A Guide to the John W. Poe Items, 1905-1917
Born in Mason County Kentucky in 1850, John William Poe moved to Texas in 1868 to hunt buffalo. In the 1870s he served as town marshal for Fort Griffin, before becoming a U. S. marshal. Poe then became cattle detective for the Canadian River Cattleman’s Association, where he worked in New Mexico. In 1881, Poe accompanied Sheriff Pat Garrett and another deputy to the location of Billy the Kid, where Garrett allegedly killed the Kid. Poe decided to remain in New Mexico after the Kid was killed, where he married Sophia Alberding in 1883 and became sheriff of Lincoln County. He resigned in 1885 and helped found the First National Bank of Roswell, becoming president in 1893. He then founded and became president of Citizen’s Bank. Poe wrote the manuscript “The Death of Billy the Kid” which was published in Wide World Magazine in 1919. He died in 1923; his manuscript was published as a book in 1933.
Composed of Poe’s narrative account of the killing of Billy the Kid, a biographical sketch of Poe, a letter, photograph, and an advertisement, the John W. Poe Items, 1905-1917, chronicle the life of John W. Poe and the death of Billy the Kid. The narrative presents Poe’s account of the killing of Billy the Kid in White Oaks, New Mexico, while a letter to W. E. Hawks discusses Charles Siringo’s book A Lone Star Cowboy. A newspaper article published in the Santa Fe New Mexican in 1905 provides biographical information; photographs depict Poe and Hawks.
This collection is open for research use.
John W. Poe Items, 1905-1917, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers