About Michael O'Neill

Showcasing a new collection with a previously un-released Townes Van Zandt song as the title track, this singer/songwriter with a “roots-rock” history and a soulful ease carries his listener into a time and place reminiscent of steel strings, guitar heroes, and great story-tellers like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. One of 13 children, he got started in music early. At the age of 24, he cut his teeth opening his first tour for a then-unknown band called U2.

By the time the tour ended in Los Angeles, O'Neill found himself signed with legendary manager Don Arden, (father of Sharon Osbourne). O'Neill put together a band that featured a young John Shanks, (now superstar producer of Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Vertical Horizon, etc.), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), and jazz saxophonist, Boney James.

He spent the better part of the next ten years touring with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and penning songs with Bob Weir, Steve Cropper (Booker T. and The MG's), and Jason Scheff (Chicago).

Part country crooner, part haggard storyteller, O'Neill makes a noise that is refreshingly classic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Billy Wilson

Another controversial figure associated with the Dodge City Gang is Billy Wilson or the "Mystery Rustler". Associated with Billy the Kid, there are two different accounts of his life up to that point. There are two accounts of his early life, one asserting that he was born William Harrison Wilson on October 30, 1859 in Arkansas and that he ran away from home in his mid-teens after a fight with his father. He's said to have then fallen in with some outlaws and ended up killing a man in a barfight, causing him to flee the state.

Billy is believed to have then traveled through Mississippi, Missouri, and Indian Territory. After accidentally killing a friend in a hunting accident, he moved on to Dodge City, Kansas, and met up with Dirty Dave Rudabaugh, Tom Pickett, J. J. Webb, Mysterious Dave Mather, and others. Around this time he was given the nickname "Buffalo Billy" and he followed Dave and his friends to Las Vegas, New Mexico, Wilson.

Dave and the others stayed on to join the Dodge City Gang but Wilson continued south to another boom town, White Oaks, where he opened a livery stable. In late 1879 or early 1880, Wilson sold his stable to men named Sam Dedrick and William H. "Harvey" West. They paid for the stable, however, in counterfit bills. Wilson traveled south to Lincoln, unknowingly spending the fake money.

At some point shortly thereafter, Wilson began riding regularly with Billy the Kid's gang, the Rustlers, (he had helped them from time to time in the past, but not been a full member). A few months after Wilson joined, Dave Rudabaugh, on the run from the law in Las Vegas, joined them.

Word of the counterfeit bills in Lincoln County reached Washington, D. C., and a special agent from the U. S. Treasury Department, Azariah Wild, was sent to New Mexcio to investigate. Wild determined that Wilson was part of West, and the Dedrick brothers counterfeit ring.

Though innocent of counterfiting, on Nov. 27, 1880, Wilson was involved in the killing of Deputy James Carlyle, when a posse surrounded Billy the Kid and his gang at Jim Greathouse's ranch. Between the murder of Carlyle, and the Wild investigation's, local law enforcement was more determined than ever to catch the Rustlers.

On Dec. 19, 1880, Wilson was with Billy the Kid and other members of the Rustlers, when they rode into Fort Sumner and Pat Garrett and his posse opened fire on them from ambush. Rustler Tom O'Folliard was killed, but the rest escaped.

Wilson was again with Billy the Kid and the Rustlers on Dec. 23, when they were captured at Stinking Springs by Garrett's posse,(Rustler Charlie Bowdre was killed in the fight.)

Wilson went to trial at Santa Fe for counterfeiting and robbing the U.S. Mail, the latter a crime he committed with the Rustlers when they held up a stagecoach. He was convicted of the counterfeiting charge and sentenced to seven years in prison. However, he managed to escape in Sept. 1882 and became a rustler again in Mexico and along the Mexican border, falling in with another gang, which also included Tom Pickett. He left the gang after an attack on four unsuspecting Mexicans. He's believed to have gone back to Missouri, gotten married, and had a child, settling down and changing his habits under the name Robert Levi Martin. Robert Martin died on September 30, 1935.

Other researchers say Billy Wilson was born David L. Anderson in Ohio on Nov. 23, 1861, moving with his family to Texas when he was still a child. It's said that he first became a cowboy and then began rustling, changing his name to Billy Wilson and travelling to Dodge City. Those who believe this account of Billy's life think that after escaping from jail he fled to Sanderson, Texas, where married, had a child, and opened up a bar.

