Only authenticated pic of Billy the Kid sells for $2.3 million

The Upham tintype of Henry McCarty, aka William Bonney aka Billy the Kid, the sole authenticated picture of the famous outlaw, sold at Brian Lebel’s Old West Show & Auction in Denver on Saturday for $2.3 million. The pre-sale estimate was $300,000 – $400,000, but Florida billionaire, alternative energy investor and America’s Cup winner William Koch finally took it home for eight times that amount.

According to one of Billy’s old girlfriends, the tintype was taken by a traveling photographer on the street outside Beaver Smith’s saloon in Fort Sumner, New Mexico in 1879 or 1880. One of the things that makes it such an iconic image of Billy and the old West is that it’s not a posed and polished studio portrait, but rather captures the Kid wearing his crumpled hat, thick sweater, thoroughly lived-in boots and baggy pants, with his 1873 Winchester carbine rifle in his left hand and his Colt .45 single action revolver in a holster on his right hip. (This picture is the reason Billy the Kid was widely thought to have been left-handed during much of the 20th century, when in fact tintypes are mirror images so really he was holding the Winchester in his right hand.)

Tintype of Dan Dedrick, ca. 1880, included in the auction lotThe camera used to take the photo was multilense, so four identical pictures were made at the same time. This is the only one known to have survived. Billy gave it to his cattle rustling colleague Dan Dedrick, who claimed he was present when the photo was taken, and who in turn gave it to his nephew Frank L. Upham in the 1930s.

The image was already famous by then. It was first printed in the Boston Illustrated Police News, January 8, 1881, when the Kid was still alive and in the Santa Fe jail that he would break out of, killing two deputies. The year after that Pat Garrett, the sheriff who had shot the Kid dead three months after that jailbreak, published the picture in his biography The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid.

As famous as it was, within a few decades the original tintype appeared to be lost. It wasn’t until 1986 that the Upham family announced that they had lovingly kept their tintype of Billy the Kid and that they were donating it to the Lincoln County Heritage Trust in New Mexico. That is the only time the tintype was ever on public display.

There was a stipulation, however, that if the Trust ever dissolved, then ownership of the picture would revert to the Upham family. The Trust ceased to exist in 1998 and the tintype went back to the Uphams. They put it up for auction Saturday along with an 1880 tintype of Dan Dedrick, six other pictures of Dedrick and his family, plus letters and documentation, all included in the lot.

Koch intends to loan the iconic picture to several small museums before taking it home to “just enjoy.”


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Comment by Mr. Murphy in VA
2011-06-28 12:51:05

Every post on this blog offers some new insight or fascinating discovery. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the picture of Billy the Kid and never once noticed that he was wearing a big puffy sweater. It never ocurred to me that them thar cowboys would ever stoop to a bulky knit fashion statement. I guess that watching Gunsmoke for all those many years blinded me to this curious detail.

Comment by Steve
2011-06-28 12:52:36

Really???? 2.3 million???? For a picture??? Why do rich people have to be insane???

Comment by livius drusus
2011-06-28 13:47:18

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the picture of Billy the Kid and never once noticed that he was wearing a big puffy sweater. It never ocurred to me that them thar cowboys would ever stoop to a bulky knit fashion statement. I guess that watching Gunsmoke for all those many years blinded me to this curious detail.

If it’s any consolation, I thought it was a shirt for years, too. It wasn’t until I saw the tintype in high res while writing this entry that I saw that ribbed knit on the shoulders and sleeves. Dan Dedrick is sporting classic Gunsmoke fashions, though. ;)

Comment by INGO
2012-02-08 16:30:04

He IS wearing a shirt, same style as Dan Dedrick, with a vest on top and then an unbuttoned cardigan-sweater on top of that.
Id like to know what’s that on his chest under his bandana, looks like an Indian necklace?
Great to see all the detail, would love to see it in a museum.


Comment by Matt Recktenwald
2013-02-07 14:37:53

The motif on hie shirt is – probably – an anchor. Go for Bob Boze Bell’s book about BTK + you will see that.

Comment by carlos beltran
2013-02-13 02:21:10

yo tengo una foto de billy the kid con una rubia hermosa a un lado dee el sentado con su winchester su colt su porta balas de pecho su sombrero pa;uelo y ella apuntandole ala cien con otra pistola foto de 1800 contactenme

Comment by Anonymous
2013-12-16 06:13:21

Henry Antrim was known to have blue eyes. Take a look at the tin-type.

