Sunday, January 27, 2013
Pat Garrett Murder Site Historical Marker
Most history buffs are familiar with the most famous of tales to come out of this conflict, and that is the tale of Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid is a famous figure in Doña Ana County due to the fact that he resided from time to time in the village of Mesilla. He even famously escaped from the Mesilla Courthouse, and was a fugitive on the run for the rest of his short life.
The other side of the "Kid" saga is Pat Garrett. Garrett was born in Alabama, and grew up in the South. In 1880, Garrett became sheriff of Lincoln County, and was charged with tracking Billy the Kid. On July 14, 1881, Garrett tracked Billy to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where he shot and killed the famous outlaw.
Pat Garrett worked primarily in southern New Mexico until 1896, when Colonel Albert Fountain of Mesilla went missing (the murder remains a mystery to this day, and the stories that are told about it can be quite entertaining and terrifying). In response, Garrett was named the sheriff of Doña Ana County. The story of Garrett tracking and arresting those who he thought responsible for Fountain's disappearance is quite interesting. The men were acquitted at trial.
Garrett spent his final years as a personal friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, who appointed Pat as a customs collector in El Paso, Texas.
Garrett settled in and owned land north east of Las Cruces near present day Highway 70. An eventual land dispute with a nearby land owner, Jesse Wayne Brazel, who was grazing goats on Garrett's land, led to Garrett being shot by Brazel, once in the stomach and once in the head.
The actual site of Garrett's murder is not where the historical marker is located. The marker is located in the parking lot of a daycare center, easily seen when traveling east on US Highway 70 (you can see this location marked on the map HERE).
The Friends of Pat Garrett has been hard at work trying to secure the actual spot of Garrett's murder for preservation now that suburban sprawl has started on the East Mesa of Las Cruces (I should know, I live up on the East Mesa). You can also learn a little more about the actual murder site of Garrett at Photography on the Net.