Talk:Billy the Kid

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Former good article nominee Billy the Kid was a History good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.

Billy the Kid's birth[edit]

(Since I'm a relatively new editor with no experience or knowledge of the GA review process, I'm putting this comment in a new talk page section instead of the GA review page. If you think it belong there, feel free to move it.)

The September 17, 1859 birth in New York City to Patrick and Catherine Devine is only a theory and the article should make this clear and this information definitely should not be included in the infobox. It comes the 1980 article "The Search for Billy the Kid's Roots – Is Over!" by Jack DeMattos. It's mentioned by Utley and Nolan in their books but not accepted by them. I have not read the DeMattos article, can't find it online, and don't know where I might be able find a copy of it. So, I can only go by what other sources and what DeMattos said while editing this Wikipedia page; there might be more evidence to support his theory that I'm not aware of. If anybody does have access to a copy could they describe all of his evidence & arguments?

The theory seems based on the 1859 year of birth given in The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid (1882), the 1860 census of this family (link here) and then locating the baptism record of that McCarty family's Henry (who's mother, Catherine was close in age to Billy's mother as given in her 1874 obituary). Along with proof that a Patrick McCarty, husband of Catherine, who lived at 210 Greene Street died sometime between 1863-1864. I can't tell if DeMattos actually proved the two Patrick McCartys were the same person.

Firstly, we can't be sure about 1859 as the birth year. Nolan writes here that George Coe in 1932 and Frank Coe in 1928 stated that they believed Billy was about 17 years old during the fight at Blazer's Mill in April 1878 (with footnotes here). A wire service article from 1881, claiming to reprint parts of a July 18, 1881 article by the Las Vegas, New Mexico Daily Optic newspaper writes here that Billy was 20 years old at the time of his death. If it does accurately quote the Daily Optic about Billy's age; presumably the newspaper reflected New Mexico locals knowledge which matched the Coes' later recollections. If Henry/Billy was born a year later than the date in the 1882 book, he couldn't show up in the 1860 census as Demattos thought.

Secondly, we have no direct evidence linking this other McCarty family to Billy's family. In fact, Koop writes here that in the Indianpolis city directories, Catherine lists herself as the widow of Michael and not Patrick.

I wouldn't be against including the September 1859 birth to Patrick and Catherine as a seemingly widespread theory that has yet to be proven or disproven but it shouldn't be stated as fact and the nonacceptance by other Billy the Kid scholars (like Utley or Nolan) should be noted. I'd like to hear other editors thoughts are on the matter before I make any changes, though. Libertybison (talk) 23:30, 3 June 2016 (UTC) Just adding a note here, the Catherine McCarty widow of Michael in the 1867 and 1868 is mentioned in Wallis. I couldn't think of where I read it as well as in Koop's article in my earlier posts. Libertybison (talk) 18:52, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

I'd be interested in seeing the exact quote for context. As well, keep in mind that first names used were not always first names given at birth, sometimes to differentiate from their father's first names if the same, and not only in the case of juniors and seniors. Fathers names would often be the same first name of sons, middle names differed - and this could be for more than one son in a family. Very possible his legal first name was Michael or could have been Patrick and the other was used commonly. This happened with census taking and much confusion was the result later on for historians and genealogists alike. For Wikipedia purposes, just because Wallis says 'Michael' that doesn't rule out 'Patrick' if we have other sources for the latter. -- WV 19:17, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
I should've included the page number in my previous post. The two Indianapolis directory entries are on mentioned on pg. 14 of Wallis. Libertybison (talk) 20:35, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
I've linked to the page on Wallis on the city directories here. I actually agree with you that Michael or Patrick could have been a middle name and the Henry born on 17 Sept. 1859 to Patrick could be Billy. The point I was trying to make was that the 17 Sept. 1859 birth shouldn't be presented in the article as fact but as a theory since none of the major sources used in the article for Billy's life present it that way. Utley accepts it as possible but not yet proven, Nolan mentions it but seems to discount it, and Wallis doesn't mention it all because he seems to think Billy may have been born in Indiana instead of New York. (Although Wallis's contention that Billy's birth in New York was invented by newspaper reporters is contradicted by statements in William Antrim's pension file and Joseph Antrim's 1880 census record, which he doesn't address at all.) As far as I can tell, only Demattos's article presents it as a certainty. So, I think it should not be presented as a certainty but only a theory in the article text and should not be included in the infobox. Libertybison (talk) 20:32, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Not trying to get stuck on terminology too much, but I think "theory" isn't an accurate way to refer to the differing views and we should refer to it differently in the article itself. "Belief" is more like it, I think. Thoughts? Also, I'm not sure DeMattos would qualify as an actual historian. Writer, is more like it - especially when held up against Wallis and the others whose references are used in this article. If, however, the birth date is held to by two or more historians who are actual researchers, that is the one we should include in the infobox. We could place a cite (or a few) with it and possibly an embedded or small script notation next to it, indicating that the birthdate has been disputed or is in question. -- WV 21:37, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Winkelvi, I guess I use "theory" to try to convey a more dispassionate tone in my own writing style but I think "belief" is also fine to use in the article. I still think it might be better/accurate to describe the evidence for the September 17, 1859 and why it's not certain in the article text than in the infobox. But then again writing it that way might be confusing to the reader, so you're embedded notation idea would be an acceptable compromise. Since BlueMoonset has also expressed similar concerns to mine about the birth date, I'd like to hear what their thoughts on this might be first. Libertybison (talk) 19:22, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
It's been over a week and no response, so I'm assuming they're okay with it. Libertybison (talk) 21:58, 14 July 2016 (UTC)

Coordinate error[edit]


The following coordinate fixes are needed forThe following coordinate fixes are needed for Birthdate of Billy the Kid/Henry McCarty. In your calendar November, the 23rd, shows his birthdate. When opening link to bring him up, his birthdate shows Sept 17th. Very big discrepancy. I looked up calendar September, no mention of him in 1859. —shaychu1 (talk) 04:13, 6 July 2016‎ (UTC)

shaychu1, one of the problems with Billy the Kid is that we don't know his definitive date of birth. There are various theories, which include the two dates you mention, plus the possibility that both are wrong and it was another date in the latter part of 1859, but it might even have been some other year.
I do not believe that you used an appropriate template here when you added geodata-check, and you should definitely not use a template to sign your posts: as it says at the top of the edit window, you should "sign your posts by typing four tildes". I've fixed your signature and included the date—I retained the lowercase "s" from the template, but if you want to use the capital "S" from your username, that's fine too. BlueMoonset (talk) 15:30, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure what Shaychu1 is referring to. It might be the list of births in the 1859 article. Libertybison (talk) 19:33, 6 July 2016 (UTC)


Anyone know the copyright status of this image supplied by the Associated Press to the New York Times:

Its copyright status doesn't matter. That is not an authenticated image of Billy the Kid. It has zero provenance to prove it. The caption, "This undated photograph shows who is thought to be the famed gunslinger Billy the Kid near the age of 18", itself should be a red flag, and does not constitute a provenance. Carlstak (talk) 15:19, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

How is that any different than the croquet picture displayed in the biography? The Associated Press and the New York Times believe it is him, and the text has the appropriate caveats. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 00:31, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

Neither the New York Times and the AP are experts in photo authentication and just because a newspaper says a photograph is of somebody doesn't necessarily make it so. Mistakes happen all the time with wrongly identified photos in the media. Apparently the photo was sold at auction in 1994 for $50,000 by somebody named John Ray de Aragon who has a reputation of finding supposed Billy the Kid photos. In this September 2014 article about a completely different possible Billy the Kid photo claimed by Aragon, a Santa Fe Gallery owner who claims to know the anonymous owner of the 1994 photograph says that further tests are planned to try and authenticate the image (on pg. 4). Libertybison (talk) 06:31, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

New article, "Legend of Billy the Kid"[edit]

I have created a new article, Legend of Billy the Kid. I had written a "Legend" section for the "Billy the Kid" article, and realized that I had enough material for a separate article. I will write a synopsis for a corresponding section (using harvard refs) on "Billy the Kid" with a link to the main article when I get a chance, unless someone else wants to do it. Carlstak (talk) 21:49, 30 August 2016 (UTC)