Wisdom from History – Billy the Kid and the like..

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William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr.  (Nov. 23, 1859 –  July 14, 1881), better known as Billy the Kid and also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier outlaw in the American Old West.

According to legend, he killed 21 men, but it is generally believed that he actually killed between four and nine. He killed his first man in 1877 and from his established though uncertain birth date was age 17 and could have been as young as 15.

McCarty (or Bonney, the name he used at the height of his notoriety) was 5’8″ (173 cm) tall with blue eyes, blond hair or dirty blond hair, and a smooth complexion. He was said to be friendly and personable at times, and it’s been said that he was as lithe as a cat.

Contemporaries described him as a “neat” dresser who favored an “unadorned Mexican sombrero”. These qualities, along with his cunning and celebrated skill with firearms, contributed to his paradoxical image as both a notorious outlaw and a folk hero.

Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, Billy was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New   Mexico’s governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head. In addition, the Las Vegas Gazette (Las Vegas, New Mexico) and the New York Sun carried stories about his exploits.

Other newspapers followed suit. After his death…

William Henry McCarty, Jr. is believed by Michael Wallis and Robert M. Utley, scholars of western history, to have been born on the eve of the Civil War in an Irish neighborhood in New York City (at 70 Allen Street). If indeed his birthplace was New York, no records that prove that he ever lived there have ever been uncovered.

Born to Irish Immigrants, while it’s not known for sure who his biological father was, some researchers have theorized that his name was Patrick McCarty, Michael McCarty, William McCarty, or Edward McCarty.

His mother’s name was Catherine McCarty, although there have been continuing debates about whether McCarty was her maiden or married name.

She is believed to have emigrated to New York during the time of the Great Famine. In 1868, Catherine McCarty had moved with her two young sons, Henry and Joseph, to Indianapolis, Indiana. There she met William Antrim, who was 12 years her junior.

In 1873, after several years of moving around the country, the two were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and settled further south in SilverCity. Antrim found work as a bartender and carpenter, but then became involved in prospecting and gambling as a way to make a living, and during that period spent very little time at home with his wife and stepsons.

Young William McCarty did not use the surname “Antrim.” McCarty’s mother reportedly washed clothes, baked pies, and took in boarders in order to provide for herself and her sons.

Boarders and neighbors remembered her as a jolly Irish lady, full of life and mischief, but she was already in the final stages of tuberculosis when the family reached Silver City.

On September 16, 1874, Catherine McCarty died; she was buried in the Memory Lane Cemetery in Silver City.

At age 14 McCarty was taken in by a neighboring family who operated a hotel where he worked to pay for his keep. The manager was impressed by the youth, contending that he was the only young man who ever worked for him who did not steal anything.

One of McCarty’s schoolteachers later recalled that the young orphan was no more of a problem than any other boy, always quite willing to help with chores around the schoolhouse.

Biographers sought to explain McCarty’s subsequent descent into lawlessness by focusing on his habit of reading dime novels that romanticized crime. Another explanation was that his slender physique placed him in precarious situations with bigger and stronger boys.

Forced to seek new lodgings when his foster family began to experience domestic problems, McCarty moved into a boarding house and pursued odd jobs.

In April 1875, McCarty was arrested by Grant County Sheriff Harvey Whitehill for stealing cheese.

On September 24, 1875, McCarty was arrested again when found in possession of clothing and firearms that a fellow boarder had stolen from a Chinese laundry owner.

Two days after McCarty was placed in jail, the teenager escaped up the jailhouse chimney. From that point on McCarty was more or less a fugitive.

According to some accounts, he eventually found work as an itinerant ranch hand and shepherd in southeastern Arizona.

In 1876 McCarty settled in the vicinity of the Fort Grant Army Post in Arizona, where he worked on ranches and tested his skills at local gaming houses.

Sheriff Whitehill would later say that he liked the boy, and his acts of theft were more due to necessity than wantonness.

During this time McCarty became acquainted with John R. Mackie, a Scottish-born ex-cavalry private with a criminal bent.

