William Henry McCarty, Jr. was only 21 years of age when he died of a gunshot wound at Ft. Sumner in the New Mexico Territory. He had several aliases but is best known as Billy the Kid. He was only 18 when he killed his first man. 

No one knows for certain where Billy the Kid was born. His birth was someplace in New York, but this is largely unsubstantiated. His mother came to the United States during the great famine in Ireland. Her name was Catherine McCarty and there is some debate whether this was her married name or her maiden name. She died in 1874.


The only authenticated photograph of William H. Bonney, the notorious Kid.


November 23, 1859


July 14, 1881


William H. Bonney, Henry Antrim

Early Life

William was considered a very honest 14-year-old when he became an orphan. He worked for his room and board for a hotel owner who took him in after his mother died. The hotel owner was impressed with his honesty and diligence, as were others. A year later he was forced to seek new lodgings through no fault of his own. He promptly got into trouble for the theft of some food. Five months later, he was in trouble with the law once more, stealing clothing and firearms. After two days, he escaped from jail and began a life as a fugitive from the law.

This began a time of increased criminal activities for Billy the Kid. He tried to stay out of trouble but it seems he made friends in the wrongs crowds. It has been said that he killed almost two dozen men but eight or nine is probably much closer to the truth.

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