This discussion is not in my main area of specialty, but I have always had an interest in both the deaths of Pat Garrett and Albert Jennings Fountain. I had the good fortune back in the sixties and seventies to correspond on a regular basis with Robert N. Mullin. Mostly, I asked questions and read his answers and suggestions on matters related to the Earps in Arizona, but Bob was also very much interested in all things related to the Lincoln County War and its participants both during and aftr that conflict ended. He shared some of his thinking with me on the subject--and his frustrations--but, as most of you probably know already, he was convinced tht despite his confession Wayne Brazel did not kill Garrett, for reasons he explained in his article, "The Strange Story of Wayne Brazel," PANHANDLE-PLAINS HISTORICAL REVIEW (1969). I've tried to follow the debate since, although I'm sure I've missed much.
My major professor and dissertation director at the University of Oklahoma was A. M. Gibson, a gracious and generous gentleman, who also wrote THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL ALBERT JENNINGS FOUNTAIN (1965). He was rather plain in his conclusions about who killed Fountain and his son. I think that he was surprised at the heat of the controversy over Fountain's death that still existed in New Mexico when he finished his book. He actually received death threats after the book was published. He would shake his head, smile, take a sip of his drink, and say, "I still think I was right."
My primary venture into New Mexico's violent past was my little book on the 1867 murder of John P. Slough, the Chief Justice of New Mexico's Supreme Court, by William A. Rynerson, at the time a territorial senator but later a prominent figure in other affairs. I was struck, then, by the somewhat peculiar relationship of politics and violence in New Mexico. Rev. F. J. Tolby (1875), Wiliam Morley (1883), Juan Patron (1884), Dumas Provencher (1886), Faustino Ortiz (1890), Arturo Ancheta (1891)who was shot in Thomas Catron's office and Catron thought to be the real target, Sylvestre Gallegos (1892), Francisco Chavez (1892), Juan Pablo Dominguez (1892), John Doherty (1894), and Jose Francisco Chavez (1904) were all homicides with political overtones.
I only met Bob Mullin in person a time or two. Once was at the Western History Association meeting in Santa Fe. He knew of my interest in Slough (Slough was connected to the New Mexico Campaign in 1862, commander of the First Colorado Cavalry, and was involved in the aftermath of the Sand Creek Massacre). We were walking through the La Fonda Hotel, when he pointed to a fireplace and said to me, "That is where Rynerson waited for Slough the day he killed him." I spent a lot of time with Bob at that meeting, sometimes talking with him about Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, and often just sitting and listening as he and a cadre of others talked about the Lincoln County War, Pat Garrett, and other things New Mexico.
I know that Bob--and Gib--would be proud of all of the research that has been done and is still being done on the subjects they loved. So, as an observer with an appreciation of the difficulty of your tasks, thank you.
Thanks to Betty Jay who introduced me to Robert N. Mullin, altho only in a small way, I think his research is aces. She shared with me a small bit of Robert N. Mullin's research that she had, that... more
Thank you Garry, a great letter. Mullin was a great person. He stayed three days in Lincoln, NM, at the Ellis home. You recall Lincoln history is sprinkled with the name Ellis. I visited with the... more
Cal, I agree about UTEP. The book collection and your papers really need to be preserved for posterity in a safe place. I just found out that the papers of one of the prominent attorneys who were... more