History Lesson: Who Was Billy the Kid?

As a Western role play SIM in Second Life®, you can be whoever you want to be, and this includes an outlaw.

The “outlaw” is an iconic western character, known to have robbed banks, horses, houses, shops and more.  Many formed gangs, some which are famously known to this day.  There is much legend surrounding American History of the wild west when it comes to American outlaws and lawmen.  On occasion, the two were interchangeable and a lawman might have been a bandit previously in another state.

Today we will discuss one of the most well-known outlaws of the Old West.  

Billy The Kid

Billy_the_KidBilly The Kid was born Henry McCarthy presumably in 1859 in New York City (this is still trying to be verified by historians).  He later took the alias of William Bonney, and then Billy the Kid.  His life of crime began in Silver City, New Mexico when he was 15, when he fled to Arizona after a brush with the law over a petty theft.  There, he shot and killed “Windy” Cahill in a saloon fight on August 17, 1877 and he ran off again, back to New Mexico.  He was 17 years old.

He soon became embroiled in the Lincoln County War which was a conflict between rival mercantile firms. He signed on with the Tunstall-McSween “Regulators” gang at the age of 17.  In gunfights with the Murphy-Dolan forces, he showed himself as a fearless fighter and crack shot.

He and five others participated in the ambush slaying of Sheriff William Brady in Lincoln on April 1, 1878.

He went on to rustle cattle from stockmen in the Texas Panhandle between 1879-1880.

He was arrested by equally famous Sheriff Pat Garrett following a shootout at Stinking Springs in December 1880.

screen-shot-2014-03-02-at-7-00-24-pmBilly was convicted of Sheriff’s Brady’s murder and was sentenced to hang but on April 28, 1881, he overpowered and killed a guard then killed another deputy before escaping.

Sheriff Pat Garrett tracked Billy, who was now 21 years old, to the old Fort Sumner.

Then, on July 14, 1881, Garrett confronted Billy in a darkened bedroom of one of the old military houses. He fired twice and killed Billy instantly.

Billy’s reputation grew over the years, sparked by dime novel stories of his exploits.  Often portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, history shows that he actually entered a life of crime out of necessity, not meanness. In fact, people who knew him called him brave, resourceful, loyal, and possessing a remarkable sense of humor, and a deadly temper.

Billy the Kid is said to have killed a total of 21 men, one for each year of his life.






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