Old West Lifestyle & Stories


At one time outlaw Billy the Kid came close to becoming an honest man.  But things didn’t work out the way he had hoped.

The year wBilly the Kidas 1879.  The Lincoln County War was all but over.  Lew Wallace, the governor of New Mexico, was in Lincoln County, taking a personal interest in getting to the bottom of the conflict.

Houston Chapman, an attorney had just been murdered, and Governor Wallace wanted his killers.  Although it was generally known who the killers were, someone had to testify against them in court.  The Governor knew that William Bonney, later to be known as Billy the Kid, was that man, because Bonny had already written him saying he would testify in exchange for immunity.  So, on March 17 Bonney and Governor Wallace met.  It was agreed there would be a mock arrest, and after the testimony, Wallace would give Bonney a pardon.

But, before the arrest, the killers of Chapman escaped.  However, Governor Wallace assured Bonney that the deal was still on.  So, on March 21, as per the arrangement, Bonney surrendered to the Lincoln County Sheriff.  In April the two accused murderers were captured again.  A grand jury was called.  But before Bonney could testify, he was taken away to Dona Ana County to stand trial for the murder of Sheriff William Brady, who was killed a year earlier. Bonney and two others were indicted for murder.  Although Bonney was still getting assurances that his deal was still in place, he sensed it was turning sour.  But he still went through with his part of the agreement by testifying against his friends.

Now feeling he had no bargaining power, and that things were still going bad, in May, William Bonney decided to give up trying to go straight, escaped his captors, went back to cattle rustling, and became Billy the Kid.

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