Grave of Billy the Kid - Atlas Obscura

Grave of Billy the Kid

Old Fort Sumner Cemetery

The final resting place of the most famous outlaw in the Old West. 

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In a quiet spot outside Fort Sumter, New Mexico, lies the eternal resting place of one of the most notorious figures of the old West. Henry McCarty was known by a variety of aliases, including the Boy Bandit King, El Chivato, and William H. Bonney. However, it was the name “Billy the Kid” that would become the most commonly associated with his legacy.

Legend has it that Billy the Kid killed as many as 21 men, one for each year of his life. However, the actual number of his victims is likely lower. After being orphaned at the age of 15, he became the leader of a group of men known as the Regulators. They engaged in a violent conflict against the Murphy-Dolan Faction and the Santa Fe Ring, known as the Lincoln County War. Both factions ultimately collapsed, and the war accomplished little but to give notoriety to its participants.

A couple of years after the war, Billy was captured in Stinking Springs. He was brought to Mesilla and convicted of the murder of Sheriff Brady, who he had killed during the Lincoln War. After escaping the Lincoln County Courthouse, he took refuge in Fort Sumner. He was tracked down and ultimately shot by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett. He was buried just a short distance away from the place he was killed. 

Today, his grave is a point of historical interest and a testament to the enduring fascination with this iconic figure of the American Old West. Alongside Billy the Kid, the cemetery also houses the graves of two of his associates, Charlie Bowdre and Tom O’Folliard. Over the years, Billy the Kid has been the subject of numerous songs, books, television shows, and movies, cementing his status as an enduring American legend. For enthusiasts of Old West history, a visit to the final resting place of Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, is an opportunity to connect with the legacy of a complex and enigmatic figure whose life and exploits continue to captivate the imagination of people worldwide.

Know Before You Go

The grave itself is open 24 hours a day. There is also a museum nearby in the building where Billy was killed. That museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 4 PM.

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July 10, 2021
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