Billy the Kid at a Glance

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Quick information and personal tidbits about Billy the Kid

Childhood name: William Henry McCarty. Teenage name: Kid Antrim. Outlaw name: William H. Bonney alias Billy the Kid

Nickname: Kid

Birthdate: Unknown (possibly around 1859-61)

Date of death: July 14, 1881 (shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett)

Place of birth: Unknown (possibly New York or Indiana)

Family: Father is unknown. Mother was Catherine McCarty/Antrim. His younger half-brother was Joseph McCarty /Antrim. Step-father was William Henry Harrison Antrim.

Height: 5’8’’

Weight: 140lbs

Eyes: Clear Blue

Hair: Sandy Blonde to Light Brown

Marital Status: Single. The Kid never married, but he had plenty of girlfriends. It's quite possible he may have fathered a child or two out of wedlock (which girlfriend is anyone's guess). So far there is no evidence to authenticate a child to be the son or daughter to Billy the Kid.

Childhood background: Billy the Kid's father died or left his mother when he was very young. The Kid may not have even known his biological father. Throughout his childhood he lived in Indiana, Kansas, and Colorado before his family settled in Silver City, New Mexico. In 1874, when the Kid was about 13-14 years old his mother died from Tuberculosis. The Kid and his younger brother Joseph got no paternal care by their step-father William Antrim. Instead Antrim placed them in separate foster homes and left. A year after his mother's death, the Kid got involved in petty theft and was arrested. He escaped, fled to Arizona, and began his outlaw journey.

Outlaw Career: After a short career as an apprentice to a horse thief in Arizona, the Kid  fled the territory after he shot and killed a man named Windy Cahill, who was teasing and abusing the boy. The Kid returned to New Mexico and joined up with a gang of rustlers and gunfighters called The Boy. The gang got involved in the Lincoln County War and fought for the James Dolan side. The Kid ended up leaving the gang to join up with their opposition, John Tunstall. After the death of Tunstall, the violence erupted. The Kid and other Tunstall supporters formed the "Regulators" that consisted of deputized gunmen. The war ended at Alex McSween's home (Tunstall's partner and lawyer). After the violent gun battle that took place, the Kid and a handful of Regulators barely escaped with their lives. The Regulators then disbanded; some left or went into hiding to start new lives, while others stuck around and became outlaws. The Kid was one of those that became outlaws. The Kid was now on the run from his old Lincoln County War enemies and the law. Since he couldn't settle down, he made a living by gambling and rustling until his arrest in December of 1880. After being convicted and sentence to death for taking part in the killing of Sheriff Brady during the Lincoln County War, the Kid finally broke out of jail on April 28, 1881 by killing his two guards and escaped to Fort Sumner. The Kid was then hunted down by Pat Garrett and shot in the dark at the home of Pete Maxwell. Billy the Kid, about 19-20 years old, was killed on July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, NM.

Personality traits: Great sense of humor, good-natured and generous. Optimistic, determined, cunning and reckless. He was dependable and would risk his life for those he cared about. He did have some faults, he was stubborn and had a “they’ll-never-catch-me” attitude, which resulted in his carelessness in avoiding capture. He would push his luck to its limits and had a tendency to return to the scene of a crime. He’d trust the wrong people, and did not heed the advice of his friends. His greatest fault was not leaving the territory after his jailbreak when he had more than enough time to do so before Sheriff Garrett caught up with him. Due to his good qualities, many believed if Billy the Kid got a right start in life he would've become a successful and respected individual. Susan McSween (the wife of Alex McSween) once said in an interview, years later after the Kid's death, "I had always believed if Mr. Tunstall had lived The Kid, under his guidance, would have become a valuable citizen, for he was a remarkable boy, far above the average of the young men of those times and he undoubtedly  had the makings of a fine man in him."

Most noticeable physical traits:
The Kid was slender in built, with narrow sloped shoulders, long neck, and an oval shaped face. He also had a small mouth with narrow lips and crooked protruding front teeth. He had small hands and feet, and supposedly large wrists, which gave him the ability to slip out of handcuffs.

Most noticeable apparel: A sugar-loaf sombrero hat with a wide decorative band.

Favorite Songs: “Silver Threads Among the Gold” and “Turkey in the Straw.”

Favorite type of dancing: Polkas and Square dancing.

Hobbies and interest: Singing and dancing - The Kid loved to party. His other love was women. He was quite the lady's man. He enjoyed gambling (almost obsessively) and his favorite card games were Monte and Poker. He also enjoyed betting on and participating in horseracing. Target-shooting was another favorite past time and he liked to showoff his gun twirling abilities. In his more quiet moments, he would use that leisure time to meticulously clean his firearms or read a newspaper or gazette. As a youngster in Silver City he was addicted to reading books, which dashes any claims of him being illiterate.

Firearms he used: Billy the Kid was known to use the Colt single action .44 and Colt double-action .41 caliber called the “Thunderer.” He may have also used the .38 caliber version called the “Lightning.” His weapon of choice, and the most prized, was his Winchester 73’ rifle.