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The Fountain Murders - Page 2

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Lincoln, New Mexico, by Corey Recko, 2004La Luz:

After leaving Blazer’s Mill, Fountain became aware of two horsemen following him in the distance. The men were never near enough to recognize. Albert and Henry spent their last night on Earth in La Luz, at the home of David Sutherland.


The next morning they left La Luz and passed through Tularosa before starting the long stretch to Las Cruces. They now had three horsemen following them. While in Tularosa, one can see the grave of one of the men tried for the Fountains’ murder. James Gililland, alongside his wife, is buried at Fairview Cemetery.


Oliver Lee State Park:

When the search parties found Fountain's plundered buckboard, and signs of foul play, they followed the tracks of three horsemen that led away from the buckboard. Though two sets of tracks had been trampled by a herd of cattle, they appeared to lead towards two ranches owned by Oliver Lee, according to some in the searching party. These were Dog Canyon and Wildy Well. The Dog Canyon Ranch, with a restored ranch house, is now Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.


Wildy Well:

Besides being the alleged destination of one of the horsemen involved in the Fountain murder, Oliver Lee’s Wildy Well ranch also served as the site of a gun battle between suspects Oliver Lee and James Gililland and Sheriff Pat Garrett and his posse. The Sheriff and his men were forced to retreat and lost one man in the fight.

Fountain Historical Marker/Chalk Hill:

Fountain's buckboard left the road just past a place called Chalk Hill, where the road cuts through and the banks are high. A pool of blood was found where the buckboard carrying the father and son left the road. Today a historical marker stands just west of Chalk Hill. The old wagon road is inaccessible as it is part of the White sands Missile Range, but can be seen south of the road. It was there that the Fountains’ homeward journey came to an abrupt end.


Garrett family plot, 2002, photo by Corey ReckoMasonic Cemetery, Las Cruces:

If the dead could speak, a lot could be learned from a visit to the Masonic Cemetery in Las Cruces. Thomas Branigan and his wife rest here. Branigan, a member of the initial search party for the Fountains, was a community leader in Las Cruces for years. William Llewellyn, leader of the search party, is buried near Branigan. Llewellyn, one of Roosevelt’s "Rough Riders” in the Spanish-American War, was actively involved in the investigation for Fountain's murderers. Llewellyn’s son Morgan, a guide and interpreter for the Pinkerton detective on a trip to various sites important to the case, also rests here.


Pat Garrett, the famous Sheriff, is here along with his wife and children. Markers also sit over plots reserved for Colonel Fountain and Henry Fountain, in the hope that their bodies will one day be found.






Oliver Lee’s Dog Canyon Ranch House, 2004,

Oliver Lee’s Dog Canyon Ranch House is now part of a New Mexico State Park, 2004, photo by Corey Recko



Wildy Well, 2006

Wildy Well, 2006, photo by Corey Recko




Fountain's home from 1873 until his death, Mesilla still retains much of the charm that it had in the 1890s. Be sure to walk the plaza while there. The house Albert Fountain owned when he disappeared is located south of the plaza.


Gadsden Museum:

While in Mesilla, no journey into the past would be complete without a stop at the Gadsden Museum. Run by direct descendants of Colonel Fountain, the museum is dedicated to local history and the Fountain's history. The museum is located on the corner of Barker Road and Highway 28.

Mesilla Cemetery:

Many members of the Fountain family are in this little cemetery south of Mesilla, including the Colonel’s wife, Mariana, and their son Albert (who was involved in the initial search party.)


The Fountain story ended in the small mining town of Hillsboro in 1899. The trial of suspects Oliver Lee and James Gililland took place there thanks to a change of venue. The courthouse has been partially knocked down, but remains of the brick walls still stand. One can still get a sense of the courthouse that once stood here. The fallen bricks and the dirt and weeds inside only add character to this relic of the past. The jail behind the courthouse is much more intact.


It’s been over a hundred years since Albert and Henry disappeared and the trial and acquittal of their accused killers took place. The trial coincided with the end of a century and a way of life. The lawlessness that defined territorial New Mexico soon ended and the territory became a state.


Since then, the automobile has replaced the horse. Cities have been built up and pavement put down. The old west may be gone, but the stories from the past are still visible: you just have to know where to look.

© Corey Recko, 2007, updated July, 2017.



Sierra County Courthouse, 2004

Sierra County Courthouse, 2004, photo by Corey Recko


Mesilla, the Plaza, 2004

Mesilla, the Plaza, 2004, photo by Corey Recko



About the Author: Corey Recko is author of Murder on the White Sands: The Disappearance of Albert and Henry Fountain (University of North Texas Press, 2007). He is an avid reader of history with an extensive knowledge of late nineteenth-century New Mexico. His interest in the Fountain case led to six years of research and writing. He is a member of several historical societies. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Recko now makes his home in Los Angeles, California. For more information go to www.coreyrecko.com.


Also See:


Albert Jennings Fountain - Missing in the Desert

Buckshot Robert's Last Stand

Pat Garrett - An Unlucky Lawman

New Mexico's Lincoln County War

Triggerfingeritis - The Old West Gunman


Fountain Sites Map

Original road map courtesy of New Mexico Department Of Transportation (with Fountain sites marked by Author).


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