Comment by David Snell
2014-07-10 15:39:03

“[I]n the Santa Fe jail that he would break out of, killing two deputies.” This is, of course, incorrect. So many times you read “Billy escaped from jail, killing his two guards.” Where he was kept awaiting execution bears no resemblance whatever to a jail. He escaped from c o n f i n e m e n t .
not from jail. And, needless to say (?), he escaped in Lincoln town, not SFe.

Comment by rick stewart
2015-02-26 17:56:31

I was going through some old pictures that i got from my grandmother one of the pictures shows two men with the names biily the kid and pat garrett. I am trying to find out how i can see if the pictures are the real ones. The facial features on the one i have a very similar to the two i have seen of billy the kid. Can anyone help me.send me in the right direction.

Comment by David Snell
2015-02-27 16:02:32

The whole photo-of-the-Kid business is a real quagmire. There have been quite a few sorta possible Kid pictures surfacing lately. Of course, it all dominos back to “the only authentic” photo of him. All the other portraits are touted according to how much resemblance it bears to the “approved” one. I did some digging around, looking for the source of that “official” designation. There is nothing but a long oral tradition that supports the claim. There are IMHO other reasons to suspect that it is not he. Whether or not you believe that the picture is genuine is largely an article of faith at this point. So, even if your photo is a dead-on match of the “real” one, the question remains: Just who is this person?

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 19:25:49

Rick, I believe that I can ID your picture of who may be Billy and Pat Garrett. You can email me at: I know what the kid looked like, I think, better than anyone. If you would like,you can email me and request a copy of my pics of the kid and you can match them to yours. You will want to find out where your picture came from, possibly who owned it before you. My pictures of the kid were owned by Sallie Chisum, so provenance is good. I have a bunch of Sallie’s photographs, mostly tintypes.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 19:33:03

Billy had clear blue eyes with brown rims and little brown spots in the cornea. His hair was brown and very wavy/curly. Curls fell over his forehead. His complexion was clear. He had a very light beard, more like peach fuzz. Billy’s mouth was narrow with full lips and he would close over slightly protruding teeth, which were really more twisted that buck. One slightly overlapped the other. He had well shaped ears and detached lobes. Billy was a nice looking young fellow and extremely youthful in appearance. While small, he was a powerful young man for his size and a wonderful athlete. He constantly smiled and laughed easily. He had a clear, fine tenor singing voice and he loved to dance.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 19:40:58

Billy was confined in the upstairs room of the old Lincoln County Courthouse that had been the Murphy/Dolan store. There were five other prisoners held with him, but they were locked in rooms. Billy was held in the court room, chained either to the floor or to his bed. When I first visited the building, years ago, there was a steel ring in the floor, but I do not know if it was authentic or a later addition. I suspect the latter. It is no longer there. He was guarded by two men, J.W. Bell and Robt Olinger. Olinger took several prisoners across the road to eat lunch in the restaurant in the Wortley hotel. (Some stories say he ate “dinner”, but one must recall that dinner, in those days, meant lunch.) The shootings took place in the early afternoon. Billy shot Bell and then Olinger as he came running across the road.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 19:48:25

Sallie Chisum owned a least two pictures, both tintypes, of the kid. I own most of her collection of photos, including those two. They were taken about three years apart..maybe a little less and the younger of the two, when held up to the “Upham” photo matches perfectly. Email me and I’ll send them to you. Sallie’s collection is pretty amazing and contains many of her family and friends which includes several Regulators. I found them in a little antique store in Oregon. After some years of searching I found Walter Pitzer’s heirs who used to own the collection. They sold it in a yard sale! I’ll be happy to send you copies of any that you would like to see…please don’t request all of them…there are a bunch.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 19:52:17

Oh, now I understand David! LOL. The jail in Lincoln was a pretty miserable place. It was a hole in the ground covered by some sort of wooden shanty. A ladder was lowered down into the hole and after the prisoners climbed down there the ladder was pulled up. It would fill with water sometimes. By the time the kid was held in Lincoln that old pit jail was no longer in use.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 19:55:49

Both of my pictures of the kid that I own show his clear blue eyes. One in particular shows them clearly. One can even see their color and the brown rims around the cornea.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 20:00:45

Billy used to enjoy square dancing with Sallie Chisum. Dances were held often and young people would come from all around to join the fun. They would sometimes stay for a few days, like a large sleep over. They would dance until dawn. Sallie mentions in her diary that she and Billy, whom she called “Willi” would sit in chairs outside to cool off. I suspect that on evening while sitting in the gathering chill the kid complained of the cold. I think that Sallie must have run into the house and returned with her uncle’s sweater. His name was Pitzer Miller Chisum, who went by his initials PM. By this time he had left the South Springs Ranch. Billy took the sweater and kept it, Sallie didn’t care, PM had already left (He eventually returned) This is the sweater, I think, we see in the Upham photograph.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-02 20:05:09

That photograph is the forth most valuable photograph extant. I don’t know what the other three are though.

