As is the case with everything else in Texas, our Texas mysteries are always bigger and more interesting than those that can be found anywhere else. There’s just something about Texas and its role in the Old West that make most anything sound believable. After all, Texas was the starting over place, right? And who had more reasons for needing just that kind of a place than did some of the most notorious outlaws of the day?
Well, according to anyone that you meet on the street in the tiny town of Hico, Texas, Hico is privvy to its own mystery, and they’re all glad to tell you all about it.
Yes, the people of Hico, Texas have no doubt that it was not William Bonny AKA Billy the Kid whom Pat Garrett shot on that dark night near Fort Sumner, New Mexicoin 1881. No, the people of Hico believe that it was someone else who died in the home of Pete Maxwell and that the book written the next year by Pat Garrett was written only to raise the fame and the status of Garrett himself.
The people of Hico also believe that Billy escaped from the clutches of Garrett and eventually made his way to Texas where he lived out the last years of his life in the town of Hico. There he was known as Ollie P. (Brushy Bill) Roberts.
There is probably no one in Hico more adamant in their support of the fact that Brushy was actually Billy than are Sue Land and Jane Klein. Recently, I sat down at the Billy the Kid Museum to visit about this very subject.
According to both ladies, even the physical characteristics were not Billy’s.
“The man who was killed that night in the home of Pete Maxwell had brown hair and a beard. Billy had neither of these.”
Of course, I must admit that the next point is one that I often make myself.
“They buried him immediately, did not lay him out in town, and they didn’t take a picture of the body.”
Now I must admit that it has always amazed me that “they” did not lay Billy out and take numerous photos as was the custom of the day. I can’t even start to imagine why (as notorious as the name Billy the Kid was at the time) photos weren’t taken and nailed up all over Fort Sumner. Very strange!
Another reason that Sue, Jane, and the rest of Hico are convinced that Billy died on their streets and not in the home of Pete Maxwell in New Mexico is because the scars on Brushy Bill’s body seem to match up with the known wounds of Billy the Kid.
For the rest of the story, I would suggest that you make the trek to Hico and the Billy the Kid Museum. You might even want to call ahead and ask if one of these two ladies will be on duty for your visit. I guarantee you that they will enthrall you with their knowledge of the subject!