Pat Garrett

Pat Garrett

name = Pat Garrett
other_names = Patrick Garrett

caption =
birth_date = June 5, 1850
birth_place = Chambers County, Alabama [Now known as Cusseta]
death_date = February 28, 1908
death_place = Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States
death_cause = Murder
spouse =

Patrick "Pat" Floyd Garrett (June 5, 1850 – February 29, 1908) was an American Old West lawman, bartender, and customs agent who was best known for killing Billy the Kid. He was also the sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico.

Early life

Patrick Floyd Garrett was born in Cusseta, Alabama, and was married to Kylea Ingram. He grew up on a prosperous Louisiana plantation near Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish, just below the Arkansas state line. He left home in 1869 and found work as a cowboy in Dallas County, Texas. In 1875, he left to hunt buffalo. In 1878, Garrett shot and killed a fellow hunter who charged at Garrett with a hatchet following a disagreement over buffalo hides. Upon dying, the hunter brought Garrett to tears upon asking him to forgive him.

Garrett moved to New Mexico and briefly found work as a cowpuncher before quitting to open his own saloon. A tall man, he was referred to by locals as "Juan Largo" or "Long John." In 1879, Garrett married Juanita Gutierrez, who died within a year. In 1880, he married Gutierrez's sister, Apolinaria. The couple had nine children.

Lincoln County War

On November 7, 1880, the sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, George Kimbell, resigned with two months left in his term. As Kimbell's successor, the county appointed Garrett, a member of the Republican Party who ran as a Democrat and a gunman of some reputation who had promised to restore law and order. Garrett was charged with tracking down and arresting a friend from his saloon keeping days, Henry McCarty, a jail escapee and Lincoln County War participant who often went by the aliases Henry Antrim and William Harrison Bonney, but is better known as "Billy the Kid". McCarty was an alleged murderer who had participated in the Lincoln County War. He was said to have killed twenty-one men, one for every year of his life, but the actual total was probably closer to nine. New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace had personally put a $500 reward on McCarty's capture.

During a December 19 shootout, Garrett killed Tom O'Folliard, a member of McCarty's gang. A few nights later, the sheriff's posse killed Charlie Bowdre, captured The Kid and his companions, and transported the captives to Mesilla, New Mexico, for trial. Though he was convicted, The Kid managed to escape from jail on April 28, 1881, after killing his guards J. W. Bell and Bob Olinger.

On July 14, 1881, Garrett visited Fort Sumner to question a friend of The Kid's about the whereabouts of the outlaw. He learned that The Kid was staying with a mutual friend, Pedro Maxwell (son of land baron Lucien Maxwell). Around midnight, Garrett went to Maxwell's house. The Kid was asleep in another part of the house but woke up hungry in the middle of the night and entered the kitchen where Garrett was standing in the shadows. The Kid did not recognize the man standing in dark. "Quien es (Who is it)? Quien es?" The Kid asked repeatedly. Garrett replied by shooting at The Kid twice, the first shot hitting him in the heart, and the second one did not hit him. (Some historians have questioned Garrett's account of the shooting, alleging the incident happened differently. They claim that Garrett went into Paulita Maxwell's room and tied her up. The Kid walked into her room, and Garrett ambushed him with a single blast from his Sharps rifle.)

There has been much dispute over the details of the Kid's death that night. The way Garrett allegedly killed McCarty without warning eventually sullied the lawman's reputation. Garrett claimed that Billy the Kid had entered the room armed with a pistol, but no gun was found on his body. Other accounts claim he entered carrying a kitchen knife. There is no hard evidence to support this; however, if he did so it is likely he intended to cut some food for himself, since he had no idea anyone was waiting for him. Regardless of how he died, Billy was a dangerous criminal who had killed other lawmen, and so Sheriff Garrett chose not to give him a chance to surrender.

