Sheriff Pat Garret

Patrick Floyd Garrett was born in 1850 on June 5.  He died in 1908 on February 29.

He was born in Cusseta, Alabama.  Cusseta had only been gazetted in 1832 following the signing of the Creek Treaty with local Indians.  His father (John Lumpkin Garret) and his mother (Elizabeth Ann Jarvis) moved to the town and Pat Garrett was the eldest of their seven children.

The family moved away in 1853 and settled on Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.  They ran a plantation near Haynesville in the North of the State near the Arkansas border and Pat spent his early years there.  He left home in 1869.

During his life he worked in a number of roles that included:-

  • Author;
  • Bar Keeper;
  • Saloon Owner;
  • Buffalo Hunter;
  • Cowboy;
  • Customs Agent;
  • Lawman; and
  • Rancher.

Regardless of all this variety of occupations and roles, he is remembered for just one moment in his life.  That moment is shrouded in controversy and some have suggested that his claim for what happened during that event, is false:-

In 1881 on July 14,

Sheriff Pat Garret killed

Billy the Kid.

The Billy the Kid page has also been updated.  If you have read the page, you had better have another look and you will probably find a lot more.

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1850 – June 1850 – Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett was born on this day.

1853 – Pat Garret’s father bought a plantation in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.

1869 – Pat Garret left home and found work as a cowboy on the L. S. Ranch in Dallas County, Texas.

1879 – Early this year Pat Garrett was working in a saloon called Beaver Smith’s.  It is often quoted that this is where he met Billy the Kid and became his friend.  This does not seem to be accurate however and the time he arrived in Lincoln County does not fit in with when Billy was free to associate in this manner.


Pat Garrett & Juanita Gutierrez

Late in that year Pat Garret married Juanita Gutierrez.  This time in his life mirrored that famous Sheriff from Tombstone, Wyatt Earp.  Both lost their first wife to illness within a year.

1880 – Pat Garrett married Jaunita’s sister.

1880 – November 7 – George Kimbell had been elected Sheriff for Lincoln County in New Mexico but resigned on this day before the end of his term.  Many towns had trouble keeping a Sheriff for the full term in these wild times.  To replace him, the County appointed Pat Garret who by this time had earned a reputation as a man skilled with a gun and he had promised to restore law and order to the town.

Some accounts of Pat Garret named him as the most dangerous outlaw in the region.  One might think this was not a good reference if you wanted to be Sheriff.

The legend of Pat Garrett steps into high gear at this time and the story goes that he was then given the task of bringing Billy the Kid (Also Known as Henry McCarty and William H. Bonney), a close friend, to justice for murder and horse theft.  Many sources quote Billy and Pat as being friends who became acquainted during gambling sessions.  If this was the case, this would be another way his life mirrored Wyatt Earp who had along and seemingly unexplainable friendship with a known felon, Doc Holliday.   It almost seems to be a lawman trait at the time, remembering Wild Bill Hickok befriended John Wesley Hardin in a similar way.  It seems that Sheriff Edward Humphreys also thought this was part of the lifestyle as he tipped off Butch Cassidy in Bolivia when the law came after him.

Billy is said to have killed 21 men and his legend says it was 1 man for every year of his life.  Details of Billy the Kid’s life are recounted for you on his page at “Billy the Kid”.  He was active in the Lincoln County War and it is certain that he was responsible for the death of many men but 21 appears to have been an exaggeration.  The more likely total of 10 or less is still significant.  Whatever the number, Governor Lew Wallace had authorized a reward of $500 for his capture.  Many pictures available through popular sources show wanted posters for $5, 000, $50, 000 and other sums.  These are fakes.

1882 – Pat Garrett was briefly in Grant County, New Mexico.  He tried again to become Sheriff but lost this election to Harvey Whitehall.

1884 – March 5 – Pat Garrett continued his run of bad luck with elections.  He ran to represent the Territory of New Mexico but lost again.  He was beaten by Francisco Antonio Manganates.  Although he served for less than a year he effectively stalled Garrett’s political ambitions.

1884 – Pat Garret returned to law enforcement temporarily in the position of Captain in the Texas Rangers.

1889 – October – He tried again to become Sheriff, this time in Chavez, New Mexico.  You guessed it, he lost.  News paper accounts indicate the circumstances surrounding the death of Billy the Kid, that once made him a national hero, had continued to be doubted and Garrett’s popularity dived.

1891 –  Pat Garrett arrived in Uvalde, Texas.

