Billy the Kid was orphaned at the age of 15. His first arrest was for stealing food at the age of 16 in 1875. Ten days later, he robbed a Chinese laundry and was arrested again but escaped shortly afterward.
He fled from New Mexico Territory into neighboring Arizona Territory, making himself both an outlaw and a federal fugitive. In 1877, he began to call himself "William H. Bonney."
After killing a blacksmith during an altercation in August 1877, Billy the Kid became a wanted man in Arizona and returned to New Mexico, where he joined a group of cattle rustlers.
He became well known in the region when he joined the Regulators and took part in the Lincoln County War of 1878. He and two other Regulators were later charged with killing three men, including Lincoln County Sheriff William J. Brady and one of his deputies.
Billy the Kid's notoriety grew in December 1880 when the Las Vegas Gazette in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and The Sun in New York City carried stories about his crimes. Sheriff Pat Garrett captured The Kid later that month.
In April 1881, The Kid was tried for and convicted of Brady's murder and was sentenced to hang in May of that year.
He escaped from jail on April 28, killing two sheriff's deputies in the process, and evaded capture for more than two months.
Pat Garrett shot and killed McCarty, then aged 21, in Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881.
Billy the Kid had a tragic upbringing.
His father died when he was 4 years old and left what seemed like a promising family destitute. Without his father to guide him, he was subjected to a life of poverty.
His mother remarried, and when he was 15, she died. His stepdad sent him and his siblings to live with other relatives while he left for California to prospect.
Growing up without parents meant that Billy had to provide for himself, and at a young age, he began committing crimes. He became good with a gun and developed a violent streak.
He never married and never had any kids despite any claims.
There have been many imposters claiming that they were him and that Garrett did not shoot him. This is not true, and these claims have never been substantiated.
He had two siblings, but one disappeared from the records, and the other did not seem to have any connection with him outside of their childhood.
Family Tree Chart
Patrick McCarty (1831 - 1863) - He was an Irish immigrant who settled in New York like many Irish during this time period. He died when Billy the Kid was only 4 years old.
Catherine Devine (1830 - 1874) - She remarried after the death of her first husband. She died in 1874 when Billy was only 15 years old.
Bridget McCarty (1853) - There is little known of her. She made had died in infancy, but the drifting nature of this family and the lack of records out west could mean she just got lost in the records. Also, if she was alive during Billy's exploits, she may have hidden her identity.
Joseph McCarty (1863 - 1930) - He was the third child of his parents and was born in New York City in 1863. Shortly after Joseph's birth, Patrick died, leaving Catherine a widow with three children. At about this time, Bridget McCarty also disappears. When Catherine married William Henry Harrison Antrim in 1873, Joseph took his stepfather's name. He was a drifter who held many jobs. When he died, his body was donated to science.