Why Billy the Kid's Tombstone Says 'Pals'

On July 14, 1881, 21-year-old William Bonney, better known as the outlaw Billy the Kid, was famously shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. He was quickly buried the next day, his final resting place marked by a simple wooden board with his name crudely carved on it. By 1904, it had been destroyed. It was apparently a popular object for target practice, but flooding in the cemetery may have also played a part.

No one bothered to replace the gravestone until 1932—and, like many of the tales that surround the legend of Billy the Kid, there are different versions to this story. One says that the four men who served as Billy's pallbearers pooled their money together to make sure William Bonney was remembered. Another posits that actor Johnny Mack Brown coughed up some cash after playing Billy in a 1930 movie. The third is that the Fort Sumner Chamber of Commerce erected the stone to take advantage of tourists, which seems especially likely in the wake of a recent movie release.

Whoever paid for the stone figured they would honor two other members of Billy's gang who were also killed by Pat Garrett and his posse: Charlie Bowdre and Tom O’Folliard. Perhaps wishing to explain why the three men were commemorated with one tombstone, the word “Pals” was engraved on the new stone. Tourists looking for complete authenticity may be disappointed, however—it's likely none of the men are actually buried under the tombstone. O'Folliard and Bowdre are buried in separate graves nearby, but their graves are unmarked. And because Billy's grave was unmarked for decades, his exact burial location is now unknown.

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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