Did you know....?


This page has some interesting facts on Billy the Kid that isn't commonly known.

Did you know....?

Billy the Kid spoke fluent Spanish.

The famous tintype of Billy the Kid is really a reverse image, which gave the illusion that the Kid was left handed. In reality he was holding the rifle in his left hand and the revolver was positioned on his right. Today the photo is mostly seen with the image flipped back to the correct position. FYI: It's speculated that the Kid paid 25 cents for four copies of this photo (one copy was given to Dan Dedrick and another supposedly to Paulita Maxwell). If one looks closely you can see on each side of the Kid's neck (just below his hair) part of the stand's head rest that is used to immobilize the Kid's head to keep him still during the long exposure. You can also see the fingers of the photographer's assistant holding the reflector board on the Kid's left. Also in the photo, the Kid is wearing a gambler's ring on his left pinky finger, and if one looks even closer (especially in a blown up copy of this tintype), you can see a white tag on the inside of the Kid's sweater that is folded open on the lower right side, which reads "PM" -could it be the initials of "Pete Maxwell?" Just a guess. The "original" and "only" copy of the last remaining tintype of Billy the Kid, that has been declared the most famous and valuable Old West photograph,  has supposedly deteriorate and faded to black due to aging.

Billy the Kid had a crush on his Silver City grade school teacher Miss Mary Richards.

As a child in Silver City, the Kid loved to play pirates with his friends. He actually fancied the idea that he was a descendent to Anne Bonney, the infamous woman pirate.

His second favorite childhood game was horse racing. The Kid and his friends would pretend to be horses and challenge each other to a foot race and place bets on one another. Apparently, this would care on to adulthood. When Billy wasn't gambling at cards, he was gambling and participating in horse racing.

About the age of 14-15, the Kid's first criminal offense  was stealing several pounds of butter from a rancher, which he sold to a local merchant. After a tongue-lashing from the town sheriff, which did little good, the Kid along with the town troublemaker, Sombrero Jack, got involved in stealing laundry. This time the sheriff locked the young teenager up.

Billy the Kid loved to sing. How good was he? Both George Coe and Mary Ealy (wife of Dr. Taylor Ealy) remarked that Billy the Kid had a beautiful tenor voice.

Billy the Kid would attend Sunday school in Lincoln. There wasn’t a church or preacher in Lincoln, but the locals did get together for Bible study and to sing hymns.

Billy the Kid owned a beautiful racing bay mare that he was very proud of. She was known for her speed, stamina, and beauty. The Kid purchased -yes, I said purchased, not stolen- the mare from a Texas stockman and undoubting she was his most valuable and prize possession. Unfortunately, her name under the Kid's ownership is unknown.

Billy the Kid’s favorite bay mare was confiscated by Sheriff Garrett at the time of his capture in Stinking Springs. Garret then gave the mare to one of his deputies, Frank Stewart. A week later, he gave the mare as a Christmas gift to Mrs. Minnie Moore (wife of a friend Scott Moore). She named the mare “Kid Stewart Moore." Three years later, the mare kicked a ranch hand in the face and fractured his skull when he tried to catch her in a pasture. Apparently, she had a sour disposition.

When Governor Lew Wallace set out to bring law & order to Lincoln, he made out a list of men he wanted arrested and out of the 36 names Billy the Kid was 15th on the list. At the top of the list was leader of the Rustlers John Selman, who was a cold-blooded murderer, a large-scale rustler, and brutal rapist. If any man deserved to have gotten what Billy the Kid got it should've been this man. Yet Selman continued his ruthless outlaw ways for ten years until he was made a lawman in El Paso, Texas. In 1892, he would kill gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and be killed himself a year later by fellow lawman George W. Scarborough (who would be killed four years later by Harvey Logan alias Kid Curry of the Wild Bunch).

Supposedly Billy the Kid gambled with Doc Holiday, had dinner with Jesse James, and was in a target shooting contest along with Bat Masterson.

