Elizabeth Garrett – New Mexico Historic Women Marker Initiative

Elizabeth garrett

Elizabeth Garrett was the third of eight children born to Pat Garrett, known as the sheriff who brought Billy the Kid to justice, and Apolinaria Gutierrez Garrett. she was born october 9, 1885 at the garrett house on eagle creek just outside alto (near ruidoso), she lost her sight at the time of her birth or soon after. elizabeth moved her family to roswell when she was still young. In an interview given to works-in-progress management writer Georgia Redfield in February 1937, Elizabeth recalled her childhood on the Roswell farm and one of her first musical compositions, displaying an early talent for music:

“My childhood days on the farm near Roswell were happy with no restrictions or restrictions. I led an active life outdoors, rode horses and did all the things any child loves to do… one of my earliest memories of songwriting was swinging on a branch of an old apple tree. i made up a song about apple blossoms and bees buzzing around the trees. i never caught the smell of apple blossoms i never got back feel the leafy shadows under the trees and bring the sun, and listen to the birdsong as they called to each other from tree to tree in the orchard.”

At the age of six, Elizabeth began school at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. After graduating, she moved to El Paso, where her father had accepted a position as a customs officer and taught music. Her family moved to Las Cruces in 1905 upon completion of her father’s commission; Ella Elizabeth joined them three years later.

Elizabeth’s talent for music had developed while she was at school and would continue throughout her life. she wrote and sang her own songs in performances all over the state and country, once even performing for inmates in sing sing!

Elizabeth later moved to Roswell and lived in a five-bedroom adobe house that she called “the house”. In the same WPA interview, his house was described this way: “[The house] has all the color and atmosphere of early-day Spanish architecture, interior decoration and furniture. The living room is bright and cheery (never draw blinds to keep out sunlight here) and there are flowers everywhere, in a soft mix of bright colours, gold predominating, in draperies, rugs and pictures.”

Perhaps Garrett’s most lasting contribution to New Mexico is composing the words and music for what later became the first official state song. she wrote this piece, “o, fair new mexico”, in 1915. at the request of the governor of new mexico, washington e. Lindsey, Garrett performed the song personally before the state legislature in Santa Fe in 1917; The next day, lawmakers voted unanimously to make it the official state song of New Mexico. “o, fair new mexico” is still known today as the “official state song,” but the state has since adopted a state song in Spanish, a state ballad, a bilingual state song, and an official state song Cowboys.

“o, fair new mexico” is in 2/4 time in the key of flat major. The three stanzas of it, with a refrain, describe the climate, geography, agriculture, and general beauty of the state of New Mexico. each verse uses the lyrics “new mexico”, while the chorus uses “new mexico”. the lyrics of the chorus are:

o, beautiful new mexico, we love you, we love you so, our hearts are proudly overflowing no matter where we go, oh, beautiful new mexico, we love you, we love you so, the greatest state to know, new mexico.

the new mexico legislature awarded garrett a monthly stipend for life for the use of the song.

garrett was on the board of regents for the new mexico school for the blind and partially sighted in alamogordo. a residence there is now named after him. garrett also wrote the school song.

A quote given in the 1937 Redfield interview sums up Garrett’s view of her role in life and her position as the daughter of one of the most famous lawmen in the West: “Quite often, my father he had to achieve harmony with a weapon. try to do it by carrying a melody.”

Garrett died after taking a fall while out walking with his guide dog Tinka in Roswell on October 16, 1947.


garrett, elizabeth. “Oh, beautiful New Mexico.” music sheet. lyrics and music by elizabeth garrett. Gamble Hinged Music Co., Chicago, IL.

hall, ruth. A Place of Its Own: The Elizabeth Garrett Story. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press, 1983.

melzer, richard, ph.d. buried treasures. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press, 2007.

metz, leon claire. Pat Garrett: The Story of a Western Lawman. Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press, 1972.

Redfield, Georgia B. “Elizabeth Garrett’s early life”. construction progress administration interview, February 9, 1937.

Redfield, Georgia B. “elizabeth garrett.” construction progress administration interview, January 13, 1939.

weigle, martha, and peter white. New Mexico tradition. albuquerque, nm: new mexico university press, 2005.

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