Billy the Kid in San Elizario

From the San Elizario Genealogy & Historical Society

Photos by Steven Zimmerman

Our jail, with its adjacent “Jurado” (Jury room) dates back to about 1821. Commissioners Court bought prefabricated wrought iron cage cells made in Chicago, Ill. There are two connected cells and each cell holds 6 prisoners.

A story, which dates back to 1876, had the famous gunman “Billy the Kid” getting his friend Melquiades Segura out of the jail, while posing as a Texas Ranger and asking the jailer to open the door. He pointed his 44 revolver at the guards, took their guns and key to the jail. He got his friend out, put the guards in the jail and threw away the key. Then he and Segura took off for Mexico, which is only ½ a mile away. This is the only time Billy the Kid broke into a jail.

Long time constable Antonio Trujillo, who served from the 1920’s until the 1970’s, almost 50 years, sometimes used the jail to house prisoners temporarily until he could take them into El Paso. By this time, San Elizario was no longer the county seat and prisoners were jailed at the El Paso jail. One such prisoner took a shot at Trujillo after relatives/friends left him a gun in a nearby outhouse. However, he only succeeded in making a hole in Trujillo’s brand new Stetson Hat. Trujillo managed to take the gun away from him and cart him off to the El Paso jail. Trujillo was also asked, on occasion, by the School Superintendent, to put unruly boys in the jail for a few hours. This succeeded in scaring them straight.

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