The two men supposedly became involved in the risky, but profitable, enterprise of horse thievery. McCarty, who stole from local soldiers, became known by the name of “Kid Antrim”.

Biographer Robert Utley writes that the nickname “Kid” arose because of McCarty’s slight build and his young years, and his appealing personality.

In 1877 McCarty was involved in a conflict with the civilian blacksmith at Fort Grant, an Irish immigrant named Frank P. “Windy” Cahill, who took pleasure in bullying the young McCarty.

On August 17, Cahill reportedly attacked McCarty after a verbal exchange and threw him to the ground. Reliable accounts say that McCarty retaliated by shooting Cahill, who died the next day.

The coroner’s inquest concluded that McCarty’s shooting of Cahill was criminal and unjustifiable. Some of those who witnessed the incident later claimed that McCarty acted in self-defense.

Years later, Louis Abraham, who had known McCarty in Silver City but was not a witness, denied that anyone was killed in the altercation.

In fear of Cahill’s friends, McCarty fled the Arizona Territory and entered into New Mexico Territory. He eventually arrived at the former army post of Apache Tejo, where he joined a band of cattle rustlers who raided the sprawling herds of cattle magnate John Chisum.

During this period McCarty was spotted by a resident of Silver City, and the teenager’s involvement with the notorious gang was mentioned in a local newspaper.

McCarty rode for a time with the gang of rustlers known as the Jesse Evans Gang, but then turned up at Heiskell Jones’s house in Pecos Valley, New Mexico.

According to this account, Apaches stole McCarty’s horse, forcing him to walk many miles to the nearest settlement, which happened to be Jones’s home. When he arrived, the young man was supposedly near death, but Mrs. Jones nursed him back to health. The Jones family developed a strong attachment to McCarty and gave him one of their horses. At some point in 1877, McCarty began to refer to himself as “William H. Bonney”.

In 1877, McCarty (now widely known as William Bonney) moved to Lincoln County, New Mexico, and was hired by Doc Scurlock and Charlie Bowdre to work in their cheese factory.

Through them he met Frank Coe, George Coe and Ab Saunders, three cousins who owned their own ranch near the ranch of Richard M. Brewer. After a short stint working on the ranch of Henry Hooker, McCarty began working on the Coe-Saunders ranch.

Late in 1877, McCarty, along with Brewer, Bowdre, Scurlock, the Coes and Saunders, was hired as a cattle guard by John Tunstall, an English cattle rancher, banker and merchant, and his partner, Alexander McSween, a prominent lawyer.

A conflict known today as the Lincoln County War had erupted between the established town merchants, Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, and competing business interests headed by Tunstall and McSween.

Before the arrival of Tunstall and McSween, Murphy and Dolan presided over a monopoly of Lincoln County’s cattle and merchant trade; their far-reaching operation was known locally as “The House”, after a large mansion in Lincoln that served as Murphy and Dolan’s headquarters. There was also an ethnic element to the House’s conflict with Tunstall;

Murphy and Dolan, both Irish immigrants, were strongly opposed to an Englishman like Tunstall cutting into their business.

Events turned bloody on February 18, 1878, when Tunstall was spotted while driving a herd of nine horses towards Lincoln and murdered by William Morton, Jesse Evans, Tom Hill, Frank Baker and Sheriff William J. Brady of Lincoln County – all members of a posse serving the House, sent to attack McSween’s holdings.

After murdering Tunstall, the gunmen shot down his prized bay horse. “As a wry and macabre joke on Tunstall’s great affection for horses, the dead bay’s head was then pillowed on his hat”, writes Frederick Nolan, Tunstall’s biographer.

Although members of the House sought to frame Tunstall’s death as a “justifiable homicide”, evidence at the scene suggested that Tunstall attempted to avoid a confrontation before he was shot down.

