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In 1850 after San Elizario became the First County Seat, the need for a jail turned this previous residence (1821-1848) into the first official San Elizario Jail. The Commissioners Court approved the purchase of a pre-fabricated iron cell from Chicago, Illinois that had two areas that could hold up to 6 prisoners each.
Over the years, the jail has become famous for being the ONLY time that the infamous Billy the Kid broke into a jail. Legend says Billy the Kid traveled from Las Cruces into San Elizario after learning that his friend, Melquiades Segura has been arrested in San Elizario. Upon his arrival at around 3am, Billy the Kid knocked on the door of the jail waking up the Mexican guards. Billy the Kid posed as a Texas Ranger and told the guard he had two American Prisoners. As the guard opened the door, he found himself eye to eye with Billy’s 44 revolver.
Billy quickly retrieved the guard’s guns, helped his friend out, put the guards in the jail and threw away the key. Immediately, Billy the Kid and his friend Segura crossed the river into Mexico, which at that time was only two and a half miles away from San Elizario.