Billy the Kid, the Endless Journey, is the third book I have read about this young outlaw. Some versions agree on his life but some believe that his myth is just that, a myth. It seems odd that he is so popular, or so it seems, because when I least expect it, I'll hear his name mentioned. Once, a friend's blog mentioned that Rudolfo Anaya had written a play about Billy the Kid. Another time my granddaughter's ten year old friend mentioned she was from Riodoso, New Mexico and I told her I was reading about Billy the Kid. She said, "In Lincoln City, near where I used to live, there is a festival where gunslingers show up dressed like in the past and with lots of shooting pretend to relive those wild days of Billy the Kid!"
A few years ago while working on my genealogy, I became interested in Billy the Kid because a relative in New Mexico mentioned that my great-grandfather would hide Billy to keep the law from apprehending him.
I began doing research on Billy and found out he was well liked by the Hispanic community, he spoke Spanish fluently, he liked to dance and he dated some of the Spanish girls. My cousin mentioned that Billy got a few of the girls pregnant and those children went by the name of Bonney. No one seems to know why he picked the name Bonney. I lean toward the idea that since he read ten cent novels glorifying criminals by an author named Bonney, he picked that name.
Depending on what book is read, it is difficult to figure out exactly how old Billy the Kid was when he was killed by Sheriff Pat Garret. First, because there is no accurate birth date (some say he was born in New York City on November 23, 1859) and second, because Garret thought it would be better for Billy to be in his twenties and not a teenager. Shortly after shooting him, Pat Garret wrote a book about Billy Bonney and he mentioned that Billy was twenty one years old. Other writers say Billy was only a teenager, possibly seventeen years old when he was killed. The legend of Billy the Kid is that he killed twenty-eight persons but other sources believe it was between four and nine men. Some writers mention that Billy was a cold blooded killer while others say he only killed in self-defense. Some say he would easily get angry while others say he was a gentle person. There is agreement among the writers that Billy was an outlaw, cattle rustler, stole horses, gambled and never drank to the point of drunkenness. They also agree that he was a good and accurate shooter.
I've read Billy died in a room where Pat Garret was sitting on a bed when Billy entered the room. Everyone seems to agree that Billy kept asking, "Quien es? Quien es?" before getting killed. Another story is that Billy's girlfriend is tied on the bed by Garret and when Billy comes in, he is shot by Garret. In New Mexico, at Ft. Sumner, I saw the grave where Billy the Kid is supposedly buried. It is rumored that the governor of New Mexico perpetuates the myth of his burial place so that tourists will visit the state. I know my father, from the Silver City area, heard stories about Sheriff Pat Garret and Billy the Kid. I wish I had paid more attention when my father told stories about the past, but I didn't. It seems that Billy the Kid roamed the area where my ancestors lived so I tend to believe the story of Billy being befriened by my great-grandfather.
Even though there are numerous books, movies, plays, music, poems and television shows about Billy the Kid, no one seems to know the real story about William Henry McCarty, Jr., aka Henry Antrim, aka William H. Bonney, aka Bill the Kid. Even though no one knows exact facts about Billy the Kid, it does make for interesting reading.