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The Early Years

It is not known for sure exactly where Billy the Kid was born, when he was born, or even who his father was! In Pat Garrett's book "The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid" which was mostly written by his co-author Ash Upson, they claim that Billy the Kid was born in New York on November 21, 1859. However it should be noted that November 21st was also Ash's birthday. Many historians believe that they did not know and simply gave him Upson's birthdate.

Billy the Kid's real name was Henry McCarty and it is known for sure that he and his brother Joe attended his mother Catherine McCarty's wedding to William Antrim in Santa Fe on March 1, 1873. Many believed that she moved out west hopeful that the dry climate would help ease her tuberculosis. After the marriage the family ended up in Silver City, New Mexico. There they worked at various jobs and Billy's mother sold pies and took in borders at their home to make a living. After Catherine passed away due to her tuberculosis on September 16, 1874 the boys were pretty much on their own, because they didn't get along real well with their step-father William Antrim.

It didn't take long without supervision for young Henry to fall in with the wrong crowd and find trouble. On September 23, 1875 Henry McCarty was arrested by sheriff Harvey Whitehill for hiding stolen laundry for a local theif known as Sombrero Jack. Henry escaped shortly afterwards by climbing up the chimney of the jail. He then headed for Arizona. In Arizona Billy was supposedly fired from Henry Hooker's ranch, because he couldn't handle a man's work due to his very small size. He then turned to stealing horses and saddles with 28 year old John Mackie who had been discharged from the 6th calvary, because of a shooting scrape. They were arrested more than once, but always managed to escape. Billy continued in his patterns of stealing and gambling until on the night of August 17, 1877 he got into an altercation with a local blacksmith named "Windy" Francis Cahill. Henry shot Cahill in the stomach and he died as a result of the wound. Billy after killing his first man made a run for it and ended back up in New Mexico where he would remain for the rest of his short, but violent life.

The final resting place for Billy the Kid's mother Catherine Antrim in Silver City. (Photo curtesy of Lori Goodloe)

This is the site of the old Silver City jail and of Billy the Kid's first jail break! (Photo courtesy of Lori Goodloe)

It was here in Camp Grant Arizona, that Billy the Kid killed

Arizona Weekly Star, August 23rd:
"I, Frank P. Cahill, being convinced that I am about to die, do make the following as my final statement: My name is Frank P. Cahill. I was born in the county and town of Galway, Ireland; yesterday, Aug. 17th 1877, I had some trouble with Henry Antrim, otherwise known as Kid, during which he shot me. I had called him a pimp, and he called me a son of a bitch; we then took hold of each other; I did not hit him. I think I saw him go for his pistol, and tried to get hold of it, but could not, and he shot me in the belly. I have a sister named Margaret Flanagen living at East Cambridge, Mass., and another named Kate Conden, living in San Francisco."