Legend has it, and truth be told

On July 21, 1870, Catherine McCarty signed the petition to Judge Reuben Riggs of Sedgwick County to incorporate the town of Wichita. Of 124 signers, she was the only woman.  McCarty owned her own business in 1870, which was rare for a woman.

Yea, cool.  But it’s her son that is the focus of this story.

Henry McCarty was born in New York in 1859.

Catherine and her boys, William Henry and his younger brother Joseph, moved to Indianapolis.

She met William Henry Harrison Antrim, and in 1870 moved with him to Wichita.

William and Catherine married on March 1, 1873.

After Catherine was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, The family moved to Silver City, New Mexico.  That’s when William Antrim abandoned the family.  Shortly after that, Catherine died at the age of 45, leaving both McCarty boys orphans.

Henry started going by William H. Bonney and turned to a life of crime. His first arrest was for stealing food, at the age of 16, in late 1875.  Known as “Billy the Kid”, he would go on to kill between 8 and 27 people depending on the story.

On July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory, sheriff Pat Garrett shot “Billy The Kid” twice, once in the chest, and the second missing the target. 

So, the other Wichita connection? 

There is one known photo of Billy The Kid. A 2-by-3-inch ferrotype photograph from late 1879 or early 1880.  It survived because McCarty’s friend Dan Dedrick kept it after the outlaw’s death. It was passed down through Dedrick’s family, and was copied several times, appearing in numerous publications during the 20th century. 

In June 2011, the original plate was bought at auction for $2.3 million by Wichitan, William Koch.

A second picture allegedly featuring Billy playing Croquet, has been the focus of much debate.

There is another Kansas connection to Billy the Kid. Learn more about Henry Newton Brown.

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