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Henry McCarty, better known as Billy the Kid, but also known by the aliases Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney (reportedly November 23, 1859 – July 14, 1881), was a 19th century American frontier outlaw and gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War. According to legend, he killed 21 men, but he is generally accepted to have killed between four
McCarty (or Bonney, the name he used at the height of his notoriety) was to 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". 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 his own lifetime, he was catapulted into legend the year after his death when his killer, Sheriff Pat Garrett, along with co-author M.A. "Ash" Upson, published a sensationalistic biography titled The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid. Garrett's story has been challenged and is today in serious doubt. Beginning with Garrett's account, Billy the Kid grew into a symbolic figure of the American Old West.
Little is known about McCarty's origins, but many reputable scholars of western history "contend that he was born on the eve of the Civil War in the bowels of an Irish neighborhood in New York City (70 Allen Street). If indeed his birthplace was New York, no records that can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he ever lived there have ever been uncovered". While his biological father remains an obscure figure, some researchers have theorized that his name was Patrick McCarty, Michael McCarty, William McCarty, or Edward McCarty. It is generally believed that McCarty's mother was a survivor of the Great Irish Famine of the mid-19th century.
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