≡ Menu

Book Review – Las Cruces Author Details Fountain Murders Based on Pinkerton Investigation
Las Cruces Bulletin
By Mike Cook

The disappearance of Judge Albert J. Fountain and his eight-year-old son, Henry, on Feb. 1, 1896, is one of the great and enduring mysteries of the Southwest.

“The evidence indicated that although Fountain was killed during the ambush, his son was taken alive, and only killed the next day,” Las Cruces author David G Thomas said in his new book, “The Stolen Pinkerton Reports of the Colonel Albert J. Fountain Murder Investigation.” Thomas is listed as editor of the book.

“The case file for the crime contains no information,” Thomas said. “There are no trial transcripts (Oliver Lee and Jim Gilliland were tried for and found not guilty of Henry’s murder) or witness testimonies. The only reports that exist today of the investigation of the case are these Pinkerton reports, which were commissioned by the territorial governor and then stolen from his office four months after the murders. The reports, now recovered, are published here.”

The Pinkerton report is based on the investigation conducted by the agency’s most competent operatives, John Conklin Fraser and William C. Sayers, Thomas said. His book, published earlier this year, is based on a copy of the Pinkerton report that is part of the Katherine D. Stoes Papers in New Mexico State University’s Archives and Special Collections. Stoes’ husband, Henry Stoes, was a member of the Fountain posse.

Fountain was the staff attorney and lead investigator for the Southeastern New Mexico Stock Growers’ Association, Thomas said in the book’s first paragraph. “He had been aggressively pursuing a campaign against rustlers in southern New Mexico.” Fountain traveled from Mesilla to the county courthouse in Lincoln County to place evidence he had collected before a grand jury.

“Colonel Fountain was well aware that he had a risky job, that the men he was pursuing were capable of extreme violence,” Thomas said. “It was this self-evident danger that had induced Col. Fountain’s wife, Mariana, to convince Col. Fountain to take his son with him on the trip to Lincoln. She believed that the presence of her youngest son would prevent any violence directed at Col. Fountain.”

Thomas’ book details the lives of all those involved in the case, including Col. Fountain, Henry, Maria, Doña Ana County Sheriff Pat Garrett and defense attorney Albert Fall.

It gives lurid details from the crime scene near La Luz, which included a pool of blood that “was 7 or 8 inches deep and twice or three times as large as a spittoon.” Marks on the ground at a nearby campfire “suggested that Col. Fountain’s body had been carried there wrapped in a blanket and that Henry was still alive.”

The book also details the investigation of the disappearance and the 1899 trial of Lee and Gilliland in Hillsboro. It has nearly 30 images of the people and places involved, including a hand-drawn map of the routes taken by the Fountain posses.

Thomas learned earlier this month that another of his books, “Killing Pat Garrett, The Wild West’s Most Famous Lawman – Murder or Self-Defense?” was named a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards.

To buy the Fountain book and for more information about it, visit a local, independent book store or www.amazon.com/Pinkerton-Reports-Colonel-Fountain-Investigation/dp/0982870965.

Las Cruces Bulletin
Book Review – Las Cruces Author Pens Definitive Pat Garrett History
By Mike Cook

“Killing Pat Garrett, The Wild West’s Most Famous Lawman – Murder or Self-Defense?” tells the historic and tragic history of Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett, who was born June 5, 1850 in Chambers County, Alabama.

The book was written by Las Cruces author David G. Thomas and published last October about the one-time sheriff of both Lincoln County and of Doña Ana County (1896-1900), who shot and killed Billy the Kid July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

As the book details, Garrett was shot and killed by Wayne Brazel Feb. 29, 1908 just north of Las Cruces. You can find a historic marker at the spot just south of U.S. Highway 70 near Oñate High School, where Garrett was killed, and you can find his grave in the Masonic Cemetery on Brown Road in Las Cruces.

Thomas is the author of las-crucesblog.com, cofounder of Friends of Pat Garrett, a filmmaker, screenwriter, author, historian and travel writer.

