Saturday, November 24, 2018

In Search of Billy the Kid

Photo by Gayle Martin
As soon as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was launched I knew I wanted to write another book and make Luke and Jenny into a series. I was already off to a good start with the two kids and their mom on a road trip to Dallas, so where would they make their next stop? Lincoln, New Mexico. 

We've all heard stories about Billy the Kid, and many, if not most, are probably more legend than fact. As I started my research I discovered that the real story was both complex and tragic. Born Henry McCarty, I was unable to find much information about his father. His mother, Catherine, claimed to be a widow, however, I suspect she may have actually been an unwed mother. Back then record keeping wasn't as sophisticated as it is today, so it would have been easy for a young woman in her condition to simply move to another town where no one knew her and tell people she was a widow. What is certain is that young Henry, later known as William Bonney and Billy the Kid, spent most of his life in New Mexico, and his story was a tale of good people trying to do the right thing who ended up vilified and persecuted by those in power. It was time to jump in the car and take a drive.

Lincoln, New Mexico is about a day's drive from Tucson, Arizona, and it was a wonderful trip. New Mexico has beautiful scenery, and I really enjoyed the drive. The following day I visited Lincoln. It's been well preserved and still looks much like it did in Billy's time, with museums housing many of the historical artifacts. As a writer this was especially helpful. Not only did it give me the visual reference I needed, it gave me the opportunity to walk where Billy had once walked and to see some of the things he would have seen.


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