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Erik Sine

Billy The Kid

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I read this theary a couple of times and being a history craving individual I though this was very interesting. If "Billy the kid" is truly Brushy Bill Roberts, then wow at the life he lived after the Lincoln County Wars. I have always had a problem with the evidence presented that his best friend then Pat Garret exectued "Billy The Kid". I came across this that summarizes evidense that he lived on and how he lived afterward.

Brushy Bill Roberts and Billy the Kid---The Complete Facts


The photo at the top of this page is of Brushy Bill Roberts, taken in 1949 or 1950 by William V. Morrison.

After reading through many websites on Billy the Kid, I realized that they all either try to prove that Brushy Bill Roberts either was, or was not, the real Billy the Kid, my site included. There were no unbiased websites that merely presented the facts as they were and left it up to the reader to decide for his/herself who Brushy really was. Rather, there were even some websites that ridiculed those who have a differing opinion on this matter than the site’s creator. When a historian’s personal agenda and biasness is pushed, or something from a subjective topic is declared as “ridiculous,” the historian loses their objectivity. This got me thinking: why can’t just one website show both sides of the argument equally, without letting personal beliefs affect the matter? Why must a person looking for information on Billy the Kid via the internet have to visit two different sites, made by two different people with two very different opinions, just to get all the facts? Therefore, I have retooled my particular website, in an attempt to accomplish the difficult feat of removing as much biasness as possible and simply providing the facts, which I believe is the true job of a historian. So, here is the new Brushy Bill Roberts section of my website. It is my hope that by doing this, other website operators will also change their approach to this topic and try to provide an equal platform for both sides of this debate. Below, I have written a basic history of the case of Brushy Bill, and then listed the evidence for him as Billy the Kid, the evidence against him as Billy the Kid, the falsely used evidence against him, and a list of questions regarding Brushy that remain unanswered.

In 1948, William V. Morrison, a probate investigator working in St. Louis, Missouri, was sent to Florida to work on the case of an elderly man named Joe Hines. Hines was claiming that the land of his recently deceased brother now belonged entirely to him, since he was the only surviving heir. While Morrison and Hines talked, Hines admitted that he was Jessie Evans, who, after he had been released from prison in Texas in 1882, had by all accounts disappeared. Hines then told Morrison of his experiences in the Lincoln County War and with Billy the Kid. This held a special interest for Morrison, since he was related to the Maxwell family of Fort Sumner. When he proclaimed to Hines that the Kid had met his death at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett in the house of one of his relatives, he was shocked to have Hines reply that the Kid was not killed by Garrett, or by anyone else for that matter and was still living. Hines went on to say that besides himself and Billy, there was only one other surviving veteran of the Lincoln County War, namely Jim McDaniels, a member of the Jessie Evans Gang. Further intrigued, Morrison probed Hines for “the Kid’s” name and address and the old man finally consented. He gave Billy’s current name as Ollie L. “Brushy Bill” Roberts and his address as Hamilton, Texas.

Several months later, after completing the Hines case (in which Hines was given his brother’s land), Morrison struck up a written correspondence with Brushy Bill. Throughout this early correspondence, Morrison was careful not to reveal what exactly Hines had told him about his true identity. At the same time, Morrison attempted to track down Jim McDaniels, yet this proved an impossible feat. He managed to track him as far as Round Rock, Texas, but townsfolk there said that he had moved in 1945 to live out the rest of his days with his daughter in California. Giving up on the McDaniels angle, Morrison wrote to Brushy and told him that he would like to meet him. Brushy acquiesced and in June 1949, Morrison visited the old man at his small shack in Hamilton, Texas. In his journal, Morrison noted Brushy as being about 5’8” tall and weighing about 165 pounds, with blue eyes, small hands, large wrists, heavy shoulders, thinning grey hair, high forehead, prominent nose, and large ears. Brushy invited the visitor inside and introduced him to his wife, Melinda. Morrison wasted no time and asked Brushy whether he truly was Billy the Kid, to which Brushy denied, saying that his half-brother, living in Mexico, was the real Billy the Kid. Somewhat disappointed, Morrison decided to leave, but asked Brushy if it might be possible to take a trip to Mexico some day soon to interview his brother. On the way out the door, Brushy stopped Morrison and told him to come back in the afternoon of the next day, when his wife would be out visiting a friend and they would have the house to themselves.

