Ask the Marshall

A family Bible belonging to the sister of Brushy Bill, who claimed to be Billy the Kid, listed his birth year as 1879. If this is true, then Brushy Bill couldn’t possibly be Billy the Kid, right?

A family Bible belonging to the sister of Brushy Bill, who claimed to be Billy the Kid, listed his birth year as 1879. If this is true, then Brushy Bill couldn’t possibly be Billy the Kid, right?

Jerry West

Waxahachie, Texas

Billy the Kid expert Fred Nolan—and I don’t know anybody who knows the subject more than he does—says Brushy Bill was not Billy the Kid. “Back in December 1987,” he tells me, “Mrs. Geneva Pittmon, who was Brushy Bill’s niece (not sister), replied to a letter written by Joe Bowlin, then president of the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang, and included a document which she said was the ‘Roberts Family Bible History Written Down as Each Child Was Born, Hand Copied in Early Part of this Century.’

“Her cover letter stated, ‘Oliver P. Roberts was Brushy Bill’s name. I don’t know what the P was for. He was born Aug. 26, 1879. I have the family Bible record. My husband thinks I should not tell you anything unless I know just what are your interests in my family.’ Since Mrs. Pittmon was a member of the Roberts family (her father Tom was Oliver Roberts’ younger brother), I cannot think of any reason why she would invent evidence nor did she seem like someone who would forge an entire family Bible record.

“Hope this is helpful, but I suspect some would rather have a conspiracy than accept that the old boy was as phony as a three dollar bill. Despite the fact that Brushy’s death certificate confirms the Bible entry, the Brushy Bill brigade are now claiming that the guy who said he was Brushy was another William H. Roberts altogether. It’s like trying to nail mercury to a plank.”

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