Archive for the 'Billy the Kid' Category

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Billy the Kid’s Grave – New Book

Billy the Kid’s Grave – A History of the Wild West’s Most Famous Death Marker

Billy the Kid's Grave

“Quien es?”

The answer to this incautious question – “Who is it?” – was a bullet to the heart.

That bullet – fired by Lincoln County Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett from a .40-44 caliber single action Colt pistol – ended the life of Billy the Kid, real name William Henry McCarty.

But death – ordinarily so final – only fueled the public’s fascination with Billy the Kid.

What events led to Billy’s killing? Was it inevitable? Was a woman involved? If so, who was she?

Why has Billy’s gravestone become the most famous – and most visited – Western death marker? Is Billy really buried in his grave? Is the grave in the right location?

Is it true that Pat Garrett’s first wife is buried in the same cemetery? Is Billy’s girlfriend buried there also?

The Fort Sumner cemetery where Billy’s grave is located was once plowed for cultivation. Why?

What town, seeking a profitable tourist attraction, tried to move Billy’s body, using a phony relative to justify the action?

These questions – and many others – are answered in this book.

The book is divided into three sections. The first gives an account of the chain of events that led directly to Billy’s death, beginning the singular event that started the sequence, Billy’s conviction for murder and his sentencing to hang. As much as possible, these events are related using the actual words of witnesses and contemporaries. The second chapter tells the story of Billy’s burial and the many surprising incidents associated with his grave over the years. The third chapter lists the 111 men and women known to be buried along with Billy in the Fort Sumner cemetery, with short biographies. Sixteen of these individuals had very direct connections with Billy. Appendix A supplies Charles W. Dudrow’s correspondence regarding the locating and disinterring of the military burials at Fort Sumner. Appendix B reprints the only newspaper interview ever granted by Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett on the killing of Billy the Kid.

To supplement this history are 65 photos and illustrations. These include photos of the different memorials that have marked Billy’s grave over the years, including a photo of Billy’s previously unknown second grave marker; pictures of the men – friends of Billy – who re-located the grave in 1931; pictures of Billy’s most likely girlfriend, Paulita Maxwell, and her parents; and a historic 1906 Fort Sumner cemetery map showing the location of Billy’s grave.

Paperback, 154 pages. Available from Amazon.

See Also:
Mesilla Museum Display
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid
Butterfield Overland Stage

 

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New Book on Las Cruces History

Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Screen With A Voice - A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces
The first projected moving pictures were shown in Las Cruces 110 years ago. Who exhibited those movies? What movies were shown? Since projected moving pictures were invented in 1896, why did it take ten years for the first movie exhibition to reach Las Cruces? Who opened the first theater in town? Where was it located? These questions began the history of moving pictures in Las Cruces, and they are answered in this book. But so are the events and stories that follow.

First movie shown in Las Cruces
First theater in Las Cruces
First talkie shown in Las Cruces
Invention of drive-in theater in Las Cruces
Opening of Rio Grande Theater
Impact of Great Depression on business
Raffle of six-week-old baby girl at Mission Theater
World premiere of first BILLY THE KID movie
Second world premiere of a BILLY THE KID movie
Arrival of Organ, Rocket, Fiesta, and Aggie Drive-Ins
Shooting of Clint Eastwood’s HANG ‘EM HIGH

There have been 21 movie theaters in Las Cruces – all but three or four are forgotten. They are unremembered no longer. And one, especially, the Airdome Theater which opened in 1914, deserves to be known by all movie historians – it was an automobile drive-in theater, the invention of the concept, two decades before movie history declares the drive-in was invented.

To supplement this history are 102 photos and illustrations. These include ephemeral documents such as the 4-page flyer for Las Cruces’ third movie exhibition, at the Rink Theater; historic photos of theaters; aerial photos of drive-ins; and never-before-published photos of the shooting of HANG ‘EM HIGH.

Cover: Depicts the 1930 world premiere of BILLY THE KID, starring John Mack Brown as Billy, at the Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces.

See Also:
Fountain Theater – History
Mesilla Museum Display

 

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?

“Best history of Mesilla.”