Garrett packed a lot of living into his 57 years, as detailed in Thomas’ excellent book. It has a full account of Garrett’s personal life, his family and his terms as sheriff, including his involvement in the 1899 arrest and trial of the men accused of killing Henry Fountain, the 8-year-old son of legendary Judge Albert J. Fountain.

Garrett also served four years as collector of customs in El Paso, as appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Garrett’s daughter, Elizabeth (1885-1947), wrote the state song, “O Fair New Mexico,” in 1915.

Thomas is also the editor of “The Stolen Pinkerton Reports of the Colonel Albert J. Fountain Murder Investigation,” published in 2020, as well as “Billy the Kid’s Grave – A History of the Wild West’s Most Famous Death Marker.”

Thomas won the Doña Ana County Historical Society’s 2020 Pasajero del Camino Real Award for the book. Thomas won the same award in 2015 and 2017 for other books he has written.

His first three books were about La Posta restaurant, Giovanni Maria de Agostini and movie theaters in Las Cruces.

To buy the Pat Garrett book and for more information about it, visit

www.amazon.com/Killing-Garrett-Wests-Famous-Lawman/dp/0982870957/

The abduction and apparent murder of Colonel Albert J. and Henry Fountain on February 1, 1896, shocked and outraged the citizens of New Mexico. It was not the killing of Colonel Fountain, a Union Civil War veteran and a prominent New Mexico attorney, which roused the physical disgust of the citizenry – after all, it was not unknown for distinguished men to be killed. It was the cold-blooded murder of his eight-year-old son which provoked the public outcry and revulsion.

The evidence indicated that although Colonel Fountain was killed during the ambush, his son was taken alive, and only killed the next day.

The trial of the men indicted for the killings was held May 25, 1899, in Hillsboro, New Mexico.

On February 29, 2020, this trial was re-enacted at the Rio Grande Theatre during the Pat Garrett Western Heritage Festival.

Videos from the trial are posted here on youtube.

Cast
Judge Frank Wilson Parker, Presiding Judge for Sierra County – Jim Eckles
Thomas B. Catron, Prosecuting Attorney for the Territory of New Mexico – John R. Wood
Albert B. Fall, Counsel for the Defense – Teddy Aspen-Sanchez
Oliver Milton Lee, Defendant – Bill Cavaliere
Santurino Barela, Witness for the Prosecution – Karl Laumbach
Antonio Garcia, Witness for the Prosecution – Bob Gamboa
Albert Fountain, Son of Colonel Fountain, Witness for the Prosecution – Art Fountain
Major Eugene Van Patten, Witness for the Prosecution – Jason Wyatt
Mrs. Eva Taylor, Witness for the Prosecution – Karla Steen
Dr. Francis Crosson, Witness for the Prosecution – Bernie Sargent
Jack Maxwell, Witness for the Prosecution – Gerry Veara
Pat F. Garrett, Witness for the Prosecution – Mark Moore
Thomas Branigan, Witness for the Prosecution – Dennis Fuller
Albert Blevin, Witness for the Defense – Steve Miner
Mrs. Mary Lee, Mother of Oliver Lee, Witness for the Defense – Coral Thomas Lockwood
Bailiff – Rick Eldridge

Screenplay: David G. Thomas
Executive Producers: David G. Thomas and Dan Crow

Colonel Albert J. FountainThe centerpiece of the 2020 Pat Garrett Western Heritage Festival is the reenactment of the Fountain Murder Trial.

Colonel Albert J. and Henry Fountain were ambushed February 1, 1896. The evidence indicated that although Colonel Fountain was killed during the ambush, his eight-year-old son was taken alive and only killed the next day.

This crime shocked and outraged the citizens of New Mexico. It was not the killing of Colonel Fountain, a Union Civil War veteran and a prominent New Mexico attorney, which roused the physical disgust of the citizenry – after all, it was not unknown for distinguished men to be killed. It was the cold-blooded murder of his eight-year-old son which provoked the public outcry and revulsion.

