Wednesday 1 April 2009

TAFF THE KID

World renowned Billy the Kid expert, Fred Nolan dropped me an email today which was especially welcome. Not only does it offer some info on his latest project but gives a Welsh element to the Kid story - a small element admittedly but it's something all the same.

Interview from the Archive HERE

Here's the email.

Gary,

Here's something Western for you all the way out there in the wild West
of Pontypridd that you may not have known about. Back in December, 1880,
a rag-tag posse of Panhandle cowboys was sent to New Mexico to recover
cattle stolen from the Texas ranchers there by Billy the Kid and his
sidekicks. Some of the cowboys later elected to help Sheriff Pat Garrett
pursue and capture the Kid, and some of them did not. One of the latter
was a fellow who called himself Frank Clifford, a.k.a. John Francis
Wallace. Although he wasn't on the spot when the Kid was caught at
Stinking Springs, he got the story of how it happened first-hand from
those who were, and also had some adventures of his own with the likes
of Charlie Siringo and (later) the Kid himself. Well, it turns out
"Clifford" wrote an autobiography which has never been published and
which I am now in the process of editing and annotating it for
publication. So what has that to do with you?

It turns out, Gary, that Clifford/Wallace's real name was John Menham
Wightman, and he was born on March 18, 1860 at Blaendare, Ponteague,
Pontypool, Monmouthshire where his father, James Temple Wightman, was a
coal merchant. "My first home in England," he wrote,"is in Monmouthshire
near Ponty Pool. I don't know what direction but a railroad run up
towards Wales, and our house was between Ponty Pool and Crumlin Bridge,
quite a patch of land but not what you could call an estate. Name of the
place then (1870) was "The Wern" house on a hillside and a high stone
wall 8 or 9 ft between it and neibors [sic] place that is about all I
can remember."

I know it's not exactly next door to you, Gary, but it would be
interesting to know whether this place, "The Wern" still exists and
whether, indeed, it was the large estate John Wightman/Frank Clifford
remembered in his old age. Whether it is or not, I thought you'd be
pleased to know that you have a closer proximity to the Billy the Kid
story than you might have realised.

Thanks again, and ATB

Fred

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

a neat little tidbit

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