Two shots in the night from lawman Pat Garrett’s gun killed the 21-year-old William H. Bonney, better known as “Billy the Kid”, on July 14, 1881.  The young outlaw, with at least as many bodies as years in life, died at the abandoned Fort Sumner in New Mexico—or did he?

The infamous outlaw is an icon of the old west.  With more than four dozen movies that tell the tale of his life, it’s hard to find a more prominent figure depicting what made the west wild.

But if he died in New Mexico, why is there a grave for him in Texas?

Time to go to the Billy the Kid Museum in Hico to find out.

You see, there are a bunch of folks who believe Pat Garrett didn’t kill Billy that fateful night.  Those folks say Billy the Kid survived his outlaw life and peacefully lived out the last of his days in Texas, the last 17 or so of which were spent in and around the city of Hico, locally known as “Brushy Bill.”

No problem.  Modern science can sort this out.  Let’s have squinterns perform some CSI magic, do a li’l DNA testing on the grave in New Mexico and that’ll clear everything up—case solved, right?

Not quite.

IMG_6814Through a flood and some actions that have been called into question by skeptics, that’s not a possibility.  What’s left is historical record, and Sue Land, CEO of the Billy the Kid Museum, puts up a compelling argument using letters, timelines and personal accounts of those involved in the adventures of Billy the Kid.

So, did Billy die at the hands of lawman Pat Garrett or did he live to a ripe old age in Hico?

You’ll have to figure that out for yourself when you visit.  It’s easy to find; a statue simply titled “Billy” points the way and is dedicated to “Brushy Bill.” And if your visit peaks your interest, you can also travel a little further to Hamilton and visit the gravesite.

Insider Tip:

The museum is a modest one and it fits in some of the local history as well, but it does make for an interesting side trip when you’re in the area.  Admission is free, but the museum operates on donations, which are greatly appreciated.

The Billy the Kid Museum is located at 114 N. Pecan Street in Hico, Texas just off of Highway 6.  The museum is open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 1pm-4pm.  If you have any questions, you can call 254.796.2523 or e-mail

 For additional information, check out