John William Poe (1851-1923) –
Born at Maysville, Kentucky on October 17, 1851, Poe worked on his
grandfather’s farm but yearned to go westward. In 1870, he made his way to
Missouri where he worked as a
farm hand and on a railroad construction crew. By 1872, he
was making his living as a buffalo hunter at
Texas, and by
his own estimate killed some 20,000 buffalo. When the buffalo were
finally gone on the southern Plains, Poe became the town marshal of Fort
Griffin in 1878 and was soon commissioned as a
U.S. Deputy Marshal.
The following year, Poe
moved to Fort Elliott, Texas
where he worked as a deputy sheriff and continued his duties as a U.S.
Deputy Marshal. In 1881, Poe went to work
for the Canadian River
Cattle Association to help stop the rampant rustling activities taking
place primarily at the hands of
Billy the Kid and his gang of Rustlers. In
March, he traveled to White Oaks,
New Mexico, where he met with Lincoln
Pat Garrett and accepted an appointment as a deputy
sheriff, while still holding his position for the stock association.
Just a short time after Poe had taken the
position, Billy the Kid escaped from jail and when Poe received a tip that
the "Kid” was hiding out in
Sumner, he urged Garrett to investigate.
Soon, Poe, Garrett and another deputy named Thomas McKinney set out for
Fort Sumner. Poe had been told that
Billy was hiding out at the home of a
woman named Duvelina, an
slave and former sweetheart. However, they didn't find him there and the
trio soon called on Peter Maxwell, whose ranch headquarters occupied the
former United States Army post. Poe was with Garrett when the Sheriff
Billy the Kid.
In late 1882, Pat Garrett
decided not to run for sheriff again, but rather than backing his deputy,
John Poe, who was running, he instead backed a man named
who had been one of the main perpetuators of the
Lincoln County War.
This would seemingly indicated that there was
some friction between the two lawmen. In any event, Poe won the election
and served as sheriff of Lincoln County until December 31, 1885. After resigning as a lawman, he moved to
he operated a mercantile business and then in 1890 founded
the Bank of Roswell and ten
years later, the Citizens Bank of Roswell in 1900. He wrote several
articles for newspapers and a book about the death of
Billy the Kid. Poe
died at Roswell,
New Mexico on
July 22, 1923.
of America, updated March, 2017.