EXCERPT from A FIRST-HAND DESCRIPTION OF BILLY THE KID by Jack Shuster
Published in the November 23rd issue of Vivacini! To experience a “real magazine”, read the article in the flipping book version here: Vivacini! 23 November 2012.
From 1937-1939, as part of the New
Mexico Federal Writers’ Project, Edith
Crawford, the representative in Lincoln
County collected a number of interviews of
Lincoln County pioneers. These were never
published and in fact, were considered lost
until the collection was brought to the attention
of the Lincoln County Historical Society.
The society subsequently published a series of these studies—
this 1938 account is based on Number 3 aof that work—the actual
words of Francisco Gomez. In this column, we’ll relate how Francisco
not only knew Billy the Kid, he rode with him at least once.
Many folks who lived in the Manzano Mountains of the New
Mexico Territory were suffering through a drought in the middle
years of the 19th century when they found an Eden of water and
land perfect for planting and grazing in the valley of the Rio Bonito.
They founded the village of Las Placitas del Rio Bonito in the
1850s, which became in 1869 the town of Lincoln (famous for
the Lincoln County War and characters like Billy the Kid and
Sheriff Pat Garrett among others).
Francisco Gomez was born in the Manzano Mountains on
September 17, 1854, to Guadalupe Gomez and Susanita Serna.
Francisco moved with his family to the village of Las Placitas in
1863 at the age of nine. Francisco remembered moving there in a
wagon led by a team of oxen. The family settled about a quarter
mile east of the town proper.
Francisco recalled that when he was about 18 years of age (circa
1872), he went to work for the McSweens and stayed in their
employ for about two years. McSween, a lawyer, was a partner
with John Tunstall, whose murder in 1878 sparked the Lincoln
Following the historical timeline, considering that Francisco
worked for McSween for two years, this would have really been
in 1876 when Gomez was 22 years of age.
Be sure to read the rest of the story in the flipping book version here: Vivacini! 23 November 2012.