Pat Garrett - Lawman

Pat Garrett 1850-1908

Pat Garrett was born in Chambers County, Alabama on June 5, 1850. He grew up on a prosperous plantation in Louisiana. He left there in 1869 and went to Dallas County, Texas. He worked there as a cowboy until 1875. From there he joined up with W. Skelton Glenn, as a buffalo hunter. He got into an altercation with a fellow hunter in a disagreement over some hides. The other man drew on him, and in a minute Garrett had shot him dead. That was the end of that job, so in 1878, he became a cowpuncher for Pete Maxwell in New Mexico. A year later he quit and opened a saloon. Soon after, he married Juanita Gutierrez, but she died before the end of the year. On January 14, 1880, he married her sister Polinaria.
On November 7, 1880, Garrett was appointed Lincoln County Sheriff. He would take the place of sheriff George Kimbell, who resigned with two months left in his term. His first goal was to take care of Billy the Kid.
On December 19, Garrett killed Tom O’Folliard, one of the Kid’s friends. A few nights later, Garrett’s posse captured Billy, Dave Rudabaugh, Billy Wilson, and Tom Pickett. The Kid was tried and convicted but he escaped from the jail on April 18, 1881. Garrett and others tracked him down and finally caught up with him July 14. Garrett was visiting his old friend Pete Maxwell, to see if he knew anything about where the outlaw might be hiding. In he strode, and Garrett shot him dead.
After his term was over, Garrett turned to ranching. He also began writing a book about Billy the Kid. But the story was so popular, eight books beat his to press, so his didn’t sell well when it came out in 1882. Two years later he formed a company of Texas Rangers in the Texas panhandle. He returned to New Mexico for a short time in 1885, then went back to Uvalde, Texas, where he became county commissioner in 1889.
In October of 1899 he was appointed sheriff of Dona Ana County, New Mexico. During his tenure, he took on a famous murder investigation for the governor of New Mexico. The dead man’s name was Fountain. He kept at it for over two years and did arrest a suspect, but he was acquitted. Then he became Customs Collection in El Paso, Texas in 1901. He served almost five years, but was not reappointed.
He went back to his ranch in New Mexico. But he soon got into money difficulties. He owed a great deal in back taxes. Then he had co-signed on a loan for a friend who was captured in the Phillippines and unable to make his payments. Garrett was held liable. He had to borrow $3,500 from W. W. Cox to pay both debts.
He became increasingly morose over the situation. He drank a lot and gambled too much. But he tried one more time to make a go of it. He bought some horses to try breeding and raising quarter horses. The ranch was in the San Andres slopes about a four hour ride from Las Cruces.
Some people did not like Garrett’s present there. This may have been because his persistence in the Fountain case. But the most likely reason was that he controlled water rights on his property. Water was very important to the success of a ranch. Several men had already been killed over disputes over water rights. W. W. Cox was one man who also had a grudge against him, for allegedly causing his wife’s miscarriage when a man was killed in front of her.
Cox and some others met at the St. Regis Hotel in El Paso and decided they would start putting pressure on Garrett to leave. If he wouldn’t leave they would kill him. The men met to discuss how the murder would take place so it looked like self-defense if the need arose. Notorious gunman James "Killing Jim" Miller was on hand to perform the dastardly deed if necessary.
It was relatively easy to put pressure on him because Garrett still had money troubles and Cox still held a lien on his land for the money he’d loaned him. He offered to buy him out, but Garrett refused. So Cox sent his man Wayne Brazel to propose a deal to Garrett. Brazel and his partner wanted to lease some of his land to graze cattle. It sounded like the answer to his prayers, so Garrett jumped on it.
What he didn’t know was that Brazel was going to graze goats. They were even worse than sheep as far as a rancher was concerned. The idea by Cox was to provoke Garrett into a fight. And it was working. Garrett was hopping mad.
Then along came Carl Adamson, posing as representing a wealthy rancher. He wanted lease the Bear Canyon property for his cattle. Garrett agreed, but said he would have to get Brazel would of there first. A deal was made for Garrett to buy the goats. But then Brazel tried to get more money because the goats had had offspring since he brought them there. This made Garrett very angry. But eventually they were ready to sign the papers.
Garrett and Adamson would meet Brazel at Las Cruces to close the deal. Adamson rode along with Garrett in a buckboard. On the way, Brazel caught up to them on horseback. There were some heated words as Adamson threatened to back out of the deal. As they neared the spot Adamson had pre-selected for the killing, he asked Garrett to stop the wagon so he could relieve himself. Garrett decided he would also. He turned his back to the wagon. Just then, Miller, who was hiding in the bushes, shot Garrett, once in the head and once in the stomach. He was dead in a matter of minutes.
As agreed, when they got into town, Brazel confessed to the shooting, claiming it was self-defense. He was locked up immediately.
There was no coffin in town long enough for Garrett’s six foot four inch body, so he lay in the undertaker’s parlor until one could be shipped from El Paso. Scores of gawkers came to see the man who had killed Billy the Kid. A service was held on March 5 in Las Cruces. He was buried next to his daughter Ida, who had died eight years earlier.
Brazel was later tried and acquitted. Miller was hanged in Ada, Oklahoma, after vigilantes got ahold of him. He was dead by the time Brazel’s trial was over. Adamson died two years later of typhoid fever. Cox got the land he wanted when he bought out Garrett’s widow. The Garrett family left the area.

Copyright 2000 by Beth Gibson