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Monday, January 30th, 2017

Billy the Kid’s Grave – New Book

Billy the Kid’s Grave – A History of the Wild West’s Most Famous Death Marker
Billy the Kid's Grave
“Quien es?”

The answer to this incautious question – “Who is it?” – was a bullet to the heart.

That bullet – fired by Lincoln County Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett from a .40-44 caliber single action Colt pistol – ended the life of Billy the Kid, real name William Henry McCarty.

But death – ordinarily so final – only fueled the public’s fascination with Billy the Kid.

What events led to Billy’s killing? Was it inevitable? Was a woman involved? If so, who was she?

Why has Billy’s gravestone become the most famous – and most visited – Western death marker? Is Billy really buried in his grave? Is the grave in the right location?

Is it true that Pat Garrett’s first wife is buried in the same cemetery? Is Billy’s girlfriend buried there also?

The Fort Sumner cemetery where Billy’s grave is located was once plowed for cultivation. Why?

What town, seeking a profitable tourist attraction, tried to move Billy’s body, using a phony relative to justify the action?

These questions – and many others – are answered in this book.

The book is divided into three sections. The first gives an account of the chain of events that led directly to Billy’s death, beginning the singular event that started the sequence, Billy’s conviction for murder and his sentencing to hang. As much as possible, these events are related using the actual words of witnesses and contemporaries. The second chapter tells the story of Billy’s burial and the many surprising incidents associated with his grave over the years. The third chapter lists the 111 men and women known to be buried along with Billy in the Fort Sumner cemetery, with short biographies. Sixteen of these individuals had very direct connections with Billy. Appendix A supplies Charles W. Dudrow’s correspondence regarding the locating and disinterring of the military burials at Fort Sumner. Appendix B reprints the only newspaper interview ever granted by Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett on the killing of Billy the Kid.

To supplement this history are 65 photos and illustrations. These include photos of the different memorials that have marked Billy’s grave over the years, including a photo of Billy’s previously-unknown second grave marker; pictures of the men – friends of Billy – who re-located the grave in 1931; pictures of Billy’s most likely girlfriend, Paulita Maxwell, and her parents; and a historic 1906 Fort Sumner cemetery map showing the location of Billy’s grave.

Paperback, 154 pages. Available at Amazon.

See Also:
Did Billy the Kid stay at La Posta in Mesilla
Pat Garrett Marker
Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today
New Book on Las Cruces History
Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys
The Arizona Cowboy

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New Book on Las Cruces History

Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Screen With A Voice - A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces
The first projected moving pictures were shown in Las Cruces 110 years ago. Who exhibited those movies? What movies were shown? Since projected moving pictures were invented in 1896, why did it take ten years for the first movie exhibition to reach Las Cruces? Who opened the first theater in town? Where was it located? These questions began the history of moving pictures in Las Cruces, and they are answered in this book. But so are the events and stories that follow.

First movie shown in Las Cruces
First theater in Las Cruces
First talkie shown in Las Cruces
Invention of drive-in theater in Las Cruces
Opening of Rio Grande Theater
Impact of Great Depression on business
Raffle of six-week-old baby girl at Mission Theater
World premiere of first BILLY THE KID movie
Second world premiere of a BILLY THE KID movie
Arrival of Organ, Rocket, Fiesta, and Aggie Drive-Ins
Shooting of Clint Eastwood’s HANG ‘EM HIGH

There have been 21 movie theaters in Las Cruces – all but three or four are forgotten. They are unremembered no longer. And one, especially, the Airdome Theater which opened in 1914, deserves to be known by all movie historians – it was an automobile drive-in theater, the invention of the concept, two decades before movie history declares the drive-in was invented.

To supplement this history are 102 photos and illustrations. These include ephemeral documents such as the 4-page flyer for Las Cruces’ third movie exhibition, at the Rink Theater; historic photos of theaters; aerial photos of drive-ins; and never-before-published photos of the shooting of HANG ‘EM HIGH.

Winner 2017 Pasajero Del Camino Real Award for best history book on Southern New Mexico.

Cover: Depicts the 1930 world premiere of BILLY THE KID, starring John Mack Brown as Billy, at the Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces.

