Inside the Capitol

Monday, April 09, 2012

4-11 Pat Garrett Home in Roswell should be restored

41112 Garrett home
SANTA FE – Pat Garrett was more than New Mexico's best-known lawman. He was a major force in the Pecos Valley's agri-business efforts.
That was a theme heard throughout the dedication ceremony for the towering statue of the gutsy sheriff on his way to a fateful meeting with Billy the Kid.
State Sen. Rod Adair said Garrett's part in the Billy the Kid saga overshadows just how important Garrett was to the development of the Southwest.
J.P. Garrett credited his grandfather with basically conceiving the Pecos Valley irrigation plan. J.J. Hagerman carried out the plan and rightfully receives credit for it but if it weren't for Garrett's idea of doing it, it never would have happened.
Those I talked with, who attended the ceremony, all said the highlight was the Carlsbad High School Troubadours singing our state song, "O' Fair New Mexico." They sang all verses, capturing the feeling and vision of the sheriff's blind daughter Elizabeth, an accomplished pianist and vocalist.
Another highlight was the presence of Leon Metz, of El Paso, who wrote Garrett's biography, "Pat Garrett: The Story of a Western Lawman" in 1983. Metz ended his book with the comment that one can search the state and not find any monument to him other than his tombstone in Las Cruces.
Sen. Adair, who obtained funding for the statue from the state, said Metz's final comment inspired him to honor Garrett. Metz, now 81, said he was pleased to see his call to action come to pass almost 30 years later.
Following the ceremony, J.P. and Susannah Garret, historical researchers Mike Pitel and Bob Ross of Santa Fe and others visited the old Garrett home near Roswell where the Garretts and their many children lived while Pat was sheriff.
The home has fallen into disrepair. I had heard that but was surprised to see pictures of it. I expected a rambling, one-story, flat-roofed adobe, built to accommodate the Garrett's ever-growing family.
But instead, it is a two-story house of some size and complexity. I'm not sure if the structure can be saved but its restoration, renovation or rebuilding should be considered.
Garrett deserves it and so does Roswell, a city with many attributes to commend it. The community has much history and culture to promote. The home would make a fine museum to promote the history of Chaves County and its founders such as Joseph Lea, Charles Eddy, J.J. Hagerman and Garrett.
Roswell already has a corner on the UFO market. It should become a part of the Billy the Kid saga too.


In other Billy the Kid news, San Elizario, Texas, just down the river from El Paso unveiled a sculpture of Billy the Kid last Sunday. It is believed by some that the Kid sprung his friend Melquiades Segura out of jail at gunpoint one night in 1876, two years before the Lincoln County War.
Main Street businessman Al Borrego says the jail and the church are the two main reasons tourists visit San Elizario. So he talked his friend Guadalupe Jacquez Calderon into sculpting a statue of Billy to locate next to the jail.
Borrego is promoting a series of sculptures representing the history of the area. And he wanted to start with the most significant bit of history.
San Elizario also has some other significant, if less known, history. This was the location where Don Juan de Onate crossed the Rio Grande in the spring of 1598 with 400 soldiers, families and other settlers and 5,000 cattle and sheep.
After getting safely across, Onate stopped to give thanks for the safe crossing.
If Onate stopped immediately, which he probably did, the location definitely was in Texas, at or near, San Elizario. Had he traveled a few miles north, he would have been in New Mexico.
Our friends down in El Paso have fun claiming that this was the sight of the first Thanksgiving in what is now the United States.


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