William H. Bonney
(born William Henry McCarty, Jr.)
est. November 23, 1859 â€“ c. July 14, 1881,
better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier outlaw in the West. According to legend, he killed 21 men, but he is generally accepted to have killed between four and nine.
McCarty (or Bonney, the name he used at the height of his notoriety) was 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm) to 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) tall with blue eyes, a smooth complexion, and prominent front teeth. He was said to be friendly and personable at times, and many recalled that he was as "lithe as a cat". Contemporaries described him as a "neat" dresser who favored an "unadorned Mexican sombrero". These qualities, along with his cunning and celebrated skill with firearms, contributed to his paradoxical image, as both a notorious outlaw and beloved folk hero.
Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, Billy was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico's governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head. In addition, the Las Vegas Gazette (Las Vegas, New Mexico) and the New York Sun carried stories about his exploits. Many other newspapers followed suit. After his death, several biographies were written that portrayed the Kid in varying lights.