate law as enforced by Garrett on behalf of a corrupt power structure was suited to the temper of the times, [63] it quickly left first-run theaters. Soon, however, reviews began to appear in smaller film magazines and journals in the United States and abroad that praised its artistry and breadth of vision.

The film's reputation was on the ascendancy long before Peckinpah's preferred cut of the preview version was finally shown at the University of Southern California in , [64] and its critical stature has continued to increase since— Martin Scorsese , e. Despite the liberties it took with history, scholar and film editor Paul Seydor [65] described Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid as among the finest treatments of the legend in any medium.

The psychoanalyst Alfred Adler wrote an analysis in of the mythic aspects of the legend of Billy the Kid in which he compared the Kid to Oedipus , King Arthur , Robin Hood , and other legendary heroes of the past. It similarly addresses the psychological motivations of those of its characters who resort to violence, [67] in a pseudo- Freudian treatment of the subject characteristic of certain s movies.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. University of New Mexico Press. Mullin; Charles E. Welch, Jr. April Western Folklore. David J. Wishart ed. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. U of Nebraska Press. The West of Billy the Kid. University of Oklahoma Press. University of Texas Press. The Billy the Kid Reader.

Western Legends

Boggs 20 September Billy the Kid on Film, Keleher March The Fabulous Frontier, Sunstone Press. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. Billy the Kid, his life and legend.

Greenwood Press. Billy the Kid, his Life and Legend.

Billy the Kid packed more into his 21 years than most outlaws do into a lifetime.

Siringo History of "Billy the Kid,". Utley 17 November Yale University Press. UNM Press.