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The Truth About Brushy Bill Roberts

There are many frequently asked questions regarding the death of Billy the Kid. Many wonder if Brushy Bill Roberts was really Billy the Kid. There are many websites and books out there that are full of lies, misleading statements, and fake photo and handwriting tests performed by people with no qualifications to do so that try to prove Roberts’ claim of being Billy the Kid. I am by no means an expert and don’t claim to be, but I do know enough about Billy the Kid to see through the lies and misconceptions that so many of the newcomers to the legend of Billy the Kid so easily fall for. I will list each one of the numerous misconceptions below and destroy it using nothing, but historical fact. From there it is up to you to make up your own mind.

Lie: Garrett made sure that Poe and McKinney were guarding the body at all times, and the Rudolph jury said they only viewed the body on the next morning. They later said they NEVER viewed it. John Graham, who buried the casket, said the body wasn't that of Billy the Kid.

Fact: This whole statement is a bold faced lie! Within minutes of the shooting the whole village of Fort Sumner was present at Pete Maxwell's Home. Billy’s body was NOT guarded all night and the lawmen did not keep people from viewing it. Billy’s body was taken by the local residents of Fort Sumner and was dressed and then was laid out on a carpenter’s bench where it was on public display all night! The following three statements below from eyewitnesses who were present when Billy the Kid was killed confirms this. It should also be known that no guy by the name of John Graham buried Billy the Kid's casket. It is known for a fact that the men who buried Billy’s casket were Jesus Silva, Vicente Otero, Saval Gutierez, and Antonio Savedra. It was Vicente Otero who dug the grave.

Deputy John W. Poe…."Within a very short time after the shooting, quite a number of the native people had gathered around, some of them bewailing the death of their friend, while several women pleaded for permission to take charge of the body, which we allowed them to do. They carried it across the yard to a carpenter shop, where it was laid out on a workbench, the women placing lighted candles around it according to their ideas of properly conducting a 'wake' for the dead."

Paco Anaya…."Don Pedro took the $25 and he and Don Manuel Abreu went to the latter's store and bought a beige suit, a shirt, an undershirt, shorts, and a pair of stockings. I, the writer, and my brother, Higinio Garcia, and several others of those that were there, dressed Billy with these clothes then we laid him on a high bed, one of those narrow ones, and we took him to the saloon where they held dances. There we watched, and on the next day we buried him."

Jesus Silva...A few moments later I returned to the room, picked up the lifeless body of Billy and walking into a large hallway in the Maxwell home, laid his body on a long table. I there examined him again and ascertained without doubt he was dead. The body was then removed to an old carpenter shop where it was laid out. Of course an inquest had to be held. There was no justice of the peace at the old Fort, so we dispatched a messenger for Alejandro Seguro, justice of the peace at a little town 10 miles up the river. Seguro came and the inquest was held.

Lie: The body has been described as having a full beard, which would make it an impossibility for the body to be Billy's. In the four months that Billy was held after his capture, he could not shave and the only facial hair he could develop was thin, silky fuzz on the upper lip. It would be a PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY for Billy to then develoop a full beard only a few months after he escaped.

Fact: There is absolutely no proof that Billy’s body had a beard! The only mention of his body having a beard came from an article written by S.M. Ashenfelter for the Grant County Herald in Silver City, New Mexico titled “Exit the Kid”. S.M. Ashenfelter was over in Silver City writing for a newspaper and not in Fort Sumner when Billy was killed so his statement is not worth the paper that it was written on.

Lie: George Coe never believed Billy the Kid was killed.

Fact: The above statement is an absolute lie! George Coe himself said he KNEW Billy was dead in his autobiography “Frontier Fighter” on p. 228. Here is Coe’s statement exactly as it was written. "Just recently the newspapers carried a story to the effect that Billy the Kid was living in obscurity on a ranch near Odessa, Texas. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If the Kid were alive anywhere in the world, I should know it. There never was but one of his kind. A few years ago I decided to have his body removed to my place, and Miguel Otero came to see me, as he wanted the body taken to Santa Fe and given burial there. He went from my place to Fort Sumner and interviewed the commissioners there. He wrote me that neither he nor I could remove Billy's remains, as the commissioners said only a blood relation could have that done. So in a most remote spot at old Fort Sumner is the grave of Billy the Kid. It remained unmarked and unkept until 1932, when a headstone was erected through the efforts of Mr. Charles W. Foor.”

Lie: Brushy Bill knew way too much about Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War to have read about it. He knew little details that were known to only a few people.

Fact: Actually Brushy didn’t know much at all about the life of Billy the Kid. He not only made numerous mistakes in his interviews, but totally omitted many important facts, such as his time spent in the Silver City jail for hiding stolen laundry and the killing of “Windy” Francis Cahill in Camp Grant Arizona on August 17, 1877. I have listed Brushy’s numerous errors below. It is very easy to see that he made way too many mistakes to have really been there! There are enough holes in his story to ride a horse through! During his interview with New Mexico Governor Thomas Mabry in 1950 he choked up and forgot everything including Pat Garrett’s name! ."

