Billy the Kid was not killed by Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881 -- or any other date. As a matter of fact, he lived to the ripe old age of 90. Having survived his "outlaw" life and the wounds he received that violent night of July 14th, he settled down into a life of obscurity, anonymity, and aliases. Billy the Kid died in Hico, Texas, on December 27,1950 as a result of a heart attack. He is buried on Highway 281 North in Hamilton, Texas. Billy the Kid did kill some people, but most certainly, not 21 men as written in Billy-the-Kid-mythology. Killing was often a way of life during these hard and violent times, and Billy was as much a victim of it, if not more, as those who were the victims of his guns. Also, although killing people is morally wrong, times were rough and there were often legally-justified reasons for killing someone -- as well as survival of the fittest. Bill was a hero of the "underdogs" (mostly Mexicans and small ranchers), and he was a "thorn in the side" of the greedy, corrupt, and murderous "establishment". This young and smiling man -- with a boyish -- look stood up to those who would have run over the common, average man. His "staying power" wilted the finances and political power of this evil establishment, and caused national -- even Presidential -- attention to be focused on the corruption in New Mexico. This national attention, coupled with Billy's unceasing harassment of the corrupt establishment, resulted in bringing civilization and law and order to New Mexico. Billy was loved by his fellow men and women. His loves and friendships overshadow those of any other person in Western history, and are widely attested to. Billy was a hero, a lover, a devoted friend -- or a relentless enemy. New Mexico is a beautiful state and it is a wonderful place to visit, not only for Billy the Kid history, but also for many, many other reasons. Ft. Sumner, even though Billy was not killed there, is still a great place to visit with outstanding museums, etc. After all, Billy's greatest escape occured there! This is not intended to "take away" Billy the Kid from New Mexico. It is hoped, however, that there is a renewed interest in Billy the Kid, and that people visit both Texas and New Mexico -- a shared experience and history. Billy the Kid was a Texan.
-Dr. Jannay P. Valdez Author & Museum Curator