Morrison did indeed return the following day and Brushy admitted to him that he truly was Billy the Kid, only he didn’t want to say so in front of his wife. Brushy then went on to say that he knew he didn’t have many years left in him and wanted to die with the full pardon he had been promised by Gov. Lew Wallace back in 1879. Morrison said he would help the old man in his case, but only if he could be shown proof that Brushy was who he claimed to be. At this request, Brushy took off his clothes, exposing twenty-six bullet and knife scars on his body, several matching known locations of wounds Billy the Kid allegedly had. Brushy also demonstrated the ability to, in a kind of double-jointed move, make his hands smaller than his wrists, which the real Billy was known to do in order to slide handcuffs off. Believing that Brushy could be the real deal, Morrison promised him he would do all he could to help obtain a pardon, provided Brushy would allow him to investigate further into his history to find more proof that he was authentic. Brushy agreed, and the two parted company for the day.

Over the next several months, Morrison met with Brushy several times and recorded his story in his journal and with a tape recorder. All the while, the pair were careful to make sure that Mrs. Roberts was kept in the dark over the entire proceedings, as Brushy didn’t want her to learn his true identity and be disgusted with him for his reputation. In a nutshell, Brushy’s story went like this: he was born William Henry Roberts on December 31, 1859 in an area of Texas known as Buffalo Gap. His parents were James H. and Mary Adeline Roberts. Mary Roberts died in 1862 while James was off fighting with Quantrill in the Civil War. He said that Catherine McCarty was not his mother, but his maternal half-aunt. After his mother died, Brushy went to live with Catherine and her son, Joe. Since Brushy was so young and Catherine moved around so much, everyone just assumed that Brushy was her son. Fearing that Brushy's father might try to take him back, she covered her tracks and gave the name Henry McCarty to Brushy as an alias. When Brushy told of his days as Billy the Kid from 1877 to 1881, Morrison determined that Brushy knew way too much about the history of the Kid and the Lincoln County War to have read all about it. Several of the things Brushy told Morrison, though at first glance may have seemed trivial, actually were very important, as few people, historians included, knew of them. When it came to the events of the night of July 14, 1881, Brushy said that a man named Billy Barlow was killed by Pat Garrett. Barlow, he said, was partially Mexican, had a beard, looked like the Kid, was a little younger than the Kid, and was possibly related to the Clements family, the cousins of John Wesley Hardin. Brushy also said that he doubted that Billy Barlow was the man's real name. After Barlow was killed, Brushy continued, he fled Fort Sumner. After fleeing Sumner, his story went, he lived in Mexico with a tribe of Yaqui Indians for two years; returned to the U.S. and worked in Carlton, Texas; was arrested in Kansas City because he recognized as the Kid, but was released; worked for Buffalo Bill Cody in his Wild West Show; worked for the Anti-Horse Thief Association from 1885-1889; worked for Judge Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas; joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency; worked as a U.S. Marshal investigating train robberies; joined the Rough Riders and went to Cuba; briefly operated his own Wild West Show; fought for Villa and Carranza in the Mexican Revolution; worked as a plainclothes policeman in Gladewater, Texas; married four times; and used a dozen aliases.

In the fall of 1949, Morrison took Brushy with him to New Mexico for the purpose of having Brushy meet with some surviving acquaintances of Billy the Kid, to see if they could verify or deny his claim. Earlier, Morrison had been given the names Billy’s remaining acquaintances by other respected historians such as Maurice Fulton and William Keleher. While in New Mexico, the pair stopped at sites such as Fort Sumner and Lincoln. In the courthouse in Lincoln, Brushy detailed to Morrison how he, as Billy the Kid, made his famous escape and killed deputies Bob Olinger and James Bell. By the time they had completed their trip and returned to Brushy’s home in Hico, Texas (he had moved from Hamilton in the summer of ‘49), they had managed to meet with Severo Gallegos, Martile Able, Jose Montoya, and Bill and Sam Jones. The first three all signed legal affidavits attesting to the fact that Brushy Bill and Billy the Kid were one and the same and the Jones brothers, although they did not sign affidavits (claiming they didn’t want to get involved in the proceedings) also stated their agreement with this.