Fact: Aside from Brushy's fantasy gunfight with Garrett and his two deputies on the night Billy was killed, this is perhaps Brushy's biggest error. Frank Lobato definately did not bring him two horses, because he was not in Fort Sumner the night Billy was killed. This can be proven by Frank Lobato himself in a 1937 article called "Only One Man Living Who Saw 'Billy the Kid' in Both Life and Death" which appeared in the Clovis News Journal. Lobato said in this article that he was working on the old Pig Pen Ranch southwest of Melrose at the time of Billy's death, but that his mother, Marie Lobato was present and saw the body of Billy the Kid the morning it was laid to rest in the little cemetary down the valley. This proves he was definately not there and that more than likely Brushy completely made this up as well as the rest of his ridiculous claim.

Brushy claimed that a man named Billy Barlow was actually shot by Pat Garrett instead of Billy the Kid. There is no proof that a Billy Barlow ever existed. There is a song called "Billy Barlow" that was written in 1834. Coincidence? You decide!

In 1937 Jesus Silva was asked about the rumors that Billy the Kid might still be alive. Silva replied "That may be the rumor, my boy," he said, "but if there are dead men in this world, then Billy the Kid is among them. I know he is dead and as far as I know I am the only one yet living who saw him in death."

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why were there no photos taken of Billy's body?

Answer: There were no photos taken of Billy's body simply because there was no photographer in Fort Sumner back then. Unless you have been there you may not realize just how isolated Fort Sumner is even today. Especially back then! The nearest photographer would have probably been in Las Vegas or Santa Fe. That would have been at least a three day ride for him just to get there.

Question:When was Brushy Bill Roberts born?

Answer: Brushy claimed many times according to Hico residents that he was born in 1868, which makes him too young to be Billy the Kid. Here is an exact quote from the booklet "Billy the The (alias Brushy Bill)The True Story" published by the Hico News Reveiw. "Brushy Bill had recounted often that his place of birth was Buffalo Gap in Taylor County, and the time was December 31, 1868, stating that he was born on the last day of the year. If correct, that would belie current tales being aired by daily newspapers linking his identity with that of a famous early-day character" 1868 is also the date which appeared on Brushy's original headstone.

Brushy's orginial headstone

Lucas Speer and Virginia Clark standing at Brushy's grave in Hamilton, Texas complete with a new and "improved" headstone. Note that his birthdate has been changed from 12/31/1868 to 12/31/1859. At the time of Brushy's death he was claiming to have been born 12/31/68, which would explain why this date was put on his original stone. Brushy's real birthdate is August 26, 1879, but of course no self respecting tourist would buy into that big of an age gap.

Once Brushy got tired of claiming that he was a member of the James Gang, he then claimed to be Billy the Kid. At this time Brushy claimed that he was born in December of 1859 in Buffalo Gap, TX. There is one problem with this claim though. Buffalo Gap did not even exist at this time. In fact it was not founded until 1875! This can be confirmed by contacting the Buffalo Gap Historic Village at Po Box 818, Buffalo Gap, TX 79508. Brushy's niece Mrs. Geneva Roberts Pittmon however claimed in a letter to Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang founder Joe Bowlin that Brushy was born on August 26, 1879 and that she had the family Bible record to prove it. According to Geneva Pittmon Brushy Bill was her father Tom's brother. If that is correct, then Brushy Bill Roberts was only two years old when Billy the Kid was killed in 1881!

Question: Was Brushy Bill Roberts literate?

Answer: According to authors Frederick Bean and W.C. Jameson on p.204 of their book "The Return of the Outlaw Billy the Kid" "Evidence suggests Roberts possessed only rudimentary reading and writing skills. His wife, Melinda, wrote letters for him. Examples of his penmanship in the possession of the authors show a scrawl not unlike that made by a four-year-old child."

Question: How many witnesses actually viewed Billy the Kid's body?

Answer: There are at least 28 witnesses known to recorded history to have viewed Billy's body. They are: Pat Garrett, John W. Poe, Kip McKinney, Pete Maxwell, Dona Luz Maxwell, Paulita Maxwell, Deluvina Maxwell, Odila Maxwell, Don Manuel Abreau, Don Pablo Beaubien, Dona Rebecca Beaubien, Paco Anaya, Jesus Silva, Jose Silva, Vicente Otero, Sabal Gutierrez, Celsa Gutierrez, Marie Lobato, Lorenzo Jaramillo, Antonio Savedra, Milnor Rudolph, Charles Rudolph, Higinio Garcia, Henry Lola, Cruz Trujillo, Alejandra Segura, Manuela Bowdre, Tom O'Folliard's commom law wife, and Pedro Antonio Lucero.

Question: Where was Brushy Bill Roberts living when he died?

Answer He was living in Hico, Tx when he died. He was buried approximately 20 miles south of Hico in the town of Hamilton.

This is another newspaper article proving that Brushy Bill publicly and during a press conference claimed to be a member of the James Gang. Jesse James claimant J. Frank Dalton was proven to be a fake through DNA testing in the summer of 1995. (Article courtesy of Wayne Kindred)

Brushy posing for a photo with his friend and fellow fraud J. Frank Dalton.

For more info I would highly suggest that you visit Marcelle's Excellent Brushy Bill Roberts Page.

You might also be interested in my page about the other Billy the Kid claimant John Miller

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