Birthday: June 5, 1850
Died At Age: 57
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett
Born Country: United States
Born in: Chambers County, Alabama, United States
Famous as: Lawman
Spouse/Ex-: Apolinaria Gutierrez Garrett (m. 1880)
father: John Lumpkin Garrett
mother: Elizabeth Ann Jarvis
siblings: Alfred Jarvis Garrett, Elizabeth Ann Garrett Jackson, Hillary W. Garrett, John Lumpkin Garrett, Margaret Jane Garrett Lay, Sarah Martha Garrett Sherman, Susan Garrett Sherman
children: Anna Garrett Montgomery, Elizabeth Garrett, Ida Dudley Poe Garrett, Ida Garrett, Jarvis P. Garrett, Oscar L. Garrett, Patrick Floyd Garrett, Pauline Garrett
Died on: March 1, 1908
Cause of Death: Murder
U.S. State: Alabama
Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett was an American lawman who is remembered for killing Billy the Kid. Born in Alabama, Garrett was the son of a prosperous plantation owner. The family’s fortune changed course during the Civil War and the Garrett family found itself in tremendous final difficulties which eventually led to his father’s alcoholism and untimely death. The children were left with no means of an income. Thus, at 18 years of age, Garrett became a cowboy in Texas. For the next few years, he worked in ranches and farms. He also became a hunter and got into the leather business. By his late twenties, he had moved to New Mexico where he became the sheriff of Lincoln County. This was a turbulent time in the county and Garrett swore to restore law and order. His first target was to capture the notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid. When he killed Billy, Garrett did not know that history would remember him for this one act. Following this, he had a checkered career. He held a number of public offices and also worked as a rancher and a horse-breeder. It was while settling a dispute regarding a ranch that Pat Garrett was shot and killed, meeting the same fate as his most famous target.
Childhood & Early Life
Patrick “Pat” Garrett was born in Chambers County, Alabama, on June 5, 1850, to John Lumpkin Garrett and Elizabeth Ann Jarvis. He was their second child and had four siblings.
John Lumpkin bought a cotton plantation in Louisiana when Pat was three years old and the family moved there. Life in the plantations was prosperous and Pat’s childhood years were spent in comfort.
The Civil War changed the economic situation of the Garretts. Their slave laborers left and their crop was confiscated. John Lumpkin fell into debt and took to the bottle. He died a broken man in 1868. Garrett’s mother had died the year earlier and the children became orphans with a huge debt.
When the relatives took the children, 18-year-old Pat decided to go to Texas. He worked at a ranch as a cowboy and cattle gunman.
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In 1876, Pat Garrett was in his mid-twenties when he decided to take up buffalo hunting. He joined hunters in northwest Texas and started doing business in animal hides.
It was during his time as a hunter that he had an altercation with a fellow hunter Joe Briscoe. They came to blows and Briscoe charged at Garrett with an axe. Garrett grabbed a pistol and fired at him point-blank, killing him. As Briscoe lay dying, he asked for his friend’s forgiveness.
Garrett was distraught and turned himself in at Fort Griffin. However, the authorities were not interested in pursuing the matter and he was not prosecuted.
By 1878, as a result of indiscriminate hunting, the buffalo herds dwindled. Garrett left Texas with two of his pals and rode to Fort Sumner in New Mexico. While his companions moved on after some time, Garrett decided to stay on.
He initially worked at a ranch owned by Pete Maxwell and then as a bartender in a saloon. He was tall and imposing at six feet four inches and the Spanish speaking locals named him Juan Largo or Long John.
Capture of Billy the Kid
It was while working at the saloon that Pat Garrett first met William Bonney or Billy the Kid, a notorious outlaw and a known murderer. They had common friends and acquaintances, but according to Garrett, he and the Kid maintained their distance.
On November 2, 1880, Pat Garrett was elected sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico. These were times when gang war violence and lawlessness was rampant in New Mexico. The new sheriff swore to restore law and order and made it his mission to capture Billy the Kid.
There was a reward of $500 on Billy the Kid’s head and Garrett started pursuing him relentlessly. He and his posse soon managed to corner Billy and his gang as they rode into Fort Sumner and inflicted fatal injuries on Billy’s companion Tom Folliard. However, the rest of the gang managed to escape.
Garrett pursued the gang and located their hideout, an abandoned house in Stinking Springs. They surrounded the house, another gang member Charlie Bowdre was killed. The rest of the gang, including Billy the Kid, Tom Pickett, and Billy Wilson surrendered after Garrett assured them that they would be protected from mob-lynching.
