Billy the Kid
|Billy the Kid|
Billy the Kid circa 1880
September 17, 1859
New York City
|Died||July 14, 1881
Fort Sumner, New Mexico
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound from Sheriff Pat F. Garrett|
|Other names||William H. Bonney, Henry Antrim, Kid Antrim|
|Occupation||Horse rustler, cowboy, gambler, outlaw|
|Relatives||Brother: Joseph McCarty|
Billy the Kid (born Henry McCarty; also known as William H. Bonney) (September 17, 1859 – July 15, 1881) was an American Old West gunfighter who also participated in New Mexico's Lincoln County War and was reputed to have killed up to twenty-one men, although historians now believe that he killed eight.
His first arrest was for stealing food in late 1875, but five months later he had been arrested for stealing clothing and firearms; his escape from jail two days later and flight from New Mexico Territory into Arizona Territory made him both an outlaw and a fugitive. When he murdered a man in August 1877, Bonney became a wanted man in Arizona Territory, and fled back to New Mexico where he joined a group of cattle rustlers. His subsequent involvement in the Lincoln County War and association with a posse known as the Regulators made Bonney a well-known outlaw in the region. In April 1878, however, the Regulators posse became known as a gang of killers during a shootout where three opponents of the group were killed, including Lincoln County Sheriff William J. Brady and one of his deputies. Bonney and two other Regulators were eventually charged with killing all three men.
Bonney's notoriety grew in 1881 when New Mexico's governor Lew Wallace placed a bounty on him. The Las Vegas Gazette in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and the New York Sun carried stories about his crimes. He was captured by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1880, tried and convicted of the murder of Sheriff Brady in April 1881, and was sentenced to hang in May of that year. Bonney escaped from jail on April 28, 1881, killing a sheriff's deputy in the process, and evaded capture for more than two months. Bonney was ultimately shot and killed by Garrett in Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881. Over the next several decades, legends grew that Bonney had not died that night, and a number of men claimed to be him.
- 1 Early life
- 2 First crimes
- 3 Lincoln County War
- 4 Outlaw
- 5 Capture and escape
- 6 Death
- 7 Rumors of survival
- 8 Legacy
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Henry McCarty was born to Patrick and Catherine (nee Devine) McCarty in New York City on September 17, 1859. He was baptized eleven days later in the Church of St. Peter. There has been confusion about McCarty's birthplace and birthdate among historians due, in part, to McCarty giving false information to a census taker during the 1880 U.S. Census. The 1860 U.S. Census shows the McCarty family living in the Manhattan First Ward, although with the surname listed incorrectly as "McCarthy." McCarty had a younger brother, Joseph McCarty, who was born on October 14, 1863. Joseph McCarty later took his stepfather's name and became known as Joseph Antrim.
McCarty's father died shortly after the birth of the family's third child. Following his father's death, McCarty, along with his mother and siblings, moved to Kansas with a man named Henry Harrison Antrim in 1870. McCarty's mother married Antrim in March 1873 in Santa Fe, New Mexico; both McCarty and his brother Joseph were witnesses. Shortly after, the family moved from Santa Fe to Silver City, New Mexico. McCarty's mother died of tuberculosis on September 16, 1874, the day before McCarty's fifteenth birthday.
McCarty went to work for his room and board in a hotel whose owner took him in after his mother died. A year later he could no longer live at the hotel and he was arrested for stealing food. He was charged with theft on September 16, 1875, the first anniversary of his mother's death. He was arrested again five months later, and charged with stealing clothing and firearms. Two days after his arrest, he escaped. This was the beginning of his life as a fugitive from the law.
Following his escape, McCarty fled to Arizona Territory and was hired as a ranch hand by well-known rancher, Henry Hooker. In 1876, McCarty settled near Fort Grant, Arizona, where he worked on ranches and spent time in local gaming houses. During this time, he became acquainted with John R. Mackie, a Scottish-born former cavalry private and criminal. The two men became horse thieves. Stealing horses from local soldiers, McCarty became known as "Kid Antrim" because of his youth, slight build, clean-shaven appearance, and personality.
