April 2006 - Lincoln New Mexico
It was here that such men as Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett left their marks; here, that Indians, Mexican American settlers,gunfighters and corrupt politicians made themselves known; it was in this small settlement that the violent Lincoln County War erupted, which resulted in the deaths of a number of men and made Billy the Kid a legend.
Originally called Las Placitas del Rio Bonito by the Spanish families who settled it in the 1850s, the name of the community was changed to Lincoln when Lincoln County was created in January 16, 1869. Lincoln county was founded by five cultures. First discovered and lived on by Natives, discovered again by Conquistadores, settled by Mexicans, then re-established by Anglo-Americans. It was named after Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was at the center of the Lincoln County War, 1876-1879, and is the historical home of Billy the Kid.
Billy The Kid 1880
His first arrest was for stealing food in late 1875, and within five months he was arrested for stealing clothing and firearms. His escape from jail two days later and flight from New Mexico Territory into Arizona Territory made him both an outlaw and a federal fugitive. After murdering a blacksmith during an altercation in August 1877, Bonney became a wanted man in Arizona Territory and returned to New Mexico, where he joined a group of cattle rustlers. He became a well-known figure in the region when he joined the Regulators and took part in the Lincoln County War. In April 1878, however, the Regulators killed three men, including Lincoln County Sheriff William J. Brady and one of his deputies. Bonney and two other Regulators were later charged with killing all three men.
Garrett and his posse finally captured Billy the Kid and his gang of "Rustlers" on December 23, 1880. After a trial in Mesilla, New Mexico in April, 1881, Billy was taken to Lincoln, where he was scheduled to be hanged on May 13th. However, Billy escaped on April 28th, killing both of his guards while Garrett was out of town.
It would be his last escape; however, as Garrett tracked him down to Fort Sumner, where he shot and killed the teenage outlaw on July 14, 1881.
Frontier peace officer. J.W. Bell was a deputy sheriff of Lincoln County, NM under Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. Bell, along with fellow deputy Robert Olinger, was killed in the line of duty by Billy the Kid when he escaped from custody in Lincoln while awaiting hanging for the murder of the previous sheriff, William Brady. The murders of Bell and Olinger have been dramatized in the various Hollywood treatments of Billy the Kid. Deputy Bell is memorialized on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC at Panel 13, W3.
The Ballad of Billy the Kid