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Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War

Billy the Kid

The town of Lincoln, New Mexico, looks very much today the way it did in 1876 when the Lincoln County War flared up. On one hand were Dolan and Murphy, who ran a store on the main drag, when another store operated by Tunstall and McSween opened up down the street. One of the key figures in the conflict between the two sides was a young man who has come to be known as Billy the Kid. He was known to be handy with a gun and was blamed for several murders.

He tried to exonerate himself, but the governor of the territory at the time, General Lew Wallace (author of Ben-Hur), weaseled out of his promise to support him. Billy was holed up in the courthouse which had been the Dolan store and held for trial.

The Lincoln Courthouse, Formerly the Dolan Store

Billy managed to get a gun and shoot the two deputies who were guarding him, J. W. Bell and Bob Ollinger. He managed to escape from Lincoln, but was finally gunned down in Fort Sumner by Sheriff Pat Garrett. (We didn’t make it to Fort Sumner, but I’m saving it for a future trip.)

Below is a bullet hole supposedly from Billy’s gun while he was trying to escape from the Lincoln Courthouse.

A Bullet Hole from Billy’s Gun?

Martine and I enjoyed Lincoln. The whole town is more or less devoted to the legend of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.