How Did the Kid Get the Gun?

Yginio Salazar – Billy the Kid
“In great danger, he was the coolest man I ever knew.”
—Yginio Salazar

I have always doubted that, on the day Billy the Kid launched his do-or-die escape attempt from the Lincoln County Courthouse, he and Deputy James W. Bell would have been the only persons in that large building (formerly the Murphy-Dolan general store).

Over the years, indications of other participants or witnesses have trickled into the historical mainstream: that a day before the break, the Kid had a visit from Sam Corbet, who told him that a gun would be hidden in the outhouse; that on the day of the break, six-year-old Aristotle “Harry” Aguayo and his friend were playing marbles outside the courthouse (but perhaps were actually lookouts?); and the involvement inside the building of an adult Aguayo (touched on, alas, incorrectly, in a recent history of White Oaks).

Aguayo family descendants indicate another account of the escape waits to be told. One in which the Kid’s close friend José Maria Aguayo and the Kid’s biggest fan Yginio Salazar played major roles, but the family has embargoed the tale. Unless, and until, they choose to lift that barrier, their version of the story remains untold…and untried.

Frederick Nolan is one of the foremost authorities on Billy the Kid and has written numerous tomes on the outlaw and on Lincoln County history.


For more True West coverage on Billy the Kid, follow the links below:

“What if everything we know about Billy the Kid is wrong?” by Frederick Nolan

Is This a Photograph of Billy Playing Croquet? by Bob Boze Bell

Billy the Irish by Chuck Usmar

How Did Henry Get His Alias? by Mark Lee Gardner

“Hello, Bob” by Cameron Douglas

Seeking the Creation of the Kid’s Death Record by Dr. Robert Stahl

Billy Bonney’s Bad Bucks by Steve Sederwall


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