Comment by Edwin
2015-05-28 09:04:25

But… correct me if i’m wrong, if this tintype is the correct one, and he has his colt hanging on his LEFT side, doesn’t that imply that indeed he used his left hand to shoot and therefore is to be considered left-handend?

Comment by David Snell
2015-05-28 11:19:43

The photo was made by a process which produces a reversed (mirror) image. He was right handed. It’s interesting to note that this “only authenticated” photo of the Kid is “authenticated” o n l y by oral tradition.( “He said that he said that he was told by someone who said it was he.) I believe that the Koch Bros. bought a $2.3 million pig in a poke (and I’m working to prove it.)

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 12:32:45

Well, Mr. Snell if you are working to dis-authenticate the Upham pic of the kid then you are barking up the wrong tree. That tintype pic is indeed Billy Bonney aka William Henry McCarty. I have a tintype of him that is almost full face, very clear and when matched to the Upham photo they make a perfect match. Email me and I’ll send you a digital copy. The photo that I now own was Sallie Chisum’s. She collected tintypes of her family/friends. She gave the collection to her niece, Ara V.Chisum (Ara was also Sallie’s mother’s name). After Ara’s death in 1974 her collection was sold. It ended up in a local antique store where I purchased it…Sixty pictures, mostly tintypes. I’ll be happy to share some with you.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 12:43:50

The key that tells us that the Upham pic is a mirror image is the loading gate on the Winchester. It is on the wrong side. No one noticed it until the 1950’s, thus the movie “Left Handed Gun”. Billy was right handed. He parted his hair on the left side. He had wavy, almost curly brown hair and blue eyes. His front teeth were slightly twisted. He usually closed his mouth over his protruding incisors if he thought about it. Billy was not a very large man, but he was well formed, athletic and generally considered as handsome. The girls went crazy for him and visa versa. He liked to sing and dance and sit around the camp fire telling stories.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 13:01:08

A cogent element with the Upham picture of the kid is that it was not very well made. The tintype has deteriorated to a large degree. Rust spots show through and the edges are chipped. It was probably made by an apprentice. The Pic of Billy that we usually see today was found within the artifacts of the Upham family who were related to Dan Dedrick, a friend of the kid. Speculation has it that the Kid gave his picture to Dan who passed it on to his uncle somehow. I (possibly) have the picture that Dan exchanged with the kid. Sallie Chisum ended up with it. It is in very similar poor condition as is the Upham image and may have been taken by the same tintyper. Dan is also full standing.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 13:14:28

BTW: the photos of the kid and Dedrick (I am not sure he is Dan, but maybe a brother.) published within this site are shown about actual size. These historic tintypes are tiny, but because they were made with a wet plate process they can be extremely clear, with no grain and they enlarge beautifully. The depth of field was very narrow, and originals are often out of focus, children are blurred, they moved. Exposure time was around 10 seconds. They usually used a camera that made several images at once on the same sheet of polished iron. After the image was developed and dried it was cut into individual photographs. In the case of the Upham image, each picture was one of four. Cost was a quarter for the lot, 7 or 8 cents each.

Comment by David Snell
2015-05-28 16:41:54

Well, Mr. McCarthy, I quote from an excellent Billy site cautioning against the many “other” photos of the Kid which have surfaced since “The Big Sale:”
“These purported photos HAVE NOT been professionally researched and evaluated by real photo analysts, historians, and Billy the Kid experts, but yet they are being presented to the public as authenticated based entirely on opinion by unaccredited parties.” I maintain that is also true of “The Big Photo.” It’s “authenticity” derives completely from “…unaccredited parties.” It is said that this image was first published in the Boston Police News on Jan. 8,1881 – six months and six days b e f o r e the Kid’s death. I have trouble conceiving of who/how it got to Boston from Nowheresville, NM, and why. I also wonder about the Las Vegas Gazette reporter’s description of him (in the train interview). Read that, then look at the photo: a match? I can’t see one. To me, the fact that one photo sorta or even greatly resembles “The Big Photo” means nothing at this point. I will posit that the only completely truthful statement that can be made is: “If received wisdom avails, that’s the Kid.”

