This Day in History: Billy the Kid Shot To Death on July 14, 1881

No one can dispute that part of the reason Billy the Kid has become a household name is due to his bad reputation.  But like the bad reputations that many high school girls get, most of it never happened.  Does it mean that all of it is not true?  Absolute not, he did kill people.  However, it wasn’t the 21 reported in his legends.  It can only be proved that he personally killed 4 people and helped kill other people but only as part of a group.  It should be noted that two of the people he killed were killed in self defense and two while escaping jail.  He was a thief and a killer but he was not a hotheaded guy waiting for an excuse to kill people.  In fact most of his friends recall him being an easygoing mellow guy that was loyal to his friends.

So if he wasn’t one of the worst outlaws of the time, why did he get pursued so intently?  One reason could be that many of the people he killed and helped kill were law enforcement.  In fact the last two people he killed were his guards, Jim Bell and Bob Olinge during his escape from jail.  It could also be his bad reputation in the media.    All we do know is on July 14, 1881 Sheriff Garrett and a group of men ambushed Billy the Kid at a house in For Sumner, New Mexico and killed him.  In the end his bad reputation helped get him killed but also kept him alive as a legendary outlaw.


Further Reading


Billy the Kid’s crimes


General Billy the Kid infromation



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