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"FAMED MAN-HUNTER OF THE SOUTHWEST"

BUCK GARRETT.

by Stephen Riner


Buck Garrett was born in Tn. on May 24, 1871. His career in law-enforcement spanned several decades. It was in Paris, Texas that Buck got his first taste of law-enforcement, when, at the age of 18, he became a posseman.

And surprisingly enough, it was his affiliation with the U.S. Marshals that led to his being recruited to serve as a "hired gun" in the Johnson County War of Wyoming. After returning to Texas, Garrett continued his work for the U.S. Marshal's office. It was while serving as a deputy there, Buck became engaged in the hunt for the last of the Dalton gang, Bill Dalton, who was found and killed near Ardmore I.T., in 1894. Some accounts of the incident even credit Garrett with leading the posse who tracked the infamous outlaw down. And at least one author, Sam Henderson, reports Garrett as being the man who shot and killed Dalton while he resisted arrest.

Garrett left the Marshal's office and moved on in his career as a lawman. He was elected as Ardmore's Chief of Police, in 1905. It was a positon he would hold untill he resigned, in 1910, to run for Sheriff of Carter County. He is perhaps best remembered for his invovement with the Clara Smith(Hamon) case, in 1921, which brought him recognition on a very large scale. Every major newspaper in the country was in Ardmore to report on the case. And once there, they became enamored with Garrett and his number one deputy, Bud Ballew. The sensational writters wrote numerous articles about them, and thus the lawmen became known "from Peking, China to London, England as the two remaing specimens of the wild west sheriffs of the movie reels and yellow backed novels."

Garett and his deputys were removed from office, in January of 1922. "Gossip charged them with complicity in the oilfield underworld."The charges were never proved. Still others say that Buck Garrett's oppositon to the K.K.K. was the cause of his ouster. After his removal from office and untill his death, Garrett was a candidate in every election thereafter. He proved to be a "formidable factor", but was never again successful.

Garrett once again made the newspaper headlines in a big way when he was called upon, in 1923, by the ousted governor J. C. Walton to be one the "rough and ready" men he "chose to surround him in the hectic days of martial law" that followed. Sadly, the days following Buck Garrett's death were the last times his name would be brought before the public on such a large scale. Garrett sufferd a stroke while living in Oklahoma City, and Ida Mae, his wife, brought her man back to Ardmore to nurse him until his death--"a result of paralysis"--on May the 6th, 1929.


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(c) 1999 Stephen W. Riner