billy the kid painting by bob boze bell
Painting of Billy the Kid by Bob Boze Bell

Writing in red ink on ruled paper, Billy the Kid writes a letter to Lew Wallace, the governor of New Mexico.Written from Fort Sumner, on December 12, 1880, the missive says, in part, “I noticed in the Las Vegas Gazette a piece which stated that Billy ‘the’ Kid, the name by which I am known in the County, was the captain of a Band of Outlaws who hold forth at the Portales. There is no such Organization in Existence.” The Kid goes on to say how he is not responsible for recent crimes and he blames cattleman John Chisum for hiring Pat Garrett to chase the young outlaw down.

Lew Wallace misses the letter because he is back east promoting his new book, “Ben Hur.”

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