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The gang was put on trial and Billy the Kid was sentenced to death by hanging on April 15, 1881. Thirteen days later, Billy the Kid, though he was chained and bound, killed his guards and managed to escape from prison.
On July 14, 1881, Pat Garrett’s search led him to the house of Pete Maxwell where the Kid’s sweetheart, Paulita Maxwell, lived. He and his deputies reached the house and waited. Garrett hid in a dark room and shot and killed Billy the Kid when he entered the room.
There are many versions of where exactly in the house the shooting happened. According to some sources, Billy had entered the kitchen to find something to eat; other versions say he was entering Paulita’s room, and yet others say it was Pete’s room.
Strangely, the death of the dreaded outlaw did not bring glory to the sheriff who had doggedly pursued him. Books and articles idolizing Billy the Kid came out and made him look like a folk hero.
Pat Garrett was made to look like a villain for shooting the beloved Billy the Kid in the dark. He did not even get the $500 which was meant as a reward for capturing the Kid.
Not wishing to seek another term as the county sheriff, Garrett instead ran for New Mexico State Senator in 1884. He, however, lost the election.
Pat Garrett moved to Texas where the governor appointed him a lieutenant in the ‘Texas Rangers’. Garrett left the position within a year to become a rancher at Roswell, New Mexico.
As a rancher, Garrett put in places dams and irrigation canals to make Pecos Valley an attractive farming destination. He successfully transformed his own farm into a valuable asset.
He started the ‘Pecos Valley Irrigation and Investment Company’ on July 18, 1885, after coming upon a large artesian well in Roswell. He invested in other irrigation schemes but none of them were successful.
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When Chaves County was created out of Lincoln County in 1890, Garrett ran for the election. He would have won, but he had fallen out with his former deputy Sheriff John W. Poe. Without Poe’s backing, Garrett lost the elections.
The Garrett family moved to Uvalde, Texas, in 1892, and he went back to being a rancher. He bred racehorses and participated in racing.
In February 1896, the territorial governor of New Mexico asked Pat Garrett to investigate the disappearance of politician Albert Jennings Fountain and his 8-year-old son. Their murders were suspected. Garrett was made Dona Ana County sheriff. He got enough evidence to bring the suspected murderers to trial, but they were acquitted.
Garrett was made the collector of customs at El Paso on December 16, 1901. The appointment was made by President Roosevelt himself. The president also named him one of the three ‘White House Gunfighters’.
The decision to make Pat Garrett the collector of customs was a controversial one compounded by the fact that there were complaints of gambling against him. Garrett also antagonized people who wanted him to be lenient with their customs duty.
In April 1905, Pat Garrett had been specially invited to a reunion by Roosevelt himself. Garrett brought with him Tom Powers, a gambler and a saloon owner, and introduced him to the president as a “cattleman”. The two posed for pictures with the president. Roosevelt later learnt of the man’s true identity.
Garrett’s term as a customs collector ended in January 1906. President Roosevelt had been incensed by his behavior at the reunion and decided against reappointing him. Losing his source of income, Garrett returned to his farm and was faced with a life full of financial hardships.
In 1882, Pat Garrett published a book titled ‘The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid’. The book was written in collaboration with journalist Marshall Ashmun Upson. When it came out, it did not sell many copies. In later years though, this book became the main reference source for historians writing about the Kid.
Family & Personal Life
In 1879, while in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, Pat Garrett married Juanita Gutierrez. The marriage was short-lived as she died during childbirth.
Garrett then married Juanita’s younger sister, 17-year-old Apolinaria Gutierrez, on January 14, 1880. They had eight children.
Pat Garrett bought a horse farm and started breeding horses again. Due to financial difficulties, he decided to lease a part of the land to Wayne Brazel. Disputes arose over the lease when Garrett wanted to sell the farm and Brazel demanded compensation.
On February 29, 1908, Garrett traveled to Las Cruces with Carl Adamson, a potential buyer. On the way, Brazel joined them on horseback. A few miles outside Las Cruces, Adamson stopped their wagon to relieve himself. There were gunshots and Garrett lay dead.
Brazel and Adamson went on to Las Cruces leaving Pat Garrett’s body behind. Brazel surrendered to the sheriff saying it was self-defense, and Adamson corroborated. A trial was held, but Adamson was not brought in as a witness in the trial. It only lasted for a day and Brazel was not convicted.
In May 2017, Dona Ana County officials released a press note saying that a box of documents had been found containing the coroner jury’s report. The document signed by seven jurors says that Garrett was killed “by gunshot wounds inflicted by one Wayne Brazel”.