On August 17, 1877, McCarty killed Francis P. "Windy" Cahill in Arizona after the two had a verbal argument and altercation. McCarty shot Cahill after a physical fight over McCarty's revolver. Fearing retaliation by Cahill's friends, McCarty fled the Arizona Territory for New Mexico Territory. He eventually arrived at Apache Tejo, a former army post, where he joined a band of rustlers who raided herds owned by cattle magnate John Chisum. After McCarty was spotted in Silver City by a resident, his involvement with the gang was mentioned in a local newspaper.
Before 1877, McCarty had his horse stolen by Apaches; this forced him to walk miles to the nearest settlement, Pecos Valley, New Mexico. Once in Pecos Valley, McCarty went to the home of friend and Seven Rivers Warriors gang member, John Jones. By the time he arrived, McCarty was near death as a result of his long trek, but was nursed back to health by Jones' mother.
At some point in 1877, McCarty began to refer to himself as "William H. Bonney".
Lincoln County War
After Bonney's return from Arizona to New Mexico, he went to work for Englishman and businessman John Tunstall as a cowboy at his Lincoln County, New Mexico ranch located near a tributary of the Rio Grande, the Rio Felix. Tunstall was involved with local lawyer Alexander McSween in challenging the political and economic control of Lincoln County held by three local Irish businessmen and gunmen, Lawrence Murphy, James Dolan, and John Riley. The trio had held control over Lincoln County since the early 1870s. The men had the beef contract with nearby Fort Stanton and ran a well-known and patronized dry-goods store in the town of Lincoln. The conflict between the two factions was known as the Lincoln County War.
When Tunstall was bothered by rustlers who got the local sheriff to attach nearly $40,000 of Tunstall's property, Bonney rode out with his boss and others to take six of Tunstall's prime horses to Lincoln for safekeeping. Encountering an eighteen-man posse, Tunstall was shot and killed. Escaping with his companions before they were discovered by the posse, Bonney was arrested on February 20, 1878 for disturbing the peace by Lincoln County sheriff and supporter of Murphy, Dolan, and Riley, William J. Brady. Bonney was released two days later.
Soon afterward, Bonney joined the Lincoln County Regulators, a posse led by Dick Brewer. On March 9, two of Tunstall's accused murderers, Frank Baker and William Morton, were captured by the Regulators and killed "while trying to escape". On April 1, during an ambush on Sheriff Brady and his deputies, Bonney was shot in the thigh.
On the morning of April 4, 1878, during a shootout at Blazer's Mill between the Regulators and buffalo hunter Buckshot Roberts, Dick Brewer was killed. During the shootout, Roberts, Sheriff Brady, and a sheriff's deputy were also killed. Warrants were issued for several participants on both sides of the war, with Bonney and two others charged for the killings of Brady, the deputy, and Roberts.
Battle of Lincoln (1878)
On the night of Sunday, July 14, McSween and the Regulators, by now a group of fifty or sixty men, gathered in Lincoln and stationed themselves there among several buildings. At the McSween residence were Bonney, Florencio Chavez, Jose Chavez y Chavez, Jim French, Harvey Morris, Tom O'Folliard (born Folliard), Yginio Salazar, among others. Another group led by Marin Chavez and Doc Scurlock positioned themselves on the roof of a saloon. Henry Newton Brown, Dick Smith and George Coe defended a nearby adobe bunkhouse.
On Tuesday, July 16, the newly appointed sheriff, George Peppin sent sharpshooters to kill the McSween defenders at the saloon. Peppin's men retreated when one of the snipers, Charles Crawford, was killed by Fernando Herrera. Peppin then sent a request for assistance to Colonel Nathan Dudley, commandant of Fort Stanton. Dudley wrote a reply to Peppin turning him down.