1896 – Pat Garret returned to New Mexico, apparently to investigate the disappearance of Albert Jennings Fountain.  In January of this year, Colonel Fountain was a prosecutor for the State acting against men charged with cattle theft in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

When he had finished his work, he left and travelled with young Henry, his 8 year old son.  After leaving Lincoln, they were never seen again.  Citizens in the county took exception to this disappearance.  One significant difficulty that would be encountered during the investigation of this matter was that the main suspects were lawmen themselves and appeared to have the support of the politician, Albert Fall.  Mr. Fall was a lawyer and had been a Judge.  Rumour and innuendo said that Deputy Sheriffs Oliver Lee, William McNew and James Gilliland were in his employ and not entirely for honest and legal purpose.

1896 – August 10 – Pat Garret was appointed to the position of Sheriff for Dona Ana County.  He had the Governor of New Mexico on his side and it was he who had seen the need for outside help and employed Garrett for the job.  The reputation Garrett had growing around him following the concerns about the circumstances of Billy the Kid’s death and other incidents may have made him seem just the man for a dangerous and distasteful job for the Governor.

1897 – January 4 – Pat Garret was elected and confirmed to the position of Sheriff on this day.  He waited nearly 2 years before moving against them by presenting evidence against them to the court.  This may have been due difficulties putting a case together and it may have also been related to concerns over presenting a case to courts still heavily influenced by Albert Fall.

When this evidence was put before the court, McNew was soon arrested whilst Lee and Gilliland commenced eluding the law.

1898 – July 12 – During the pursuit Garret caught up with both men and a deadly gun battle was fought out.  One his Garret’s deputies (Kurt Kearney) was killed and both men escaped.  They later surrendered when an opportunity arose to go into custody but not to Garrett.  A trial was held but they were both acquitted.

The final resting place of Mr Fountain and his son Henry was never established.

1901 – December 20 – Pat Garret was appointed to the position of Customs Collector in El Paso, Texas.  He was appointed by President Roosevelt who was reputedly a personal friend of Garrett.

He served in the position for 5 years but was not reappointed.  This may have been a direct result of embarrassment caused to the President by a photograph with Garrett and a notorious gambler he introduced to the President, Ms Tom Powers.

1906 – Garrett returned to the ranch he owned in New Mexico.  He was suffering significant financial hardship including a large tax burden.  During this time Oliver Lee and Albert Fall came back into his life in the form of disputes over land deals and other matters Garrett alleged were illegal activities engaged in by the two.

1907 – Garrett was in considerable debt to one W. W. Cox, a brother in law to Oliver M. Lee. 

I had searched in many places for the name to go with those W. W. initials without success.  Mr Kevin Moore kindly provided the answer and it stands for William Cofelt Cox.

Mr Moore commented on this page and a copy of The Hunt for Kid Ramble is on its way to him.  Thank you Kevin, I checked the information you provided and found plenty of confirmation including this photograph at

Substantial disagreements ensured between the parties and by now Garrett had become very unpopular because of the controversy over the Billy the Kid killing and he no longer had any political support.  The deals included one whereby a Mr. Jesse Wayne Brazel began raising goats on part of the Garret Ranch that he had ceded to Cox.  Garrett found this distasteful.

1908 – February 29 – Garrett has held discussions with one Carl Adamson about the purchase of land.  They rode together from Las Cruces and came across Brazel along the way.  They apparently commenced arguing and it came to gunplay.  Brazel later alleged that Garrett reached for a shotgun and he shot him self defence.  After the death, Brazel returned to Las Cruces and informed the Sheriff (Felipe Lucero) of the killing.

Brazel was arrested and tried for the crime.  W. W. Cox paid for his bond and retained Albert Fall to defend him..  The jury returned a unanimous “Not Guilty” verdict.

Other people have since been nominated as the killer of Pat Garret, including one Jim Miller, a renowned killer for hire.  I find it hard to believe the Brazel would have reported the incident and admitted to the killing if he had not done it.


1908 – March 5 – Pat Garret was buried this day.

He was laid to rest in the Masonic Cemetery in Las Cruces.

He was laid to rest in the plot next to his daughter Ida.

Ida had had died 8 years earlier.

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Never to be Forgotten

Pat Garrett will be remembered for a very long time.  The legend of his life is enormous, much larger than the reality.  He has been represented in movies, television, books, stories, newspapers and more.  Some include:-