It's said that in 1895, by pure chance he ran into Pat Garrett and that the two talked and Garrettbecame convinced that Wilson had changed so decided to try to use his influence to have him pardoned. Sometime in 1906, Garrett achieved this and Pres. Grover Cleveland issued a full pardon for "Dave Anderson, alias Billy Wilson."

In 1905, Wilson was elected sheriff of Terrell County, and is said to have been much loved by the people of the town. On June 14, 1918, he was called to silence a disturbance. A drunk ranchhand named Ed Valentine, who Wilson knew and had been on friendly terms with, was causing trouble. Anderson tried to talk Valentine down, but Valentine shot him in the chest, killing him. Valentine was then lynched by an angry mob.

No one knows for sure if William Harrison Wilson/Robert Martin from Arkansas was THE Billy Wilson, or if it was Dave Anderson. Because of the Garrett Pardon, it is generally believed to have been the latter of the two.


  1. Looking up family history is always an interest of mine, especially since mine can be so interesting and ambiguous. When I was a Junior in high school I actually wrote a research paper partly on that history. I find it both frustrating and soothing that the "Billy Wilson" figure is so mysterious and misunderstood. Throughout my childhood I was a fan of westerns and who could not be a fan of the legendary stories of Billy the Kid. When I was told that I was the Great Great Grandson of Billy Wilson, who was very close friends of Billy the Kid I became very interested and have never ceased to be interested on the subject. Never do you hear Billy Wilsons name mentioned in any novels or movies and it is a bit frustrating especially when I had "bragged" that my Great Great Grandfather was part of the Billy the Kid genre. My Great Grandfather Kahle Martin left home when he was young taking his fathers pistol. He was the second oldest son to Robert Levi Martin "Billy Wilson", his oldest I believe being Ray Martin. Kahle Martin was the father of my grandpa Gary Martin who has a brother Grant. My grandfathers oldest son who he named Gary Martin is my father. Sometimes I feel it humbling that Billy Wilson was such a mysterious and unknown character for if he wasn't and if he hadn't ran away and changed his name I would not be typing this now. Being a direct blood line of Billy Wilson I can assure you that the Arkansas Wilson is in fact the "real" Wilson figure that rode with Billy the Kid through his known ventures such as "Stinky Springs" "Greathouse ranch" "The murder of James Carlyle" "The Kids escape from Jail" and much much more. It has been a long while since I have read books and documents on my Great Great Grandfather. Though I do know the family stories passed down and authors stories coincide with the story of Dave Anderson. It is believed and quite possibly too far gone to be proven but....Kahle told a story that Dave Anderson was a friend of Pat Garret. Pat being the known shady character that he was issued a pardon for Billy Wilson. Though he never intended on giving it to my Grandfather. Instead he gave it to Dave Anderson who went under the Alias Billy Wilson. Did Anderson make up the fact that he was Billy Wilson so he could recieve the pardon? or is it just a huge coincidence that Anderson was sometimes called Billy Wilson? and why not just give Dave Anderson a pardon under his own name? Well if these questions could be easily answered you would not have titled this the "Mystery Rustler".. 8^)I can say that there has never been a pardon in the families hands. Part of me says continue writing for I could WRITE ALL NIGHT on the subject BUT I notice it is quite late in the night....Though I must say it was a pleasure reading this.

    Thank you,

    Jake Richard Martin(Wilson) =P

  2. Hi Jake, Loved reading the above....My great great grandmother was Caldonia Wilson, a sister to Billy Wilson. I too love reading and learning about the Old West, especially if it involves family. My grandparents were both born in Arkansas and moved to California in the early 30's. Since then, most of my family reside in California. I take pride in the fact that Billy Wilson was my great great great uncle and truly believe as well, that he is the true Billy Wilson that rode with Billy The Kid. Hoping to talk to you again.

    Best regards from a long distance cousin,
    Elaine (Patterson) Bennett

  3. Thank you both so much for posting here! I'm moving the blog entries to http://blog.gratefulweb.net along with your comments, would love it if you'd join me there too. It would be fascinating to talk to you both more.