"Always Telling the Truth Means Never Having to Remember Anything"
Editorials: Roswell Local
By Dennis Balthaser
Roswell Witness Related to the Old Wild West
One never knows what information will show up, or where the information will come from when doing UFO research. Sometimes it comes from the witnesses themselves, or in some cases a spouse, a child or other person somehow related or acquainted with the witness. Finding a “side-story” not related to a UFO case can also be interesting when it’s found. Over the years I’ve enjoyed looking into other interests fellow researchers have when not doing UFO research. The in-depth interview Wendy Connors and I did several years ago with Walter Haut revealed his childhood in Chicago; involvement in WWII with the 509th bomb wing and other non-UFO related accomplishments. Those little tidbits of information give a better overview of the person in my opinion, sometimes not otherwise known.
Such is the account I stumbled on recently while doing a radio interview, when I was asked if I could verify some information I had never heard of before.
Everyone who is familiar with the 1947 Roswell Incident of course recognizes the name “Mack” Brazel, the ranch foreman on the Foster ranch near Corona in 1947, who found the debris scattered across his pasture. By all accounts “Mack” appears to have been a gentle man, away from his family a lot while in charge of the ranch, and trying to earn a living in the 1940s. After the Roswell Incident, his interrogation by the military, and unwanted notoriety, he apparently tried to remain that gentle person, still a characteristic of ranchers in the southwest United States today.
Apparently such was not the case with “Mack’s” uncle “Wayne” Brazel, back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, when the “wild west” was still controlled by the six-shooter. As with the 1947 Roswell Incident, the story I will share about Jesse “Wayne” Brazel, “Mack’s” uncle, also contains controversy, but I can’t pass up sharing it.
During the late 1800’s two names emerged which are forever remembered in the annuals of the old west---Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett.
The legend of William H. Bonney (left), (better known as Billy the Kid), became well known over the years as being a vicious and ruthless killer in the New Mexico Territory during the 1800’s. Many of his escapades have been exaggerated over the years in books and films, but there is no doubt that he was a wanted man. After finally being captured, the “kid” shot his way out of the second floor Lincoln County jail on April 28, 1881, in Lincoln, New Mexico (about 47 miles west of Roswell), killing Sheriff Pat Garrett’s deputies Bob Ollinger and James Bell, and successfully escaped.
Although Pat Garrett (left) is best known for killing Billy the Kid, many think he was one of the most contradictory men in the history of the American West. Depending on what can be researched about Garrett, he is also accused of being a woman chaser, drinker, gambler and a man slow at paying his debts. His marriages were also controversial affairs. About the time of the Lincoln County War, Garrett became Sheriff, with strong support from cattle baron John Chisum. As Sheriff, his primary responsibility was to track down Billy the Kid, which he subsequently did, locking him up in the Lincoln County jail, only to have the Kid shoot two of Garrett’s deputies while escaping. Garrett tracked down Billy the Kid again, this time at Fort Sumner, (about 80 miles north of Roswell). The Kid was hiding at the house of land baron Pete Maxwell, and around midnight on July 14, 1881, Sheriff Pat Garrett was sitting beside a bed talking to Maxwell when the Kid stepped through the doorway. He saw Garrett sitting there, but didn’t recognize him in the darkness. Instead, he drew his revolver and hoarsely whispered, “Quien es?” (Who is it?). Garrett fired and shot Billy the Kid dead, putting an end to his young outlaw life.
Enter “Wayne” Brazel, the uncle of “Mack” Brazel….
As the years passed by Garrett’s troubles increased because of his gambling, drinking, and loss of allies. James P. Miller, who had a reputation as a murderer was interested in buying Garrett’s Bear Canyon Ranch in southern New Mexico. During the negotiations Garrett informed Miller that a “goat man” named “Wayne” Brazel (left) leased a portion of the ranch and would have to be evicted. When confronted Brazel refused to leave unless he was paid $3.50 a head for his 1200 goats. Miller agreed, and offered Garrett $3000.00 for the ranch. Then Brazel raised the price and Miller told Garrett the deal was off since he didn’t have that kind of money.
The next day, February 29, 1908, Garrett and Carl Anderson, a relative of Miller’s, set out for Las Cruces in a buggy and caught up with Brazel, who was on horseback. Garrett and Brazel began arguing about the goats and Garrett said, “it didn’t make any difference whether Brazel moved off of the property or not, he (Garrett) would get him off the ranch somehow.”
From here on there are two accounts of what took place next. One says Garrett climbed out of the buggy and stepped to the rear of it to relieve himself, carrying his folding shotgun in his right hand, and turning his back on Brazel ---who shot him twice in the back of the head. The other account says that while the two were arguing, Garrett reached under the buggy seat to retrieve his shotgun and Brazel shot him. So a little over a quarter century after Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid, he met his own demise from a handgun.
Fourteen months later on April 19, 1909, Brazel’s case went before a twelve-man jury that took 15 minutes to reach a verdict of “self defense.”
There are other accounts of who shot Pat Garrett, for other reasons and where, but I couldn’t pass up the fact that Roswell witness “Mack” Brazel’s uncle “Wayne” is included, hoping the reader will enjoy this return to the “old wild west” near Roswell in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, when law and order were much different than today.
Billy the Kid is buried at Ft Sumner New Mexico where he met his end, amongst much controversy whether the grave actually contains the remains of the Kid or not. Pat Garrett was buried in Las Cruces, at the Odd Fellows cemetery, on March 5, 1908. In the 1950’s due to poor maintenance of the cemetery, Garrett’s son had his father’s remains reinterred at the Masonic Cemetery across the street.
As for “Wayne” Brazel, he married and obtained a small ranch west of Lordsburg, New Mexico a few years after killing Garrett. When his wife died in 1913, he sold the property and disappeared from public record. It is unknown where he moved to after selling the property, and his exact date of death is unknown, but believed to have been around 1915.
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