Billy the Kid Historical Roundup

1748646_billy-the-kid-tintype_6up22yvi2b7wzcptgaqbnuvo5wok2jiixjmxdt6z3uom5i6koadq_388x610KG and Ringy head out to the Wild West to locate physical evidence of America’s most notorious outlaw, William Bonney, better known as “Billy the Kid.” Before he became known as a legendary outlaw, Billy was a central character in the Lincoln County War, a battle between two opposing cattle companies – “The House”  and “The Regulators”  – who were fighting over land, cattle, and power in the frontier Territory of New Mexico. The power struggle was so deadly that President Rutherford B. Hayes deemed the one-street town of Lincoln “the most dangerous street in America.” The episode centers on KG’s and Ringy’s survey of already much-detected sites associated with the period of Billy’s arrival in Lincoln in 1877, through his escape after the Lincoln County War about 1880.


Diggers IIEp 205: Billy the KidNGCUS Ep Code: 10800NGCI IBMS Code: 043520The crew knew the episode would be interesting as soon as the local historian, Drew Gomber, sauntered up on the first day of shooting. Drew Gomber is a true New Mexico character – complete with leather vest, worn-in cowboy boots, a dark old-fashioned hat, a loaded six-gun, and “don’t mess around” persona that seems as if he stepped right off the pages of a pulp western.


He would expertly guide us through Billy’s arrival, the impact of the war on the community, and Billy’s escape up the canyon behind what is now the Laughing Sheep Farm.

Diggers II Ep 205: Billy the Kid NGCUS Ep Code: 10800 NGCI IBMS Code: 043520We visited the Dolan House – Jimmy Dolan’s home from the period when he controlled “The House” – the “bad guys” of the Lincoln County War. Dolan was sent to Fort Stanton NM during the Civil War and ultimately came to control every aspect of trade, money, and merchandise in the largest country in the Territory. Dolan ruled with an “iron fist,” killing any employee for daring to cross him. KG and Ringy hoped to find silver or gold on their hunt at the Dolan House.

We visited the Coe Ranch, originally owned by Regulators: Dick Brewer and George Coe. At Coe Ranch the untamed but charming Billy tried to become an honest man after leaving the Santa Fe Trail, where he had killed a man in self-defense.

Diggers IIEp 205: Billy the KidNGCUS Ep Code: 10800NGCI IBMS Code: 043520During “the War,” the store now known as the Casa de Patron was used as a makeshift jail to hold Billy for 27 days while he waited for the pardon he was promised from Territorial Governor Lew Wallace; but that would never come. Supposedly, Billy carved his name into the door of the store (the door has since been removed) before he escaped and left Lincoln, and his hopes of finally becoming an honest man behind for good.


Diggers IIEp 205: Billy the KidNGCUS Ep Code: 10800NGCI IBMS Code: 043520Searching to find evidence of battle at another historical nectar spot, the place where The Regulators found themselves surrounded at the McSween house and the Ellis Store. The Regulators – the “good guys” – had taken refuge for five days of battle that began on July 19, 1878, proving this spot to be an epic nectar sector. Despite previous detecting at the site, the boys found extraordinary period pieces here –  including an oil lamp, brooch, a period pocket knife, and several period casings at what appears to be a spot where one of fighters laid down fire for some time during the bloody siege known as the Battle of Lincoln.


Dont miss Diggers: Billy the Kid WED AUG 7 8PM ET


  1. Greg Owens
    August 8, 2013, 2:46 pm

    You really need to research historical accounts before saying anything which would ruin the credibility of the show. The Kid preferred the .41 caliber Colt. Most artifacts would have been about 30 miles to the south at John Tunstall’s ranch. I hope you figure out what your doing.

  2. Daniel Grant
    Gainesville, FL
    August 8, 2013, 8:30 pm

    Please tell me George went back and got the gold laden ruby like stone that he uncovered and brushed aside during his copper brooch find (on this episode, at the Dolan house). It is clear as day that it fell into the hole as he was uncovering the brooch. I can only image it was part of the brooch that fell off over time. If anyone recorder this episode, go to that part and watch it in slow motion to see for yourself.

  3. Bill Gilmore
    August 16, 2013, 5:48 pm

    The bullet casing that came out of the ground at the store location of the “Billy the Kid” episode was obviously a semi-automatic casing. Somehow it got identified as a Colt .45, possibly from a Peacemaker with a picture of a smooth casing. Who made that mistake? As a long time detectorist, these kids need to be more believable and show better knowledge. Or, you can get some seasoned, cooler headed and better informed “Diggers”.

  4. patrick manley
    reno, nv
    January 18, 2015, 1:32 am

    Heres the game changer: CALL ME BILLY. This is the first time the story of the Kid’s life has been told from the perspective of the dispossessed Hispanos. Available on Amazon.

  5. Steve McCarty
    June 14, 2015, 7:28 pm

    I did not get a really good look at the bullet or the casing, but it could indeed be a .45 Colt. Billy used many guns, certainly the Colt .45 and the 44 WCF Winchester rifle. He Stole a 38 Colt Lightening which was confiscated by Garrett and only acquired the .41 Thunderer three months before his death. He did shoot some holes into that barn at Glencoe. Frank Coe was a great fan of the Kid, but Helena, his wife, would not allow Billy’s name to be spoken under her roof. If someone showed up and wanted to discuss the kid, she shewed them to that barn you see.

  6. Steve McCarty
    June 14, 2015, 7:36 pm

    Since Billy spent a lot of time at Glencoe and he enjoyed practicing with his guns, the chances of finding casings or rounds actually fired from one of the kid’s guns is pretty good. Of course there is little chance that anyone can prove that Billy actually sent that round down range. At that time he would most likely have been shooting a .45 Colt, but he may have used a .44 WCF sometimes called the 44/40, which would fit his Winchester.

  7. Steve McCarty
    June 14, 2015, 7:46 pm

    All early Colt SAA pistols were .45’s. They were not made in 44 WCF aka 44/40 until a few years so that cowpokes could use the same round in their Winchester and their side arm. Eventually Colt Frontier pistols were made in a myriad of calibers and for many rounds, but Billy would have only known the .45 or the 44/40. At about the time of the kid Winchester came out with the model 1876 aka The Centennial Model. That rifle used a more powerful round than did the ’73 carbine and rifle that the kid prefered. Pat Garrett and Charlie Bowdre used the more powerful Centennial model probably in the 45/60 chambering. Ironically Garrett used one to kill his friend, Bowdre.

  8. Steve McCarty
    June 14, 2015, 7:58 pm

    One of the great joys of the study of Billy Bonney is that the Region that was Lincoln County and its associated river valley’s are little changed from Billy’s day. The population has shrunk! Billy would recognize much of it and he would probably exclaim, Where has everyone gone? It is high desert and some buildings that Billy knew are still standing. Visiting the site of the long gone McSween adobe one can run out what would have been the back door and leap across the Rio Bonito just as Billy did and at the same spot! I have spent probably an hour peering thru the window that Billy peered thru as he sighted Deputy Olinger’s shotgun to blow the man nearly in two! Billy lives in Lincoln and I have visited the old town site a dozen times and it never fails to amaze me.