Published: The Corsicana Daily Sun
Monday, May 6, 1929


FAMOUS OKLAHOMA PEACE OFFICER IS VICTIM PARALYSIS

Death Came Seven Years After Death of Friends and Fellow Officer

ARDMORE, OKLA., May 6 (AP) - Buck Garrett, 58, veteran peace officer of Oklahoma, died at his home here at 6 am, today. A stroke of paralysis, suffered seven weeks ago, was the cause of death.

Funeral services will be held from the family home here tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock. Garrett's death came just seven years to a day after his life long friend and fellow officer, Bud Ballew was killed in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Romancers who wrote of Garrett repeatedly called him a "Two-Gun Sheriff," but they spoke in error, for he was never a two-gun man. And in the two score years or more that he wore a badge of authority, he never killed a man while in the pursuit of duty. But he made a picturesque figure against the grim background of the last of the frontiers.

Born in Tennessee

Buck Garrett was born in Lynnville, Tenn., in 1871, youngest of four children of Larkin Garrett, a bartender. In 1875 the family moved to Cooper, Texas, where the mother died. Five years later the Garretts moved to Paris, Texas, where the father was employed many years in a saloon. Buck Garrett attended school haphazardly and grew into a tall, broad shouldered youth.

Jim Chancellor, then United States marshall for the the eastern district of Texas, a neighbor of the Garretts, became interested in Buck.

Chancellor, afterward Garrett's father-in-law, worked under Captain J. J. Dickerson, chief marshall. Captain Dickerson, a colorful figure, had made a name for himself when he led a band of federal officers upon Richmond, Texas, to end the "jaybird-peckerwood" rebellion in the late '70's.

Starts at Early Age

Chancellor called his chief's attention to the strapping young Garrett, 18 at the time.

"That fellow'd make a good posseman," said Chancellor.

A deputy had to be of age; a posseman did not. Dickerson agreed that Garrett was good material for the ranks of the law in Oklahoma.

So at the age of 18, Garrett became a member of a relentless band of peace officers riding miles and miles through semi-wilderness fighting desperate gangs of outlaws, cattle rustlers and horse theives, striving to keep peace in the a strip of land along the northeastern side of the Red River. It was a strenuous life.

After three years of training in this hard school of adventure and danger, Garrett, at the age of 21, was given his commission as a deputy sheriff, a position which he held successfully through the administrations of Dickerson, Shep Williams, and Dr. John Grant, chief marshalls.

Married in 1893

In 1893, he married Chancellor's daughter, Ida May, while she was visiting in the village of Ardmore. They established their home in Ardmore and lived continuously. Besides his widow, Garrett leaves one son, Raymond, now 32.

In the early 20 years Buck Garrett was a federal marshall, he worked with fellow officers in rounding up the celebrated Dalton gang, several members of which were captured and Bill Dalton killed by a posse in a gun fight near Pooleville, Okla., sometime after the famous Coffeyville, Kan., raid. The Nations gang, the Johns gang, the Oates gang and dozens of other outlaw gangs whose names brought fear to settlers and trainmen, were operating in the territory in those days. Garrett and Chancellor captured Lige Fayne, Arkansas desperado, who had cut a district judge to pieces while the jurist sat on the bench in a crowded court room at Fayetteville.

Retires For Short Time

At the conclusion of Dr. Grant's term of office, Garrett retired from federal service and became a grocer. But he did not remain out of public office long. He ran for chief of police of the booming city of Ardmore and was elected three terms.

Meantime came statehood. In 1910, Garrett was elected sheriff of Carter County, serving for 1922, when he was ousted.

It was Buck Garrett who went to old Mexico for Clara Smith Hamon and returned her here to stand trial for the shooting to death of Jack Hamon, widely known millionaire.

Garrett Was Well Known in Texas

DALLAS, May 6 - The passing of Buck Garrett of Ardmore recalled a vivid picture of the gigantic, old-time Southwestern peace officer to a Dallas newspaperman who came into intimate contact with him nine years ago after Clara Smith Hamon had shot and killed Jake Hamon, Republican national committeeman and one of Oklahoma's outstanding political figures.

It was Garrett who brought the young woman back from Mexico after she had been traced to Chihuahua City by Sam Blair, then a Chicago newspaper reporter.

Upon meeting Garrett, he extended his left hand for a greeting; his right was "stove up." It indicated the fearless gunfighter had disarmed a dangerous antagonist by fetching him a wallop on the jaw rather than by adding a notch to his pistol handle.

Owned Many Guns

Sheriff Buck was reputed to be the possessor of 98 pairs of pistols. The Dallas reporter actually saw two deep desk drawers full of them. Pistols of all calibers and conditions - tiny .25's to cumbersome .45's; pearl handled, wooden handled, horn handled, blue steel, silver plated and some carved and ornamated gift guns. Always they were in pairs.

