WPA John W. Poe


An interview with: Sophie Poe


By: Georgia B. Redfield

FEB 27 1837


John W. Poe the son of Nathan and Louise [Harber?] Poe was born in [Mason?] County Kentucky October 17, [1880?]. He attended the public schools of his home state, but the greater part of his education, he acquired as a pupil in lifes' school of experience and responsibilities.

A fondness for descriptive literature lead to extensive traveling which broadened his views and visions and gave to him a very accurate knowledge of foreign and National affairs.

From the time, when as a youth he stole away in the night from his Kentucky home with resolve to go west seeking a home and fortune in new environments, Mr Poe's plans were well defined, and always executed. "Whatever he would undertake he carried thro'ugh to successful Completion."

During the years [1889-70?] Mr Poe engaged in farming in Jackson County Missouri. In 1871 he was employed by a bridge contractor in construction work on the Santa Fe Railroad near Emporia Kansas. From [1872?] until 1874 was in the stock business in western Texas, and spent four years hunting buffalo on the west Texas plains. In [1881?] he came to Lincoln County New Mexico as detective for the Canadian River Cattle Association.

Mr Poe was one of the deputies under Pat Garrett-Sheriff of Lincoln County-and [aided?] in location Billy the Kid-outlaw of that district, when he was found and shot by Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner July 14, [1881?].

After the killing of Billy the Kid Mr Poe continued in the [?] ranching and cattle business in Lincoln County from [?] until 1885. He was married in Roswell during that time - in May 1883-to Miss Sophie Alberding who was a guest of Captain and Mrs. Joseph C. Lea, who were living at the time in the first residence built in Roswell which was built, by Van C. Smith in 1869 for a hotel.

Mr Poe spent the year 1886 traveling and prospecting in South America. He decided to remain in New Mexico, returned and established what is now known as the L.F.D. stock farm, four miles east of Roswell. Here he engaged successfully in the ranching and livestock, from 1886 until 1893, then turning his interests into the banking business, organizing-and was President of-the Bank of Roswell from 1893 until 1899. The following year - 1900 - he organized and was President, of the Citizen's Bank of Roswell which was Nationalized in 1903. Mr Poe was director, during tho'se years, of numerous business enterprises and developments of Roswell and Pecos Valley.

As a peace officer Mr Poe experienced, perhaps, the most thrilling experiences of his life.

"He served as City Marshall at Fort Guffin Texas in 1878-79 and deputy United States Marshall for the Panhandle of Texas from 1878 until 1881, in 1882 was elected sheriff for Lincoln County remaining in office three years.

He was a member of New Mexico Territorial Board of Equalization 1888 and 1889 was chairman of Roswell council in 1901-02.

In 1908 became chairman (2years) of the commision that built the Roswell water works and sewer system.

Mr Poe was a thirty third degree Mason of New Mexico and one of the most prominent representative of that order in the southwest, was a member of independent order of Odd Fellows, and of the Royal Order of Scotland.

Both Mr and Mrs. Poe were leaders in all special social and cultural circles during the many years of their residence in Roswell, were protestants, in faith, staunch democrats and members of the Country Club and travel. In 1907 they toured Europe and in 1913 they visited many historic points of [interest?] and the art and trade centers in a trip around the world.

Mr Poe died in 1923.

Mrs. Poe is the author of "Buckboard Days" published in 1936. This is a story of the life of her illustrious husband-John William Poe- and the interesting account of the early settlement of Roswell, and the exciting days during the period of lawlessness and many daring episodes of Billy the Kid. The account of those stories were given by Mr Poe himself who as deputy sheriff under Pat Garrett was active in bringing peace and order out of those terrorizing days of lawlessness.

Sources Of Information

Twitchill's History Vol V page 273.

Buckboards days - By Sophie Poe - 1936.


Redford Georgia B.

FEB 27 [1937?]


So We Were Married

From Buckboard Days

By Sophie Poe-Wife of J. W. Poe.

Published 1936

"One day in may 1882, Milo Pierce (Captain Joseph C Lea's partner in the sheep business) mentioned an important name in my hearing. The name was that of a man famous in New Mexico at that time - John William Poe - special officer of the Canadian river Cattle Association, and the deputy sheriff who-more than any other- was responsible for the killing of the outlaw - Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner by Pat Garrett.

"After hearing this conversation (it was in praise of John Poe) one night, just at bed time, Captain Lea called me into a back room of his home, where I was a guest. When I entered the room I saw Pat Garrett sitting with his long legs stretched toward the fire. Captain Lea walked up and down. These extraordinarily tall men (both six feet four inches tall) were very solemn, and the Captain said slowly: 'Sophie I've just had a letter from John W. Poe, our next sheriff, (Pat Garrett refused reelection) and he is coming to Roswell for a visit! He will stay here with us."

"I said 'Yes Sir' and waited".

'Poe has been down in Mexico and has had a [?] attack of Mexican fever,' said Captain Lea, and he going to stay here for a while and recover. He will do some hunting over on the Llano Estacado. He's been fond of that country ever since his buffalo hunting days.'

"Pat Garrett had not said a word but watched me out of one corner of his eye."

'Now Sophie, we, Pat and I, have talked all this over and we want you to like John Poe and not just like you like every body else.'

"He looked at Pat Garrett, who was studying his boots intently, so Captain Lea went on:

` "You see Sophie John Poe is going to be our next sheriff and he's going to be more than that: eventually he will be one of the really big men of this section, and Pat and I have decided you should marry him. That is wht I called you in-to tell you.'

"For a moment I was utterly dumb. I could only stare at the two amazing matchmaker. Then I exploded.

"What gave you the idea, I demanded furiously, that you could call me in and just tell me whom I should marry? Do you think you can dispose of me as if I were one of your prize short-horns? If you do I'll tell you right now - -"

"Well a few days later Captain Lea came in and said, "John Poe's in town, and will be over pretty soon. Better run and smooth up your bangs. I want you to look your very prettiest for him.'

"It was not hard to obey the order, I was interested & had n o objections now to meeting this famous John Poe.

"When I came down to the living room a few minutes later Captain Lea was letting in a tall wide shouldered man, and they turned to me.

'Mr Poe', Captain Lea said, 'this is Miss Sophie Alberding our guest.'

"I am sure that I looked up into the eyes of this handsome stalwart plainsman and realized, then and there, that the conqueror of the citadel had come. I realized that what Pat Garrett had said was true-that none of the men I had been thro'wn with stood on the same footing with John William Poe.

"So we were married in Roswell May 5, [1883?].



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