“La Posta: From the Founding of Mesilla, to the Corn Exchange Hotel, to Billy the Kid Museum, to Famous Landmark” consists of 5 sections:

  • Chapter 1 is a history of Mesilla, beginning with its founding in 1850 by Rafael Ruelas.
  • Chapter 2 gives the original and early ownership of all the properties around the public square in Mesilla, identifying previously uncertain locations such as the Butterfield Overland Stage location.
  • Chapter 3 is a history of the Corn Exchange Hotel, founded in 1874, the most famous hotel in New Mexico at the time. Almost all the major participants of the Lincoln County War stayed at the hotel.
  • Chapter 4 is a history of the Billy the Kid museum and its founder, Mesilla pioneer and impresario George Griggs.
  • Chapter 5 is a history of La Posta, Mesilla’s most famous landmark.

“Mesilla is full of Billy the Kid history. It’s where he started off rustling with Jesse Evans and it’s where he was tried and convicted of murder. At one point, rumor has it, he even stayed at the Corn Exchange Hotel (along with many of the other heavy hitters from the Lincoln County War).”

“For someone who grew up in the area of Mesilla, it’s nice to have a well-researched book about the area — and the giant photographs don’t hurt either (honestly, I love to see photos that take up the whole page so you can actually make out the detail)….”

“And the thing I was most excited to see is a photo of the hotel registry where the name of “William Bonney” is scrawled on the page. I knew this registry had existed at one point but I always thought it was missing…. There is some debate as to whether or not Billy the Kid really signed the book, which the author goes into, but what would Billy the Kid history be without a little controversy.”

Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang Newsletter, Winter, 2013

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Mesilla Museum Display
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid
Butterfield Overland Stage

 

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Mesilla Museum Display

The opened this evening with a dedication ceremony featuring the Mayor of Mesilla and many Mesilla citizens. A welcome part of the opening ceremony was a display of some of the materials being collected for the Mesilla Museum, which will emphasize the history of Mesilla, including it’s role in the saga.

Billy the Kid was tried in the courthouse on the Mesilla plaza in April, 1881 for two killings. He was acquitted of the killing of Andrew A. “Buckshot” Roberts, which occurred on April 4, 1878. He was convicted of the killing of Sheriff William Brady, which happened a few days before, on April 1, 1878.

The sentence for the killing of Sheriff Brady was death by hanging, to be carried out May 13, 1881. That didn’t happen, of course, because Billy the Kid escaped from the Lincoln jail 15 days before he was to be hung. The hanging was to be carried out in because that’s where the killing of Sheriff Brady had occurred.

The most intriguing item on display this evening was the barber chair where Billy the Kid was given a haircut before his trial. The chair is privately owned and was being displayed only for the ceremony.


The chair was manufactured in the early 1870s. It was re-covered in the 1980s, before the current owner acquired it. The reupholstering covered up several bullet holes that were in the chair, of unknown origin.

The permanent display in the center includes numerous historical Mesilla photos.

Here’s a photo of the original San Albino church, which was torn down when the current church was constructed in 1908:

Here’s a photo of the consecration of the new San Albino church in 1908:

Here’s a picture of the Mesilla plaza in 1900. The first San Albino can be seen in the distance.

Here’s a picture of the Fountain Theatre taken about 1930:

Tags: , , , ,

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid
Fountain Theater – History

 

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Billy the Kid Display — Mesilla

The Town of Mesilla is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the J. Paul Taylor Visitor Center Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m.

As part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony there will be display inside the Visitor Center. The display will feature historical photos, information and artifacts pertaining to Mesilla’s past. The subject is the historic period of April 1881, when Billy the Kid was a prisoner in Mesilla and tried and convicted of murder. A team of volunteers has collected names and items for the display. One of the items is the barber chair – built c1870 – in which Billy the Kid had his hair cut before the trial. The chair was once in the Billy the Kid Museum, owned by Dr. George Griggs in the 1930s, which is now La Posta Restaurant. The chair is currently in a private collection. An open house of the museum display will take place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The visitor center is an extension of the current Mesilla Town Hall, located at 2231 Avenida de Mesilla.

For more information about the ceremony, call Kristie Medina at (575) 524-3262 ext. 116.

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Mesilla Museum Display
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid

 

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Saving the Pat Garrett Marker

Mesilla’s sister city of is considering the incorporation and development of 6,480 acres of state land. This is a big increase in the area of Las Cruces — amounting to over 10 square miles. The local paper reports that this area could ultimately contain as many as 90,000+ homes.

It turns out that one of the proposed development blocks contains a concrete marker built by Pat Garrett’s son (Jarvis Garrett) on the location where his Dad was shot. This is a well-known and famous event in Las Cruces, but evidently the existence of the marker has been a secret known only by a very few up until now. I understand the reason for the secrecy was to prevent vandalism.

