Billy Jennings

Billy Jennings

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William (Billy) Jennings was born in Barry, Wales, on 25th February, 1893. A talented footballer who represented the Welsh Schoolboy team, he played for Barry Town before joining Bolton Wanderers. He made his debut for the club against Derby County in November, 1912.

Although not a regular in the first-team at the time, in 1914, he won his first international cap for Wales. Over the next few years he won ten more caps for his country.

After the First World War he became a regular member of Bolton Wanderers side. Charles Foweraker, the manager, built a team that included Joe Smith, Ted Vizard, Jimmy Seddon, John Reid Smith, David Jack, Billy Butler, Dick Pym, Alex Finney and Bob Haworth.

Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United 2-0 to win the 1923 FA Cup Final. Jennings was also a member of the Bolton team that beat Manchester City in the 1926 FA Cup Final. David Jack scored the only goal of the game in the 76th minute.

Jennings played in 287 league and cup games for Bolton before retiring in 1931. He was also the coach of Notts County and the manager of Cardiff City.

Billy Jennings died in 1968.

Willie James Jennings

Willie Jennings’ book The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (Yale 2010) won the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and, in 2015, the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America. Englewood Review of Books called the work a “theological masterpiece.” His commentary on the Book of Acts, titled Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate (for the Belief Series, Westminster/John Knox) received the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy in 2018.

Dr. Jennings has also recently published a book that examines the problems of theological education within western education, entitled After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging (Eerdmans, 2020).

J ennings is now working on a major monograph provisionally entitled Unfolding the World: Recasting a Christian Doctrine of Creation as well as a finishing a book of poetry entitled The Time of Possession .

Writing in the areas of liberation theologies, cultural identities, and anthropology, Jennings has authored more than 40 scholarly essays and nearly two-dozen reviews, as well as essays on academic administration and blog posts for Religion Dispatches .

Jennings is an ordained Baptist minister and has served as interim pastor for several North Carolina churches. He is in high demand as a speaker and is widely recognized as a major figure in theological education across North America.

William Jennings Bryan resigns as U.S. secretary of state

On June 9, 1915, United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigns due to his concerns over President Woodrow Wilson’s handling of the crisis generated by a German submarine’s sinking of the British passenger liner Lusitania the previous month, in which 1,201 people—including 128 Americans𠅍ied.

Germany’s announcement in early 1915 that its navy was adopting a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare concerned many within the government and civilian population of the United States—which maintained a policy of strict neutrality during the first two years of World War I. The sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, caused an immediate uproar, as many believed Germany had sunk the British cruiser deliberately as a provocation to Wilson and the U.S.

Bryan, as secretary of state, sent a note to the German government from the Wilson administration, lauding the ties of friendship and diplomacy between the two nations and expressing the desire that they come to a clear and full understanding as to the grave situation which has resulted from the sinking of the Lusitania. When the German government responded by justifying their navy’s action on the basis that the Lusitania was carrying munitions (which it was, a small amount), Wilson himself penned a strongly worded note, insisting that the sinking had been an illegal action and demanding that Germany cease unrestricted submarine warfare against unarmed merchantmen.

"The Government of the United States is contending for something much greater than mere rights of property or privileges of commerce," Wilson wrote. "It is contending for nothing less high and sacred than the rights of humanity, which every Government honours itself in respecting and which no Government is justified in resigning on behalf of those under its care and authority."

William Jennings Bryan

Born in Illinois, William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) became a Nebraska congressman in 1890. He starred at the 1896 Democratic convention with his Cross of Gold speech that favored free silver, but was defeated in his bid to become U.S. president by William McKinley. Bryan lost his subsequent bids for the presidency in 1900 and 1908, using the years between to run a newspaper and tour as a public speaker. After helping Woodrow Wilson secure the Democratic presidential nomination for 1912, he served as Wilson’s secretary of state until 1914. In his later years, Bryan campaigned for peace, prohibition and suffrage, and increasingly criticized the teaching of evolution.

Born in Illinois, Bryan inherited from his parents an intense commitment to the Democratic party and a fervent Protestant faith. After graduating from Illinois College and Union Law School, he married and, seeing no political future in Illinois, moved to Nebraska in 1887. In 1890, when the new Populist party disrupted Nebraska politics, Bryan won election to Congress he was reelected in 1892. In Congress, he earned respect for his oratory and became a leader among free-silver Democrats. In 1894 he led Nebraska’s Democrats to support the state Populist party.

Bryan electrified the 1896 Democratic convention with his stirring Cross of Gold speech favoring free silver and thereby captured the presidential nomination. Also nominated by the Populists, Bryan agreed with their view that government should protect individuals and the democratic process against monopolistic corporations. ‘The Boy Orator of the Platte’ traveled eighteen thousand miles and spoke to thousands of voters, but lost William McKinley’s victory initiated a generation of Republican dominance in national politics. Bryan’s 1896 campaign, however, marked a long-term shift within the Democratic party from a Jacksonian commitment to minimal government toward a positive view of government.