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 19:41:36

Hi David: Have you seen my photos of the kid? If you contact me at I’ll send them to you and we can discuss. Not long after Tunstall’s death the Regulators showed up at the South Springs River Ranch (as Sallie called the place) in the spring of 1878. The tintyper, George W. Morgan was on site and he took tintypes of Sallie herself, others in her family too. Morgan worked his biz from a wagon from 1870 to 1882 which covers the time Sallie’s collection were taken. (Morgan probably did not take all of the pictures, there were other tintypers in the area, one named Thompson. Since a photo of Brewer is in the mix of photos it was taken before 4 April of that year. I suspect that the Upham picture was taken at about that time too since Billy is wearing an old sweater with PM Chisum’s initials sewn into the lining are visible. Billy was hanging around Sallie in early 1878. She, of course, fell in love with Wm. Robert and probably forgot all about the kid, who was an outlaw and she knew it. She married the German banker’s son. However, she collected and saved at least two photos of Billy and I own them both, finding them with 58 or so other pictures that had been in her collection. The pics of Billy were taken about 2.5 years apart, th second showing an older Billy wearing a new suite and posed inside a jail cell. That pic I think was taken on the morning of 27 Dec, 1880 as a mug shot. I have no idea how Sallie ended up with it, with it are tintypes of Billy Wilson and Dirty Dave Rudabaugh also sporting their new Mike Cosgrove provided suits. Because of similarities in the Upham and Chisum pics of the younger Billy I think they were taken within a few days/week apart. Cheers.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 20:01:13

Mr. Snell: I have stopped trying to elicit professional confirmation about my photographs it has been impossible for me to do. However, I have located the Chisum family who owned the collection and recall some of the photographs. I am encouraged by the fact that Sallie’s collection is so complete. It includes photos of: Sallie, her mother, father, sister and two brothers.I have several pictures of Sallie’s mother’s half sister, Texana Neubern. Many of her children. The South Springs ranch. Sallie and her husband, several of him. John S. Chisum and who must be Tom Towry and family. I have Lily Casey, Eliza Jane Hestor, even Matilda Davis, Helena Coe, Phobe Brown Coe, George and Frank Coe, Tom Folliard, Doc Scurlock, Yginio Salazar, Charlie Bowdre, John Middleton (I think) Frank McNab (five of them), Godfrey Gauss, Alex McSween, Sheriff Brady, Bob Olinger, Barney Mason and Juan Patron. Several others that I found within the personal photo album of G.W. Morgan who took many of the tintypes and that include John Tunstall and JJ Dolan.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 20:59:58

More data re/Sallie Chisum’s collection of tintype photographs. Sallie separated from her first husband, Wm. Robert in 1890, their divorce final in either 1893 or 95, I see both dates. Heir Robert moved south to SW Kansas and purchased the XIT ranch, he arrived with 3000 head of Chisum bred short horned cattle. The two boys, John and Fred accompanied their dad. After the divorce Sallie moved to Santa Ana to live with her brother there, but she returned to Roswell. Sallie’s niece, who was her brother’s daughter, moved along with her mom, Inez Chisum, and two brothers James and Oscar, first to Santa Ana and then to Troutdale, Oregon soon after Sallie’s brother and Inez’s husband, Walter Pitzer died in 1919. Sallie’s niece was named Ara Vitella Simpson Chisum and she and Sallie were “close”. Ara met and married Wayne E. Phillips in Oregon and moved onto the Phillips family ranch in eastern Oregon. At some point Sallie gave her collection to Ara who showed some of the photos to her two boys, Fred and Wayne whom I interviewed. Their families still live in eastern Oregon. I drove to their ranch. There I was shown many New Mexico related Chisum items. Letters, books photographs. They explained to me how the collection of tintypes were sold. They ended in a local antique shop where I found, recognized and purchased them. Pretty neat, huh.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-28 21:18:18