On Friday, July 19, the actual battle began. The McSween supporters who had been in other buildings were all gathered inside the McSween house. When Deputy Sheriff Jack Long and Buck Powell set fire to the McSween house, the occupants opened fire. After all but one room of the home had been engulfed by flames, Bonney and his crew retreated. During the confusion, Alexander McSween was shot and killed by Robert W. Beckwith, who was then shot and killed by Bonney.
Bonney and three other survivors of the Battle of Lincoln were near the Mescalero Indian Agency when the agency bookkeeper, Morris Bernstein, was murdered on August 5, 1878. All four were indicted for the murder, despite conflicting evidence that Bernstein had actually been killed by Constable Atanacio Martinez. All of these indictments were later quashed, except for Bonney's.
On October 5, 1878, U.S. Marshal John Sherman informed newly inaugurated Governor Lew Wallace that he held warrants for several men including "William H. Antrim, alias Kid, alias Bonny [sic]" but was unable to execute them "owing to the disturbed condition of affairs in that county, resulting from the acts of a desperate class of men."
Governor Wallace issued an amnesty proclamation on November 13, 1878, which pardoned anyone involved in the Lincoln County War since the Tunstall murder of February 18, 1878. It specifically did not apply to any person who had been convicted of or was under indictment for a crime, and therefore excluded Bonney.
On February 18, 1879, Bonney and friend Tom O'Folliard were in Lincoln when attorney Huston Chapman was shot and his corpse set on fire while Bonney and O'Folliard watched. According to eyewitnesses, the pair were innocent bystanders forced at gunpoint by Jesse Evans to witness the murder. Bonney later wrote Governor Wallace with an offer to provide information on the Chapman murder in exchange for amnesty. Bonney met with Wallace in Lincoln on March 15, 1879, talking for over an hour. Wallace promised Bonney a complete pardon if he would offer his testimony to a grand jury regarding what he knew in regard to the Chapman murder. On March 20, Wallace wrote to Bonney, "to remove all suspicion of understanding, I think it better to put the arresting party in charge of Sheriff Kimbrell [sic] who shall be instructed to see that no violence is used." On March 21, Bonney allowed himself to be "captured" by a posse led by Sheriff George Kimball of Lincoln County. As agreed, Bonney provided a statement about Chapman's murder. Still jailed, weeks passed and Bonney began to suspect he had been used by Wallace and would never be granted the promised amnesty. Bonney escaped the Lincoln County Jail on June 17, 1879.
Bonney avoided further violence until January 10, 1880, when he shot and killed a newcomer to the area, Joe Grant, at Hargrove's Saloon in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican reported, "Billy Bonney, more extensively known as 'the Kid,' shot and killed Joe Grant. The origin of the difficulty was not learned." According to other sources, after Bonney had been advised that Grant intended to kill him. He walked up to Grant, told him he admired his revolver, and asked to examine it. Grant complied. Before handing the pistol holding only three shells back to Grant, Bonney positioned the cylinder so the next shot would fire on an empty chamber. Again in possession of his weapon, Grant stuck the pistol in Bonney's face and pulled the trigger. After the revolver failed to fire, Bonney drew his own pistol, shooting Grant in the head. A reporter for the Las Vegas Optic later quoted Bonney as saying his encounter with Grant "was a game of two and I got there first."
Bonney formed a friendship in 1880 with rancher Jim Greathouse, who later introduced him to Dave Rudabaugh. On November 29, 1880, Bonney, Rudabaugh and Billy Wilson ran from a posse led by sheriff's deputy James Carlyle. Cornered at Greathouse's ranch, Bonney let the posse know they were holding Greathouse as a hostage. Carlyle offered to exchange places with Greathouse, and Bonney took him up on the offer. Carlyle later attempted to escape by jumping through a window but was shot three times and killed. The gunfight ended in a standoff when the posse withdrew and Bonney, Rudabaugh, and Wilson rode off.
