Monday, July 20, 2015

Lincoln, New Mexico (The Legend of Billy the Kid)

While we were staying in Capitan, New Mexico we went to the old city of Lincoln, New Mexico. Lincoln is famous because in 1880 Pat Garrett was elected Sheriff of Lincoln County and is determined to bring in the outlaw William H. Bonney, famously known as "Billy the Kid."  Garrett and his men pursue Billy and his gang for roughly 140 miles, ambushing them at Fort Sumner.  On December 23, 1880, Billy and his gang were hiding out in a small rock house.  Some of his gang were killed and Billy was captured.  He is sent to Santa Fe pending trial, which was to take place in Mesilla, some 150 miles southwest of Lincoln.  Billy is found guilty of murdering Brady.  He is the only person convicted of any crimes related to the Lincoln County War and sentenced to hang on May 13, 1881.  He is kept separate from the other prisoners, shackled, and chained to the floor and guarded by two deputies. 

One evening when Garrett was out of town, one of the deputies takes the prisoners across the street to the Wortley Hotel for dinner.  Billy asks to use the outhouse, and one of the deputies takes him; on the way Billy overpowers the deputy, killing him with his own gun. Still shackled, he finds the deputies' shotgun and gets himself to a second story window overlooking the street.  When the deputy heard the gunfire, he rushed into the street where Billy shoots him dead. It is said that sympathizers watch as Billy's shackles are broken; he is given a horse and rides out of town. By July Garrett hears that Billy is hold up at Fort Sumner; Garrett shows up and shoots him dead.  He was about 21 years old as the date of his birth is unknown.

Lincoln was holding the Last Escape of Billy the Kid Pageant during Old Lincoln Days August 2-9, 2015, and unfortunately, we had to leave the area before this Pageant took place.  This is a picture of Billy the Kid, one of the only pictures known to exist.

Lincoln is a small settlement in the mountainous south central New Mexico and looks much as it did during the Lincoln County War 1878-1881 when its single street was peopled with characters like Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. These early residents and their actions put this one-road town into the history books. Lincoln's history puts it as the most violent town in western American history. In 1979 the Lincoln Historic Site was established and opens up various buildings to visitors.  Some of the buildings are empty except for a few photographs, and some have volunteers who tell the history of the building.

We started off at the Visitor's Center and took some pictures in there.

First Lincoln County Courthouse 1869-1881

Mescalero family on the Apache Reservation Early 1900s

Single Sided Ranch House Bonito Valley Late 1890s



The Torreon is one of Lincoln's oldest structures. Built in the 1850's, its thick walls protected Spanish-American against the Apaches. In Lincoln County War Murphy's sharp shooters were stationed here.

General Store

General Store

Dr. Woods' house stood at the west end of Lincoln.  As you can see by the pictures, he was well off and had a very nice house. Though little is known of Dr. Woods' practice, records show that he delivered babies, set broken bones, extract teeth, and fixed eye-glasses.  He charged $2.50 plus mileage for house calls.

The Steinway grand piano was manufactured in 1866. It is still in good condition.

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