Billy the Kid is best known for his time in New Mexico, but did he also spend time in Arizona?
Henry McCarty visited Arizona the first time in September 1875, right after he escaped the Silver City, NM jail (where he’d been held in connection with the theft of some clothes from a Chinese laundry). His stepfather, William Antrim, refused to take him in at his home in Clifton, so young Henry moved on to the Gila Valley. Homeless and broke, he took jobs herding stock and cutting hay for local ranchers. On March 19th, 1876 he stole a horse and headed for Fort Grant.
In the fall of 1876, Henry was still hanging out in Bonita. The 17-year-old picked up the nickname “Kid” about that time and worked briefly as a short order cook. He hooked up with an ex-soldier, John Mackie and a band of small time rustlers. Mackie took the youngster under his wing and taught him how to make money without working.
In February 1877, he and Mackie stole some Army horses near Ft. Thomas. The Kid was captured twice but managed to escape both times. He was arrested again, he was captured again, and this time they had local blacksmith Frank “Windy” Cahill make a pair of shackles. This might have stopped some, but not the Kid. He escaped again, taking the shackles with him. It was during this escape he spent a couple of months working at a hay camp near Fort Thomas.
On Friday, August 17th, 1877 the Kid came into Bonita and got into the famous tussle with Cahill. The blacksmith had bullied the youngster, and he proceeded to do so again. The Kid got a gun and fatally shot Windy.
At that point, McCarty headed to New Mexico–and began calling himself William H. Bonney.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian.
His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.
If you have a question, write:
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