A few weeks after the Greathouse incident, Bonney, Rudabaugh, Wilson, Charlie Bowdre, Tom Pickett, and O'Folliard rode into Fort Sumner. Unknown to the Bonney and the group, a posse led by Pat Garrett was waiting for them at the fort. As they approached, the posse opened fire, killing O'Folliard. Bonney and the rest escaped unharmed.
Capture and escape
On December 23, 1880, Garrett and his posse captured Bonney along with Pickett, Rudabaugh and Wilson at Stinking Springs. The capture followed a siege in which Bowdre was killed. Along with the other three captured, Bonney was taken to Santa Fe. While enroute and at Las Vegas on December 27, a lynch mob formed. Bonney was unthreatened by the mob and later told a reporter, "if I only had my Winchester I'd lick the whole crowd."
File:LincolnNM Jail and Courthouse.jpg After arriving in Santa Fe, Bonney sent four separate letters over the next three months to Governor Wallace seeking clemency. After Wallace refused to intervene, Bonney went to trial in April 1881 in Mesilla, New Mexico. Following two days of testimony, Bonney was found guilty for the murder of Sheriff Brady; it was the only conviction secured against any of the combatants in the Lincoln County War. On April 13, he was sentenced by Judge Warren Bristol to hang with his execution scheduled for May 13, 1881.
Bonney was moved to Lincoln, where he was held under guard on the top floor of the town courthouse. On the evening of April 28, 1881, Garrett was in White Oaks collecting taxes. Deputy Bob Olinger left the jail to take five other prisoners across the street for a meal, leaving the other deputy, James Bell, alone with Bonney. Bonney requested to be taken outside to use the outhouse located behind the courthouse. On the way back to the jail, Bonney, who was walking ahead of Bell up the stairs to his cell, hid around a blind corner, slipped out of his handcuffs, and surprised Bell, beating him with the loose end of the cuffs. During the ensuing scuffle, Bonney was able to get Bell's revolver and shot Bell in the back as the deputy made for the stairs to get away.
While Bonney's legs were still shackled, he was able to get into Garrett's office, and then took a loaded shotgun left behind by Olinger. Waiting at the upstairs window for Olinger to respond to the gunshot that killed Bell, Bonney called out to the deputy, "Look up, old boy, and see what you get". When Olinger looked up, Bonney shot and killed him. After about an hour, Bonney was able to free himself from the leg irons with an axe. He obtained a horse and rode out of town. Some stories say that he was singing as he left Lincoln.
Almost three months after his escape, Garrett responded to rumors that Bonney was in the vicinity of Fort Sumner. Garrett and two deputies left Lincoln on July 14, 1881 to question one of the town's residents, a friend of McCarty's named Pete Maxwell. Maxwell, son of land baron Lucien Maxwell, spoke with Garrett the same day for several hours. Around midnight, the pair sat in Maxwell's darkened bedroom when Bonney unexpectedly entered the room.
Accounts vary as to the course of events. The canonical version states, as Bonney entered the room, he failed to recognize Garrett due to the the poor lighting. Drawing his revolver and backing away, Bonney asked "¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?", Spanish for "Who is it? Who is it?". Recognizing Bonney's voice, Garrett drew his revolver, firing twice. The first bullet struck Bonney in the chest just above his heart. He fell to the floor, gasped for a minute, and died.
Following his death, Bonney's friends made plans to give him a wake. The morning after the shooting, Bonney's body was examined by Justice of the Peace Milnor Rudulf, and a death certificate was issued. Rudulf's summary of the events surrounding the shooting were objected to by Garrett, who felt it did not depict his role favorably. After Garrett gave his approval to release the body, it was prepared for burial and Bonney was laid to rest at Fort Sumner cemetery next to his friends O'Folliard and Bowdre.
In the weeks following Bonney's death, Garrett felt the need to tell his side of the story. People had begun to talk about what they felt was an unfair encounter with Garrett unfairly ambushing Bonney. In response, Garrett called upon his friend, journalist Marshall Upson, to ghostwrite a book for him. The collaboration led to the book The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid, which was first published in April 1882. Although only a few copies sold following its release, the book eventually became a reference for historians who later wrote about Bonney's life.
