Sometimes in life a person needs to let well enough alone, and not push an issue.  Billy Claiborne should have learned that lesson. Billy ClairbornUnfortunately, on November 14, 1882 he didn’t let well enough alone, and paid the ultimate price.

 Billy Claiborne was born in Louisiana in 1862.  He came out west where he worked for cattleman “Texas” John Slaughter.

Billy was a cocky young man who would swagger when he walked.  And he carried two guns.  His friends started calling him “Billy the Kid” after the real “Billy the Kid”.  Billy Claiborne liked the name, and so did the girls.  He even started referring to himself as “Billy the Kid” Claiborn.

Now, as time passed, Billy wandered down to Tombstone, Arizona and there he hooked up with the McLaurys and Clantons.

On October 26, 1881 “Billy the Kid” Claiborne found himself with the McLaurys and Clantons in a Tombstone, Arizona alley facing the Earps and Doc Holliday.  Realizing the desperate situation, Claiborn bugged out just before the shooting started.

Now, this is where Billy Claiborne should have left well enough alone, and high-tailed it out of town for a place where tempers were not raging.  But, Billy wasn’t that smart.

After the shootout at the O. K. Corral, and the death of Virgil Earp at the hands of the cowboys, Wyatt Earp declared vengeance against all cowboys.  One member of Wyatt’s posse was Buckskin Frank Leslie.  During the cowboy roundup, one of the more prominent cowboys, Johnnie Ringo was killed, and Billy Claiborne thought the gunman was Buckskin Frank.

So on November 14, 1882 Billy Claiborne came after Buckskin Frank.  Billy shot twice, and missed.  Buckskin Frank shot once, and hit his mark.

As Buckskin Frank walked up to Billy, Billy said, “Don’t shoot again, I am killed.”  An observer was heard to say, “Sure weren’t no Billy the Kid. He missed at thirty feet.”

Filed under: Old West History

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