I am not a fan of bad guys– maybe only the ones I shouldn’t have dated in life- but this story captivated me and after I researched a lot of newspapers I said what the heck–it’s not local but I wrote it anyways.
What started it was that The Outlaw was one of the most popular Saturday afternoon films at The Roxy in Carleton Place. So once I got going in research, I couldn’t stop. Of course I didn’t want the basic stuff, I wanted to know D E T A I L S.
Article in Almonte Gazette 1882
Nellie Heftett has seen a great deal of wild life for a a girl of 20. She married Tom Pickett– went with him to new Mexico where they joined the band of Billy the Kid. She was a crack shot fine horsewoman and pretty. After Pickett was killed she became the wife of Bawdry the second in command and when he was killed she found a third husband in Billy the Kid. Many stories are told of her exploit whether acting as a spy in female attire.
So was this wild woman? This is what I literally dig up.
Billy the Kid never married, he didn’t get the chance since he was shot down so early in life. The Kid was indeed a lady’s man and “fooled around,” so it’s quite possible he fathered at least one child. Rumors and hearsay have given the names of several young ladies who may or may not be mothers of Billy the Kid’s child or children (if he even had any).
In 1882 a number of newspapers in the United States reported the death of a Nellie Pickett, supposed outlaw. These articles all claim that not only was she “the wife” of Charlie Bowdre at the time of his death, but that she also became the wife of Billy the Kid while he was on the run from the law.
I can’t find much on this woman, but I suppose it’s possible that she might have been something like the gang’s official “groupie” and considered herself the “wife” of whichever one she was having relations with at the time.
Sallie Chisolm is on the right – maybe Nellie on the left? Sallie Chisum 1858-1934. Niece of Cattle King John Chisum. Sallie lived with her famous Uncle at his South Spring Ranch in the Pecos Valley. While there, Sallie would meet all the particulars of the Lincoln County War, including Billy the Kid, who would gift her with Candy
Dallas Weekly Herald; Aug. 24, 1882; pg 5
A NOTORIOUS WOMAN
The Death of Nellie Pickett, the Noted Female Bandit
The following concerning Nellie Pickett, who formerly resided in this county, and in which Sheriff Pat Garrett, of Lincoln county, New Mexico, who is also a native and former resident of this county, is mentioned, is taken from the Chicago Times.
Nellie Pickett, the most noted female character ever in the territory of New Mexico, died a few days since at Fort Sumner, aged 24. She was born in Lafayette county, Missouri. When she was healthy, vivacious and pretty she married Tom Pickett and moved with him to Dallas, Texas. They lived there a year and then came to New Mexico.
At the time of the Lincoln county war, in 1880, Pickett became a member of the band of Billy the Kid, and after the war was over Nellie joined him, and herself became a member of the gang of bandits. She was a fearless horse-woman, a crack shot, beautiful, and with great strength of mind. She ruled the band with despotic sway.
Pickett was killed in a fight with officers, when Nelly became the mistress of the first lieutenant, Charles Bowdry. Dressed in male or female attire, as suited her purpose, she acted as a spy for the gang, carrying messages from one rendezvous to the other. When in male attire she always rode in a buckskin suit astride a horse. Bowdry was killed in the fight with Sheriff Garrett and his posse. She was as true to him as his own wife. She found his body after the fight and buried it.
Billy the Kid succeeded finally in winning her affections. Last year, while a heavy price was on his head, he visited her at Fort Sumner. While there Garrett ascertained the facts, entrapped and killed him. So, if I get this right Nellie Pickett was the reason Billy the Kidd was shot? If so this gal wouldn’t have needed any backstage passes at rock concerts. She could have shot her way in.
It’s one for the Believe it or Not files.
Sierra Journal 8-24-1882 Nellie Pickett, who was one of the prominent characters of Billy the Kid’s gang in New Mexico, and at the time of his death was his mistress, died at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, one day last week.
Billy the Kid—playing croquet with his gang known as The Regulators. Guijarro also thought he recognized the Kid’s best friends Tom O’Folliard and Charlie Bowdre in the photo-4×5-inch photo depicting Billy the Kid, left, playing croquet in 1878. Photograph: Kagin’s