Buck Garrett – Gunfighter and Lawman

Buck Garrett

Buck Garrett

Buck Garrett was a career lawman and gunfighter in Oklahoma.

The nephew of Pat Garrett, Buck was born in Tennessee on May 24, 1871, and moved with his family to Paris, Texas, when he was just a child. When he was 18, he served as a posseman for the U.S. Deputy Marshals, leading to a life as a career lawman. When the Johnson County War broke out in Wyoming in 1892, he was recruited as a “hired gun” as one of Frank Wolcott’s “Regulators” and was present during the attack on the KC Ranch house, where Nick Ray and Nate Champion were killed. Garrett and other gunfighters, such as Frank Canton, were arrested but were soon released, and Garret returned to Texas.

Garrett resumed his duties as a U.S. Deputy Marshal and, somewhere along the line, married a woman named Ida Mae, and the two lived in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Here, he became involved in the pursuit of Bill Dalton in 1894 and, by some accounts, was the man who killed the fugitive. The following year, three new court districts were established in Oklahoma, and Garrett became one of the many U.S. Deputy Marshals who worked for them.

Deputy Bud Ballew and Sheriff Buck Garrett

Deputy Bud Ballew and Sheriff Buck Garrett

In 1905, he was made the Chief of Police in Ardmore, a position he held until 1910 when he was elected as the Carter County Sheriff. During his years as Chief and five terms as sheriff, he rarely wore a gun but never hesitated with the many thugs he arrested. He also diversified into oil and other businesses, becoming a wealthy man who was sometimes known to hire attorneys to defend the very people he had arrested. Though he was an influential man, he also found controversy with the Ku Klux Klan, which he considered dangerous and led to his defeat as sheriff in 1922.

Afterward, he suffered a stroke and died when he was 58 years old and was buried in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated October 2022.

Also See:

Adventures in the American West

Lawmen of the Old West

Lawmen & Gunfighters Photo Gallery

U.S. Marshals – Two Centuries of Bravery