During the Spanish-American War, Bryan served as a colonel in a Nebraska regiment, but after the war, he condemned McKinley’s Philippine policy as imperialism. Nominated again by the Democrats in 1900, Bryan hoped to make the election a referendum on imperialism, but other issues intervened, including his own insistence on free silver and attacks on monopolies. McKinley won again.

After his defeat, Bryan launched a newspaper, the Commoner (based on his nickname ‘the Great Commoner’) and made frequent speaking tours. Although he was a superb orator, he was neither a deep nor an original thinker. He used the Commoner and the lecture circuit to affirm equality, to advocate greater popular participation in governmental decision making, to oppose monopolies, and to proclaim the importance of faith in God. ‘Shall the People Rule?’ became the watchword of his third campaign for president, in 1908, when he lost to William Howard Taft.

In 1912, Bryan worked to secure the Democratic presidential nomination for Woodrow Wilson, and when Wilson won, he named Bryan secretary of state. As secretary, Bryan promoted conciliation, or cooling-off, treaties, in which the parties agreed that, if they could not resolve a dispute, they would wait a year before going to war and would seek outside fact-finding. Thirty such treaties were drafted.

When the European war broke out in 1914, Bryan, like Wilson, was committed to neutrality. But he went beyond Wilson in advocating restrictions on American citizens and companies to prevent them from drawing the nation into war. When Wilson strongly protested Germany’s sinking of the Lusitania, Bryan resigned rather than approve a message he feared would lead to war.

Thereafter, Bryan worked for peace, prohibition, and woman suffrage, and he increasingly criticized the teaching of evolution. In 1925, he joined the prosecution in the trial of John Scopes, a Tennessee schoolteacher charged with violating state law by teaching evolution. In a famous exchange, Clarence Darrow, defending Scopes, put Bryan on the witness stand and revealed his shallowness and ignorance of science and archaeology. Bryan died soon after the trial ended.

The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

The enduring influence of the Black Panther Party newspaper

In 1968, Billy X Jennings was sitting in class at Laney College, in Oakland, California, when he heard chanting from the courthouse across the street. Curious, he left class and joined the crowd of protestors. They were members of the Black Panther Party, demanding that charges be dropped against Party leader Huey P. Newton for the murder of an Oakland police officer. Soon after that, Jennings encountered the Panthers again: a group was selling The Black Panther , the Party’s newspaper, in his neighborhood, and they invited him to attend a political education class. He quickly became a Panther himself.

Jennings eventually rose through the organization to become an aide to Newton . In 1972 and 1973, he ran co-founder Bobby Seale’s East Oakland mayoral campaign office. But he got his start as one of about 5,000 members , many of them teens and young adults, who hawked the weekly paper on the sidewalks of Oakland.

The Black Panther acted as an economic support system for rank-and-file members: each issue was sold for 25 cents, of which sellers kept 10 cents. “For Black Panther Party members who were not working, who had been kicked out the house, who had no place to stay, if you sell 100 newspapers, you have $10 in your hand,” says Jennings.

The paper was also an effective method of recruitment. Panthers who sold the paper spread the Party’s message and encouraged new people, like Jennings, to join them. “Black Panthers selling papers on the corner made you think that there’s a bunch of people who believe in this other way,” says Stanley Nelson, director of a documentary film on the group, Vanguard of the Revolution . He remembers the Panthers selling papers in Harlem, where he grew up. “That’s really important for young people to see—that they’re not alone, that there are people who are already working strongly for change.”

Every Wednesday evening, Jennings recalled, he and dozens of Panthers and volunteers gathered in a converted storefront office in San Francisco’s Fillmore district to prepare the newspaper for distribution. They formed an assembly line, folding and bundling the papers, then loading the bundles onto trucks double-parked on Geary Boulevard. The pace of the work was demanding, but the atmosphere was festive. Those nights spent getting the paper out felt more like a party than a job: there was food, socializing, and performances by Party band The Lumpen , whose funk rhythms were laced with social commentary .

Today, Jennings is the de-facto historian and archivist of the Black Panther Party. He hosts an online collection of Black Panther newspapers and maintains an impeccably organized physical archive of newspapers and other media on the Panthers at his home in Sacramento. A lifelong collector of comics, stamps, records, and butterflies, Jennings started developing his Black Panther newspaper archive for a 30-year reunion of former Party members. After the gathering, members donated their own collections to Jennings, and he continued to find more papers by scouring garage sales, Craigslist, and eBay.

Jennings routinely speaks of the importance of publishing as a political action. “We feel that information is the raw material for new ideas,” he says. “We have been deprived of information, we have been deprived of our history… We sought to find solutions to problems instead of just reporting the news.” All Panthers were required to read the paper as an extension of the Party’s mandatory reading list . (Literacy was taken seriously if Jennings’s chapter leader caught him without a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book , one of the foundational texts for Panthers, he’d have to do fifty push-ups.)

The Black Panther was started in 1967, the first year of the Party, as a four-page, hand-typed newsletter. Within a year, its distribution was over 250,000, and it continued to publish through the ’70s. The paper served as the Party’s ideological mouthpiece, chronicling police brutality, championing liberation struggles around the world, and connecting 48 Party chapters in 30 major cities. At its peak, from 1968 to 1971, it was the country’s most-read Black newspaper .

