There are a few theories about how far back the lawn game of croquet originated. There were similar lawn games that appear to go back to around 1801, even though some historians differ on the exact century.

Croquet caught on throughout the United States in the 1800s and Michigan was no stranger to the game. We, like most of our neighbors, had a croquet set: mallets, wooden balls, wickets (metal hoops) and wooden pegs...without going into a lot of detail, you start at one peg, knock your ball through all the hoops – one stroke at a time per player – and the first one to complete the course wins the game. For more extensive and complete instructions, go here.

The photo gallery below has a good number of Michigan croquet players from the late 1800s to the 1950s.

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In searching for these photos, I came across one rather unique one...one that is worth a few million dollars.....and it just happens to be only one of two verified, authentic photos ever taken of one of the wild west's most infamous and notorious outlaws...Billy the Kid. That's right – Billy the Kid playing croquet!

At first there were skeptics, but after months and months of intense research, it was finally authenticated as being THE Billy the Kid in the photo. The photo was taken in 1878 and shows Billy with his gang, The Regulators, playing a game of croquet in New Mexico. This pic was found in a pile of old photos that a collector bought for two dollars in a California junk shop...and since it's the second only-known photo of Billy the Kid, it's worth millions of dollars.

Also in the pic aside from Billy and his gang are a few other friends and family members; the image was snapped not long after Billy and his gang were involved in the Lincoln County War. After searching for an indefinite amount of time, a team of experts found the exact location where the picture was taken in Chaves County, New Mexico.

Ever since the photo was found in 2010, there has been an ongoing argument thru the years about its authenticity. Literally years of scrutiny and research went into the investigation, and even though doubters persist, photo experts and historians agree that this pic is the real deal.

You can see this historic photo included in the gallery below which features some old Michiganders playing croquet over 100 years ago.

Michigan (and Billy the Kid) Loved Croquet

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