Billy the Kid is a historical figure synonymous with the wild west – but how much do you know about arguably one of the most notorious outlaws of the 19th century?
To celebrate the release of the new biopic The Kid, loaded has compiled a list of 11 things you may not know about the legendary outlaw.
1.Exactly when Billy the Kid was born is a little hazy but it seems most likely, according to various historical documents, that the legendary Wild West outlaw was born Henry McCartney in New York City in September or November 1859.
2. Henry McCartney became orphaned at a young age. After the death of his father Patrick McCartney, Henry, his mother Catherine and his younger brother Joseph moved to Silver City in New Mexico. When his mother passed away from Tuberculosis in 1874, Henry began to turn to a life of crime.
3. Following his mother’s death, young Henry was taken in by a boarding house run by a woman named Sarah Brown but in September 1875 he was caught stealing food. Ten days later Henry robbed a local Chinese-owned laundry, pinching two pistols and some clothing. He was again caught, swiftly charged with theft and thrown into jail.
4. During his criminal career he would become notorious for his many daring escapes and jailbreaks and the first of these took place soon after he was jailed for the laundry theft. Henry broke free from jail just two days after being locked up and became a fugitive for the first time in his life.
5. Following his jailbreak, Henry made his way to the Arizona Territory where, in August 1877, he shot and killed his first man, Francis P. “Windy” Cahill, in an argument at a saloon over a game of cards. He was detained by local authorities at the Camp Grant guardhouse but made a typically daring escape before law enforcement could arrive and put him behind bars for the murder.
6. The same year, Henry adopted a new name, William H. Bonney, to help him evade the authorities. Soon after people started referring to him as Billy the Kid, because of his young age.
7. ‘The Kid’ then started working as a cattle-rancher for John Henry Tunstall in Lincoln County. Before long the early events of what would be known as the Lincoln County War began. What started as a violent dispute between Tunstall and his men and a ‘posse’ formed by Sheriff Willam J. Brady, soon resulted in the death of Tunstall and snowballed into the bloody Battle of Lincoln in 1878.
8. Billy first gained his reputation as a gunslinger in the Lincoln County War, after forming a posse known as ‘The Regulators’ who set out to avenge Tunstall’s death. Then in 1880 he shot and killed Joe Grant and went on the run with his gang of bandits. He soon ran into lawman Pat Garrett, who was hot on his tail because of a series of bloody shoot-outs Billy and his gang had been involved in.
9. In late 1880 Garrett caught up with Billy at Stinking Springs in New Mexico. Realising it was surrender or death, Billy gave himself up. Garett transported Billy and his gang to the Lincoln County Courthouse, where the outlaw engineered his most daring escape. During the short-time when Billy was out of cell, he managed to remove his handcuffs before shooting dead two guards in the courthouse with their own guns. Billy escaped and became one of America’s most wanted.
10. Billy the Kid was just 21 when he died. In 1881 when The Kid was on the run, Pat Garrett caught up with the outlaw at Fort Sumner in New Mexico. On 14 July, Garrett went to question local rancher Peter Maxwell about the outlaw’s whereabouts. At the same time Billy approached the house and noticing the Sheriff’s men Billy called out ‘who’s there’ in Spanish. Garrett recognised Billy’s voice and emptied his gun in the direction of the voice. One of the bullets hit Billy in the heart and he died shortly after.
11. Over the years, there have been more than 50 movies made about the incredible life of Billy the Kid. From King Vidor’s pre-code classic Billy the Kid (1930), to Sam Peckinpah’s gritty Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and thrilling modern adaptations such as Vincent D’Onofrio’s The Kid (2019), which stars Dane DeHaan as the titular villain, Billy has never been off our screens for long. The outlaw has even faced off against the Prince of Darkness in western-horror B-movie Billy the Kid vs Dracula (1966)!
The Kid is on Digital Download, Blu-ray & DVD from 3 June from Lionsgate UK
Amazon Blu-ray: http://bit.ly/TheKidBlu-ray
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.