Rumors of survival
Over time, legends formed and grew that claimed Bonney was not killed, rather, that Garrett staged the incident and death out of friendship so that the gunman could evade the law. In the years following the shooting, men came forward to claim they were the real Billy the Kid. While most of the claimants were debunked, two have remained topics of discussion and debate.
In 1948, a Central Texas man known as Ollie Partridge Roberts - nickname, Brushy Bill - began to claim he was Billy the Kid. His claims were summarily dismissed, even by his own family. Hico, Texas, his town of residence, capitalized on the claim by opening a Billy the Kid museum.
John Miller, an Arizona man also claiming to be Billy the Kid, had his story supported his family beginning in 1938, some time after his death. Buried in the Arizona state-owned Pioneers' Home Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona, his bones and teeth were dug up in May 2005 without clearance from the state. DNA samples from the remains were sent to a lab in Dallas, Texas for testing and examination. The intent was to compare Miller's DNA with traces of blood obtained from floorboards in the old Lincoln County courthouse and a bench where it was believed Bonney's body was placed after he was shot. According to a July 2015 article in the Washington Post, however, the lab results were "useless."
In 2004, researchers sought to exhume the remains of Catherine Antrim, McCarty's mother, "so her DNA could be tested and compared with DNA to be taken from the body buried under the Kid's gravestone". As of 2012, her body had not been exhumed.
In 2007, a lawsuit was filed by author and amateur historian Gale Cooper against the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office pursuant to the state Inspection of Public Records Act to produce records of the results of the 2006 DNA tests and other forensic evidence collected in the Billy the Kid investigations. In April 2012, 133 pages of documents were provided which, "although they offered no conclusive evidence to prove or disprove the generally accepted story of the Kid's death at Garrett's hand," they did "reveal that the records sought not only exist[ed], but that they could have been easily produced long ago." In 2014, Cooper was awarded $100,000 in punitive damages. The lawsuit ultimately cost Lincoln County a combined amount of nearly $300,000 for the judgement and associated fees.
In February 2015, historian Robert Stahl petitioned a district court in Fort Sumner asking the state of New Mexico to posthumously issue a death certificate for Bonney. Stahl took the further step of filing suit in New Mexico supreme court in July 2015 asking the court to order the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator to consider Bonney's death can be officially certified under New Mexico state law.
One of the few remaining artifacts of Bonney's life is the iconic 2x3 inch ferrotype taken of Bonney by an unknown portrait photographer sometime in late 1879 or early 1880. The image shows Bonney with a slouch cowboy hat on his head, a bandanna around his neck, wearing a vest over a sweater, and holding a 1873 Winchester rifle with the weapon's butt resting on the floor. For years the photo of Bonney was the only one agreed upon by scholars and historians to be authentic. The ferrotype survived due to a friend of Bonney, Dan Dedrick, keeping it following the outlaw's death. Passed down through Dedrick's family, the image was copied several times and appeared in numerous publications during the 20th century. In June 2011, the original was bought at auction for $2.3 million by billionaire businessman William Koch. At the time of the ferrotype auction, the image became the most expensive item ever sold through Brian Lebel's Annual Old West Show & Auction.
The image, which had been copied and published in various way over the years, showed Bonney with his holstered Colt revolver on his left side. This fueled the belief that the gunman was left-handed. the belief, however, did not take into account that the method used to make the original ferrotype was to use metal plates that produced reverse images. As a result, the photo showed Bonney's pistol on his left, leading modern historians to believe he shot with his left hand. In 1954 western historians James D. Horan and Paul Sann wrote that Bonney was "right-handed and carried his pistol on his right hip". The opinion was confirmed by Clyde Jeavons, a former curator of the National Film and Television Archive. Historian Michael Wallis wrote in 2007 that Bonney was ambidextrous.
