The letters you’re about to read are exactly as Billy the Kid wrote them. There are no corrections to the few errors in his letters and as you will see, he was not the illiterate moron people thought.

On March 13, 1879 Billy the Kid writes to Governor Lew Wallace for the first time.

To his Excellency the Governor,
                  General Lew Wallace

   Dear Sir,  I have heard that You will give one thousand $ dollars for my body which as I can understand it means alive as a witness. I know it is as a witness against those that murdered Mr. Chapman. if it was so as that I could appear at Court I could give the desired information, but I have indictments against me for things that happened in the late Lincoln County War and am afraid to give up because my Enemies would Kill me. the day Mr. Chapman was murdered I was in Lincoln, at the request of good Citizens to meet Mr. J.J. Dolan to meet as Friends, so as to be able to lay aside our arms and go to Work. I was present when Mr. Chapman was murdered and know who did it and if it were not for those indictments I would have made it clear before now. if it is in your power to Annully those indictments I hope you will do so so as to give me a chance to explain. Please send me an awnser  telling me what you can do You can send awnser by bearer I have no wish to fight any more indeed I have not raised an arm since your proclamation. As to my character I refer to any of the citizens, for the majority of them are my friends and have been helping me all they could. I am called Kid Antrim but Antrim is my stepfathers name.                                       

               Waiting for an awnser I remain your Obedeint Servant
                                                                                                         W.H. Bonney


Governor Lew Wallace's reply to Billy the Kid's above letter:

Lincoln, March 15, 1879

W.H. Bonney,

Come to the house of Squire Wilson (not the lawyer) at nine o'clock next Monday night alone. I don't mean his office, but his residence. Follow along the foot of the mountain south of the town, come in on that side, and knock on the east door. I have authority to exempt you from prosecution, if you will testify to what you say you know.

The object of the meeting at Squire Wilson's is to arrange the matter in a way to make your life safe. To do that the utmost secrecy is to be used. So come along. Don't tell anybody -not a living soul- where you are coming or the object. If you could trust Jesse Evans, you can trust me.

  -Lew Wallace

After the Kid met with the governor and agreeing to submit to a staged arrest, the Kid writes a note to Governor Wallace about how and when he’ll surrender. He is also concerned that when he’s taken prisoner, Jessie Evans and Billy Campbell may try to kill him. He then recommends how they could be captured.                                         

San Patricio    Lincoln County      Thursday (March) 20th 1879 

General Lew Wallace:

   Sir,  I will keep the appointment I made but be sure and have men come that you can depend on I am not afraid to die like a man fighting but I would not like to be killed like a dog unarmed. Tell Kimbal to let his men be placed around the house and for him to come in alone; and he can arrest us. all I am afraid of is that in the Fort we might be poisioned or killed through a window at night, but you can arrange that all right. Tell the Commanding Officer to Watch Lt. Goodwin he would not hesitate to so anything there Will be danger on the road of Somebody Waylaying us to kill us on the road to the Fort. You will never catch those fellows on the road Watch Fritzes. Captain Bacas ranch and the Brewery they will either go up Seven Rivers or Jicarillo Montains they Will stay around close untill the scouting come in give a spy a pair of glasses and let him get on the mountain back of Fritzes and watch and if they are there, there will be provisons carried to them. It is not my place to advise you but I am anxious to have them caught and perhaps know how men hid from soldiers better than you. Please excuse me for having so much to say and still remain,

Yours Truly,
William H. Bonney

P.S. I had change my mind. Send Kimbal to Gutierrz just below San Patricio one mile, because Sanger and Ballard are or were great friends of Camuls (Campbell’s). Ballard told me yesterday to leave for you were doing everything to catch me. It was a blind to get me to leave. Tell Kimbal not to come before 3 o’clock for I may not be there before.

The Kid writes to the governor about the accusations in the Las Vegas Gazette concerning his rustling activities and the killing of Deputy James Carlyle.

Fort Sumner       Dec 12th 1880

Gov. Lew Wallace
Dear Sir,

   I noticed in the Las Vegas Gazette a piece which stated that Billy “the” Kid, the name by which I am known in the County was the Captain of a Band of Outlaws who hold Forth at the Portales. There is no such Organization in existence. So the Gentlemen must have drawn very heavily on his imagination. My business at the White Oaks at the time I was waylaid and my horse killed was to see Judge Leonard who has my case in hand, he had written to me to come up, that he thought he could get Everything Straighend up. I did not find him at the Oaks I should have gone to Lincoln if I had met with no accident. After mine and Billie Wilsons horses were Killed we both made our way to a Station, forty miles from the Oaks kept by Mr. Greathouse. When I got up next morning The house was Surrounded by an outfit led by one Carlyle Who came into the house and Demanded a surrender. I asked for their Papers and they had none. So I concluded it Accounted to nothing more then a mob and told Carlyle that he would have to stay in the house and lead the way out that night. Soon after a note was brought in stating that if Carlyle did not come out inside of five minutes they would kill the Station Keeper (Greathouse) who had left the house and was with them. in a short time a shot was fired on the outside and Carlyle thinking Greathouse was Killed jumped through the window. breaking the sash as he went and was killed by his own Party they thinking it was me trying to make my escape. the party then withdrew.

