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Three Friends of Billy the Kid

Juan Batista Patron (left), Peter Menard Maxwell (center), and A. P. (Paco) Anaya

Pete Maxwell was born to Lucien and Ana de la Luz Maxwell at Taos, New Mexico, on April 27, 1848, the eldest son of the family. In the late 1860s, Lucien purchased Fort Sumner from the U. S. Government and moved his family there in 1871. Sumner was basically made into a private town by the Maxwell family, who also owned a ranch nearby. When Lucien died in 1875, Pete took over as owner and manager Fort Sumner and the ranch. The family lived in a huge house at Fort Sumner, which was once the officers' quarters. Following the Lincoln County War, Pete became friends with Billy the Kid and the Regulators, who fled to Fort Sumner. He even hired Charlie Bowdre and Doc Scurlock to work on his ranch as cowboys. Another man he hired was former buffalo hunter Pat Garrett, but he was soon fired for allegedly stealing Pete's cattle. Pete's relationship with Billy apparently soured however, when he discovered that the outlaw was having a relationship with his little sister, Paulita, and was allegedly the father of her unborn child. It was in Pete's bedroom that Pat Garrett allegedly shot Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881. It has been theorized that Pete himself betrayed the Kid and tipped off Garrett to his presence in town in order to put a stop to the relationship between Billy and Paulita. Pete died at Sumner on June 21, 1898.

Juan Patron was born sometime in February of 1850 in Santa Fe County and moved to Lincoln in 1872. He was a very respected man in Lincoln and was regarded as a leader of the Hispanic population there. He opened a small general store in town and married a girl named Beatriz. At some point, he became an enemy of the Santa Fe Ring and thoroughly opposed them. Juan also served as a teacher to Lincoln children in the early 1870s. On September 15, 1875, Juan was shot in the back by John Riley, partner of L. G. Murphy & Co. Juan survived, but had to walk with a limp the rest of his life. In 1876, he served as a probate judge and in 1877 was elected to the territorial legislature. Normally friendly, he had a fiery temper and was well-known to brawl when drunk. During the Lincoln County War, Patron supported the Tunstall-McSween faction, due to his disdain for the Santa Fe Ring. As the fighting in the war escalated, he fled Lincoln for Las Vegas, and then Santa Rosa. While he was gone, Susan McSween and her lawyer, Huston Chapman, lived in his house after the war's end since Mrs. McSween's house burned to the ground. Later, his home served as the "jail" for Billy the Kid while he was awaiting his pardon from Governor Lew Wallace in the Spring of 1879. Juan later settled in Puerto de Luna, near Fort Sumner, and owned and operated a hotel there. He was shot and killed in a saloon in Puerto de Luna by Michael Maney on April 9, 1884. It's been suspected that the Santa Fe Ring had a hand in his death.

Paco Anaya (also spelled Analla) lived in Fort Sumner at the time Billy the Kid was supposedly killed and was apparently friends with him. He claimed to have served on the first coroner's jury that was assembled and that he helped bury the body. He later wrote a book entitled "I Buried Billy," which is still in print today.