With The Black Panther , the Party built on a long tradition of Black press dating back to 1827. Papers such as Frederick Douglass’s The North Star , the California Eagle, the Chicago Defender , and Jet , Ebony , and Emerge magazines were published, written, and edited by Black journalists. These publications documented the lives of Black people, highlighted the work of Black artists, and pushed political platforms that benefited Black communities. While mainstream newspapers, and then cable television networks, were often overtly racist, portraying Black men and women as criminal, uneducated, and impoverished, Black media ran stories about the Black middle and upper classes, about ordinary triumphs and daily persecutions.

During the civil rights movement, Black consumers and the papers they read became newly visible to advertisers, as Nelson, the documentary filmmaker, notes in The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords . For many Black publications, the appeal of advertising dollars influenced coverage and prompted a more measured tone. The Black Panther , however, never depended on advertisers or attempted to diversify its readership, instead relying on issue sales, subscriptions, and cheap distribution. “The Black Panthers were very clear: some people are going to be very alienated by this, and some people won’t be and will buy its message—and that’s who they’re after,” says Nelson.

In this context, The Black Panther ’s voice stood out: the paper regularly featured fiery rhetoric, called out racist organizations, and was unabashed in its disdain for the existing political system. Its first cover story reported on the police killing of Denzil Dowell , a 22-year-old Black man in Richmond, California. In all caps, the paper stated: “Brothers and sisters, these racist murders are happening every day they could happen to any one of us.” And it became well known for its bold cover art: woodcut-style images of protestors, armed Panthers, and police depicted as bloodied pigs.

Their militancy was feared and vilified by the mainstream press, a relationship that they sometimes used to their advantage. In a series of local TV news interviews about The Black Panther , some Black Bay Area residents took issue with the paper’s slant. “They will, for example, say one thing and leave out just a little bit to make it look like society, or anyone in particular, is against them, whereas it may not necessarily be so,” said one man.

Early in its run, The Black Panther aggregated headline news from across the country, reworking stories about police brutality and social justice for a radical Black audience. As its staff grew, the paper ran original reporting and essays, editorials calling for the elimination of the presidency and an end to capitalism, speeches by Eldridge Cleaver, editorial cartoons and art by Emory Douglas , and contributions from Panthers and supporters from across the country . Each issue included the Party’s manifesto, called the 10 Point Program .

The paper reported on key events affecting the Party and the Black community, such as the eight-month trial of the Panther 21 , a group of 21 members accused of conspiracy to attack a New York City police station and an education office the raid and murder of Fred Hampton , a popular Panther leader in Chicago and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study . It also covered other resistance movements and activism in the Bay Area, most notably the case of Los Siete , a Chicano group framed for the murder of a San Francisco police officer.

Solidarity with other resistance movements was a major draw for readers. The paper’s international section reported on liberation struggles around the world under editor in chief David DuBois (stepson of W.E.B. DuBois), the section deepened Party support for revolutionary efforts in South Africa and Cuba. Copies of the paper traveled abroad with students and activists, and were translated into Hebrew and Japanese. “It reflected that the idea of resistance to police oppression had spread like wildfire,” Judy Juanita, a former editor in chief, adds. “It showed that this pattern of oppression was systemic.”

The paper also reported internal news on the Party, including its problems with sexism. Juanita and Tarika Matilaba (now Joan Tarika Lewis), an illustrator and the first woman to join the Party, helped to put women at the forefront of what was sometimes incorrectly thought of as a men’s organization. (Two-thirds of Panthers were women most worked as organizers.) The paper documented the experiences of female Panthers subjected to physical abuse, exploitation, and discrimination . “You can see the evolution of gender politics in the organization over time in the newspaper,” Mary Phillips, an Africana studies professor, said during a roundtable discussion for International Socialist Review.

As the Seventies progressed, the ideology of the Black Panther Party changed and its leadership fractured, and in 1980 the Party, and the paper, ceased operations. (This fracturing was due in part to counterintelligence efforts to disband the Party by the FBI they also regularly sabotaged distribution of the newspaper.) But it didn’t stop publishing before directly inspiring other progressive newspapers, such as the Young Lords’ paper , Los Siete’s Basta Ya! , and the Intercommunal Survival Committee’s Unity , which published in Chicago between 1975 and 1980. In a program modeled after the Black Panther Party’s sickle cell anemia testing, which was advertised and reported on in the paper, ISC provided black lung testing to white former Appalachians who had previously worked as coal miners. “Everything the Black Panther Party had in the Black community, they were doing it in the white community,” says Jennings of ISC. “You talk about solidarity, boom!”