In the summer of 1950, Morrison moved, along with his family, to El Paso, Texas, in order to be closer to anything he may need in his investigation. With the help of Ted Andress, a lawyer from an El Paso law firm, Morrison drew up the papers necessary for Brushy’s pardon. Afterwards, Morrison wrote a report entitled “A Statement of Facts,” which stated that Billy Bonney was promised a pardon in 1879 by Gov. Wallace and that Billy was not killed in 1881 and still deserved his pardon. Included with the report were various documents related to Billy’s life and the affidavits from Gallegos, Able, and Montoya, along with affidavits from two of Brushy’s friends, DeWitt Travis and Robert Lee, detailing other aspects of his life. Again with the help of Andress, Morrison filed for the petition for the pardon on Nov. 15, 1950. Thomas J. Mabry, governor of New Mexico, agreed to a private hearing with Morrison and Brushy, along with one or two historians of Mabry‘s choosing, to be held on Nov. 29.

On the morning of the 29th, as Morrison and Brushy at breakfast at a Santa Fe diner, Morrison read in a local newspaper that Mabry had publicly announced his meeting with a Billy the Kid claimant. Morrison immediately telephoned Mabry, who apologized for making the announcement, but reassured him that the meeting would still be kept private. A few hours later, Brushy and Morrison arrived at Mabry’s mansion. Upon entering the conference room, they were shocked at what they saw. Present in the room were several photographers and reporters, armed policemen, Oscar and Jarvis Garrett (Pat’s sons), Cliff McKinney (Kip McKinney’s son), Arcadio Brady (William Brady’s grandson), and historians William Keleher, E. B. Mann, and Will Robinson. In short, the private meeting had developed into a media circus. Badly frightened, Brushy apparently suffered a small stroke, and when the questioning began, he failed miserably. However, the men asking the questions seemed to treat the affair as something as a joke, and asked primarily only meaningless questions (i.e. how many girlfriends he had, did he enjoy stealing livestock, etc.). He completely forgot basic information about himself , and, when he was asked a serious question regarding the past of Billy the Kid, he forgot that as well. Stating he felt ill, he was eventually taken to another room to lie down. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Mabry made an announcement that he was not going to pardon Brushy, because he did not believe him to be Billy the Kid. Disappointed, Morrison took Brushy to a local doctor, Stan Lloyd, and when he was well enough, he took him home to Hico.

In Hico, Brushy was reexamined by Dr. W. F. Hafer and told to get as much rest as possible. In the meantime, Morrison was to continue working on his case. On Dec. 27, 1950, Brushy left his bed and told his wife he was feeling better. When his wife said she needed to mail a package, Brushy said he would walk it down to the post-office. As he walked down the street, Brushy suffered a sudden heart attack. He fell to the ground and died instantly. Five years later, in 1955, noted historian C. L. Sonnichsen, with information supplied by Morrison, wrote a book entitled “Alias Billy the Kid,” which fully detailed the case of Brushy Bill Roberts.

In order to first read the detailed accounts of Pat Garrett and Brushy Bill Roberts in regards to the night of July 14, 1881, click here. Also, read the various discrepancies and questions surrounding all the accounts of the shooting by clicking here.

Lastly, to see more photos of Brushy Bill, click here.

NOTE: I welcome and encourage all e-mails regarding this topic. I would love to hear any questions, thoughts or suggestions on this.

Evidence for Brushy Bill Roberts as Billy the Kid

*Brushy Bill’s knowledge of the Lincoln County War and the life of Billy the Kid was too extensive to have all been read. Several of the things he knew were known to only a few people at the time, including historians. For example, he knew that Colonel Dudley's soldiers that entered Lincoln on July 19, 1878 were black, he knew all the details of how the Kid had to pay his lawyer for his services in his trial, he knew that Billy the Kid wrote a letter to Gov. Wallace proclaiming his innocence in the murder of James Carlyle, and he knew exactly how the McSween house was set up before it was burned.

