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John William Poe Papers

Identifier: MSS-95-SC

Scope and Content

This small collection consists of manuscripts of "Final Chapter in the Life of Billy the Kid, Worst of All the Bad Men," published in Clayton News and Southwest Plainsman and an undated manuscript of "The Last Hours of Billy the Kid." The collection includes clippings of the "Final Chapter" as published in the Clayton News on Billy the Kid, verdict of the coroners's jury on Billy's death, and various clippings and copies of photographs of Billy, Sheriff Pat Garrett, other people, the Courthouse and other locales in Lincoln County.


  • 1881-1940

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

John William Poe was born on October 17, 1850 and was raised on his grandfather's farm in Maysville, Mays County, Kentucky. By the age of 15, he had developed a yearning to go West and his travels took him to Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and eventually the New Mexico territory. He was a buffalo hunter, cattleman, stock detective for Charles Goodnight, lawman in Texas and New Mexico, and banker. John William Poe married Sophie Alberding on May 5, 1883. Their only child lived a few hours. The home of John William and Sophie Poe is located at 311 West Seventh in Roswell and is known as the Poe-Mossman house in the National Register of Historic Buildings.

While serving as Sheriff of Lincoln County, Poe became friends with Pat Garrett and John Chisum. His most famous experience occurred when he accompanied Garrett to Pete Maxwell's ranch near Fort Sumner. Garrett went inside. Waiting outside, Poe saw William Bonney (Billy the Kid) enter the ranch house, though he did not recognize him. He heard the gunfire when Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Pat Garrett. He wrote several articles for newspapers and books about the death of Billy the Kid. After retiring as a lawman, John William Poe and his wife settled in Roswell where he was one of the organizers of the Bank of Roswell. He was later President of the Citizen's Bank of Roswell. He died on July 17, 1923. Sophie Alberding Poe commemorated his life in a biography, Buckboard Days.


1 Folder

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Treasures of History II, Chaves County Vignettes. Chaves County HistoricalSociety, 1991.
Finding Aid of the John William Poe Papers, 1881-1940
Described by M.P. Fletcher
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 95 SC::John William Poe Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss95sc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131