The Panther paper set the stage for contemporary Black media covering oppression. While today’s Black publications are less overtly radical, and street-corner sales have been replaced by social media shares, Colorlines, The North Star, Zora, The Root, and others continue the Panther’s mission of shining a light on injustice. Danielle Belton, editor in chief of The Root, says that the site works in the same tradition as The Black Panther : “ We want to uphold that legacy of covering police brutality, Black liberation, and political prisoners. ”

Judy Juanita tells me that The Black Panther also provided connections between the struggles of various marginalized groups, which continue today. “The issues of an oppressive society are now affecting all people of color. There’s so much going on, they can’t ignore all of the police killings, from Trayvon Martin to Sandra Bland,” Juanita says, adding that today’s Black press is more specialized. “The radical thing is that they’re paying attention to oppression they’re just not using the hard-armed derogatory terms that we used in the ‘60s.”

Nelson believes no publication today cuts through the noise like The Black Panther . “There’s no one out there slapping you in the face like the Black Panthers did by putting papers everywhere, by selling papers on street corners, by getting their papers distributed,” he says. “You didn’t have to go to a rally, you didn’t have to engage in any activities, but you saw the Panthers out there. I think that’s really important for movements.”

Jessica Lipsky is a Brooklyn-based journalist who covers culture, music, and media, with a focus on subculture. Her work has appeared in NPR, Newsweek, Billboard, Vice, The Recording Academy, LA Weekly, and other publications. She is the author of a forthcoming book on Daptone Records and revival soul (Jawbone Press, 2021).

Billy X Jennings

Black Panther Party historian and archivist Billy X Jennings will present an exhibition of radical underground newspapers from the 1960s and 1970s, which will be on display at Love Library. The historically significant newspapers represent a voice that was not in the mainstream media. The publications created an ethos around the struggle for equality, civic engagement and justice. Often authored, designed and published by university students, these publications offer insight into the underground press and its vast diversity of visual languages that were both accessible and powerful while inspiring people to action. Selections of these graphic design artifacts include, The Berkeley Barb, The East Village Other, Basta Ya, Berkeley Tribe, San Francisco Oracle, the Chicago Seed and many others.

To visit the Black Panther Party archives go to

Newspapers from the archive of Billy X Jennings

William Jennings Bryan, Billy Sunday, and the Prohibition Party Ticket of 1920 ∙ Patricia C. Gaster

“We have come together to select a burial lot for John Barleycorn,” said Virgil G. Hinshaw in his opening address to Prohibition Party delegates on July 21, 1920. The party’s thirteenth national convention had just been called to order at 10 a.m. in Lincoln’s city auditorium by Hinshaw, chairman of the Prohibition National Committee. More than 250 delegates from around the country heard him congratulate the nation’s oldest third party (founded in 1869) on the recent achievement of its longtime goal of national prohibition, now the law of the land, thanks to the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Before the day was over, convention delegates would try to draft two high-profile temperance advocates from outside party ranks, William Jennings Bryan and Billy Sunday, to head their party’s national ticket.

The enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment, which banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of intoxicating liquors nationwide, was the culmination of a series of steps toward national prohibition begun by the states and by federal restrictions on alcohol during the World War I era. Before the U.S. entered the war in April 1917, twenty-six of the then forty-eight states had already gone dry. In Nebraska a prohibitory amendment was adopted to the state constitution in 1916, which took effect on May 1, 1917. By the time the Eighteenth Amendment took effect on January 17, 1920 (Nebraska was the requisite thirty-sixth state to ratify on January 16, 1919), thirty-three states had adopted state prohibition.

World War I provided an opportunity for prohibitionists to advance their goal of banning liquor across the country. While the U.S. was at war, many considered it unpatriotic to use much-needed grain to produce alcohol, and in August 1917 Congress adopted the Food and Fuel Control Act, which prohibited the manufacture of distilled spirits from foodstuffs. It also closed distilleries, many of which were thought to be operated by Germans. The Wartime Prohibition Act, passed in November 1918 after the Armistice had already been signed, prohibited the manufacture of beer and wine after May 1, 1919, and banned the sale of all liquors after July 1. It was to continue in force until the conclusion of the war and demobilization. The National Prohibition (Volstead) Act, passed on October 28, 1919, was designed to enforce the provisions of both the Wartime Prohibition Act and the Eighteenth Amendment.

The convening of the Prohibition Party in Lincoln in July of 1920 attracted much interest around the state and nation. The two major parties had already held their national conventions. The Republicans, meeting June 8-12 in Chicago, selected Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge as their presidential and vice presidential nominees. (An early boomlet in support of Nebraska’s Gen. John J. Pershing for president on the Republican ticket collapsed.) The Democrats met June 28-July 6 in San Francisco, nominating James M. Cox and Franklin D. Roosevelt as their standard bearers. It might have been supposed that the Prohibition Party, which had celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in September 1919 at a national meeting in Chicago, would disband and rest on its laurels now that the Eighteenth Amendment had become a part of the Constitution. However, prohibitionists believed that the administration of the new law would be as great a challenge for them as its adoption into the Constitution had been.

PGHIMC - Pittsburgh Independent Media Center

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The Black Panther Party’s Living Legacy

--Touring Oakland and Berkeley with Billy X Jennings

This month, over twenty students enrolled in the “Dismantling Racism” class offered by St. Catherine University in Minnesota traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area. The class focused primarily on California’s prisons and what anti-prison activists are doing to challenge the human rights violations and racism endemic to California’s infamous prison system.

Last week, the class was taken around on a Black Panther History Tour in Oakland and Berkeley, led by Billy X Jennings from It’s AboutTime BPP Alumni & Legacy. Along with ongoing BPP history exhibits at the Alameda County Law Library in downtown Oakland and the window of Rasputin Music on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley is a new photo exhibit running until February 28, entitled Louder Than Words, at La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley). An important friend and ally of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Billy X Jennings’ work was previously spotlighted in an interview with Angola 3 News, entitled We Called Ourselves the Childrenof Malcolm.

The college class was co-led by Professor Nancy Heitzeg, of the Sociology and Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity departments at St. Catherine University. Heitzeg was first featured in an interview with Angola 3 News about having taken a similar class on a tour at Angola State Prison in Louisiana, entitled Visiting a Modern-Day Slave Plantion. We have since done three more interviews with her: The Racialization of Crime and Punishment and Abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex (parts one and two). Heitzeg is also the editor and frequent contributor to the Criminal Injustice series at Critical Mass Progress, with her most recent articles focusing on Angola Prison & the broader Louisiana 'justice' system, as well as the January 26 protest at Chowchilla women's prison in central California.

Co-instructor William W. Smith IV is a juvenile correctional officer and community consultant on the prison industrial complex & the school to prison pipeline. Following the tour, he told Angola 3 News that he thought "the tour was very well done, with lots of information. We were extremely lucky to have that opportunity to talk and walk with Billy X Jennings. I wish more young people could be exposed to this because it was truly powerful. This information can change your mind, and it can enhance your lifestyle. Race still matters in criminal justice and all things. This tour reminds us of events/stories they want us to forget. We will not turn our backs."

Professor Heitzeg reflected on the recent tour, telling Angola 3 News:

The Black Panther History tour with Billy X Jennings was an incredible experience. The discussion of the history at the site of key locations was very powerful.. Students commented on how much they learned about this often hidden history others noted how the tour undid the stereotypes and mis-education they had received about the Panthers from the mainstream. This was transformational for them.

As someone who was deeply influenced by the BPP vision at a very young age, this tour was invaluable. It was extraordinary to experience this living history through the words of Billy X. Much credit to the City of Oakland for acknowledging the legacy of the BPP through street signs and various public displays of the position of the Party and its many community programs. Certainly the living legacy of the BPP is continually expressed in a variety of programs -- breakfast programs for kids, community health clinics, and more - they we now accept as a given. We all owe them a debt of gratitude and a place of honor in our history.

The BPP's early critique of capitalism, of police brutality, of racism/exclusion in the criminal injustice system is foundational for all those of us who continue to challenge what we now call the "prison industrial complex". They were true visionaries whose call for a rainbow coalition, intersectionality and community empowerment continues to guide our work. What We Want/What We Believe - including "land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace" - has not changed at all.

Legends of America

Henry McCarty, aka, William Henry Bonney, aka, Billy the Kid, was born on November 23, 1859, most likely in New York City. His parents’ names are not known for certain but his mother was thought to be Katherine and his father perhaps Patrick. History then traces Billy to Indiana in the late 1860s and Wichita, Kansas in 1870. His father died around the end of the Civil War and at about the same time, Billy’s mother contracted Tuberculosis and was told to move to a drier climate. On March 1, 1873, Catherine McCarty married a man named William Antrim, who moved the family to Silver City, New Mexico.

His stepfather worked as a bartender and carpenter but soon got the prospecting bug and virtually ignored his wife and stepsons. Faced with an indigent husband, McCarty’s mother took in boarders in order to provide for her sons. Despite the better climate, Billy’s mother continued to worsen and on September 16, 1874, she died of her condition.

After her death, Antrim placed Billy and his younger brother Joseph in separate foster homes and left Silver City for Arizona.

At the age of 14, the smooth-cheeked, blue-eyed McCarty was forced to find work in a hotel, washing dishes and waiting tables at the restaurant. The boy was reported to be very friendly.

The manager was impressed by the young boy, boasting that he was the only kid who ever worked for him that didn’t steal anything. His school teachers thought that the young orphan was “no more of a problem than any other boy, always quite willing to help with chores around the schoolhouse”.

However, on September 23, 1875, McCarty was arrested for hiding a bundle of stolen clothes for a man playing a prank on a Chinese laundryman. Two days after Billy was thrown in jail, the scrawny teen escaped by worming his way up the jailhouse chimney. From that point onward McCarty would be a fugitive.

He eventually found work as an itinerant ranch hand and sheepherder in southeastern Arizona. In 1877 he became a civilian teamster at Camp Grant Army Post with the duty of hauling logs from a timber camp to a sawmill. The civilian blacksmith at the camp, Frank “Windy” Cahill, took pleasure in bullying young Billy. On August 17 Cahill attacked McCarty after a verbal exchange and threw him to the ground. Billy retaliated by drawing his gun and shooting Cahill, who died the next day. Once again McCarty was in custody, this time in the Camp’s guardhouse awaiting the arrival of the local marshal. Before the marshal could arrive, however, Billy escaped.

