He moved to Dallas County, Texas at the age of 19. There, he worked on the large LS Ranch in west as a cowboy and cattle gunman when rustling was rampant in the area.
From there he joined up with W. Skelton Glenn, to hunt buffalo. However, he soon got into a disagreement with a fellow hunter over some hides. The fight escalated to gun play and when the other man drew on Garrett, Pat shot him dead.
By 1878, he had moved on to Fort Sumner, just as the Lincoln County War was ending. The battle between rival gangs spawned a storm of lawlessness and violence which would continue for the next two decades. Garrett first went to work on a local ranch. A year later he quit and worked as a bartender at Beaver Smith’s. Soon after, he married a woman named Juanita Gutierrez, but she died before the end of the year. A little more than a year later, on January 14, 1880, he married Juanita’s sister Apolinaria. The two would have nine children over the years.
It was at Beaver Smith’s that Garrett and William Bonney became friends and were often seen together around town.
Upon being elected sheriff, in 1880, Garrett began a quest to bring in Billy the Kid. A $500 reward helped him to decide to pursue the outlaw. Ambushes and traps failed miserably. Seemed Billy was a little craftier.
On Dec. 19,1880, He stopped Bonney’s gang as they arrived at Fort Sumnter. Tom O’Folliard was killed but all others escaped. Chasing them to Stinking Springs, Garrett and his men surrounded the hideout and laid siege. Charlie Bowdre was killed. The Kid, Rudabaugh, Pickett, and Billy Wilson were captured on the 23rd.
On May 13, 1881, the kid was sentenced to hang in Lincoln. In a daring escape, he killed two jailers and made his escape. Many stories came from this event alone. Garrett pursued him to Peter Maxwell’s ranch where the famous killing in the dark took place. The murderer was murdered. Pat Garrett shot and killed his old friend, Billy the Kid, in the bedroom of Pete Maxwell at Fort Sumner in New MexicoTerritory. Although he is most famous for this encounter, Pat Garrett had a full and colorful life.
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.
Returning to his ranch in New Mexico, he soon was in a financial strait. He owed a great deal in back taxes. Then he co-signed on a loan for a friend – who was captured in the Philippines and unable to make his payments. Garrett was held liable. He had to borrow $3,500 from W. W. Cox to pay both debts. Greatly troubled, he drank a lot and gambled too much. But he tried one more time to make a go of it by 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, 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 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 here to do the killing, if necessary. 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 agreed. He was unaware that Brazel was going to graze goats. They were even worse maggots than sheep, as far as any rancher was concerned. The idea by Cox was to provoke Garrett into a fight. And it was beginning to be successful. There was more arguing over the goats being there. Carl Adamson, pretending to be a rancher then offered to lease the property for his cattle. Garret would have to get Brazel gone first. Then a deal was agreed upon for Garrett to buy the goats from Brazel. 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.
[Ref. McCarty, Lea Franklin. "The Gunfighters" Oakland: Mike
Roberts Color Productions, 1988]
[Ref. O'Neal, Bill. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS.]
[Ref. Breihan, Carl. LAWMEN AND ROBBERS]
[Ref. Dary, David. More True Tales of Old-Time Kansas. University
Press of Kansas. 1984]
Ref Pat Garrett, Elizabeth Gibson