I want to add that owning these Chisum related tintypes photographs is an honor. I know, for instance, that each and every person depicted once held that very same photograph that I now own. I have pictures of Sallie Chisum and the kid and I think they may have exchanged them. I read years ago that Billy had indeed given a picture of himself to Sallie. If the exchange took place, Billy must have returned Sallie’s picture to her after he learned that she was engaged to marry Wm. Robert. The boy did have scruples. I own both of these tintypes and holding them causes my imagination to soar. The feeling is almost magical.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-29 12:01:20

INGO: If you really want to get into the story of Billy Bonney then you must travel to Lincoln, New Mexico. No longer an actual city, but a gathering of buildings along either side of the main road that runs thru “town”. The Lincoln County Courthouse and the Tunstall store are still there and in good condition. In the LCCH there is a life sized enlargement of the Upham Billy photo that you can take a picture of. Lots of ruins. Several museums in the area and in Fort Sumner and Ruidoso.

Comment by David Snell
2015-05-29 12:56:54

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been there. For those who have never visited NM, SPOILER ALERT! New Mexicans are wholly unacquainted with the concept of “hospitality.”

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-29 14:28:50

Hi David: If a New Mexicaner learns that one is a Texan he might shoot him on sight.(exaggerating)For some reason people from these two neighboring states just don’t see eye to eye. The population in New Mexico is sparse and sometimes locals just don’t “cotton” to strangers and I too have experienced some less than charming people in New Mexico, but not always. Besides the interesting old west history of the state, one goes there to witness the amazing light. It is an artist’s dream. Because the weather is so dry many ancient structures survive and one can visit many building that Billy would have seen and entered. So that’s fun. Not the Billy the Kid is any kind of god or anything like that. He was about half thug.

Comment by David Snell
2015-05-29 16:16:24

“He was about half thug.” Can’t agree there, Steve. Billy is very/very high on the list of the most unfairly maligned individuals in all of American history. Could you give us an example of his “thuggery?”

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-29 18:28:48

David: While I tend to be a supporter of the kid and just as he said, it was unfair that only he stood trial for the murder of Brady, but he did indeed hide behind that gate and shoot at him…He, of course claimed that he was shooting at Billy Maxwell. Relevant? Not really. Moreover, I have never thought that the Billy did the right thing in Greathouse affair, which lead to the murder of James Carlyle. IMV Billy should have just let Carlyle go. Was the murder of Morton and Baker justified? While I understand why the Regulators did the shooting, it was cold blooded murder. Is cold blooded murder ever justified? People, like the Coe cousins who liked the kid liked him a lot. Sallie Chisum was charmed for a while by him and of course Paulita Maxwell. People who were afraid of the kid, Barney Mason and Pat Garrett, were justifiably scared to death of him.Billy would, and did, draw and shoot at the blink of the eye without a moments hesitation. The tragedy is that Billy, who was just a minor player in the LCW, was targeted by the evil Santa Fe Ring who blamed all of the ills of the LCW on the kid and those accusations stuck. They were a well organized criminal ring and maintained influence in New Mexico until the 1960s. The deck was stacked against Billy the Kid. I wonder that if Billy and Paulita had escaped to old Mexico, as they were apparently planning to do, if the kid would have been able to go straight. Henry Brown tried…didn’t work. Would the kid have been any better?

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-29 18:55:49

Billy was at his best when bullets were in the air. Whether he liked taking chances or had a death wish he was in the thick of things during a gun battle. Frank Coe said that he never saw anybody so cool and collected when under fire. I think Billy looked forward to gun fights. He was also a excellent shot and he was what we’d call today a “gun nut”. If he wasn’t shooting his guns he was tinkering with them, taking them apart and cleaning them. One of the Coe cousins said that Billy didn’t care about money except to buy cartridges with. They were both hard to find and expensive, 50 cents a box. Billy enjoyed hanging out in saloons, but he was not a big drinker. Maybe a few beers. He wasn’t a heavy user of tobacco. He liked playing Mexican or three card monte. He was apparently good at it.
The boy always wore a smile and he laughed often and enthusiastically. He loved to sing around the campfire. He could probably play the guitar and piano. Girls liked the kid, probably because he was crazy about them. I’m sure he’d hit them with his twin blues, flash a wide, honest smile as he lead them onto the dance floor. The kid danced as well as he shot.