* In 1949, Morrison took Brushy Bill to the old Lincoln County courthouse, which also once served as the Murphy-Dolan-Riley store. In the building, Brushy described how the building looked during the Kid's incarceration there to a T. Every little detail of how the building looked in 1881, Brushy knew. He said how when he killed Bell, one of his guards, the bullet first hit the wall and then ricocheted into Bell's side, which is true.

* In Brushy's possessions, he had a very old scarf that he claimed to have gotten from Deluvina Maxwell after he was captured at Stinking Springs and brought to Fort Sumner. He said he gave Deluvina the tintype of himself and she gave him the scarf. This really did happen, but only posse member Jim East knew of it and he only spoke of it in a letter he wrote to fellow lawman Charlie Siringo.

* Brushy said that when he went to trial, his first indictment was for the murder of Buckshot Roberts and he was represented by Ira Leonard. He also said that Leonard was able to get the case thrown out. This is true, but very, very few researchers knew of this back during the time Brushy made his claim.

* Severo Gallegos, Jose Montoya, and Martile Able, all surviving friends of Billy the Kid, met with Brushy Bill separately. Brushy talked with them all about events from his past as Billy the Kid and all three signed affidavits attesting to the fact that Billy the Kid and Brushy Bill were one and the same.

* Bill and Sam Jones, also surviving friends of Billy the Kid, also met with Brushy Bill. Although they did not sign affidavits in support of Brushy, due to the fact that they wanted to avoid any publicity that would bring, they did tell Morrison they believe him to be the Kid.

* Jessie Evans, or Joe Hines as he was later known, confirmed to Morrison that Brushy Bill was the Kid.

* Bob Young, a native of Round Rock, Texas, visited Hamilton, Texas in 1930 and first met Brushy Bill. The two became friends and Brushy informed Young that he would like to accompany him on his return to Round Rock. When the time came for Young to return home, Brushy regretfully said he couldn’t accompany him, since his wife was sick. Still, Brushy asked Young to look up an old friend of his, Jimmy McDaniels (a former member of the Jessie Evans Gang and veteran of the Lincoln County War), who also lived in Round Rock. Brushy went on to tell Young that when he found McDaniels, to simply tell him ‘’the Kid says hello.’’ When Young returned to Round Rock, he met with McDaniels and delivered Brushy’s message. Upon hearing this, the old man looked as if he had been badly frightened.

* One day in the 1940s, Brushy was walking down a street in Hico. Also walking down the street was a five year old boy and his mother. When the boy ran into the street and was almost hit by a car, the mother yelled out her son's name, Billy, loudly. Witnesses said that Brushy whirled around and reached for an imaginary pistol. After Brushy realized his name wasn't being called, he hurried away. Although this is not technically evidence in support of Brushy’s claim, and in no way connects him directly to Billy the Kid, it does indicate he was a man used to danger.

* One day in 1945, Brushy was walking down a Hico street. An old lawman named Henry Anthony and his sons were also on the street and when Anthony saw Brushy, he jumped up and yelled at Brushy, calling him Billy Bonney, and told him to throw up his hands. When his sons calmed him down, Anthony said that Brushy was the Kid. He swore for the rest of his life that Brushy was the Kid.

* In 1990, the famous tintype of Billy the Kid, a purported photo of the Kid at age 12, a photo of Brushy at age 14, and a photo of Brushy at age 90 were analyzed in the Acton-Bovik photo study. The study used the most advanced photo comparison equipment around as well as the best scientists. The photo purported to be a 12 year old Billy the Kid was determined to not be him. The photo of 14 year old Brushy was close match to the tintype. The photo of Brushy at age 90 had a 93% match to the famous tintype. The missing seven percent can be explained due to age and dental work, so said Dr. Bovik and Dr. Acton.

* Brushy Bill had each and every scar Billy was said to have (and more).

Evidence against Brushy Bill Roberts as Billy the Kid

*Sheriff Pat Garrett said he killed Billy the Kid, and Dep. John Poe, Dep. Thomas McKinney, and the vast majority of everyone else who claimed to have seen the body of the man Garrett killed agreed to this.

* No contemporary account carries any mention of the gunfight that Brushy claimed transpired between himself and Garrett, Poe, and McKinney after Barlow was killed.

