The Billy the Kid Knife

For sale at auction, the kitchen knife that Billy the Kid was holding when he was shot dead in Pete Maxwell's room by Pat Garrett, July 14th, 1881. Descended through the Maxwell-Jaramillo family for over a century. 

From the Robert G. McCubbin Collection.

To be auctioned January 26, 2019 at the 29th annual Mesa Old West Auction, Mesa, Arizona.

Pre-sale estimate: $800,000 - $1.2 million

PROVENANCE: Descended through the Maxwell-Jaramillo family for over 100 years.
From: Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo to her daughter Adelina Jaramillo Welborn, to her daughter Ollie Swanson, to her daughter Susan Swanson Wortham, to Frederick Nolan to Robert McCubbin.

Included in the lot: (view images below)

  • Handwritten testimony signed by Deluvina Maxwell and Adelina J. Welborn, March 20, 1926.

  • Transcribed account by Deluvina Maxwell to J. Evetts Haley, June 24, 1927.

  • Affidavit of Ursula Pacheco Y. Baca, August 10, 1951.

  • Affidavit of Carndido Gutierres, September 19, 1951.

  • Book: “Genealogical and Historical Data of the Jaramillo Family: Almost Four Centuries in New Mexico 1598-1989” by Pauline Jaramillo.

  • Original correspondence between Frederick Nolan and Pauline Jaramillo, and Nolan and Robert Swanson, beginning in 1990, detailing Nolan first locating and then negotiating for the purchase of the knife.

  • Affidavit of Robert S. Swanson, July 13, 1997 upon the sale of the knife to Frederick Nolan, with accompanying original, signed photographs identifying the knife.

  • Bob McCubbin’s personal ephemera and memorabilia regarding the knife, including photographs from the day he took ownership of the artifact from Frederick Nolan in Tombstone, Arizona.


"At that moment a man sprang quickly into the door, looking back, and called twice in Spanish, “Who comes there?” No one replied and he came on in. He was bareheaded. From his step I could perceive he was either barefooted or in his stocking feet, and held a revolver in his right hand and a butcher knife in his left.
          -- From "An Authentic Life of Billy the Kid the Noted Desperado of the Southwest," by Pat F. Garrett.

The night he was killed Billy came in hungry, went down with a butcher knife to get some meat at Pete Maxwell’s. He told the people he was going down to get the meat and took a knife and went down to Pete's room. After passing the men waiting outside, he went into Maxwell’s room where Garrett was and he shot him.
          -- From Deluvina Maxwell’s oral account, June 24, 1927.

The Kid had at the time a butcher knife in his hand as he was going to slice some meat that was hanging at the edge of the porch. This knife with affidavits are in the possession of the Swanson family. Mrs. Ollie Swanson was the daughter of Adelina Jaramillo Wellborn who was the daughter of Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo."
          -- From "Genealogical and Historical Data of the Jaramillo Family: Almost Four Centuries in New Mexico 1598-1989," by Pauline Jaramillo.

BELOW: View scans of documents from Bob MCubbin's personal album, including the Billy the Kid Knife provenance docs as well as Bob's own personal memorabilia.