Saturday, November 23, 2013

Creating Counties to Throw Off The Law

November 23, 2013
  Still working out the crazy-amazing plot twists in the Fountain Murders. I have long heard that after Pat Garrett was elected sheriff of Dona Ana County, Albert Fall created Otero County to take the jurisdiction of the murder case away from Garrett. As I wrote this down I actually had to stop and think: Really? Could Fall be THAT powerful? So I posed the question to Corey Recko, author of the new book on the Fountain case, "Murder On The White Sands" and here is his reply:

"Otero County was formed (from parts of Lincoln, Socorro, and Dona Ana) to facilitate the construction of a new railroad through the area; the logic being that business would run more smoothly in a smaller county.  Many credit Albert Fall with coming up with the idea for a new county—and he certainly lobbied for it.  While the given reasoning for the county does make sense (and it's not the only time it happened in NM as the century came to a close), it does seem like a convenient coincidence for Fall that the proposed Otero County, just barely, included the murder scene.  I won't quite go as far as accusing Fall for coming up with the idea simply to take jurisdiction away from Garrett without more evidence; but looking at the timing and the way the county was drawn up, it does make one wonder."
—Corey Recko

   Meanwhile, Gus Walker is hard at work on a map of the Garrett murder site. Fred Nolan emailed me this morning after seeing my take on the death whiz, saying, "Liked 'your innate' version of PFG's demise, but haven't you made the scenery a tad too handsome?  I remember when we all went there with Bob Barron all those years ago, my first thought was 'What a Godawful place to die' and then thought, Is there such a thing as a good one?"
—Fre Nolan

   Fred is referring to the field trip we took at the Billy the Kid Symposium that was held in Ruidoso in September of 1991. On Saturday some of us took the bus to Las Cruces (others went to Fort Sumner) and then we hopped in SUVs that took us out to the remote site where Garrett was murdered. Fred is right: my whip out is a bit gussied up. While we were there, I scrambled up a utility line road to do some sketching of the approach Garrett and crew took coming from Organ and Fred took this photo of me.

Photo by Fred Nolan of BBB sketching at the Pat Garrett murder site. Hard to believe that was 22 years ago and I'm finally going to get to use those sketches in the next issue.

"Everything comes to the man who is patient."
—Old Vaquero Saying