PATRICK FLOYD GARRETT (1850-1908)
On June fifth, in eighteen-fifty
In Chambers County, Alabama.
Was born to John Lumkin Garrett
And Elizabeth was his Mama.
Soon after the Garretts moved to
Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.
Pat left at eighteen years of age
Hunting buffalo was his agenda.
During a fight he killed John Briscoe
The law found him innocent
Of self-defense and was let go.
In seventy-eight in Ft. Sumner
A town east of Albuquerque.
He began a life of violence
Surrounded with controversy.
He worked cattle for Pete Maxwell
Where Pat met Billy the Kid.
His given name is William H Bonney.
Raising havoc is what he did.
The Kid and his gang had become
The most feared outlaws in the west.
Billy and his men struck terror
Their guns no Sheriff would contest.
They murdered Sheriff William Brady
On April first in seventy-eight.
The streets of Lincoln with no law
Killing Brady would seal Kid’s fate.
The lawmen all over the state
In fear of pursuing the Kid.
They needed a man to end all this
That is what Patrick Garrett did.
In seventy-nine he was married
His first wife was named Juanita.
Sickly she died within a year
A new wife called Apolonaria.
Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain
And his nine year old son Henry.
They disappeared near the White Sands
Caused outrage in the territory.
The Governor of New Mexico
Saw that outside help was needed.
To find Albert and his son
Called for Pat he then proceeded.
Personal friend to Roosevelt.
In nineteen-hundred and one.
Was now Collector of Customs
Garrett could put away his gun.
A lawman, a customs agent
The most famous deed Garrett did.
He’ll always be known as the man
Who killed Billy the Kid.
(June 5, 1850 – February 28, 1908)
One of six children, Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett was born in Chambers County, Alabama, on June 5, 1850 to John Lumpkin Garrett and Elizabeth Ann Jarvis. The Garretts moved their family to Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, in 1853. There they ran a 3,000-acre plantation, complete with slaves. Garrett’s parents died within a year of each other and the family lost the estate. Pat Garrett left Louisiana at 18, becoming a cowpuncher and buffalo hunter in the Texas panhandle. In 1877, he killed John Briscoe in a fight during which Briscoe had chased Garrett with an axe. Garrett turned himself into the law and was found innocent on the grounds of self-defense. Garrett had begun a life of violence and controversy. In 1878, Garrett arrived in Ft. Sumner, a small settlement located east of Albuquerque on the Pecos River. He began working cattle for Pete Maxwell, and he met a young man who went by the name of William H. Bonney, later known as Billy the Kid. It is evident that the two were friends, but how close has not been determined. Some say that Billy the Kid was the closest friend Garrett had at that time. Billy the Kid and his gang went on to become the most feared outlaws in the Southwest. The Lincoln County War was a struggle for political and financial control of the county, and Billy the Kid became the focus of this feud. On April 1, 1878, he murdered Sheriff William Brady. In a biography on Garrett, Leon Metz writes Billy and his friends struck terror in the hearts of lawmen all over the state. The fear of being murdered prevented them from pursuing the Kid. Lincoln was now “a wild and bloody land,” in need of a man to put an end to the lawlessness. That man would be Patrick Garrett.
A tall man, he was referred to by locals as “Juan Largo” or “Big John.” In 1879 Garrett married Juanita Gutierrez, who died within a year. In 1880, he married Gutierrez’s sister, Apolonaria. The couple would have nine children over the years.
On January, 1896 when Colonel Albert Jennings 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 the 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.
In 1908, Pat Garrett’s body was found 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. 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 Augustine Pass. Garrett’s grave and the many graves of his descendants can be found in Las Cruces at the Masonic Cemetery. Jesse Wayne Brazel, was arrested and tried for the murder of Garrett, was found innocent on the grounds of self-defense and let him go.