Again on the run, Billy next turned up in the house of Heiskell Jones in Pecos Valley, New Mexico. Apache had stolen McCarty’s horse which forced him to walk many miles to the nearest settlement, which was Mrs. Jones’ house. She nursed the young man, who was near death, back to health. The Jones’ family developed a strong attachment to Billy and gave him one of their horses.

Now an outlaw and unable to find honest work, the Kid met up with another bandit named Jesse Evans, who was the leader of a gang of rustlers called “The Boys.” The Kid didn’t have anywhere else to go and since it was suicide to be alone in the hostile and lawless territory, the Kid reluctantly joined the gang.

He later became embroiled in the infamous Lincoln County War in which his newest friend and employer, John Tunstall, was killed on February 18, 1878. Billy the Kid was deeply affected by the murder, claiming that Tunstall was one of the only men that treated him like he was “free-born and white.” At Tunstall’s funeral, Billy swore: “I’ll get every son-of-a-bitch who helped kill John if it’s the last thing I do.”

Billy, now a member of the Regulators, would enact revenge by gunning-down the deputy who killed his friend, as well as another deputy and the County Sheriff, William Brady on April 1, 1878. Now an even more wanted man than before, McCarty went into hiding but soon started to steal livestock from white ranchers and Apache on the Mescalero reservation.

In the fall of 1878, retired Union General Lew Wallace became the new territorial governor of New Mexico. In order to restore peace to Lincoln County, Wallace proclaimed an amnesty for any man involved in the Lincoln County War that was not already under indictment.

Billy was, of course, under several indictments (some of which unrelated to the Lincoln County War) but Wallace was intrigued by rumors that McCarty was willing to surrender himself and testify against other combatants if amnesty could be extended to him. In March of 1879, Wallace and Billy met to discuss the possibility of a deal. True to form, McCarty greeted the governor with a revolver in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. After several days to think the issue over, Billy agreed to testify in return for an amnesty.

Part of the agreement was for McCarty to submit to a show arrest and a short stay in jail until the conclusion of his courtroom testimony. Even though his testimony helped to indict one of the powerful House faction leaders, John Dolan, the district attorney defied Wallace’s order to set Billy free after testifying. However, Billy was a skilled escape artist and slipped out of his handcuffs and fled.

For the next year, he hung around Fort Sumner on the Pecos River and developed a fateful friendship with a local bartender named Pat Garrett who was later elected sheriff of Lincoln County. As sheriff, Garrett was charged with arresting his friend Henry McCarty, who by now was almost exclusively known as “Billy the Kid”.

At about the same time, Billy had formed a gang, referred to as the “Rustlers” or simply “Billy the Kid’s Gang” who survived by stealing and rustling as he did before. The core members of the gang were Tom O’Folliard, Charlie Bowdre“, Tom Pickett, Billy the Kid, “Dirty Dave” Rudabaugh, and Billy Wilson.

By the Fall of 1880, Billy was still trying to convince the governor of a pardon, although continuing his outlaw activities. During this time his notoriety with newspapers increased and they dubbed him “Billy the Kid”, and the most important outlaw of New Mexico.

On November 30, 1880, Billy the Kid’s Gang, David Anderson, aka: Billy Wilson and Dirty Dave Rudabaugh rode into White Oaks, New Mexico and ran into Deputy Sheriff James Redman. Taking shots at the deputy, Redman hid behind a saloon as several local citizens ran into the street, chasing the fugitives out of town.

On December 15, 1880, Governor Wallace put a $500 reward on Billy’s head and Pat Garrett began a relentless pursuit of the outlaw. Garrett set-up many traps and ambushes in an attempt to apprehend Billy but the Kid seemed to have an animal instinct that warned him of danger, but that was not to last.

Trailed by the resolute Garrett, Billy the Kid, Billy Wilson, Rudabaugh, Tom O’Folliard, Charlie Bowdre, and Tom Pickett rode wearily into Fort Sumner, New Mexico on December 19, 1880, and were confronted by Garrett’s posse which had been hiding in an old post-hospital building. Pat Garrett, Lon chambers, and several others leaped from cover as Garrett ordered the outlaws to halt.

However, several of the posse members didn’t wait for the outlaws to respond to Garrett’s demand, instead, opening fire on Pickett and O’Folliard, who were riding in front. Though Pickett survived to escape, O’Folliard lie dead in the dusty street. Rudabaugh’s horse caught a bullet and collapsed. Rudabaugh managed to jump onto Wilson’s horse and he and the other outlaws escaped, holing up in an abandoned cabin near Stinking Springs, New Mexico.

Soon, the determined Garrett’s posse tracked the outlaws down and surrounded the hideout. Inside of the house were Billy, Charlie Bowdre, Dave Rudabaugh, Tom Pickett and Billy Wilson. When Bowdre passed before an open window, he was shot in the chest. The siege continued until the next day when Rudabaugh finally waved a white flag and the bandits surrendered. Billy the Kid and his gang of “Rustlers” were captured on December 23, 1880. Billy was first taken to a jail in Las Vegas, New Mexico, then to Santa Fe and eventually to Mesilla.