See also:
HANG ‘EM HIGH

Filed in: Billy the Kid, History, Las Cruces, Main Street, Theaters, Theatres | Comments Off on New Book on Las Cruces History

 

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

The renowned shootout at the O. K. Corral, the subject of innumerable books and movies, the source of Wyatt Earp’s and his brothers’ enduring fame, occurred 133 years ago. An excellent, eye-witness account of the gunfight was printed in the San Francisco Chronicle several days latter, and republished in newspapers across the country, including in the local Las Cruces paper, the Rio Grande Republican. Here is that account:

A STREET FIGHT

Three Cowboys Killed in a Battle in Tombstone

“A Tombstone, Arizona, special to the San Francisco Chronicle of the 27th ult., gives the following graphic account of the fight between cowboys and the authorities of the town:”

“The liveliest street battle that ever occurred in Tombstone took place at 2:30 P. M. to day, resulting in the death of three persons and the wounding of two others, one probably fatally. For some time past several cowboys have been in town, and the fight was between City Marshal Virgil Earp, his two brothers, Morgan and Wyatt Earp, and Dock (sic) Holliday on one side, and Ike and Billy Clinton and Frank and Tom McLowery on the other. The Clanton and McLowery brothers are known as cowboys, and Ike has been in town for the past week drinking pretty freely, and was arrested this morning for carrying concealed weapons, he having appeared on the street with a Winchester rifle and six-shooter on. After paying his fine he is reported to have made threats against Marshal Earp and his brothers, and it is known that bad blood has existed between them for some time. About 2:30 o’clock the Marshal requested his brothers, Morgan and Wyatt, and Dock Holliday to accompany him to aid in disarming the cowboys, as trouble was feared in the evening. They started down toward the O. K. Corral on Fremont street, and a few doors below the Nugget office saw the two Clantons and the McLowery brothers talking to Sheriff Beban, who had requested them to disarm. The Marshal called out, ‘Boys, throw up your hands; I want you to give up your shooters.’

THIRTY SHOTS IN A MINUTE

“At this Frank McLowery attempted to draw his pistol, when Wyatt Earp immediately shot him, the ball entering just about the waist. Dock Holliday then let go at Tom McLowery with a shotgun, filling him full of buckshot under the right arm. Billy Clanton then blazed away at Marshal Earp, and Ike Clanton, who it is claimed was unarmed, started and ran off through the corral to Allen street. The firing then became general, and some thirty shots were fired, all in such rapid succession that the fight was over in less than a minute. When the smoke cleared away it was found that Frank McLowery had been killed outright, with one ball through the intestines, one in the left breast, and one in the right temple, the latter two wounds being received at the same instant. Tom McLowery lay dead around the corner of Third street, a few feet from Fremont’s, the load of buckshot fired by Holliday killing him instantly. Billy Clanton lay on the side of the street, with one shot in the right waist and another in the right side, near the wrist, and the third in the left nipple. He was taken into a house and lived about half an hour in great agony.”

INJURIES OF THE WOUNDED

“Morgan Earp was shot through both shoulders, the ball creasing the skin. Marshal Earp was shot through the fleshy part of the right leg. Wyatt Earp and Dock Holiday escaped unhurt. The shooting created great excitement, and the street was immediately filled with people. Ike Clayton was captured and taken to jail, where he now remains. The jail is guarded by a number of citizens to prevent lynching, of which there is no apparent danger. The three dead bodies were removed to the Morgue, where they now lie. It is reported that several thousand dollars were found on the bodies. The feeling of the better class of citizens is that the Marshal and his posse acted solely in the right in attempting to disarm the cowboys, and it was a case of kill or get killed. Clayton’s father was killed with four others a few months ago in New Mexico by the Mexicans while driving a band of cattle up to this market. The town is fairly quiet, and the authorities are fully able to maintain order.”

Rio Grande Republican, November 5, 1881.

See Also:

The Arizona Cowboy
Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys

Filed in: Arizona Cowboy, Billy the Kid, History, Las Cruces | Comments Off on Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

 

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?

“Best history of Mesilla.”

“La Posta: From the Founding of Mesilla, to the Corn Exchange Hotel, to Billy the Kid Museum, to Famous Landmark” consists of 5 sections:

  • Chapter 1 is a history of Mesilla, beginning with its founding in 1850 by Rafael Ruelas.
  • Chapter 2 gives the original and early ownership of all the properties around the public square in Mesilla, identifying previously uncertain locations such as the Butterfield Overland Stage location.
  • Chapter 3 is a history of the Corn Exchange Hotel, founded in 1874, the most famous hotel in New Mexico at the time. Almost all the major participants of the Lincoln County War stayed at the hotel.
  • Chapter 4 is a history of the Billy the Kid museum and its founder, Mesilla pioneer and impresario George Griggs.
  • Chapter 5 is a history of La Posta, Mesilla’s most famous landmark.

