Garrett, Patrick Floyd Jarvis (1850–1908)

By: Leon C. Metz

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 6, 2019

Pat Garrett, lawman, was born on June 5, 1850, in Chambers County, Alabama, the son of John Lumpkin and Elizabeth Ann (Jarvis) Garrett. In 1853 the family moved to Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, where Garrett received an elementary education. In 1869 he left home for the buffalo range in Texas. He and a friend, Skelton Glenn, hunted buffalo from Fort Griffin to Lubbock; the partnership dissolved in 1877, when Comanches destroyed their camp. Garrett then drifted west to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. In 1877 he married Juanita GutiƩrrez, who died a few months later. He married her sister Apolinaria in January 1880. The couple had nine children. In November 1880 Garrett, running as a Democrat, was elected sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico. He set out immediately to track down Billy the Kid (Henry McCarty). After killing the Kid's cronies Charles Bowdre and Tom O'Folliard, Garrett captured Billy and brought him to trial in Mesilla, New Mexico, on a charge of murder. While awaiting the hangman's rope at Lincoln, however, the Kid escaped, only to be killed by Garrett in Fort Sumner on the night of July 14, 1881. To Garrett was subsequently attributed The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, published in 1882, although Garrett's closest friend, Marshall Ashmun (Ash) Upson, claimed to have written every word.

In 1884, after failing to be elected a state senator, Garrett became captain of the LS Texas Rangers, a group of rangers sent by Governor John Ireland to the Panhandle to protect ranchers from rustlers. He served only a few weeks and then moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where he devised irrigation plans. He had insufficient funds, however, and was forced out and moved to Uvalde, Texas, where he lived from 1891 to 1896. In 1896 New Mexico governor William T. Thornton asked him to become the Dona Ana County Sheriff. Thornton wanted Garrett to find the abductors of Albert J. Fountain, a former Texas state senator, who had disappeared near what later became the White Sands Missile Range. In 1899 Garrett brought ranchers Jim Gililland, Bill McNew, and Oliver Lee to trial in Hillsboro, New Mexico. All were defended by Albert B. Fall and acquitted. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Garrett customs collector in El Paso in 1901 but did not reappoint him in 1906. Garrett returned to his ranch in the San Andres Mountains in southern New Mexico. On February 29, 1908, a cowboy named Wayne Brazel allegedly shot him in the back of the head while they rode a lonely road between Organ and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Garrett was originally buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Las Cruces. In 1957 his body was reinterred in the Masonic Cemetery across the street. He was a Democrat and agnostic.

Maurice G. Fulton, History of the Lincoln County War (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1968). Leon C. Metz, Pat Garrett (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). Leon C. Metz, The Shooters (El Paso: Mangan, 1976). Colin Rickards, How Pat Garrett Died (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Palomino, 1970).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Law Officers
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Military
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Leon C. Metz, “Garrett, Patrick Floyd Jarvis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 6, 2019