Comment by David Snell
2015-05-30 13:15:21

“Is cold blooded murder ever justified?” A prickly question. But it is justifiable. We see it in the news every day. Billy’s killings were not meant to be fair fights; they were acts of war. Why call it the LC W a r instead of BtK’s crime spree? He was a soldier. Soldiers kill. It’s their job. And it works both ways: kill or be killed. Reilly shot Juan Patron in the back, and Rynerson killed the chief justice of the NM supreme court. But thenotoriousoutlawBillytheKid (one word) is all anyone talks about.

I’m not sure “gun nut” is the proper term, but in his arena effective gun usage wasn’t really optional. I know of no occasion when he was credited with “making a good shot,” something beyond what the ordinary reasonably-experienced person could do.

Seen the current True West Magazine with him on the cover? I couldn’t find anything new in it. Some things were quoted out of context purely for sensationalism. Can’t really recommend it. Also can’t recommend “Chasing the Santa Fe Ring.” It’s really skitzy. Not as bad as “Alias Billy the Kid,” but pretty bad. He writes a whole book on the ring and then says, well, know what, there was no Santa Fe ring. The chapter on the LCW is all rehash.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-30 19:19:29

I certainly am enjoying our discussions. I have been working on pictures of the kid/Regulators for 8 years nearly in a vacuum. The Coes said that Billy was an excellent shot, shooting birds from fence rails, etc…When he turned, drew and shot John Grant in the chin it was an outstanding shot and quick! If he shot James Carlyle as he was jumping through the window, well, that was a heck of a shot too.I think that people who were afraid of the kid feared his skill with a six shooter. He was good with a Winchester too, but George Coe claimed to be a better rifle shot.

My favorite book is Utley’s, but I’ve read about all of them. They take up an entire shelf in my library. I have not read the resent book on the Santa Fe Ring. Billy, of course never got very old and maturity was not his long suit. He was not a crazy thrill seeker, but he was the kind of guy who would have tried to become a fighter pilot. He considered standing up to danger a challenge and he enjoyed it.

Just bought the latest issue of True West. My opinion is about like yours. If you look at the page that has the six small pics that may be the kid, mine is the top left. It enlarges beautifully. I don’t think I have your email, but if you’ll send it to me outside of this site I’ll send you one or two.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-05-30 19:34:28

I do agree that the Regulators considered the Lincoln County War a “war” indeed. They believed that they were soldiers in that war as such the killing was justified…just as is a soldier’s. But the law did not see it that way. The law was tainted and Brady and Dolan were allies. Brady was in hock to Dolan “up to here”. (Hand u to neck.) Billy, I think, thought that his shootings were justified. I’m still not sure about Carlyle though. But maybe the kid didn’t shoot.

Comment by Angie O.
2015-07-22 02:05:30

Steve McCarty, you’re right on the mark. Loved your photos!! Hey, contact me, my book has taken a turn for the better. The research in Dodge City went better than expected. :)

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-07-24 13:48:13

Angie, contact me re/

Comment by Simon Coope
2015-10-10 23:22:15

Thanks everybody who contributed to this discussion. It was more enjoyable and interedting reading this than a lot of the books I’ve read on Billy the Kid. Copied and pasted and stored in my BTK folder. : )

Comment by Marie
2015-10-14 16:35:30

:boogie: Steve, I thought about you and all those doubters of you when this new picture of BTK surfaced. All I could think is HA!!!!!!
See here y’all. Another picture of BTK shows up in a thrift store setting with Sallie as well…and in Fresno, not a far hop from Oregon.

Hope all is well with you. I look forward to seeing a close up of Sallie in this picture.

Comment by bill
2015-10-15 04:49:16

How is it possible that you have a color picture of Billy the Kid and are able to see that his eyes are blue?

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-10-15 19:34:14

All tintypes are black and white, of course, but every single one of mine, that were owned by Sallie Chisum are tinted, usually at their cheeks. Tintyper’s often assigned their wives the tinting job. The photographer in this case, George W.Morgan was married and they did have children and I believe they have living heirs. Certainly his wife did the tinting.

Both of my tintypes of the kid are so tinted. The one of the older kid is tinted in his eyes and bow tie using the same light blue color. The original tintypes are very small and it would have required a very steady hand and small brush to apply the color.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-10-15 19:39:01

AFter studying this new picture of the Kid, I think it is indeed as the owner claims it to be. The fellow who looks like the kid is probably indeed Billy. I can’t be sure of course, but all of the people look about right to me.

I think the people are gathering for one of their popular dances “bailes” in Spanish. They would show up and dance until dawn, sleep, eat and sometimes dance for another night. In this photo the people are just showing up. Billy is playing croquet something he would enjoy doing. Is the building the dance hall that Cowjohn built on the South Springs Ranch? Could be.

Comment by tamarahope
2015-10-19 18:48:30

I think it was Billy the Kid, but I’m no expert! I do find all this interesting & have learned a lot from reading these comments. Thanks for “sharing”.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-10-20 15:39:16

Pondering that new tintype, and after seeing the documentary: I think the photo is legit.Apparently it was taken on Tunstall’s property. If that was the case then I doubt Tunstall is dead, which places the photo before Fed 18th 1878 which seems about right to me, no leaves on the trees. It is not a wedding but one of their monthly dances. If my theory is correct and the LCW has not kicked off yet there would be no guns in view. Anyway, they had kind of an unwritten law that there would be no gunplay at their dances, which were the only social events they had…other than attending church services. So we see kids playing and the adults gathering before the dance started. I don’t think the man with his outstretched arm is Tom Folliard, rather I think he is Frank McNab who would have been still living. Really hard to tell who he is. Sallie is indeed she, and I am sure of it. She wasn’t very tall, she was described to me, by someone who knew her, as “slight”.

Comment by Steve McCarty
2015-10-23 23:11:15

Ha! Yeah Marie, there are still photographs floating around out there that are of famous folks. However, they are very, very rare. I am constantly contacted by folks who believe thay have found a picture of Billy the Kid, etc… While possible it is very unlikely. My photographs are connected directly to Sallie Chisum, who knew the kid. Her living family recall Sallie’s pictures that I found. BUT I have found a few pictures on the internet that turned out to be authentic and I purchased them, they are of: Dick Brewer, Henry Brown, Charlie Bowdre, Ira Leonard and Robt Widenmann. These came from a sale that was from a place next to Viroqua, Wisconsin, where the photographer who took many of Sallie’s tintypes lived.

Comment by David
2015-11-13 00:36:07

Think of it this way, he was in New Mexico, what was raised there?, sheep, hence someone, most likely the Navajo probably knitted woollen sweaters and sold them to local farmers and ranchers, to beat the severe cold winters. This is just my thoughts.

Comment by Birgit
2016-01-30 16:09:41

Some people talk here as they was knowing Billy the Kid in person !!! Nobody from us was there !! The story in Pat Garrett’s Book is a lie from the start to the end. There is not any proof… ANY, that Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid it all. Just because someone (a Alcoholic)writes a book to protect himself and be famous ? History is written on facts and conmen sense. The facts don’t line up and it would not make sense it all. Who can proof.. truly proof that Pat Garrett shot Bill the Kid on that day ?

Comment by Steve McCarty
2016-01-30 18:07:23

Birget: There is strong evidence that Garrett shot the kid. One is the story told by John Poe who was there and experienced it all. His testimony rings true. More over the people of Fort Sumner held an inquest the day after the Kid was killed. The transcript of that inquest is a matter of record. They found that Garrett had killed the kid in the line of duty. People who helped bury the kid lived a long time and gave many interviews to historians saying that they dug the grave and saw the Kid laid to rest. Garrett, of course, put in for the $500 reward and while it took some time, he finally collected it (twice!).

Garrett shot and killed Billy Bonney. One of his girlfriends, Deluvina Maxwell, saw his body and turned it over. She pummeled Garrett on the chest with her fists. Crying, “You have killed by boy!”

No, we don’t know the kid, but I feel as if I almost do. I own pictures of all of his friends taken at the time. He probably held at last some of them in his hand. We have a legend in my family that we are related to him. If so, then his father was John McCarty. John’s brother as my great great grandfather Elijah McCarty. John McCarty was captured at Chickamauga, sent to Andersonville where he died on 6 November 1864. I have seen his headstone.

I feel as if I almost know the kid, we may share genes and I own two very clear tintype photographs of him. I know members of Sallie Chisum’s family, ranchers in Oregon. I knew a young women who said she was Sallie Chisum’s great granddaughter. My grandfather McCarty was a close friend of Sallie Chisum’s sister-in-law’s brother, Dr. Oscar H. Simpson, a Dodge City dentist. He created that concrete cowboy you see when you go to Dodge.

Comment by serial k
2016-01-30 21:44:25

Birgit, your illiteracy is downright SCARY!

