by Kalynn Kirk
Pat Garret is a very famous man in the history of the Wild
West, and also a very famous man in New Mexico history. The thing he is most famous for, being
the person that killed Billy the Kid just 72 miles from my school in Elida, is
the reason I wanted to learn more about him.
Pat Garrett was born on June 5, 1850, in Alabama. His parents were John and Elizabeth
Garrett and there were seven children in the family. When Pat Garrett was three years old his father bought a
plantation in Louisiana and that is the place where his lived until he left
there for Texas in 1869. His
family grew cotton on the plantation and they had a good life, but the Civil
War ended all of that when Union soldiers took his father’s crops and they lost
Pat Garrett went to work first on the LS Ranch near Hartley,
Texas in the center if the western Texas Panhandle. The ranch was 35,000 acres, and cattle rustling was a big
problem. It was a lawless
place. Pat Garrett was a
cowboy and gunfighter and his job was to protect the cattle and stop cattle
rustling. Next. he worked as a
buffalo hunter in West Texas, but all the buffalo were finally killed off and
he stopped being a buffalo hunter in 1978.
But, while being a buffalo hunter, he got into an argument
with another hunter, and the other hunter threatened Pat Garrett with an
ax. Pat Garrett pulled his gun and
shot the other man dead on the spot.
They were actually friends and he felt very bad about killing the man
and went and turned himself into the law.
No charges were ever filed because the law thought it was a case of
When he left West Texas and stopped hunting
buffalo, Pat Garrett moved to Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. The Lincoln County War had been going on there, and it was a
bitter fight between two gangs of outlaws. It ended with a shootout out at a ranch that took five
days. News of this war and the
wild west lawless society in Lincoln County spread all the way back to
Washington, DC. It took almost
twenty years for things to settle down in Lincoln County and the surrounding
area and the area not to be thought of as the Wild West where outlaws ran wild.
He went to work on a ranch when he first
arrived in the Ft. Sumner area and he spent time gambling at the saloon when he
wasn’t working. It was there that
he first met, who also was nicknamed Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid was a known outlaw and cattle rustler and even
though they were acquainted, Pat Garrett kept his distance and did not want to
be involved of friendly to Billy the Kid.
Patt Garrett had two wives that were half-sisters. His first wife got very sick the night
they were married and she died the next day. They never knew what caused her death. Later he married her sister,
Apolinaria Gutierrez. They had
Patt Garrett was an ambitious businessman and
tried several things before he ended up being sheriff. He had a hog farm, a saloon, a
store that sold groceries and he also owned a butcher shop at one time
Even though Pat
Garrett is famous for being the man that killed Billy the Kid, at one time they
went to the same saloon and gambled together. Meanwhile, the Wild West atmosphere in this part of New
Mexico got the attention of the Governor of New Mexico. The leaders of the state wanted to stop
the outlaws. Patt Garrett was
appointed to be the Deputy Sheriff and U.S. Deputy U.S. Marshall. Patt Garret
moved up to be Sheriff of Lincoln County in late 1880 and one of the things put
at the top of the list for Pat Garrett to do was to arrest and jail Billy the
Kid. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
has been friends for a while, but Patt Garrett set out to do capture Billy the
Kid right away.
He had to capture Billy the Kid two times. Billy the Kid had shot and killed the
previous Sheriff of Lincoln County.
Pat Garrett captured him and was responsible to keep he ailed until
Billy the Kid was to be hanged for the murder. He had been found guilty and was put in jail in Lincoln, New
Billy the Kid escaped and killed two guards in the jail and
escaped. While Patt Garrett was away working on tax collections. It was a very famous jail escape and
new about it spread all over the United States.
Patt Garrett was very determined to recapture The Kid. He found out the Billy the Kid was near
visiting an old girlfriend and her name was Paulita Maxwell.
On July 14, 1881, Patt Garrett waited near Ft. Sumner in a
house owned by Paulita’s brother.
It was very late at night and Pat waited in a bedroom for Billy to
return. Billy came I the room late that night and could not recognize Pat
Garrett who was in the room. Patt
Garret shot him on the spot.
