On June 24, 1869 a baby boy was born to Charles and Gregoria Kennedy, presumably at their cabin at the foot of Palo Flechado Pass on the road between Taos and Elizabethtown. Baptized in September that year at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Taos, he was the only living child of Charles (age 31) and Gregoria (age 17) when the U.S. census taker arrived at the cabin the following summer. Charles Kennedy would become known in New Mexico Territory as the serial killer whose wife turned him in after he killed their child. Following a hung jury in Elizabethtown in Fall 1870, a mob led by Colfax County rancher and gunslinger Clay Allison would spring Kennedy from jail and see that justice was done anyway—at the end of a rope.
Legend has it that Allison then took a butcher knife to Kennedy’s neck, severing his neck and presenting it to hotelkeeper Henri Lambert for display outside his establishment as a warning for all evildoers in Colfax County. It is also said that before he died Kennedy confessed to killing twenty-one men. Without the birth and subsequent death of that little boy, many more men might have died at his father’s hands.
If you’re interested in a fictional account of these events, please consider ordering my novel The Pain and the Sorrow, which will be released by Sunstone Press in early August.
Sources: New Mexico, Births and Christenings, 1726-1918; Howard Bryan, Wildest of the Wild West, Clear Light Publishers, 1988; Southwest Sentinel, Silver City, NM, November 24, 1885.