Still, at the time the shooting solidified Garrett's fame as a lawman and gunman, and led to numerous appointments to law enforcement positions, as well as requests that he pursue outlaws in other parts of New Mexico.

After the Lincoln County War

His law enforcement career never achieved any great success following the Lincoln County War, and he mostly used that single era in his life as his stepping-stone to higher positions. After finishing out his term as sheriff, Garrett became a rancher and released a book ghostwritten by his friend Ash Upson in 1882 about his experiences with McCarty. However, he lost the next election for Lincoln County sheriff and was never paid the $500 reward for McCarty's capture, since he had killed him. In 1882, he ran for the position of Grant County, New Mexico sheriff, but was defeated by Sheriff Harvey Whitehill. In 1884, he lost an election for the New Mexico State Senate. Later that year, he left New Mexico and helped found and captain a company of Texas Rangers.

He returned to New Mexico briefly in 1885. In October 1889, Garrett ran for Chaves County, New Mexico, sheriff but lost. By this time, his rough disposition was beginning to wear thin with much of the populace, and rumors of his less than admirable killing of Billy The Kid were beginning to affect his popularity. Garrett left New Mexico in 1891 for Uvalde, Texas. He returned to New Mexico in 1896 to investigate the disappearance of Albert Jennings Fountain and Fountain's young son Henry.

Disappearance of Albert Jennings Fountain

In January 1896, Colonel Fountain served as a special prosecutor against men charged with cattle rustling in Lincoln, New Mexico. With his work finished, Fountain left Lincoln with his eight-year-old son Henry. The two did not complete their trip home. On the third day they disappeared near White Sands.

Fountain's disappearance caused outrage throughout the territory. To further complicate matters was the fact the main suspects in the disappearance were deputy sheriffs William McNew, James Gililland, and Oliver M. Lee. New Mexico's governor saw that outside help was needed, and he called in Pat Garrett. One problem Garrett encountered was the fact that Lee, McNew, and Gililland were very close with powerful ex-judge, lawyer, and politician Albert B. Fall.

Garrett, who was appointed Doña Ana County sheriff on August 10, 1896, and elected to the post on January 4, 1897, believed that he would never get a fair showing with Fall in control of the courts. Therefore, Garrett waited two full years before presenting his evidence before the court and securing indictments against the suspected men. McNew was quickly arrested, and Lee and Gililland went into hiding.

Garrett's posse caught up with Lee and Gililland on July 12, 1898. One of Garrett's deputies, Kurt Kearney, was killed in the gun battle that followed. Garrett and his posse then retreated, and Gililland and Lee escaped. Lee and Gililland later surrendered, although not to Garrett. Both stood trial and were acquitted. The location of the Fountain bodies remains a mystery. [Recko, Corey, "Murder on the White Sands: The Disappearance of Albert and Henry Fountain" University of North Texas Press, 2007. Ollie Reed, Jr. of the "Albuquerque Tribune" in an article on 25 May 2001 refers to the fact that in 1900, charred bones were found in an unmarked grave in the Sacramento Mountains. The killings may have been carried out by outlaw Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum. Reed quotes "Tribune" reporter Howard Bryan as saying if Ketchum did the killings he did it for hire, but does not say who may have hired him. Mr. Reed's source for the Ketchum connection is Bryan and Bryan's book "True Tales of the American Southwest" 1998, Clear Light Publishers. Mr. Bryan mentions the bones in an 22 April 1965 "Albuquerque Tribune" column in which he writes about A.M. Gibson's book "The Life and Death of Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain." 1965 University of Oklahoma Press.]

Final years

On December 20, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, who became a personal friend of Garrett, appointed him customs collector in El Paso, Texas. Garrett served for five years. However, he was not reappointed, possibly because he had embarrassed Roosevelt by showing up at a San Antonio Rough Riders reunion with a notorious gambler friend named Tom Powers. Garrett had Powers pose in a group photograph with Roosevelt, resulting in bad publicity for the president. [ [ Pat Garrett- DesertUSA ] at]

Garrett had been warned about his close association with Powers by friends. Years earlier, Powers had been run out of his home state of Wisconsin for beating his father into a coma. Garrett did not listen, and when his reappointment was denied, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak personally with Roosevelt. He had the bad judgment of taking Powers with him. In that meeting, Roosevelt told Garrett plainly that there would be no reappointment.

Garrett retired to his ranch in New Mexico but was suffering financial difficulties. He owed a large amount in taxes and was found liable for an unpaid loan he had co-signed for a friend. Garrett borrowed heavily to make these payments and started drinking and gambling excessively. He crossed paths regularly with Oliver M. Lee and Lee's corrupt attorney Albert Fall, always finding himself on the opposite end of their illegal land deals and intimidation of local ranchers and citizens.

Shooting death

Garrett's main creditor, a rancher named W.W. Cox, worked out a deal to repay the debt by using Garrett's quarter horse ranch in the San Andres Mountains slopes as grazing land for one of his partners. There is no deal of record in the court house, and no deed from Garrett to Cox. Cox took the home place and razed the home. Garrett's son, Pat, Jr., kept the upper ranch with the water until his death. Garrett agreed to the deal, not realizing Jesse Wayne Brazel would be grazing goats rather than cattle on the land. Garrett objected to the goats, feeling their presence lowered the value of his land in the eyes of buyers or other renters. By this time, questions surrounding the manner in which he killed Billy the Kid and Garrett's general demeanor had led to his becoming quite unpopular. He no longer had any local political support, his support from President Roosevelt had been withdrawn, and he had few friends with power.

Garrett and a man named Carl Adamson, who was in the process of talks with Garrett to purchase land, rode together heading from Las Cruces in Adamson's wagon. Brazel showed up on horseback along the way. Garrett and Brazel began to argue about the goats grazing on Garrett's land. Garrett is alleged to have leaned forward to pick up a shotgun on the floorboard. Brazel shot him once in the head, and then once more in the stomach as Garrett fell from the wagon. Brazel and Adamson left the body by the side of the road and returned to Las Cruces, alerting Sheriff Felipe Lucero of the killing.


There has occasionally been disagreement about the identity of Pat Garrett's killer. Today, most historians believe Jesse Wayne Brazel, who confessed to the shooting and was tried for first degree murder, did in fact commit the crime. Cox paid his bond and retained Albert B. Fall as his defense attorney. Brazel claimed self defense, claiming that Garrett was armed with a shotgun and was threatening him. Adamson backed up Brazel's story. The jury took less than a half-hour to return a not guilty verdict. Cox hosted a barbecue in celebration of the verdict.

Another alleged suspect in Garrett's death was the outlaw Jim Miller, a known "killer for hire" and cousin of Adamson. Miller was alleged to have been hired by enemies of Garrett. But this is believed to be a rumor because Adamson was kin to him, and Miller is believed to have been in Oklahoma at the time. Oliver Lee was also alleged to have taken part in a conspiracy to kill Garrett, made up of businessmen and outlaws who disliked the former lawman. However, despite his previous clashes with Garrett, there is no evidence to support the claim. Lee had previously avoided Garrett at every opportunity and was believed to have been afraid of Garrett.

To date, common knowledge supports that the death happened as Brazel said it had. Garrett was known to have carried a double-barreled shotgun when he traveled, and he had a fiery temper. Garrett could have reacted violently during his argument with Brazel. [ [ Roswell Web Magazine - the Web Magazine that Showcases Roswell & New Mexico ] at]

Funeral and burial site

Garrett's body was too tall for any pre-made coffins in town; so a special one had to be shipped in from El Paso. His funeral service was held March 5, 1908, and he was laid to rest next to his daughter, Ida, who had preceded him in death eight years earlier.

The site of Garrett's death is now commemorated by a historical marker, which can be visited off of the south of U.S. Route 70, between Las Cruces and the San Augustin Pass.