* There exists no evidence, other than the word of Brushy Bill, that Billy Barlow, the man Brushy said Garrett really killed, ever existed.

* When retelling his story, Brushy did make several historical errors. Although a good portion of these dealt with events and facts that were questionable in the first place and therefore dubious (i.e Brushy saying he was present at Tunstall‘s funeral when it is very possible the real Billy the Kid was or Brushy saying that it was Fred Waite who was shot by Billy Mathews during the Brady assassination, not Jim French, when contemporary sources differ as to who the wounded Regulator was), there were some that were definitely wrong. For example, Brushy said that John Selman fought on the McSween side in the Lincoln County War. However, Selman did not fight for either side and didn’t even arrive in Lincoln until after the final battle of the war.

* Brushy claimed that throughout 1871-1874, he left the care of Catherine McCarty a few times to visit his biological father, James Roberts, in Texas, and ended up staying with him a total of two years. However, there exists no contemporary evidence that the real Billy the Kid ever left the care of Catherine McCarty, especially for so long a time period.

* Brushy also claimed that after he fled Silver City in 1875 up until fall 1877, he basically traveled over the entire West (Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Oregon), making a living as a bronc rider. However, although documentation of Billy the Kid’s life during this period is sparse, the documentation that does exist seems to indicate he spent this time in Arizona operating as a horse and saddle thief.

* In 1988, physicist and amateur photo expert Thomas Kyle underwent a photo comparison study between the tintype photo of Billy and a photo of Brushy taken at his meeting with Gov. Mabry. Although he used his own methods and his home Apple Macintosh II computer, he announced that in his opinion, the two photos were of two different people.

* Brushy Bill had a well-known association with J. Frank Dalton, a proven false Jesse James claimant. Although this is technically not evidence against Brushy’s own claim, it does cast a serious shadow of doubt on his own credibility.

False evidence against Brushy Bill Roberts

*It has been claimed that Brushy Bill was illiterate, and therefore could not have been Billy the Kid. In truth, Brushy was completely literate. He had several diaries when Morrison found him, he wrote several letters to Morrison and other people, and he had thought for a time to write his autobiography, but later decided not to, fearing the press he might get. Jim Tully, a good friend of Brushy's, signed an affidavit that Brushy was completely literate. Bob Young, Alton Thorton, W. F. Hafer, Jimmy Ramage, Ablo Norman, Tom Turner, and L. L. Gamble, all surviving friends of Brushy, said he was either literate, or not sure, but none of them said he was illiterate. The theory that he was illiterate sprang from a quote C. L. Sonnichsen wrote in his book, that Roberts was "not a literate man." However, Sonnichsen later said he wished he never wrote that because he meant that Brushy wasn't the type of person who would sit around all day reading history books. He meant to say he was not a literary man.

* It has also been claimed that Brushy could not speak Spanish, whereas Billy the Kid could. However, when Morrison took Brushy to visit with Severo Gallegos, Brushy spoke with Severo's Mexican neighbor, Josephine Sanchez, in perfect Spanish. Jim Tully signed an affidavit that he could speak Spanish as well as a native. Bob Young, Alton Thorton, W. F. Hafer, Jimmy Ramage, Ablo Norman, Tom Turner, and L. L. Gamble also said Brushy was fluent in Spanish. The reason people think he was non-fluent in Spanish is because a myth started that Jarvis Garrett (or Oscar Garrett or Arcadio Brady, depending on which version of the myth you heard) asked Brushy a question in Spanish at the meeting with Gov. Mabry, to which Brushy couldn't respond. This is false. Not one person who was at the meeting ever mentioned this happening.

* Another false piece of evidence used against Brushy was that he was left-handed, and the Kid right-handed. In fact, both the Kid and Brushy were ambidextrous. According to people who knew them, both Brushy and the Kid could write and shoot just as well with either hand.