  • Billy the Kid – 1930 – Garrett played by Wallace Beery.
  • Billy the Kid – A Short and Violent Life – A book by Robert M Utley.
  • Billy the Kid Reader – A book by Frederick Nolan.
  • Blaze of Glory: The Legend of Oliver Lee and Pat Garrett – A book by J. Ben Tarver.
  • Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance – 2007 – Garrett played by Michael Pare.
  • Bronco – 1958 – Garret played by Rhodes Reason in this ABC television series.
  • Buffalo Bill Jr – 1955 – Garret played by Keith Richards in a half television series.
  • Chisum – 1970 – Garrett played by Glenn Corbett.
  • Colt .45 – 1957 – Garrett played by Wayne Heffley in episode one.
  • El Hombre – 1967 – Garret played by Fausto Tozzi.
  • Four Faces West – 1948 – Garrett played by Charles Bickford.
  • High Noon in Lincoln – Violence on the Western Frontier – A book by Robert Utley.
  • I’m Not Here – 2007 – Played by Bruce Greenwood.
  • I Shot Billy the Kid – 1950 – Garrett played by Robert Lowery.
  • Le Pistole non Discutono – 1964 – Garret played by Rod Cameron.
  • Murder in New Mexico: People Convicted of Murder by New Mexico – A book by an unidentified author.
  • Murder on the White Sands: The Disappearance of Albert and Henry Fountain – A book by Corey Recko.
  • Omnibus – 1952 – Garret played by Scott Douglas in episode 1 of this NBC television series.
  • Outcasts of the Trail – 1949 – Garret played by Monte Hale.
  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid as I Remember Them – A book by John P Meadows.
  • Pat Garrett: The story of a Western Lawman – a book by Leon Claire Metz.
  • Sheriff Pat Garrett’s Last Days – A book by Colin Rickards.
  • Stories of the Century – 1954 – Garret played by Richard Travis in an episode of this television series.
  • The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid – A book by Patrick F. GarrettRead an account of Billy the Kid written by the Sheriff himself by following the link embedded in the title.  Many sources have debunked the accuracy of his account and I am sure he would have good reason to add some flavour of his own.  Whether he did or not, what better read than an account of man himself, Sheriff Pat Garrett.
  • The Kid from Texas – 1950 – Garrett played by Frank Wilcox.
  • The Last of the Desperados – 1955 – Garret played by James Craig.
  • The Left Handed Gun – 1957 – Garret played by John Dehner.
  • The Lincoln County War – A book by Frederick Nolan.
  • The Law Vs Billy the Kid – 1954 – Garret played by James Griffith.
  • The Last Movie – 1971 – Garrett played by Rod Cameron.


The Outlaw

The Outlaw –


Garret played by Thomas Mitchell.

Starring Jane Russell.

  • The Parson and the Outlaw – 1957 – Garrett played by Bob Duncan.
  • The Scarlet Worm – 2010 – Garret played by Michael Martinez.
  • The Time Tunnel – 1966 – Garrett played by Allen Case in episode one of the ABC television series.
  • The Tall Man – 1960 – Garrett played by Barry Sullivan.
  • The West of Billy the Kid – A book by Frederick Nolan.
  • They Knew Billy the Kid – A book by Robert Kadlec.

To Hell on a Fast Horse


  • Wanted: Dead or Alive – 1958 – In an episode called “Eager Man”, Pat Garrett played by Walter Sande in this CBS television series. Josh is approached by the wife of a wanted man eager to turn himself in peacefully, provided Josh split the bounty with his wife. To ensure the deal goes as planned, Josh enlists the aid of an old friend: Sheriff Pat Garrett.
  • Young Guns – 1988 – Garrett played by Patrick Wayne and Billy the Kid played by Emilio Estevez. A group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid, become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor.  But when Billy takes their authority too far, they become the hunted.
  • Young Guns II – 1990 – Garret played by William Petersen and Emelio Estevez again playing Billy the Kid. Brushy Bill Roberts tells his story.  He claims to be Billy the Kid and that he wasn’t killed by Pat Garrett at all.  He tells a convinving tale and this movie relieves his version of events.
  • Unsolved History – 2002 – Garrett played by Joe Zimmerman in episode one of this discovery channel documentary.

Pat Garrett’s Badge

6 Responses to Sheriff Pat Garret

  1. parc rosewood says:

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  2. Kevin Moore says:

    I believe that W. W. Cox entire name was William Webb Cox. This was found by looking up an article about his son Robert Cofelt Cox. I then looked up the family history on I hope that this information helps!
    As a follow up. William Cofelt Cox was the grandson of W. W. Cox and an interview of William Cofelt Cox shows that his father owned the San Agustine Ranch. It was probably in the family prior to his father attaining it.
    The interview can be read at

    • wildwest says:

      Thank You Kevin,
      I checked you information and found several sources that confirm that your answer is correct.
      I have added to my resource list.
      I had not heard of it before and have found it to be a useful tool.

  3. Kevin Moore says:

    As a follow up. William Cofelt Cox was the grandson of W. W. Cox and an interview of William Cofelt Cox shows that his father owned the San Agustine Ranch. It was probably in the family prior to his father attaining it.

  4. Caroline Buckley says:

    Father of W. W. Cox
    James W. Cox, born 1823 Kentucky, one time special police, (State Police) who jurisdiction was De Witt County Texas.
    James arrived in Texas abt. 1860…wife and 5 children residing in De Witt County. He was the father of William Web Cox, brother -in-law to Oliver M. Lee and was killed by outlaw John Wesley Hardin.
    Caroline Buckley

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