   They returned the next day and burned an old man named Spencer’s house and Greathouses also. I made my way to the Place afoot and During my absence Deputy Sheriff Garrett Acting under Chisums orders went to the Portales and found nothing. on his way back he went to Mr. Yerbys ranch and took a pair of mules of mine which I had left with Mr. Bowdre who is in charge of Mr. Yerbys Cattle. he (Garrett) Claimed that they were stolen and Even if they were not he had a right to confiscate any Outlaws property. I have been at Sumner Since I left Lincoln making my living Gambling the mules were bought by me the truth of which I can prove by the best citizens aroud  Sumner. J.S. Chisum is the man who got me into Trouble and was benefited Thousands by it and is now doing all he can against me. There is no Doubt but what there is a great deal of Stealing going on in the Territory and a great deal of the Property is taken across the Plains as it is a good outlet. but as far as my being at the head of a Band there is nothing of it. Several Instances I have recovered Stolen Property when there was no chance to get an Officer to do it.

   one Instance for Hugo Zuber Postoffice Puerto de Luna, another for Pablo Analla Same Place. if some impartial Party were to investigate this matter they would find it far Different from the impression put out by Chisum and his tools

Yours Respect-
William Bonney

While confined in the Santa Fe jail, the Kid writes four letters to the governor reminding him of the deal they had.

                                                                                                         Santa Fe
                                                                                                        Jan 1st 1881

Gov. Lew Wallace

Dear Sir
  I would like to see you for a few moments if you can spare time.

Yours Respect-
W.H. Bonney


                                                                                         Santa Fe Jail      New Mex
                                                                                                March 2d 1881

Gov. Lew Wallace
Dear Sir,

  I wish you would come down to the jail and see me. it will be to your interest to come and see me. I have some letters which date back two years, and there are Parties who are very anxious to get them but I shall not dispose of them until I see you. that is if you will come imediately. 

Yours Respect-
Wm H. Bonney


                                                                                                Santa Fe in Jail
                                                                                                March 4, 1881

Gov. Lew Wallace
Dear Sir

  I wrote You a little note the day before yesterday but have received no answer. I Expect you have forgotten what you promised me, this Month two years ago, but I have not and I think You had ought to have come and seen me as I requested you to. I have done everything that I promised you I would and You have done nothing that You promised me.

   I think when You think the matter over You will come down and See me, and I can then Explain Everything to You.

  Judge Leonard Passed through here on his way East, in January and promised to come and See me on his way back, but he did not fulfill his Promise. It looks to me like I am getting left in the Cold. I am not treated right by Sherman, he lets Every Stranger that comes to see me through Curiosity in to see me, but will not let a Single one of my friends in, Not even an Attorney.

   I guess they mean to Send me up without giving me any Show but they will have a nice time doing it. I am not intirely without friends.

  I shall Expect to See you some time today.

 Patiently Waiting
 I am truly Yours Respect-
Wm. H. Bonney


                                                                                             Santa Fe New Mexico
                                                                                                      March 27th /81
Gov. Lew Wallace
Dear Sir

     For the last time I ask, Will you keep your promise. I start below tomorrow send awnser by bearer.

                                                                                                        Yours Respt-

On April 15, 1881 after his trial and death sentence, the Kid makes one last attempt for outside help. He writes to attorney Edgar Caypless.

Dear Sir

   I would have written before this but could get no paper. My United States case was thrown out of court and I was rushed to trial on my Territorial Charge. Was convicted of murder in the first degree and am to be hanged on the 13th of May. Mr. A.J. Fountain was appointed to defend me and has done the best he could for me. He is willing to carry the case further if I can raise the money to bear his expense. The mare is about all I can depend on at present so hope you will settle the case right away and give him the money you get for her. If you do not settle the matter with Scott Moore and have to go to court about it, either give him (Fountain) the mare or sell her at auction and give him the money. Please do as he wishes in the matter. I know you will do the best you can for me in this. I shall be taken to Lincoln tomorrow. Please write and direct care to Garrett sheriff. Excuse bad writing I have my handcuffs on. I remain as ever.

Yours Respectfully


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