Deliberation in his April trial took exactly one day and Billy was convicted of murdering Sheriff William Brady and sentenced to hang by Judge Warren Bristol. His execution was scheduled for May 13th and he was sent to Lincoln to await this date. He was under guard by James Bell and Robert Olinger on the top floor of the building formerly known as the “House” before and during the Lincoln County War. On April 28th Billy somehow escaped and killed both of his guards while Garrett was out of town. It is not known how Billy was able to do this, but, it is widely believed that a friend or Regulator sympathizer left a pistol in the privy that one of the guards escorted Billy to daily. After shooting Deputy Bell with the pistol, Billy stole Olinger’s 10-gauge double-barrel shotgun and waited for Olinger by the window in the room he was being held in.

Lincoln, New Mexico, the 1800s

Olinger obliged by running immediately from the hotel upon hearing the shots. When he was directly under the window of the courthouse, he heard his prisoner say, “Hello, Bob.” Olinger then looked up and saw the Kid gun in hand. It was the last thing he ever saw as Billy blasted him with his own shotgun killing him instantly.

This would be, however, Billy’s last escape. When Pat Garrett was questioning Billy’s friend, Peter Maxwell on July 14, 1881, in Maxwell’s darkened bedroom in Old Fort Sumner, Billy unexpectedly entered the room. The Kid didn’t recognize Garrett in the poor lighting conditions and asked “¿Quien es? ¿Quien es?” (Spanish for “Who is it? Who is it?), to which Garrett responded with two shots from his revolver, the first striking Billy’s heart.

Henry McCarty, the infamous “Billy the Kid”, was buried in a plot in-between his dead friends Tom O’Folliard and Charlie Bowdre the next day at Fort Sumner’s cemetery.

In his short life, Billy the Kid was reputed to have killed 21 men, one for each year of his life. However, many historians calculate the figure closer to nine (four on his own and five with the help of others). Over 100 years later, in 2010 New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson considered honoring the 1879 promise of pardon for the Kid, made by then-Governor Lew Wallace. Richardson backed off of the idea though citing “historical ambiguity” surrounding Wallace’s pardon.

Billy Jennings - History

William Jennings BRYAN was born in this home on the 19th of March, 1860, in Salem, Marion County, Illinois. He was born to the Hon. Silas Lillard BRYAN and wife Mariah Elizabeth JENNINGS BRYAN.
Billy, as he was called then, was born to one of the prominent citizens of Salem. His father had been born in Culpeper County, Virginia on the 4th of November, 1842, the son of John and Nancy (LILLARD) BRYAN. John was the son of William BRYAN, immigrant from Ireland of Scott-Irish and English descent. Nancy was from an old American family of British descent. Silas was a graduate of McKendree College in Lebanon (the oldest college in Illinois) had been elected Supt. of Marion County Schools in 1850 was admitted to the bar in 1851 elected Illinois State Senator as a democrat in 1852 and re-elected in 1856. The year following Willie's birth, his father became Judge of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, re-elected in 1867 and holding that position through 1873. His father was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1869. Willie's mother was born the 24th of May 1834 in Walnut Hill, Marion County, Illinois, daughter of Charles W. and Maria JENNINGS. Silas died in 1880 and Mariah in 1896. They are buried in East Lawn Cemetery in Salem, Illinois.
By the time Billy had reached the age of six, he had three ambitions: a Baptist minister a pumpkin farmer a lawyer. He would attain the last one. He would go to the court and sit on the step listening to his father conduct trials.
Billy was taught by his mother until he reached the age of 10. He attended the Salem Academy that was located at 531 North College in Salem, Illinois. One of his favorite teachers was Mary Rand (PUTNAM) LEMEN, the wife of Rev. Benjamin F. LEMEN, who were friends of Abramham LINCOLN. Mary was the founder of the academy. She had also been one of the founders of McKendree College. The Salem Academy was destroyed by a tornado and never re-built. The Salem Armory and National Guard is now located there.
As Billy's father prospered and his family grew, he built a new home on the northwest edge of Salem. ( See photo following ) This was the house Billy grew up in. Unfortunately, the house burned down. There is a beautiful new home in the same location today, at the end of Bryan Lane, off of North Franklin. The circle drive in front of the house is made of brick from the original Bryan Home.

In 1875, at the age of 15, Bryan entered Whipple Academy in Jacksonville, Illinois. The academy was a prepatory department of Illinois College in Jacksonville.
In 1881, Bryan delivered the validictory speech at his graduation from Illinois College.
In 1883, Bryan graduated from Union College of Law in Chicago, after which he returned to Jacksonville to set up a law practice.
It was in Jacksonville where Bryan met his wife-to-be, Mary Elizabeth BAIRD. His main reason for returning to Jacksonville. They were married the 1st of October 1884.
In 1887, Bryan, his wife Mary, and their daughter, Ruth Baird BRYAN, who had been born on the 2nd of October, 1885, moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. The place they would call home for the rest of their lives. Bryan practiced law in Lincoln.
In 1890, Bryan was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He lost however, his bid for the United States Senate in 1894. In the autumn of 1894, Bryan became the Editor-In-Chief of the Omaha World Herald.
In 1896, during the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Bryan delivered his famous "Cross of Gold" speech. The day following the speech, Bryan became the youngest man ever nominated for president of the United States of America. Bryan was 36 years of age. Bryan was defeated in the general election by Republican William McKINLEY.