"How fast are you, sheriff, on the draw?" Buck was asked one night by a reporter who was one of several enjoying the sheriff's hospitality during the nationwide search for Clara Hamon.

"About this fast," the big man replied, and in a tenth of a twinkling his gun was out in an extended right hand.

"Yeh, but that's the right; how about the left?" gibed the blasée newspaperman.

"Well, how's this?" responded Buck, and in the same instant, as fast as the eye could follow, out was the left hand gun.

"Sheriff, can you ride along the road and pop telephone wires with bullets?" he was asked.

"Naw, but I sure can give those little glass knobs hell," he replied.

Chief Deputy Slain

Buck's chief deputy at that time was Bud Ballew, another big man, red-haired and fearless. Bud was reputed to have shot and killed about a score of men in his long service as a peace officer. He was shot and killed several years ago by City Marshall McCormick in Wichita Falls, Texas.

One night while the international search for the missing Miss Hamon was on, the faint sound of wild yells and the whir-r-r-r of pistol shots penetrated to the sheriff's office. Pretty soon the telephone rang and a sober, serious look crossed Buck's face.

"What's the matter, sheriff?" somebody asked.

"Aw, that fool Bud Ballew is raising Cain."

Buck, followed by two or three of the more daring, hasteneed several blocks to the center of Ardmore's business district.

There stood the big, red-headed Bud in a semi-circle of onlookers in front of Ardmore's tallest building.

Ballew On Rampage

"Whoopee, whoopee, whoopee," shouted the red-head, whirling in a circle, and then cut loose with his six-gun at the top floor windows of the Simpson Building, then Ardmore's outstanding skyscraper. Bud disdained the use of the new fangled automatic or even of the older double-action gun. His trusted weapon was the old-fashioned single-action gun which needed cocking before it could be fired. Nevertheless, so expert was he at "fanning" the hammer that his shooting sounded like a continuous ewxplosion.

Undaunted, Big Buck walked up to Ballew.

"Gimme that gun, you crazy fool," Buck demanded.

Docilely Bud, the man with possibly a score of notches on his gun, passed over the shooting iron. Docilely he followed Buck away to "sleep it off" at the same time plaintively murmuring; "Aw, Buck, don't bawl me out."

A divider of interlinked squares

Published: The Paris News
Paris, Texas
Sunday, January 31, 1943


BACKWARD GLANCES

by A. W. Neville

Few people in Paris, if any, who saw a gangling youth driving a beer delivery wagon and toting kegs of beer into saloons, had an idea that one day he would be not only a county officer in Oklahoma but one of themost colorful and prominent figures for more than a dozen years in that Territory and State of colorful individuals and events.

That youth was James Garrett, the given name unused because the name "Buck" better fitted the 16-year-old who had the physical appearance of a full-grown man. Born in Tennessee in 1871, Buck had come with his parents to Delta County when four years old. His mother died while they lived in Cooper and in 1880, the father, Larkin Garrett, came to Paris and worked as a bartender in a saloon. The boy had desultory schooling and then for some time worked for John H. Walker, agent in Paris for a St. Louis brewery.

Jim Chancellor was one of J. J. Dickerson's deputy United States Marshalls, having been brought here from Fort Bend County, where he had been with Dickerson in the quelling of the Jaybird-Woodpecker feud. He was a neighbor of the Garrett youth and the latter was greatly interested in the exploits that were then the daily fare of the deputy marshals in Oklahoma and Indian Territory. Chancellor liked the youth and was allowed by Dickerson to use him as a posseman when going after criminals across Red River. When Buck became 21 years old he was qualified to be a deputy and Marshal Dickerson appointed him. He served through the administrations of Dickerson, Sheb Williams and John Grant, and when the latter's term ended, Buck became a private citizen and opened a grocery business in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he had been living several years. In the meantime he married Chancellor's daughter, Ida Mae, and had become a family man.

The grocery business was too slow for Buck so he asked for and was elected City Marshal of Ardmore, a place he filled several years. Then came statehood and Carter County was created. The office of sheriff was given in 1908 to a man named Akers and at the end of Akers' first term, in 1910, Buck defeated him and was elected sheriff, a place he held for twelve years, being re-elected every two years. He was removed from office in 1922 for some technical violation of the Oklahoma statutes and thereafter was a private citizen except for a time when he was one of the bodyguards for Jack Walton, Oklahoma Governor, who fell afoul of the Oklahoma Legislature, was impeached and removed from office.

Buck Garrett, who had been in countless battles with bad men of the Territory and the State, and had come through all of them unharmed, died in his bed in Ardmore in the Spring of 1929 of a paralytic stroke.