Pat Garrett was born on June 5, 1850 in Chambers County, Alabama. He was one of seven children born to John Lumpkin Garrett and Elizabeth Ann Jarvis Garrett. Pat Garrett grew up on a Louisiana Plantation his father purchased in 1850.
Garrett left the plantation in 1869 to become a buffalo hunter in Texas. In 1878, Garrett shot a fellow buffalo hunter when arguing over buffalo hide, at which Garrett’s partner charged at him with a hatchet. In the same year, Garrett settled down in Fort Sumner when the slaughter of buffaloes became unprofitable. Garrett then married Apolonaria Gutierrez; the couple would later have nine children.
On July 19, 1878 the Lincoln county war was drawing to an end, and Billy the Kid was one of the several outlaws still on the loose. Garrett was elected Sheriff of Lincoln County running as a Democrat. After elected, Garrett vowed to bring the reign of lawlessness to an end.
In December 1880, New Mexican Governor Lew Wallace put a $500 dollar reward on Billy the Kid’s head. Five days later, Pat Garrett and his posse trapped Billy the Kid and gang members in a small one-room stone house in Stinking Springs, New Mexico. Garrett then escorted the prisoners to Las Vegas. On April 15, Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang.
While the Kid was waiting to hang he was jailed at the Lincoln County Courthouse. He escaped from jail on April 28, 1881 after killing both of his guards. He managed to get his hands on the deputy's gun and forced him to unlock the door. In the process of escaping he shot and killed Deputy Sheriff James Bell.
Pat Garrett was sent on the search for Billy the Kid. Garrett had the opportunity to question a friend of Billy the Kid. He said that the Kid was staying with a friend, Pete Maxwell. Garrett visited Maxwell’s house the following midnight and shot at Billy the Kid twice, the first bullet hit the Kid’s heart, the second went wild.
There has been much controversy whether Pat Garrett actually killed Billy the Kid or not. Many historians believe that Garrett hid in Maxwell’s room and waited for Billy the Kid. Some believe that Garrett found the Kid in the kitchen drawn by hunger. Of course, others believe Garrett never killed the Kid at all.
After the Lincoln County war, Garrett moved away from Lincoln County, and became a rancher. At that point, Garrett had become a gambler and was in major debt. To help pay off the debt, he made a deal with a fellow rancher named W.W. Cox. The deal was that Cox would use his quarter horse ranch for grazing cattle. Garrett accepted the deal, without knowing the ranch would not be used for grazing cattle, but Jesse Wayne Brazel would be using the ranch to graze goats. Goats were rumored to be worse than sheep.
Garrett believed that grazing goats on his ranch would lower its property value. This caused a dispute between Garrett and Brazel. While at his ranch, Garrett and Brazel were arguing, when Garrett leaned over to grab a shotgun from his wagon. Brazel shot Garrett twice, once in the head the other in his stomach.
There have been many arguments about Garrett’s murder. No one is certain how actually he died; this is only one of the known theories.
Written by Kathrine Franklin
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