Tunstall’s murder enraged McCarty and the other ranch hands. McSween, who abhorred violence, took steps to punish Tunstall’s murderers through legal means; he obtained warrants for their arrests from the local justice of the peace, John B. Wilson. Tunstall’s men formed their own group called the Regulators. After being deputized by Brewer, Tunstall’s foreman, who had been appointed a special constable and given the warrant to arrest Tunstall’s killers, proceeded to the Murphy-Dolan store.

The wanted men, Bill Morton and Frank Baker, attempted to flee, but they were captured on March 6. Upon returning to Lincoln, the Regulators reported that Morton and Baker had been shot on March 9 near Agua Negra during an alleged escape attempt.

During their journey to Lincoln, the Regulators killed one of their members, a man named McCloskey, whom they suspected of being a traitor.

On the day that McCloskey, Morton, and Baker were slain, Governor Samuel Beach Axtell arrived in Lincoln County to investigate the ongoing violence.

The governor, accompanied by James Dolan and associate John Riley, proved hostile to the faction now headed by McSween. The Regulators “went from lawmen to outlaws”.

Axtell refused to acknowledge the so-called “Santa Fe Ring”, a group of corrupt politicians and business leaders led by U.S. Attorney Thomas Benton Catron. Catron cooperated closely with the House, which was perceived as part of the notorious “ring”.

The Regulators planned to settle a score with Sheriff William J. Brady, who had arrested McCarty and fellow deputy Fred Waite in the aftermath of Tunstall’s murder. At the time Brady arrested them, the two men were trying to serve a warrant on him for his suspected role in looting Tunstall’s store after the Englishman’s death, as well as against his posse members for the murder of Tunstall.

On April 1, the Regulators Jim French, Frank McNab, John Middleton, Fred Waite, Henry Brown and McCarty/Bonney ambushed Sheriff Brady and his deputy, George W. Hindman, killing them both in Lincoln’s main street.

McCarty was shot in the thigh while attempting to retrieve a rifle that Brady had seized from him during an earlier arrest. With this move, the Regulators disillusioned many former supporters, who came to view both sides as “equally nefarious and bloodthirsty”.

The connection between McSween and the Regulators was ambiguous, however. McCarty was loyal to the memory of Tunstall, though not necessarily to McSween. Jacobsen doubts whether McCarty and McSween were acquainted at the time of Brady’s death. According to a contemporary newspaper account, the Regulators disclaimed “all connection or sympathy with McSween and his affairs” and expressed their sole desire was to track down Tunstall’s murderers.

On April 4, in what became known as the Gunfight of Blazer’s Mills, the Regulators sought the arrest of Buckshot Roberts, a former buffalo hunter whom they suspected of involvement in the Tunstall murder. Roberts refused to be taken alive, although he suffered a severe bullet wound to the chest. During the gun battle, he shot and killed the Regulators’ leader, Dick Brewer.

Four other Regulators were wounded in the skirmish. The incident had the effect of further alienating the public, as many local residents “admired the way Roberts put up a gutsy fight against overwhelming odds.”

..and of course the story goes on and on.

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Moving from the climate of lawlessness in the Southwest in the 1878, into the lawless climate of the Northwest in 2013, where Wednesday evening last (Aug. 21st.) Two young “un-American” black teenage thugs beat an 89-year-old Spokane

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Washington resident (Delbert Belton) a.k.a. “Shorty,” ..so severely, ..that “Shorty” lost his “bid” for life.

Although “Shorty” was a combat veteran who saw action in World War II in the service of this nation, ..at 89 years of age “Shorty” didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against two 16-year-old punks who’s course was set to prove their lack of humanity.

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The following frivolous content is provided strictly in a venue of “simple” comedic relief, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. – The Management

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Hey Bro, ..wadda ya think? Nobody faulted Travolta when he got Shorty in the film of the same name.

Well Bro, ..it’s probably for the best, ..can you imagine the living hell “Shorty” would have faced, ..had the encounter taken place in South Dakota where folks have the right to carry concealed weapons and it had gone the other way?

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Jackson and Sharpton - history

Wadda ya think “Shorty” did to provoke those boys? 

Truth forges understanding, I’ll be back tomorrow

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Crusader Rabbit…

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