The newspaper reporters had a field day writing about Billy the Kid after
his capture and would occasionally quote the Kid’s humorous remarks, but the
following interviews express more about the Kid’s feelings towards the
injustice done to him.
“I don’t blame you for writing of me as you have. You had to believe other stories but then I don’t know, as anyone would believe anything good of me anyway. I wasn’t the leader of my gang, I was for Billy all the time. About that Portales business, I owned the ranch with Charlie Bowdre. I took it up and was holding it because I knew that sometime a stage would run by there and I wanted to keep it for a station. But I found that there were certain men who wouldn’t let me live in the country and so I was going to leave. We had all our grub in the house when they took us in and we were going to a place about six miles away in the morning to cook it and then light out.”
“I haven’t stolen any stock. I made my living by gambling but that was the only way I could live. They wouldn’t let me settle down; if they had I wouldn’t be here today” and then he held up his left hand with the bracelet. “John Chisum got me into all this trouble and then wouldn’t let me get out. I went up to Lincoln to stand my trial on the warrant that was out for me, but the Territory took a change of venue to Dona Ana and I knew that I had no show, and so I skinned out.
“When I went up to White Oaks the last time, I went there to consult with a lawyer, who had sent for me to come up. But I knew I couldn’t stay there either.
The conversation then drifted to the question of the final round up of the party. “If it hadn’t been for the dead horse in the doorway I wouldn’t be here today. I would have ridden out on my bay mare and taken my chances of escaping. But I couldn’t ride over that (the dead horse) for she would have jumped back and I would have got it in the head. We could have stayed in the house but there wouldn’t have been anything gained by that for they would have starved us out. I thought it was better to come out and get a good square meal-don’t you?”
April 15th 1881: This is an interview with the Mesilla News after Billy the Kid’s trial.
“Well, I had intended at one time to not say a word in my own behalf, because persons would say, ‘Oh, he lied’; Newman (editor of a Las Cruces newspaper) gave me a rough deal; has created prejudice against me, and is trying to incite a mob to lynch me. He sent me a paper which shows it; I think it a dirty, mean advantage to take of me considering my situation and knowing I could not defend myself by word or act. But I suppose he thought he would give me a kick down hill. Newman came to see me the other day; I refused to talk to him or tell him anything; but I believe the News is always willing to give its readers both sides of a question.”
“If mob law is going to rule, better dismiss judge, sheriff, etc., and let all take chances alike. I expected to be lynched in going to Lincoln. Advise persons never to engage in killing.”
Editor- “Think you will be taken through safe? Do you expect a pardon from the Governor?”
“Considering the active part Wallace took on our side and the friendly relations that existed between him and me, I think he ought to pardon me. Don’t know that he will do it. When I was arrested for that murder, he let me out and gave me freedom of the town and let me go about with my arms. When I got ready to go I left. Think it hard that I should be the only one to suffer the extreme penalties of the law.”
Editor- “Here the sheriff led us away and said we had talked long enough.”
April 20, 1881: Not exactly an interview, but an interesting article from the Newman’s Semi-Weekly on Billy the Kid. Here the Kid and his guards are preparing to leave Mesilla for Lincoln.
On Saturday night about 10 o'clock Deputy U.S. Marshall
Robert Olinger with Deputy Sheriff Woods and a posse of five men (Tom
Williams, Billy Mathews, John Kinney, D.M. Reade and W.A. Lockhart) started
for Lincoln with Henry Antrim alias The Kid. The fact that they intended to
leave at that time had been purposely and the report circulated that they
would not leave before the middle of the week in order to avoid any
possibility of trouble, it having been rumored that the Kid's band would
attempt a rescue. They stopped in front of our office (Semi-Weekly) while we
talked to them, and we handed the Kid an addressed envelope and some paper
and he said he would write us some things he wanted to make public. He
appeared quite cheerful and remarked that he wanted to stay with the boys
until their whiskey gave out. Said he was sure his guard would not hurt him
unless a rescue should be attempted and he was certain that would not be
done unless perhaps "those fellows over at White Oaks come out to take me"
meaning to kill him. It was, he said, about a stand-off whether he was
hanged or killed in the wagon. The Mesilla jail was the worst place he had
ever struck. The sheriff wanted him to say something good about it when he
left but he had not done so. He wanted to say something about John Chisum
and it was some satisfaction to him to know that some men would be punished
after he had been hanged. He was handcuffed and shackled and chained to the
back seat of the ambulance. Kinney sat beside him; Olinger on the seat
facing him. Mathews faced Kinney; Lockhart driving, and Reade, Woods and
Williams riding along on horseback on each side and armed to the teeth, and
any one who knows these of whom it was composed will admit that a rescue
attempt would be hazardous undertaking. Kid was informed that if any trouble
should occur he would be shot first and the attacking party attended to