A tintype purchased in 2010 for $2.00 at a sale in Fresno, California, appears to show Bonney and the Regulators playing croquet. The image was reviewed by experts on Old West history in order to authenticate it. On October 5, 2015, Kagin's, Inc. auction house declared the image authentic after a number of experts had examined it for over a year. A special show describing the examination of the photo was shown on the National Geographic Channel on October 23, 2015. Other experts do not believe that the photo shows Billy the Kid or the Regulators. Kagin's has insured the tintype for $5 million.
In 2010, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson considered a posthumous pardon for Bonney for the murder of Sheriff William Brady. The pardon was considered to be a follow-through on a purported promise made by former Governor Lew Wallace in 1879. On December 31, 2010, his last day in office, Richardson announced his decision on the nationally broadcast morning television program, Good Morning America, not to issue the pardon, citing "historical ambiguity" surrounding the conditions of original pardon.
In 1932, Charles W. Foor, at the time an unofficial tour guide at the Fort Sumner Cemetery, spearheaded a drive to raise funds for a permanent marker at the graves of Bonney, O'Folliard, and Bowdre.
Eight years later, Warner Bros. used a Billy the Kid grave marker as a prop in the movie The Outlaw. James N. Warner of Salida, Colorado, donated the marker to the cemetery when it was no longer required for the movie. It was stolen in February 8, 1981, but recovered days later in Huntington Beach, California. New Mexico Governor Bruce King arranged for the sheriff of the county seat to fly to California to bring it back to Fort Sumner, where it was re-installed in May 1981. Although both markers are behind iron fencing, a group of vandals entered the cage at night in June 2012 and tipped over the stone.
Selected references in popular culture
- "The Disinterested Killer Bill Harrigan," by Jorge Luis Borges.
- Billy The Kid (1958), a serial poem by Jack Spicer.
- Billy the Kid (1962), an episode in the ongoing adventures of Lucky Luke by Goscinny and Morris.
- El bandido adolescente ("The teenage outlaw") (1965), a biography written by Spanish author Ramón J. Sender.
- The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-handed Poems, by Michael Ondaatje, 1970 Governor General's Award-winning biography in the form of experimental poetry.
- The Illegal Rebirth of Billy the Kid (1991) is a science fiction novel by Rebecca Ore.
- Anything for Billy (1988) is a fictionalized account of Billy's last year by Larry McMurtry.
- Lucky Billy: a novel about Billy the Kid (2008), is a novel by John Vernon, a professor at Binghamton University.
- The novels, Inferno and Escape from Hell, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, feature interactions between the novels' contemporary main characters traversing Dante's Inferno and Billy the Kid.
- Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel he is first introduced in the Sorceress and is there until the end of the Enchantress by Michael Scott
- Billy the Kid and the Vampyres of Vegas ebook by Michael Scott
- Billy the Kid, a 1911 silent film directed by Laurence Trimble and starring Tefft Johnson. All copies are believed to be lost.
- Billy the Kid, 1930 widescreen film directed by King Vidor and starring Johnny Mack Brown as Billy and Wallace Beery as Pat Garrett
- Billy the Kid Returns, 1938: Roy Rogers plays a dual role, Billy the Kid and his dead-ringer lookalike who shows up after the Kid has been shot by Pat Garrett.
- Billy the Kid, 1941 remake of the 1930 film, starring Robert Taylor and Brian Donlevy
- Bob Steele and Buster Crabbe played Billy the Kid in a series of 42 western films from 1940 through 1946, released by Poverty Row studio Producers Distributing Corporation. Some of the titles include Blazing Frontier, The Renegade, Cattle Stampede, and Western Cyclone (1943). In a 1952 film, Allan "Rocky" Lane goes after Billy the Kid's lost treasure.
- The Outlaw, Howard Hughes' 1943 motion picture starring Jack Buetel as Billy and featuring Jane Russell in her breakthrough role as the Kid's fictional love interest.
- I Shot Billy the Kid, a 1950 film directed by William Berke and starring Don "Red" Barry as Billy.