The above photo is that of William Jennings BRYAN's 1896 Presidential Campaign Photo taken with his relatives in Salem. It was taken in front of his cousin's, Molly WEBSTER's home on North Franklin. Standing, Left to Right: Blanche (BRYAN) PATTERSON, Jennie BRYAN, Alice (BRYAN) KEIP, Julius KEIP, Frances Mariah (BRYAN) BAIRD, William Jennings BRYAN, Nancy (LILLARD) BRYAN, Emma (BRYAN) SHEPHERD, Anna (BRYAN) TORRENCE, Mary BRYAN, Molly WEBSTER, Josephine BRYAN, Mary Elizabeth "Mamie" (BRYAN) ALLEN, Olive WEBSTER, and unknown. Seated, Left to right: James BAIRD, P. PATTERSON, Andrew "Andy" BRYAN, Georgia BRYAN, Lesta BRYAN, Ruby LANGENFELD, Andrew Russell BRYAN aka Uncle Russ, unknown, William E. BRYAN, Laura (MILLSON) MARTIN, unknown, Lee WEBSTER, and Edward "Ed" BRYAN.

And again in 1900, Bryan was the Democratic choice for president and again he was defeated by President William McKINLEY. In 1908, Bryan was chosen once again by the Democratic party as their candidate for president. He was defeated by Republican, William Howard TAFT
In 1898, Bryan became a Colonel of the Third Nebraska Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish American War, after volunteering his services to President William McKINLEY. After the war ended, Bryan resigned his commission.
In 1901, established his own newspaper, The Commoner, from which he furthered his political views.
In 1912, after Bryan had worked to get Woodrow WILSON as President of the United States, President WILSON appointed Bryan Secretary of State. Bryan negotiated treaties with 30 countries. Bryan resigned as Secretary of State in June 1915 in protest to President WILSON's actions concerning the German sinking of the Lusitania.
In 1925, Bryan became the prosecuting attorney at the "Scopes Monkey Trial" in Dayton, Tennessee. John Thomas SCOPES was hired to teach evolution in the school at Dayton, knowing that there would bring national attention to Dayton. It just so happened that Bryan was the keynote speaker at Scopes' high school graduation in Salem, Illinois in 1919. Bryan told Scopes that he would pay the fine if he were found guilty. The behind the scenes were not much like what the media made it out to be. Bryan's son, William Jennings BRYAN, Jr. and Scopes would go out and swim every day after the trial. Clarence DARROW was the defence attorney. He tried his best to make Bryan look foolish, with no luck, unlike what the movie about the trial showed. Bryan was a good attorney and also was quite funny. The people attending the trial loved him. Scopes was found guilty and was fined $100.00.
On Sunday the 26th of July, 1925, only five days following the trial, William Jennings BRYAN died during an afternoon nap at the age of 65. He was still in Dayton, Tennessee.

The Bryan Family

William BRYAN, from Ireland

John and Nancy (LILLARD) BRYAN

Silas Lillard and Maria Elizabeth (JENNINGS) BRYAN

William Jennings and Mary Elizabeth (BAIRD) BRYAN

Children of William Jennings BRYAN:

2. William Jennings BRYAN, JR.
3. Grace Dexter (BRYAN) HARGREAES

Grandchildren of William Jennings BRYAN:

3. Reginald Bryan OWEN
4. Helen Rudd (OWEN) BROWN
5. Mary Scholes (BRYAN) FORSYTH
6. Helen Virginia (BRYAN) TOUVAROT
7. Elizabeth Baird (BRYAN)(GASSER) ADAMS
8. Grace Margeret (HARGREAVES) GRAY
9. Richard Bryan HARGREAVES
10. Evelyn Mary (HARGREAVES) JONES
11. David Baird HARGREAVES

Great-Grandchildren of William Jennings BRYAN:

1. Ruth MEEKER
2. Helen MEEKER
3. Kathrin MEEKER
4. Robert Owen LEHMAN, Jr.
5. Kent Weber OWEN
6. Donald Baird OWEN
7. Donna Marie (OWEN) WARING
8. Regis Mary (OWEN) MILLER
9. Jenna (OWEN) ROSE
10. Mary FORSYTH
11. Alfred Smith FORSYTH
12. William Jennings Bryan FORSYTH
13. Robert Alexander TOUVAROT
14. Peter P. GASSER
15. Josephine GASSER
16. Robin GASSER
17. Gay GASSER
18. Michael GRAY


Home Page for Salem, Illinois

William Jennings Bryan Birthplace

William Jennings Bryan Memorial Mural

William Jennings Bryan by Doug Linder

John Thomas SCOPES by Doug Linder

Copyright © 2007-2021 Stephen P. H. Frakes All rights reserved.

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