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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.

Rehearsal - Wayne Brazel ExaminationLast year I wrote the play performed in the 2019 Pat Garrett Western Heritage Festival. The play was based on research I did for my “Killing Pat Garrett” book. It was satisfying seeing the words I wrote spoken on stage. But the real thrill was communal. A play is a group effort. Everyone on the team, from stagehand to actor, are critical to the success of the performance. You could feel the communal sense growing in the rehearsals, and during and following the performance, an engulfing feeling of we, we did this. We presented this to the audience. Actors in the photo, left to right: John Wood, Teddy Aspen-Sanchez, Scott Galbreath, Bob Gamboa, Rick Eldridge, Jason Wyatt, and Mozart Pierson.

Pat Garrett Western Heritage FestivalThe 2020 Pat Garrett Western Heritage Festival will be held Leap Day, February 29, 2020, at the Rio Grande Theatre in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The Festival celebrates the Western Heritage of Southern New Mexico. The 2020 Festival begins with original Western Music at 12:00 pm. At 2 pm, author David G. Thomas will introduce the dramatic re-enactment of the Albert J. Fountain and Henry Fountain murder trial. The abduction and apparent murdering of Colonel Fountain and his eight-year-old son Henry is the most famous murder in New Mexico history. The re-enactment is based on the trial transcript of the men who were indicted and tried for the crime. At 7 pm, the rarely seen 1958 movie The Left-Handed Gun will be shown. Paul Newman plays Billy the Kid in the movie.

Smithsonian Magazine

December 2019 Smithsonian Mazazine

The December 2019 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine has an excellent 10-page article on Giovanni Maria de Agostini. The article quotes extensively from author David G. Thomas’ book, “Giovanni Maria de Agostini, Wonder of the Century — The Astonishing World Traveler Who Was A Hermit.” Author Thomas was also interviewed by the editor of the magazine.

Giovanni Maria de Agostini was an Italian born in 1801 who traveled extensively in Europe, South America, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. He was murdered in 1869 in the Organ Mountains located east of Mesilla, New Mexico. Agostini was the subject of the 2019 documentary film “The Wonder of the Century,” based on Thomas’ book.