Street Smarts: Tucson street is named after Billy the Kid

2013-10-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T15:33:28Z Street Smarts: Tucson street is named after Billy the KidBy David Leighton For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A south-side Tucson street name bears the alias of outlaw Billy the Kid.

The north-south Bonney Avenue is bounded by West Drexel, South Palo Verde, West Bilby and South Country Club roads. The neighborhood could be nicknamed Lawman & Outlaw Square for all the good guys and bad guys memorialized in street names there.

Henry McCarty was born to Patrick and Catherine (Devine) McCarty in 1859 in New York City. His father died in 1864 and, by 1870, the family — Catherine and three children — had moved to Wichita, Kan. Three years later, Catherine wed William H. Antrim, a prospector, in Santa Fe, N.M. Henry took the name Billy Antrim. He would later be called Billy the Kid and also adopt the alias William H. Bonney.

In 1874, after a brush with the law, Bonney fled to Arizona. In 1877, in a saloon fight at Fort Grant, Ariz., he killed an Army blacksmith named Frank Cahill, who had been bullying the 5-foot, 3-inch, 125-pound Bonney. He was jailed but escaped back to New Mexico. He eventually found work with Englishman John H. Tunstall, thus setting up his future involvement in the Lincoln County War, the violent clash between competing merchant firms that pitted the Murphy-Dolan forces against the Tunstall-McSween group.

Bonney joined the Tunstall-McSween “Regulators” and was involved in the capture and murder of three members of the Dolan party, including William (Buck) Morton, who is believed to have fired the first bullet that hit Tunstall.

On Feb. 18, 1878, Tunstall was murdered. When Bonney and his colleagues tried to get Sheriff William Brady to arrest Tunstall’s killers, he instead arrested Bonney and the others.

On April 1, 1878, Bonney — along with five other members of The Regulators — were involved in the assassination of Sheriff Brady. Bonney also was part of several other incidents, including the final incident of the Lincoln County War, called The Five Days’ Battle. The fight, which occurred at the McSween House, ended on July 19, 1878, when soldiers set fire to the house. Bonney came up with a plan of escape, which helped some of the McSween faction escape. McSween himself was killed.

In December 1880, Bonney was taken into custody by Sheriff Pat Garrett and later convicted of the murder of Sheriff Brady and sentenced to hang. He once again escaped on April 28, 1881. Garrett and his deputies tracked Bonney to old Fort Sumner, N.M., where Garrett shot and killed Bonney. Billy the Kid was just 21 years old.

Los Ranchitos subdivision, including Bonney Avenue, was recorded with Pima County in 1941.

Sources

Special thanks to Bernard J. Wilson for his book, “The Black Residents of Tucson and Their Achievements, 1860-1900.”

Maurice G. Fulton, “History of the Lincoln County War,” University of Arizona Press, 1968

Dan Thrapp, “Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography,” University of Nebraska Press, 1988

Robert M. Utley, “The American West: A Multicultural Encyclopedia,” Grolier Educational Corporation, 1995

Pima County plat map MP07023

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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