Unanswered questions regarding Brushy Bill Roberts

*When Morrison first met Brushy, he was going by the name of Oliver L. Roberts. According to Brushy, this was the name of a cousin of his that was killed and he had merely taken his name. Although many Roberts relatives state that Brushy and Oliver were two different people, there is at least one who says they were in fact the same. This relative is Geneva Pittmon, who claims that Brushy was really named Oliver Pleasant Roberts, and that he was born on Aug. 26, 1879 in eastern Texas. Through census records, it is easy to track the life of this Oliver P. Roberts. Was Brushy Bill really Oliver P. Roberts? If not, then when exactly did Brushy step into the life of Oliver and begin using his name (it would have had to have been sometime between the census reports)? Also if not, why would Geneva Pittmon say they were? If he was really Oliver P., then how did Brushy come by so much knowledge of Billy the Kid, when he would have been far too young to have even participated in the Lincoln County War? Why did he change his middle initial from P. to L.? Why did many Roberts family members say Brushy was not Oliver P.? How did Brushy do the things he said he did after fleeing Fort Sumner (almost all of which have been proven either through official documentation, objects Brushy had in his possession, or by personal recollections of others who shared in his experiences), when the census records for Oliver P. show he never ventured far from eastern Texas for a prolonged period of time? And, finally, if Brushy was really Oliver P., then what happened to the real William Henry Roberts?

* If Brushy was not Billy the Kid, why did he not go along with the traditional origin of Billy the Kid (that he was born on Nov. 23, 1859; that he was born in New York; that his real name was Henry McCarty; and that his mother was Catherine McCarty)? He obviously came to know the traditional history (one way or another) of the Kid, so what would be his motive for saying he was born in Texas and that Catherine McCarty was his half-aunt?

* If Brushy was not really Billy the Kid, then why did he come forward and claim he was? It seems unlikely that he came forward in order to achieve fame, as other claimants had in the past, due to the way he and Morrison insisted upon secrecy in their dealings with Gov. Mabry. Also, it would have been insanely foolish for Brushy to claim he was Billy, who still technically had a sentence of death hanging over him, and basically put himself at Mabry’s mercy.

* And, finally, to end on the same note that C. L. Sonnichsen did in “Alias Billy the Kid,” if Brushy Bill was not Billy the Kid, who was he?

In conclusion, I would just like to state that I hope I have accomplished my goal of providing all the facts as they are and checking my own biasness. Now you can examine the facts, and make of them what you will.

Also of note: there have been six books written on the Brushy Bill controversy. They are as follows:

# "Alias Billy the Kid," by C. L. Sonnichsen & W. V Morrison, 1955

# "Billy the Kid & Me Were the Same," by Dr. William A. Tunstill, 1988

# "The Trial of Billy the Kid," by Judge Bobby E. Hefner, 1990

# "Billy the Kid: Killed in New Mexico---Died in Texas," by Dr. Jannay Valdez & Judge Bobby E. Hefner, 1995

# "The Return of the Outlaw Billy the Kid," by W. C. Jameson & Frederick Bean, 1998

# "The Real Billy the Kid AKA: Brushy Bill Roberts," by Brett L. Hall, 2004

The Website with more pics http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/billythekid/brushy.html

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I grew up believing that Billy the Kid's real name was William Bonney. That name is only mentioned twice in this article, with no explanation or background. Wikipedia says it was an alias that Billy used occasionally. Wikipedia also says that Brushy Bill's claims are generally rejected, but still debated. Thanks for sharing this article, Sign Guy. :draw2wc:

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Thought I would update this piece of history with the latest coming from the New Mexico Governor

New Mexico Governor Considers Pardon for Billy the Kid

Published July 30, 2010 | Associated Press

post-3-025126000 1280512540.jpg

The 130-year-old feud between outlaw Billy the Kid, left,

and frontier lawman Pat Garrett isn't over, as New Mexico Gov. Bill

Richardson considers granting a posthumous pardon to the notorious criminal.

SANTA FE, New Mexico -- The showdown between frontier lawman Pat Garrett and notorious outlaw Billy the Kid has fascinated the American public for nearly 130 years with its classic, Old West storyline.

As it turns out, the feud isn't completely over.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is considering granting a posthumous pardon to Billy the Kid, angering descendants of Garrett who call it an insult to recognize such a violent outlaw.

Three of the late lawman's grandchildren sent a letter to Richardson this week that asked him not to pardon the outlaw, saying such an act would represent an "inexcusable defamation" of Garrett.

