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Pat F. Garrett family papers

Identifier: Ms-0282

Scope and Content

The Pat F. Garrett Family Papers span the years 1859-1936. The collection is divided into five series: Correspondence, Legal Documents, Financial Documents, Printed Materials, and Miscellany.

The Correspondence series consists of five subseries: Pat F. Garrett; Polinaria Gutierrez Garrett; Pat F. Garrett, Jr.; Poe Garrett; and Others. Correspondents include Albert Bacon Fall, Emerson Hough, W. W. Cox, Charles Eddy, and Wayne Brazil.

Included in Pat F. Garrett's correspondence are items from his period with the Pecos Irrigation and Investment Company, and letters concerning ownership of land and horses while he lived in Texas. Included in the letters to Garrrett as sheriff of Doña Ana County are materials about the death his deputy, Kent Kearny, and a tip on a cattle rustler. There is some correspondence from Garrett's commission as customs collector in El Paso. Several documents pertain to Americans imprisoned in Mexico. Garrett's financial problems are documented in several letters, including one from Albert B. Fall who states that he has enclosed money for Garrett.

The Legal Documents and Financial Documents contain materials regarding businesses transactions as well as governmental concerns. Included within the Legal Documents series is a bill pertaining to the creation of Luna County, New Mexico, and an injunction involving mining claims. The Financial Documents series includes records of payments for work done on Garrett's ranch and purchases made by Garrett from Martin Lohman.

Included in the Miscellany series are documents concerning the Fountain murders and fragmented notes and letters. There are three pages of notes related to Garrett's campaign for sheriff of Lincoln County.


  • 1859 - 1936

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

The copyrights possessed in this collection have not been transferred to New Mexico State University.

Biographical Sketch

Pat F. Garrett was born June 5, 1850, in Chambers County, Alabama. He spent his childhood in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, and while still a teenager left his family and headed west. From 1869 to 1877, Garrett worked as a cowhand and trail driver at various locations in Texas.

In 1878, Garrett arrived at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where he apparently tried hog ranching for a short time. Garrett married Polinaria Gutierrez at Anton Chico, New Mexico, on January 14, 1880. The Garretts eventually had eight children, including a daughter Elizabeth, who gained distinction of her own as the writer of the official New Mexico State song.

In 1880, Garrett was elected sheriff of Lincoln County. On July 14, 1881, Garrett had his famous encounter with William H. Bonney. He shot and killed "The Kid" at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Garrett's account of the event is recorded in The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, the Noted Desperado of the Southwest, by Ashmun Upson.

Garrett went to Roswell where he helped to organize The Pecos Valley Irrigation Investment Company in 1885. After an unsuccessful campaign for sheriff of Chaves County, New Mexico, in 1889, Garrett moved to Uvalde County, Texas. He returned to New Mexico in 1897 when asked to serve as sheriff of Doña Ana County and to investigate the Fountain murders. The two men Garrett arrested for the murders, Oliver Lee and Jim Gililland, were later acquitted.

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Garrett collector of customs at El Paso, in 1901. He served in this position until his appointment expired. He spent his last years at his ranch in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, suffering apparent financial distress.

On February 29, 1908, Garrett was shot and killed on the road between Organ and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Wayne Brazil confessed to the shooting and was later acquitted of the charges.


0.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Lawman and rancher, sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, in 1880, and later sheriff and ranch owner in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Most widely remembered as the sheriff who shot and killed the infamous outlaw "Billy the Kid."
Guide to the Pat F. Garrett family papers
Processed by Linda Blazer. Revised by Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland-Bruhnke.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA