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Former NWLA boy brought law to west

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Rupert Peyton wrote about Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett in the January 7, 1954 issue of The Bossier Press Tribune. While Billy the Kid had no connections to Northwest Louisiana, Pat Garrett grew up in Claiborne Parish. Rupert wrote of them:

“Of all the sagas of the wild and wooly west, the bloodiest was written by Billy the Kid, the quickest man on the draw and the readiest killer back in the days before law and order was firmly established west of the Pecos. The Kid died in his teens [Billy the Kid was actually 22 when he died], but 21 notches were in his pistol.”

“Many have read of the stories of the old west and how this bloodthirsty killer finally met his match at the hands of Pat Garrett, described as a long, lanky and cool-headed sheriff of New Mexico, but few realize that this man, who fired the shot that brought more law and order out of the lawless chaos than any other man, was once just a poor country boy reared in northwest Louisiana. Few know that Pat Garrett plowed cotton near old Arizona community in Claiborne [P]arish and that his relatives in this region are legion. Chances are if your name is Garrett or Sherman or related to these families of northwest Louisiana, you are also kin to the man who put an end to the murderous outrages of Billy the Kid.”

“Billy was born in New York and early in life heard the call of the west. But before Billy ever saw the light of day his future nemesis had picked cotton and plowed in Claiborne [Parish], near Homer.”

“Like many young men of his day, Billy went west for fortune and adventure, but unlike many he did not enjoy a background of religious culture and by the time he was still fuzzy chinned he could shoot a man and see him die and laugh as if it had been a simple April Fool’s trick.”

“Pat Garrett was born in Alabama in 1850. His family was well-to-do and religious. But the Civil War impoverished them so that soon thereafter they set out for a new start in a newer part of America.”

“Garrett’s parents homesteaded and bought land near old Arizona community and soon began to recoup their fortune. But young Pat soon tired of the calling of a farm boy. He, like Billy the Kid, had heard Horace Greeley’s advice, ‘Go West, young man.’”

“So in his teens Pat Garrett left his parents and several brothers and sisters behind to seek his fortune in the great state of Texas. He became a cowboy and cowpuncher on a ranch of one of the richest cattlemen in Texas. Ironically, here he was to meet Billy the Kid. Together they herded cattle and drove them to market. Sometimes they went to Kansas, sometimes to Shreveport. Pat liked Billy and the spirit of the youth. But they were soon to turn paths that were as opposite as the two poles.”

Be sure to read next week’s column to find out more about the saga of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

 

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us