Now that the marker is in danger of being destroyed by the proposed development, a local organization called has been formed to save the marker. Details about the campaign are available on the web site:

Here’s a photo of the marker courtesy of the web site:

The marker was evidently put up by Jarvis Garrett between 1938 and 1940.

In this close-up you can see “Feb 1908” scratched in the concrete. was shot Feb 28, 1908.

This is an excellent cause. Information on how you can contact the Las Cruces City Council to support saving this marker is on the site.

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Mesilla Museum Display
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid

 

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Billy’s DNA

Part of the myth of Billy the Kid is that he “somehow” escaped being killed by Pat Garrett in 1881 and lived out his life quietly and (mostly) honestly.

Not very likely.

One of the supposed Billy’s is a John Miller, who died March 12, 1937 at the Pioneers’ Retirement Home in Prescott, Arizona. It is said he never claimed publicly (except when drunk) to be Billy, but his friends identified him as such.

Here are Billy (left) and John.

On May 19, 2005, Tom Sullivan, former sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, and Steve Sederwall, former mayor of Capitan, New Mexico, exhumed Tom Miller’s body from the cemetery at the Pioneers’ Home.

Miller’s grave was unmarked. When they dug it up, they found 2 skeletons. The second one was William Hudspeth, a cattleman who died 3 days before Miller.

They were given permission to dig up Miller’s grave by the former superintendent of the Pioneers’ Home, but not to remove the remains, which they did. Sullivan and Sederwall took the remains to get a DNA sample and to separate Miller’s remains from Hudspeth’s.

Arizona authorities had threatened to charge Sullivan and Sederwall with grave robbing, but announced today that the two would not be charged.

The results of the DNA tests are not known at this time.

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Mesilla Museum Display
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid

 

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Old Mesilla Courthouse

The Old Mesilla Courthouse is now a gift shop.


As indicated by the sign, the Courthouse dates from 1850.


Here’s a photo of the courthouse after it became the Elephant Butte Saloon, taken some time in the 1920s. The walls appear to be brick, but the bricks are painted, not real, except for the distinctive decorative brick along the roof, which you can see in both the old and the new photographs. Notice also that the corner of the building has been sliced off to make the current entrance.

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Mesilla Museum Display
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Billy the Kid

 

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Billy the Kid

Still standing in the southeast corner of the Mesilla plaza is the courthouse and jail where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to death by hanging.


The only authentic picture of Billy.

Billy had been captured December 23, 1880.

On March 28, 1881, he was transported to Rincon by train and from there to Mesilla by wagon for trial for the murders of Andrew “Buckshot” Roberts and Sheriff William Brady. The indictment for killing Roberts was a federal indictment. The indictment for killing Brady was a territorial indictment. The territorial district court handled both jurisdictions, with the federal cases tried first.

His trial for killing “Buckshot” Roberts began on March 30, 1881. The case against him in this trial was thrown-out on the grounds that the killing took place on private land, not public land, and the federal government thus had no standing to prosecute.

The trial for the killing of Sheriff Brady began April 8. The judge presiding, Judge Bristol, dismissed Billy’s defense attorney from the Roberts trial, probably because of the change in jurisdiction, and appointed John D. Bail and Albert Fountain to represent him.

On April 13. the jury brought in its verdict: guilty. The judge then sentenced Billy to death by hanging, to be carried out on May 13, 1881 in Lincoln, New Mexico.

In an interview later that day in the Mesilla News, Billy said the following:

“Well, I had intended at one time to not say a word in my own behalf, because persons would say, ‘Oh, he lied’; Newman gave me a rough deal; has created prejudice against me, and is trying to incite a mob to lynch me. He sent me a paper which shows it; I think it a dirty, mean advantage to take of me considering my situation and knowing I could not defend myself by word or act. But I suppose he thought he would give me a kick down hill. Newman came to see me the other day; I refused to talk to him or tell him anything; but I believe the News is always willing to give its readers both sides of a question.”

“If mob law is going to rule, better dismiss judge, sheriff, etc., and let all take chances alike. I expected to be lynched in going to Lincoln. Advise persons never to engage in killing.”

Three days later he was taken to Lincoln. It was from the Lincoln courthouse that Billy escaped on April 28, killing two deputies.

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Mesilla Museum Display
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse