Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Did Billy the Kid Really Die in a Shootout? He May Have Actually Lived to 90

By Bobbie Jean Sawyer

He went by many names — Henry McCarty, William Henry Bonney and, most notably, Billy the Kid. The infamous Old West outlaw was first arrested at 16. At the age of 18, he shot and killed a man during an altercation at an army camp in Arizona. At 21, he was killed — shot by sheriff Pat Garrett — and the man forever known as Billy the Kid was laid to rest in Fort Sumner, N.M. Then again, maybe he wasn’t. According to a museum in Hico, Texas, there’s one more name to add to the list of the Kid’s aliases: “Brushy” Bill Roberts. Brushy Bill lived out a peaceful life in the central Texas town of Hico until he suffered a heart attack while walking to the post office in 1950 at the age of 90. Up until his death, Brushy Bill maintained that he was Billy the Kid. A Tale of Two Bills Hico’s Billy the Kid Museum speculates that Billy moved to Texas in 1883, two years after his supposed death in New Mexico. He went by the name William Henry Roberts, but most folks just called him Brushy Bill. Sue Land, director of the Billy the Kid museum in Hico, says the best piece of evidence that Billy the Kid escaped Fort Sumner unscathed is Pat Garrett’s own deputy. “When the deputy United States Marshal that was with Pat Garrett at the time rolled the body over, he looked up at Pat Garrett. It’s recorded in the Marshal’s office in New Mexico that he told Pat Garrett ‘You’ve killed the wrong man,'” Land tells Wide Open Country. Land says since Garrett shot in the dark, it’s likely that he mistakenly shot another man that night. The man Garrett killed reportedly had a full beard, while Billy only sported peach fuzz. Unwilling to admit his mistake, Garrett identified the young man as Billy the Kid and buried him. “He was going to bury Billy the Kid and that’s what he did,” Land says. As for the evidence that Brushy Bill was the Kid, it all comes down to a man named William Morrison. He was a probate investigator who had been hired by Joe Hines, one of the Kid’s former associates. Hines told Morrison that Billy was still alive and living in Texas. Intrigued by the idea that one of history’s most notorious criminals had cheated death, Morrison traveled to Texas to meet with Brushy Bill. “Brushy told him he was Billy the Kid and he wanted him to help prove it so that he could get the pardon that had been promised to him back in the 1800s by the governor of New Mexico,” Land says, referring to a pardon Billy claims he was promised by governor Lew Wallace. Still in need of convincing, Morrison sought further proof that Brushy was telling the truth...

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