Billy King’s Tombstone

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Billy King’s Tombstone by C L Sonnichsen. Hardcover with protective Mylar cover added. First Edition Third Printing 1951. Ex Owner bookplate inside with very unique American/Western graphics. 

William Aurelius King (Billy King) was born in Rapides Parish, central Louisiana, in 1856, of French and Irish stock. During the Civil War he and his family took to the piney woods to get away from the Yankees. When the struggle was over they went back to the plantation, but young Billy had acquired a chronic restlessness which stayed with him until he was too old and feeble to wander. At the age of fourteen he caught up his horse, put a few scraps of food in his saddlebags, took his muzzle-loading rifle and his old five-shot cap-and-ball pistol, said good-by, and headed for Texas. He became a cowboy, and in 1877 made his first trip up the trail to Dodge City, Kansas, with a herd of cattle. In 1882 he drifted west to Tombstone, Arizona Territory, then on the boom. There he was a ranch foreman, deputy sheriff under John Slaughter, and understudy for Dick Clark, the greatest gambler the Arizona mining camps ever saw.

In 1896 he married and set up for himself as a saloon man and professional gambler. By 1905 the great days of Tombstone were gone for good, and he moved out to carry on his business in various mining camps and border towns, finally settling in El Paso. On June 1, 1945, he died at a local hospital, proud that his book had added an authentic chapter to the chronicles of the vanished frontier.


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