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MoPOP at dusk, Seattle

Friday, July 15, 2016

You don't impose on Billy the Kid.

Interesting article in the New York Times yesterday about Billy the Kid. You will have to google it, it is titled An outlaw by any name: Billy the Kid.

Billy was the son of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine, born in Manhattan in 1859. His mother moved Billy and his brother to the New Mexico territory to deal with her tuberculosis. Billy's stepfather was evidently a real prick.

Billy's birth name was William Henry McCarty Jr. but he also was known as William H. Bonney and Henry Antrim in his short life.

Billy said that he killed twenty one people, history corroborates at least six, his obit says nineteen. Moot after a certain point, I guess, he was one bad hombre. Died at twenty one.

He started off his life as a hotel waiter in Silver City, then apprenticed to a cruel blacksmith and finally got hooked up in the middle of a range war between cattlemen.

The article linked to his original obit in the times from July 31, 1881. Interesting line in the obit: The blacksmith, who was inclined to drunkenness, and a bully by nature, undertook to impose upon Billy. The kid shot him through the heart.

I looked up the phrase "impose upon" wondering if it was a reference to a sexual impropriety but could not find a supporting definition. Not sure. But that may have been the archaic meaning of the term.

I read once that 75% of the violent criminals in California jails had been sexually molested in their youth. Messes with a kid's head.

Was that what precipitated Billy the Kid's killing rampage? A gross imposition?

I first visited the Billy the Kid Bar in Mesilla over fifty years ago. Now it's a gift shop. One of my favorite towns in New Mexico, Mesilla. Pretty much the same as it ever was.


3 comments:

Kerr A. Lott said...

Sexual Imposition: http://www.columbuscriminaldefenseattorney.com/2014/01/14/what-is-the-criminal-offense-of-sexual-imposition-in-ohio/

Blue Heron said...

Thanks, Kerr. What do you think?

Kerr A. Lott said...


He could have been a pederast but according to an online article the blacksmith was just a regular bully.

http://youngguns.wikia.com/wiki/Henry_'Billy_the_Kid'_McCarty

The Kid had trouble finding work because of his youthfulness and slender build, which made him unable to do a man’s job. He then met and went into partnership with a man named John Mackie, another thief who would influence the Kid. The duo began a career of stealing saddles and horses, particularly from the army in the Camp Grant area. Probably after joining up with Mackie, the Kid had developed his famous nickname by which he would be forever known: “Kid.” It wasn’t only because he was one, but he certainly looked it. Because of that, a husky bully blacksmith at Camp Grant, named Frank “Windy” Cahill immediately took pleasure in picking on the Kid every time he saw him. Gus Gildea, who was working as a ranch hand, recalled the Kid having trouble with Cahill, “Shortly after the Kid came to Fort Grant, Windy started abusing him. He would throw Billy to the floor, ruffle his hair, slap his face and humiliate him before the men in the saloon.” Finally, the Kid had enough.