“Mesilla is full of Billy the Kid history. It’s where he started off rustling with Jesse Evans and it’s where he was tried and convicted of murder. At one point, rumor has it, he even stayed at the Corn Exchange Hotel (along with many of the other heavy hitters from the Lincoln County War).”

“For someone who grew up in the area of Mesilla, it’s nice to have a well-researched book about the area — and the giant photographs don’t hurt either (honestly, I love to see photos that take up the whole page so you can actually make out the detail)….”

“And the thing I was most excited to see is a photo of the hotel registry where the name of “William Bonney” is scrawled on the page. I knew this registry had existed at one point but I always thought it was missing…. There is some debate as to whether or not Billy the Kid really signed the book, which the author goes into, but what would Billy the Kid history be without a little controversy.”

Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang Newsletter, Winter, 2013

See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave – New Book
Pat Garrett’s Marker

 

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

How Las Cruces Got Its Name

THE NAME OF CITY TRACED TO ORGINS
Las Cruces, N. M., “The City of Crosses”

In reply to an inquiry as to how Las Cruces, New Mexico, “the City of Crosses,” got its name, Judge Charles Blanchard, of , who is located in Las Cruces temporarily, handling lands and mines, writes to The Optic as follows from that city:

“I have renewed here the acquaintances of many old settlers, some of whom I have never seen but whose names were familiar through business connections in the early days; from the early 1840’s until the advent of the railroad in New Mexico, during the good, old times of wagon freighting from to [the] Missouri river, by way of Las Vegas, where I was initiated into the mercantile business that commanded the patronage of this portion of New Mexico in its full breadth from east to west and along the Rio Grande [and a] hundred miles into Texas.

I read the other day the register of the old hotel, rendered famous as the rendezvous of many pioneers of the southwest, at that time that Soccorro county extended from Arizona to the west line of Texas, when the present “Lincoln” was known only by the name of and the old town of . Such names as , Col. Emil Fritz, Major Murphy, Capt. J. C. Lea, , Col. Rynerson, Jimmy Dolan, Joseph Reynolds, , A. Griggs and a host of other familiar figures often appear upon the leaves of the records of the ancient hostelery of Mesilla.

In the old town of Mesilla are several families with centenarians, one of whom is living with members of four generations in the same house, due, of course, to simple, frugal living, and exploding the theory that longevity is produced by modern, scientific preparations of diet.

Mesilla is one of the oldest settlements in the southern New Mexico, and has consequently been the scene of many thrilling adventures and historic events. Being on the main road between Santa Fe and Chihuahua, it was a settlement of no small importance, and when in 1865 Silver City began to loom up as a mining camp, a wagon road was opened from Mesilla through Cook’s Peak and Stein’s pass, of Indian massacre fame, and it added much to the importance of the old town. El Paso and Las Cruces were not known then; the town of Dona Ana, seven miles up the valley, being the only settlement as a rival as a trading post and county seat.

In 1852, a long caravan of forty five carts drawn by oxen, heavily loaded with freight from Santa Fe to Chihuahua merchants were one morning nearing a point where the Lucero flouring mill now stands, the northern suburb of Las Cruces, where the convoy was attacked by the and entirely destroyed, some fifty men being killed and buried on the spot. The native cart was constructed without bolts of iron and the creaking of the wheels could be heard at great distances, when in motion.

The news of the disaster was conveyed to where some troops were stationed. The men were buried in separate graves marked with mounds and a cross on each grave. Ever since the spot has been designated as that of Las Cruces, the present City of Crosses.”

Rio Grande Republican, Feb 13, 1909 (newspaper)

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Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Pat Garrett Marker

The city of Las Cruces is considering the approval of a 1,703.9 acre subdivision on the East Mesa south of Hwy 70 called “The Vistas at Presidio II.”

Unknown to virtually everyone in Las Cruces, this block contains a marker built by Jarvis Garrett to memorialize the spot where his Dad was shot. Jarvis Garrett is the youngest son of Pat Garrett. is the lawman who is most famous for having shot .

A local organization called has been formed “to ensure that the site where the death occurred is set aside for a memorial to Pat, and that the marker set up by Jarvis is retained and protected.” Their web site is:

Here’s what the marker looks like:

Pat Garrett was shot February 28, 1908. You can see “Feb 1908” carved in the marker in this closeup:

Photos courtesy of Friends of Pat Garrett.

See also:
Billy the Kids’s Grave – New Book
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?