Billy the Kid’s Pretenders analyzes Oliver “Brushy Bill” Roberts and John Miller, who were old-timers in the first half of the 20th century who claimed to be Billy the Kid by having survived Sheriff Pat Garrett’s famous shooting of him, and got hoaxing authors for books supporting them. The imposters’ problems, besides their minimal literacy, and Billy’s sophisticated writing and articulateness, was that the scholarly history books on Billy Bonney had not yet been written, so these hoaxers lacked information to fake his life. And “Brushy Bill,” at least, still has conspiracy theory true-believers. So these pretenders needed to be booted off real Billy’s coattails. That is the purpose of this book.
In the real world, Sheriff Pat Garrett fatally shot William Bonney aka Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881. In the imaginary world of Billy the Kid pretenders and modern Billy the Kid history hoaxers, Pat Garrett did not; and Billy the Kid survived to old age.
Those old-timer pretenders claimed (obviously) not to have been shot on that dangerous night; and that Sheriff Pat Garrett killed an innocent victim as Billy’s grave filler. Modern hoaxers added poison icing to that pretender cake: that Pat Garrett, before purposefully murdering that innocent victim, was the Kid’s accomplice in his jailbreak killing of his two deputy guards!
That means, from the get-go, buying into pretender and hoaxer tales makes world-famous lawman Pat Garrett a world-class criminal; who garnered fame, but deserved infamy.
Other antique pretender and modern hoaxer prerequisites followed from their concoctions. The historically certain killing of Billy the Kid - as certain and as verified by direct and profuse witnesses as was President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination - had to be ignored. New non-historical stories had to be invented for the new non-historical death scenes. And the old-time imposters and modern hoaxers needed motivation for their effort. Madness, money, and media circuses sufficed.
But nothing that procession of players could do could conceal from scrutiny that they were nothing but clowns.