Comment by Steve McCarty
2016-01-31 00:02:43

I’ll try to characterize Billy Bonney. He never matured. He was always a kid. He was a thrill seeker and loved taking physical risks. Danger excited him. He believed that to be calm in a dangerous situation, like a gunfight. was a virtue. He loved to be the center of attention. He enjoyed being on stage. He loved to sing and dance and was know for doing both. He enjoyed little more that sitting around the camp fire telling stories, jokes and singing. He probably played the guitar. He loved guns of all kinds. If he had a hobby it was shooting, but he loved hunting and fishing too.

He was crazy about girls and spent a lot of time wooing them. They were pretty crazy about him as well.

He never, or seldom made long range plans. He was a spur of the moment kind of guy. He lived pretty much in the moment. Billy liked to read and while little educated he wrote well and had a pretty good understanding of the law and legal matters.

Billy tended to trust people and he was loyal to his friends. He valued friendship and enjoyed being in the company of his pals.

Billy may have dreamed about going straight, but he knew that unless his situation changed dramatically, he was doomed to a life of crime and he accepted his fate.

Billy was interested in Sallie Chisum for a while, but I think he was in love with Paulita Maxwell. Th couple were probably planning to elope to Old Mexico, but before they could get away Garrett shot him in Pete Maxwell’s bedroom.

Billy was not a wanton killer, but he would not hesitate to join into a fight, if he thought he had a good chance of coming out on top. Danger excited and challenged him. He was very confident that he’d find a way to come out on top.

Billy loved riding and was a good horsemen. He was never a cowboy. He was a rustler.

If you knew the kid you would find him easy to like, but he was a bit of a loose cannon. If you hung around him you’d likely find yourself in trouble. Billy avoided things that were safe and was drawn to things that were dangerous and therefore, exciting. Was the kid a bad man? Only if he thought you needed killing, and in cases like that he was a very bad man indeed.

Comment by roosvelt
2016-03-02 23:44:11

I have a picture i believe his billy the kid to whom do i take this picture i dont know what to do with it.

Comment by Stan Warkentin
2016-06-05 13:46:47

Roosvelt, if you are still interested you can send a pic to me at and of all my what I call little Billy’s if any match I will send you back a pic. Remember lots of people like to keep these tintype people in a box. Usually William H Bonney was shot. So many of his pic’s make his eye’s look like he is on pain killers. The Dr’s would have given him what they gave women of that day. In reality there were 3 Billy the Kid’s that died within 18 months of each other. Arthur Pond, William H Bonney and Billy the Kid Claiborne. That is why there is so much on Billy the Kid.
Arthur Pond was The King of The Highwaymen. Both him and Bonney were locked up in Santa Fe within 2 months of each other. Billy the Kid Claiborne says he killed 3 men for not calling him Billy the Kid. Arthur was lynched in Del Norte, Co. A few months later Bonney was killed by Pat Garrett. Several months later Claiborne was killed by the Earp’s.
Legend runs these men together, Fact separates them.

Comment by Bill Miller
2018-12-17 11:03:27

Good morning. My name is Bill I had just stumbled onto this forum. I just love old images and the history behind them. I am now studying about the outlaws of the old west. I have several questions and may also add to some of the discussion. Bill

Comment by Bill Miller
2018-12-17 16:11:32

I am getting ready to sell my old Civil War images. I have been having some health problems and weeding through them. I am hoping there is a lot of old west and soldiers on this blog? I have had this cabinet card for about 20 years. I am 100% it is of Dave Rudabaugh. I didn’t know then of what I had. Just another interesting image in my collection. It pictures 3 young fellows smoking cigars and holding their poker hand to show in the photo. I am not sure who the other two are. My question here is now, what do I do with it? How do I get it looked at by the right people? I know there are a lot of gold diggers hoping to find that rare Billy The Kid. When I started collecting images 30 years ago, it was because I loved one of the kind stuff. Tintypes, ambrotypes, cdv, dags, and albumen were mostly one photo of the guy or gal. Now I am looking at value and rarity since I am getting ready to sell my collection. Any ideas as to how I can get a forensic study of my Rudabaugh to match the originals?

Comment by Larry
2020-05-18 11:21:31

I bought 8 tintypes thinking 1 looked like Billy. Doing some research I think I have Sallie Chisum also.The other pics may be matches to the Chisums and Paulita Maxwell family.Would like you to look at them for your opinion. You seem to have so much knowledge, thanks

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