"If Billy the Kid was living amongst us now, would you issue a pardon for someone who made his living as a thief and, more egregiously, who killed four law enforcement officers and numerous others?" the Garrett family wrote.

The issue has resurfaced because Richardson asked a New Mexico columnist earlier this year to check with historians to measure their support for issuing a pardon. The governor plans to meet with Garrett family members next week to discuss the issue.

Garrett shot Billy the Kid down on July 14, 1881. Garrett tracked him after the outlaw escaped from the Lincoln County jail in a famous gunbattle that left two deputies dead.

The Kid's status as an Old West folk hero grew as countless books, films and songs were written about the gunslinger and his exploits. According to legend, he killed 21 people, one for each year of his life, but the New Mexico Tourism Department puts the total closer to nine.

The pardon dispute is the latest in a long-running fight over whether Garrett shot the real Kid or someone else and then lied about it. Some history buffs claim Billy the Kid didn't die in the shootout with Garrett and landed in Texas, where he went by "Brushy Bill" Roberts and died of a heart attack at age 90 in 1950.

Richardson joined the tussle in 2003 by supporting a plan by then-Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan to reinvestigate the century-old case.

The governor said he was willing to consider a pardon for the Kid -- something the outlaw hoped for but never received from New Mexico territorial Gov. Lew Wallace.

"Governor Richardson has always said that he would consider making good on Governor Wallace's promise to Billy the Kid for a pardon," Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia said Thursday. "He is aware of the Garrett family's concerns and will be meeting with them next week."

Susan Floyd Garrett of Santa Fe is one of the grandchildren who signed the letter to Richardson. She said the family decided to speak out because a pardon represents a "defamation of character" to their grandfather. She described the Kid as a "gangster."

"Everybody wants to mythologize Billy the Kid," she said.

Garrett and her brother, Jarvis Patrick Garrett, met Thursday with descendants of another key figure in the Kid's story -- John Henry Tunstall, a rancher whose murder in 1878 triggered a bloody feud known as the Lincoln County War. Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney, worked as a ranch hand for Tunstall.

Hilary Tunstall-Behrens of London, a great-nephew of Tunstall, said he's not backing a modern-day pardon for the Kid.

"I wouldn't join the cause," said Tunstall-Behrens, 83. "There is so much strong feelings."

Gale Cooper, an amateur historian who lives near Albuquerque, said a pardon by Richardson would be the "culmination of the hoax that contended Pat Garrett was a nefarious killer and Billy was not buried in his grave."

Cooper has written a book, "MegaHoax," to debunk claims that Garrett killed someone other than the Kid.

After serving as Lincoln County sheriff, Garrett's career soured. He ran unsuccessfully for higher political office, served as a customs collector, but ran into financial problems as a rancher.

He was shot and killed in 1908 in a dispute over his land.

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I'd have to say no.

If even a quarter of Brushy Bill's claims were true his life would be remarkable.

After fleeing Sumner, his story went, he lived in Mexico with a tribe of Yaqui Indians for two years; returned to the U.S. and worked in Carlton, Texas; was arrested in Kansas City because he recognized as the Kid, but was released; worked for Buffalo Bill Cody in his Wild West Show; worked for the Anti-Horse Thief Association from 1885-1889; worked for Judge Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas; joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency; worked as a U.S. Marshal investigating train robberies; joined the Rough Riders and went to Cuba; briefly operated his own Wild West Show; fought for Villa and Carranza in the Mexican Revolution; worked as a plainclothes policeman in Gladewater, Texas; married four times; and used a dozen aliases.

If he was arrested in Kansas City as being suspected of being a dead outlaw there should be a record.

In what capacity was he in Buffalo Bill Cody's show? Both Frank James and Cole Younger were in the show. I've held the jewelry box Cole made for the sheriffs daughter after his arrest at for the Northfield raid.

Who was he when he worked for Judge Parker?

Went to Cuba as a rough rider?

Had his own Wild West Show?

Fought for Poncho Villa?

Didn't mention all the other stuff. Mr. Roberts was far more remarkable than the Kid if any of that crap is true.

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If all that stuff was true, what a remarkable life. Think of the movie that could be made. I always thought there was a real interesting end to Young Guns II.

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