The highway marker is not at the actual spot where Garrett was shot. The location of the shooting was marked by Pat's son Jarvis Garrett in 1938-1940 with a monument of his construction. The monument consists of cement laid around a stone with a cross carved in it. It is believed that the cross is the work of Pat's Mother. Scratched in the cement is "P. Garrett" and the date of his killing.

The location of this marker has been a fairly closely kept secret, but is now being made public because the city of Las Cruces is annexing the land where the marker is located. An organization called Friends of Pat Garrett has been formed to ensure that the city preserves the site and marker.

Garrett's grave and the many graves of his descendants can be found in Las Cruces at the Masonic Cemetery.

Portrayals in film

Garrett has been a recurring character in movies and television shows, and has been portrayed on screen by:
* Wallace Beery in "Billy the Kid" (MGM, 1930)
* Tom Smith in "Billy the Kid Returns" (1938)
* Thomas Mitchell in "The Outlaw" (United Artists, 1943)
* Charles Bickford in "Four Faces West" (United Artists, 1948)
* Monte Hale in "Outcasts of the Trail" (Republic, 1949)
* Robert Lowery in "I Shot Billy the Kid" (Lippert, 1950)
* Frank Wilcox in "The Kid from Texas" (Universal-International, 1950)
* Scott Douglas in the NBC-TV series, "Omnibus" (1952, 1 episode)
* James Griffith in "The Law vs. Billy the Kid" (Columbia, 1954)
* Richard Travis in the syndicated half-hour TV series, "Stories of the Century" (1954)
* Keith Richards in the syndicated half-hour TV series, "Buffalo Bill Jr." (1955, 1 episode)
* James Craig in "Last of the Desperados" (Allied Artists, 1955)
* John Dehner in "The Left Handed Gun" (Warner Bros., 1957)
* Wayne Heffley in the half-hour ABC-TV series, "Colt .45" (1957, 1 episode)
* Bob Duncan in "The Parson and the Outlaw" (Columbia, 1957)
* George Montgomery in "Badman's Country" (Warner Bros., 1958)
* Rhodes Reason in the half-hour ABC-TV series, "Bronco" (1958, 1 episode)
* Walter Sande in the half-hour CBS series, "Wanted Dead or Alive" (1958, episode 26, "The Eager Man")
* Barry Sullivan (1960) in the half-hour NBC-TV series "The Tall Man", co-starring Clu Gulager as Billy the Kid
* Rod Cameron in "Le Pistole non discutono" (1964)
* Allen Case in the ABC-TV series, "The Time Tunnel" (1966, 1 episode)
* Fausto Tozzi in "El Hombre que mato a Billy el Nino" (1967)
* Glenn Corbett in "Chisum" (Warner Bros., 1970)
* Rod Cameron in "The Last Movie" (Universal, 1971)
* James Coburn in "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" (MGM, 1973)
* Patrick Wayne in "Young Guns" (Fox, 1988)
* Duncan Regehr in "Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid" (HBO Films, 1989)
* William Petersen in "Young Guns II" (Fox, 1990)
* Joe Zimmerman in the TV documentary series, "Unsolved History" (2002, 1 episode) and in the Discovery Channel's cable documentary "Discovery Quest: Billy the Kid Unmasked" (2004)
* Michael Pare in "Bloodrayne 2" (2007)
* Bruce Greenwood in "I'm Not There" (2007)


External links

* [ Roswell web magazine]
* []
* [ A group campaigning to save the Pat Garrett murder site and the marker constructed there by Pat's son Javis Garrett in 1938-1940]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pat Garrett — Patrick Floyd Garrett (* 5. Juni 1850 in Cusseta, Chambers County, Alabama; † 28. Februar 1908 bei Las Cruces, New Mexico) war amerikanischer Sheriff in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Als Sheriff von Lincoln County erschoss er am 14 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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