Being the lawman that killed Billy the Kid was both a good
thing and bad thing in the life of Pat Garrett. A lot of people thought he was a hero, but some people also
held a grudge that he had killed Billy the Kid.
Pat Garret moved with his family in 1882 and settled in
Texas. He became a Lieutenant in a
special unit of the Texas Rangers and he worked there for two years. The family moved back to his ranch in
New Mexico and he tried several different businesses but they were not a
success. In 1897 Pat Garrett got
back into being a law officer when he agreed to be appointed as the Sheriff of
Dona Ana County where he stayed for three years.
Pat Garrett always had big visions about business and
ranching ideas and usually tried out his ideas. Late in the 1880’s, he had an idea to build dams and start
irrigating the Pecos Valley. He
thought it would make the area a very good place to farm and be successful with
the irrigation. He had a farm near
Roswell and for a while and it was profitable. He expanded from just doing irrigate farming and started a
hotel, and a blacksmith business, a railroad and horse stables. Finally, because he was so ambitious
and expanding too fast, he ran out of money to keep paying for things in all
the businesses until they starting making a lot of money. He had to find partners to put in the
large amounts of money that he needed to keep things going and finally, they
took over the businesses and he was cut out.
He became very discouraged and started to drink and gamble
too much. Some people described
Pat Garrett as bitter and very despondent during this part of his life.
He ran for Sheriff in Chaves County in 1890, but he lost. This discouraged Pat Garrett even more
and he moved to Uvalde, Texas and started to try irrigating farming there and
raised horses. He was successful
in breeding trotting horses but his gambling habit wasted a lot of his money
and caused more financial problems.
In 1896 William Thornton, who was New Mexico’s Territorial
Governor contacted Pat Garrett and asked him to help hunt down the outlaws that
murdered Albert Fountain and his little boy. Albert Fountain was a famous lawyer that lived in Las
Cruces. He took the job and got
the men captured, but unfortunately, politics got in the way of their trial and
they were never found guilty even though they were the ones that murdered
Albert Fountain and his son.
The President of the United States at the time, Theodore
Roosevelt, had read about Pat Garrett and he asked Pat Garrett to become a U.S.
Customs Agent in El Paso.
He resigned in 1906 and they returned again to New Mexico
and Pat Garrett went back to ranching.
He had a lot of financial problems and was not successful, and began to
get into a lot of debt. That along
with the people that did not like him because he had been a lawman and made
enemies and he did his job finally led to the end of his life.
Pat Garrett’s life ended near Las Cruces, New Mexico on
February 29, 1908. A still
unidentified assassin shot him in the back of the head. There are several theories about who
the person was the hid along the road and shot Garrett but the one thing that
every account of the murder has in common is that it is believed the murder was
a conspiracy and part of organized crime. Pat Garrett had a lot of bad debts. He also had arrested and killed several
men that were involved in big water rights fights and land fights in New Mexico
early in the 1900’s. There were a
lot of people that wanted to get rid of Pat Garrett to protect the illegal ways
of making money. The top eight
names that historians think are suspects in plotting his murder were Print
Rhode, Carl Adamson, Bill McNew, James Gilliand, Bill Cox, Jim Miller, Oliver
Lee, and Wayne Brazil.
The day that Pat Garrett was murdered the plot
was for his traveling partner, Carl Adamson, to stop at a site that was already
planned to use the bathroom on the side of the road. When they stopped, Pat Garrett got out of the buggy too and
the waiting assassin shot him from 50 feet way in the back of his head.
There was a meeting late in the year 1907 in El Paso,
Texas. A group of men met at the
Hotel St. egis and it is believed this is where the plot to kill Pat Garrett
was planned. There were and
investigations, a trial but no one was were found guilty but there are reports
that when he was drying, Carl Adamson told his grandson that this group of men
hired Jim Miller and paid his $1500 to kill Pat Garrett.
Even though it has never been proved who
actually pulled the trigger, it has been proved that is was a planned
assassination by a group of rich and powerful Ne Mexico ranchers, businessmen
and that the time was so dangerous and organized crime was so strong that
people were afraid to talk, and cover-ups were very possible.