The trial of the men indicted for the killings was held May 25, 1899, in Hillsboro, New Mexico. The reenactment presented at the Festival uses the actual words of the trial. The audience will hear the evidence of guilt or innocence just as the jurors did. At the end of the reenactment, twelve jurors, true and fair, selected from the audience, will render their judgment: Guilty? Not Guilty?

Pat Garrett Western Heritage FestivalThe 2020 Pat Garrett Western Heritage Festival is February 29, 2020, at the Rio Grande Theatre, Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is an appropriate day for the Festival as Pat Garrett – the man who killed Billy the Kid – was himself killed on leap day, February 29, 1908, on a barren stretch of road between his Home Ranch and Las Cruces.

Ticket $10 – Good for All Events Including Movie

Saturday, February 29, 2020: 12:00 pm – SING THE LEGEND. A live musical presentation by Dan Crow, John Wood, Ash Soular, and Scott Galbreath. Crow and company will perform 9 historic western songs. For each song, the presenters will give a history of the song, including information such as the artists who created the work, what historic western characters or events are addressed in the song, the circumstances in which it was first performed, and the popular reception. Songs include: LAWDOG LAMENT, THE COFFIN NOTE, BOB FITZSIMMONS, TOM HORN, RODEO LADY, LATIGO, KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR, and SIDEKICKS & SADDLE PALS.
2:00 pm – DISAPPEARANCE OF COLONEL FOUNTAIN. Presentation by David Thomas of the events leading up to and following the disappearance and apparent killing of Colonel Albert J. Fountain and his son Henry on February 1, 1896. The murder is New Mexico’s most famous murder.
2:30 pm – FOUNTAIN MURDER TRIAL. A reenactment by actors of the 1899 courtroom trial of the persons accused of murdering Colonel Fountain and his son. The reenactment uses the actual words of the courtroom trial.
3:30 pm – SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION. Opportunity for the audience to ask questions or make comments on the trial reenactment and its outcome.
4:00 pm – THE FOUNTAIN MURDERS – WHAT ANSWERS DO WE HAVE TODAY? Presentation by Karl Laumbach, Human Systems Research, who will summarize what he has learned about the Fountain murders after decades of research.
7:00 pm – Movie: THE LEFT HANDED GUN, 1958, directed by Arthur Penn. Paul Newman as Billy the Kid and John Dehner as Garrett. At the time the movie was made, many believed that Billy was left-handed because they did not realize the famous tintype of Billy reversed the image left to right.
Brought to you by the Dona Ana Historical Society and the Rio Grande Theatre

2020 Midwinter American Library Association Meeting
The 2020 Midwinter American Library Association Meeting meeting was held January 24-27 in the Philadelphia Convention Center. Over 10,000 librarians attended the Meeting. Participating through Foreword Reviews was Doc45 Publishing, the publisher of Killing Pat Garrett, The Wild West’s Most Famous Lawman – Murder Or Self-Defense? Foreword Reviews is the largest and best national organization representing Independent Publishers. The MALA Follow-Up Report on the 2020 Meeting by Foreword Reviews stated:

“…the genres that generated the most attention were the young adult fiction, fantasy fiction, multicultural picture books, and a nonfiction title about poverty. In addition, Killing Pat Garrett turned out to have local Philly connection and was the subject of many photos taken by visiting librarians to remind themselves to order when they got home.”

Wild West Magazine

Wild West Magazine – April, 2020

“Thomas… did extensive research (a dozen year’s worth) and wrote Killing Pat Garrett as part of the Mesilla Valley History series….”

“Thomas had access to more than 80 letters Garrett wrote to his wife and also ‘discovered a multitude of new documents and details concerning Garrett’s killing, the events surrounding it, and the personal life of the man who was placed on trial for killing Garrett.’ The author includes a great many quotes… and supplements the text with 102 images, including four never-before published photos of Garrett and his family.”

“Not until Chapter 12 does Thomas reveal — though he drops plenty of hints earlier — what he thinks about this often-debated (in New Mexico and beyond) case…. Thomas makes a strong argument it was truly Brazel who pulled the trigger.”Gregory Lalire, Editor, Wild West Magazine.