- The Kid from Texas (1950) starring Audie Murphy as Billy the Kid
- The Law vs. Billy the Kid (1954, Columbia Pictures Corporation) starring Scott Brady as the Kid, James Griffith as Pat Garrett, Betta St. John as Nita Maxwell, and Alan Hale, Jr. as Bob Olinger
- The Left Handed Gun, Arthur Penn's 1958 motion picture based on a Gore Vidal teleplay, starring Paul Newman as Billy and John Dehner as Garrett
- The Boy from Oklahoma (1954), with Tyler MacDuff in the role of Billy the Kid
- One-Eyed Jacks (1961), is the only film directed by Marlon Brando, who also played its lead character, Rio. This story is from an adaptation by Rod Serling of a Charles Neider novelization of Billy the Kid's life, with a later revision by Sam Peckinpah among others.
- Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966), directed by William Beaudine, has Count Dracula, played by John Carradine, traveling to the Old West, where he takes a shine to Billy's fiancee and tries to turn her into a vampire. Chuck Courtney co-stars as Billy.
- I'll Kill Him and Return Alone, a 1967 "spaghetti Western" directed by Julio Buchs, starred Peter Lee Lawrence as Billy and Fausto Tozzi as Pat Garrett.
- Chisum (1970), set during the Lincoln County War, was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and stars Geoffrey Deuel as Billy and Glenn Corbett as Pat Garrett.
- Dirty Little Billy (1972), set during Billy's early years as a criminal, starred Michael J. Pollard.
- Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Sam Peckinpah's 1973 motion picture with Kris Kristofferson as Billy, James Coburn as Pat Garrett, and with a soundtrack by Bob Dylan, who also appears in the movie
- Young Guns, Christopher Cain's 1988 motion picture starring Emilio Estevez as Billy and Patrick Wayne as Pat Garrett
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) features Billy the Kid (played by Dan Shor) as the "Historical Figure" that Bill and Ted pick up in the Old West.
- Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid, Gore Vidal's 1989 film starring Val Kilmer as Billy and Duncan Regehr as Pat Garrett
- Young Guns II, Geoff Murphy's 1990 motion picture starring Emilio Estevez as Billy and William Petersen as Pat Garrett
- Purgatory, Uli Edel's 1999 made-for-TV movie starring Donnie Wahlberg as Deputy Glen/Billy The Kid
- Requiem for Billy the Kid, Anne Feinsilber's 2006 motion picture starring Kris Kristofferson.
- BloodRayne 2: Deliverance featured a vampiric Billy the Kid as the film's main antagonist, played by Zack Ward.
- Birth of a Legend, a 2011 film in two parts based on Frederick Nolan's book The Lincoln County War: A Documentary History directed by Andrew Wilkinson
- "Billy the Kid", a folksong in the public domain, was published in John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax's American Ballads and Folksongs album, and also their Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads album. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
- "Billy the Kid" folksong sung by Woody Guthrie, recorded by Alan Lomax in 1940 for the Library of Congress (#3412 B2), with a melody Guthrie later used for his song "So Long, it's Been Good to Know You". He also recorded it in 1944 for Moe Asch's Asch/Folkways label (MA67).
- Aaron Copland's "Billy the Kid", a ballet that premiered in 1938.
- On his album Piano Man (1973), Billy Joel performs a song titled "The Ballad of Billy the Kid", which was intended to be a western-themed ballad rather than an account of the life of Bonney or any other outlaw; the title refers in part to a bartender Joel was friendly with.
- Bob Dylan's album Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, soundtrack of the 1973 film by Sam Peckinpah.
- Takeoff's verse from the Migos remix to Travi$ Scott's "Quintana mentions Billy the Kid"
- Jon Bon Jovi's album, Blaze of Glory, was used as part of the soundtrack for Young Guns II, and featured the song "Billy Get Your Guns".
- Marty Robbins' song "Billy the Kid" from the album Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs Volume 3.
- Ry Cooder recorded the folk song "Billy the Kid", on the album Into The Purple Valley, with his own melody and instrumental. It was also on Ry Cooder Classics Volume II.
- Tom Petty wrote the song "Billy the Kid", released on his 1999 album Echo.
- Dia Frampton's "Billy the Kid," on the 2011 album Red
- Charlie Daniels recorded the song "Billy the Kid" on his 1976 album High Lonesome. Chris LeDoux also covered the song on his album Haywire.
- Joe Ely recorded the song "Me and Billy the Kid" on his 1987 album Lord of the Highway.
- Running Wild recorded the song "Billy the Kid" on their 1991 album Blazon Stone.
- "Song of the Sad Assassin" by WHY? ends with Yoni Wolf repeating the line, "Billy the Kid did what he did and he died" nine times. In an interview, Wolf said that he first heard the line in the Marilyn Hacker poem "Geographer" and liked it for its rhythm.
- Joseph Santley's 1906 Broadway play, co-written by Santley, in which he also starred
- Michael McClure's 1965 play The Beard recounts a fictional meeting between Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow.
- Michael Ondaatje's 1973 play, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid.
- Billy the Kid - His Life in Music, 2013, presented by Livestock
Television and radio
- The Gunsmoke radio show had an episode titled "Billy the Kid", broadcast on April 2, 1952. It purports to tell of Billy the Kid's first murder as a runaway boy and credits Matt Dillon with giving him the "Billy the Kid" moniker.
- The CBS radio series Crime Classics told the story of Billy the Kid in its October 21, 1953 episode entitled "Billy Bonney - Bloodletter." The episode featured Sam Edwards as Billy the Kid and William Conrad as Pat Garrett.
- Richard Jaeckel played The Kid in a 1954 episode of the syndicated television series Stories of the Century.
- Robert Blake starred as The Kid in the 1966 episode "The Kid from Hell's Kitchen" of the syndicated western series, Death Valley Days. He sets out to avenge the death of his friend John Tunstall played by John Anderson.
- Robert Walker, Jr. starred as Billy The Kid in a 1967 episode of the Irwin Allen science fiction series Time Tunnel
- The NBC series The Tall Man ran from 1960 to 1962, starring Clu Gulager as Billy and Barry Sullivan as Pat Garrett.
- American Experience, Billy the Kid, aired on PBS January 9, 2012
- Rasch (1995), pp. 23–35.
- Wallis, 2007, pp. 244–245.
- Utley (1989), pp. 145–146.
- Letter from Rev. James B. Roberts, Church of St. Peter, New York City, to Jack DeMattos, March 24, 1979. 210 Greene Street was within walking distance of the Church of St. Peter.
- Nolan, Frederick. The Lincoln County War: A Documentary History (2009), p. 4 and p. 6
- Utley, Robert M. High Noon in Lincoln (1987), p. 192.
- Rasch, Philip J. "New Light on the Legend of Billy the Kid (1952–53), pp. 1–5.
- Rasch, Philip J. and Mullin, Robert N. "Dim Trails: The Pursuit of the McCarty Family" (1953–54), pp. 6–11.
- 1860 United States Federal Census for New York City, Manhattan First Ward, enumerated by Assistant Marshal Edward Hogan on June 26, 1860, p. 176.
- Wallis (2007), p. 15.
- Nolan (2009), p. 7.
- Book of Marriages A, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, pp. 35–36.
- Nolan, 2009, p.8
- Billy the Kid History.net Retrieved January 4, 2016
- Grant County Herald (Silver City, New Mexico), September 26, 1875.
- "Billy the Kid". State of New Mexico. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- Utley (1989), pp. 10–11.
- Wallis (2007), p. 103.
- Wallis (2007), p. 107.
- Wallis (2007), pp. 110–111.
- Utley, (1989), p. 16.
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A family Bible put his age in 1881 at just 2 years old: far too young for even a criminal nicknamed 'the Kid.'
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Billy loved to sing and had a good voice, those who knew him claimed ... He was ambidextrous and wrote well with both hands.
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