It is said that Billy the Kid feared only one man and that was his own gang-member, Dave Rudabaugh and rightfully so! Before joining up with Billy the Kid (it was said he forced himself into the gang), Rudabaugh already had a tough reputation as a harden criminal and killer. He was bad tempered, had a rotten disposition, and was an all-around loose cannon. He would turn on a friend in a heart beat without thinking twice. Anyone who socialized themselves with Dave Rudabaugh had to walk on egg shells.

Judge Bristol sentenced Billy the Kid to be hanged on May 13th, which happened to be on a “Friday the 13th.” Did he do it deliberately for a morbid touch or for bad luck?  Like maybe the Kid’s head would ripe off?

Billy the Kid's close friend, John Meadows, said that Billy the Kid was planning to poison himself if he failed to escape his hanging. Somehow the Kid obtained strychnine, which he kept in a piece of folded up paper and hid it in his boot. The day the Kid escaped from Lincoln, he stood out on the balcony of the courthouse and warned a crowd of people not to interfere with his escape. Before he turned away, the Kid reached into his boot and pulled out the piece of paper with the poison and threw it on the ground and said, "I don't think I need that now."

Billy the Kid's stepfather, William Antrim, rode to Lincoln on April 29, 1881 to see his stepson before he was hung. Unfortunately, he just missed him...the day before (28th) the Kid escaped. The two had not seen each other since 1875 when Antrim told his stepson (who was barely fourteen years old) to get lost when the Kid went to him for help after he got in trouble in Silver City. If those two did meet, I would've love to have been a fly on the wall.

The titled of Pat Garrett’s biography on Billy the Kid is the longest than any other: “The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid: The Noted Desperado of the Southwest, Whose Deeds of Daring and Blood Have Made His Name a Terror in New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern New Mexico by Pat F. Garrett, Sheriff of Lincoln County, N. Mex. By whom He was Finally Hunted Down and Captured by Killing Him.” How he fit all that on the cover, I’ll never know.

Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid with the very gun that he confiscated from Billy Wilson, one of the Kid's gang members, when they surrendered at Sticking Springs.

The newspaper publications that dragged Billy the Kid's name through the mud the worse, was from his own home town of Silver City. One stated that Billy the Kid was a disgrace to the town of Silver City and a “vulgar low life cutthroat.” Another who wrote an obituary on Billy the Kid added some flavor by writing, “Billy the Kid , the terror of New Mexico, lay as a gasping and quivering corpse, while his blood dyed the dirt floor of Pete Maxwell's adobe hut. Eleven ghost (Billy the Kid's victims) stood waiting to escort him to eternal darkness.” Some unsympathetic residents wanted to tear the Kid's childhood home down and make a walking cane out of the scrap wood and present it to Pat Garrett in a show of gratitude for killing Billy the Kid.  So much for hometown support.

It was rumored that after Billy the Kid was killed, the Kid's brother Joe Antrim swore to kill Pat Garrett on sight. When the two did meet, they had a long private conversation and parted on friendly terms. Afterwards, Joe Antrim stated to a reporter that he never made threats against Garrett and after talking with him he now had a better understanding of Garrett's predicament when he shot and killed his brother.

In 1938 composer Aaron Copeland wrote a fictional ballet on Billy the Kid.

Writer O. Henry derived his western-hero fictional character The Cisco Kid from Billy the Kid.

Contemporary opera singer Barbara Bonney claims she's related to Billy the Kid.

As of now, Billy the Kid holds the record for the most motion pictures made on an individual in film making history.

Silent screen actor of the B-westerns, William S. Hart, bought a revolver to have once been owned by Billy the Kid and he would proudly display it and show it off to friends. As it turned out, Hart was bamboozled –the gun was manufactured years after the Kid’s death. 

In the True West magazine, 50 historical photographs were listed in order as the most important and recognized, and guess who was numero uno? Billy the Kid. It was also pointed out that Billy the Kid’s original tintype photo is worth $100,000-300,000 dollars making it one of -if not- the most valuable historical photograph of the Old West.

In June of 2012, at the Brian Lebel's 22nd Annual Old West Show & Auction in Colorado, Billy the Kid's original and only known photograph, was auctioned off for 2.3 million dollars! The winning bidder was billionaire William Koch, who is a collector of art and Old West artifacts. Video footage of the auction.