The Story of Elizabeth Garrett, the Daughter of Pat Garrett

      “Elizabeth was the daughter of Pat Garrett of Billy the Kid and Border fame. Blind from birth, she exhibited indomitable courage and determination to make a career in music for herself, and she is remembered as the composer of the New Mexico state song. The book is written for young people but is of value for its picture of an outstanding New Mexican and for its light on Pat Garrett as a devoted father and husband.”
      —Books of the Southwest
            “This book fills a real need—it’s more than time to have a biography of the composer of New Mexico’s state song, ‘O Fair New Mexico,’ Elizabeth Garrett. The blind daughter of famed frontier sheriff Pat Garrett was quite a gal and, as the title of the book indicates, attained a place of her own. This is particularly noteworthy, for handicapped as she was, she not only overcame her blindness, but did it in a time when women in general were kept on a short leash and were supposed to stay home, minister to a good man and raise a large family. Mrs. Hall has rightfully woven in bits of other lives that touched Elizabeth’s; from being rescued from drowning by newsman Will Robinson, to the tragedy in the Fountain family. Elizabeth’s joy and appreciation of nature and music is also brought clearly into focus. If this half-Chicana girl found anything really difficult in her road upward, it fails to surface in the account. A peculiarity of pain is that try as you well, you cannot remember it, only that you have had it, and Elizabeth Garrett was not one to dwell on hardships, struggles, disappointments. Her memory, as carried in the hearts of those who knew her, is a cheerful, bright and singing one. The book is, too.”
      —Alice Bullock, The Santa Fe New Mexican
            “This is a pleasant biography of Pat Garrett’s daughter Elizabeth, who was born several years after her famous father killed Billy the Kid. A distinguished personage in her own right, she was blind from birth, but became an accomplished musician, eventually writing New Mexico’s official state song. The author not only presents Elizabeth Garrett’s inspirational life story, she also presents the controversial Pat Garrett as his family regarded him.”
      —Fern Lyon, New Mexico Magazine
            “A book for history buffs and those who like biographies is A Place of Her Own by Ruth K. Hall. It is the story of Elizabeth Garrett, the blind daughter of famous sheriff Pat Garrett and composer of the New Mexico state song, ‘O Fair New Mexico.’ The author writes not only from research but from personal acquaintance with the Garrett family. We have a book about courage and the power to endure, elements that conspire to make a true heroine. But Elizabeth was not a warrior; she was a musician, born of a famous father and a Hispanic-Indian mother. Elizabeth Garrett once said, ‘My father tried to bring peace and harmony to our country with his guns; I would like to do my part with my music.’ For anyone, young or old, interested in such a venture, this book is recommended.”
      —Bruce Woodford, The Santa Fe Reporter
            “Of particular appeal is the new edition of A Place of Her Own by Ruth K. Hall of Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is the biography of Elizabeth Garrett, daughter of Pat Garrett and composer of New Mexico’s state song, which is reproduced in the book. Hall wrote this for a juvenile audience and describes in narrative fashion Elizabeth’s experiences at the Texas School for the Blind, her life as a young woman in El Paso and Las Cruces, her musical interests, and her friendship with Helen Keller.”
      —Nancy Hamilton, The El Paso Times
            “A Place of Her Own is a book by Ruth K. Hall of Albuquerque. The subject is Elizabeth Garrett, blind singer and beautiful personality of New Mexico. The meeting and resulting friendship between Elizabeth and Helen Keller, world famous blind and deaf mute, is an inspiring part of the story. Walter Holmes, editor of the Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, and a Miss Rhodes, blind friend of Helen Keller, arranged a luncheon for the two women. Present were Mrs. Ann Sullivan Macy, Miss Keller’s teacher, Polly Thomson, her secretary; Elizabeth and her friend Beth.
            “Miss Keller invited Elizabeth and Beth to visit her at her Long Island home. Elizabeth Garrett immediately began studying the finger alphabet so that she could communicate directly with her weekend hostess. The day came and Helen Keller sent her car and chauffeur for her guests. The following is part of a letter to her mother, Mrs. Pat Garrett, which Elizabeth wrote about the visit: ‘The home was spacious and homelike. The wide, hand-carved door swung open and Mrs. Macy and Polly appeared to greet us. Polly said that Helen was waiting and led the way to a cheerful room where a fire crackled on an open hearth. Miss Keller sat by the fire, her magnificent German Shepherd guide dog at her side. As the dog moved a bit closer, alert to the presence of strangers, she rose smiling and extended both hands in a gesture of welcome. Warm greetings were exchanged with Mrs. Macy as interpreter: ‘Helen is pleased that you are learning the finger alphabet, Elizabeth. She hopes the two of you can soon disperse with my services. Polly will show you about the house now and put you in your room before our luncheon is served. We will wait for you here.’
            “Helen Keller asked Elizabeth to sing for her. ‘She listened first by passing her sensitive finger tips over my throat and lips as I sang,’ said Elizabeth. ‘Then teacher spelled the words for me as I repeated them.’ Elizabeth told her family that they spelled rapidly and communicated with more ease than could be imagined. She wrote in her letter: ‘I asked if I might see her face and with gentle hands I saw her noble features.’ The two guests toured the grounds by means of a soft rope running along one side of the paths and were told how Miss Keller loved the fragrance of the flowers and how shrubs were planted in groups so that the owner could detect them.
            “That was the beginning of a life-long friendship. Ruth Hall tells of Elizabeth’s childhood in Las Cruces and of Pat Garrett’s determining that his blind daughter would never feel ‘different’ and teaching her to ride a horse and encouraging her to be outgoing. The story is developed through conversations, mostly. Elizabeth’s going to Chicago to study voice under Witherspoon, her stay in New York City and her activities there are related.
            “Elizabeth was invited to appear at Sing Sing prison in Ossining. The warden sent his car for her and Beth. That afternoon, she poured out her heart to the men in song, the writer said. A few days later, she received a poem written by one of the inmates who heard her sing:
      Fools, they!
      They call her blind, yet she could lead
      A thousand soul-sick men
      From cold grey stones and make them heed
      The song of wind and rain
      From gloomy cells and dewey mead
      To sun and stars and sky!
      And show the message all could read
      Of love and peace and hope.
      They call her blind!
            “Elizabeth’s return to the Southwest, her voice studio in El Paso, and her finally realizing a ‘place of her own,’—La Casita, in Roswell, keep the reader endeavoring to realize that this grand lady could not see. An inspiring story—A Place of Her Own—about a valiant, spiritual, sparkling woman.”
      —Ann Carroll, El Paso Herald-Post
            “Subtitled ‘The Story of Elizabeth Garrett,’ Ruth Hall’s biography of New Mexico’s state song composer is packed full of fascinating personal details and moving human relationships. Elizabeth Garrett was born in Lincoln County, New Mexico in the 1880s. She was born blind and her songwriting is a remarkable fact, since her compositions and songs encompass so much visual beauty. She also happened to be the daughter of legendary frontier sheriff Pat Garrett, of Billy the Kid fame. But when Elizabeth was born, her father was no longer a lawman, but a rancher.
            “While Elizabeth was still very young, the family moved to Las Cruces and later Elizabeth was taken to a special school for the blind in Austin, Texas. There she learned many things, but most importantly, her native musical talent was encouraged and promoted. In 1916, she composed ‘O Fair New Mexico’ and after singing it before a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature, her song became the official state song.
            “Her later life was filled with travel, concerts and further creative endeavors. She was also one of the first persons in the state to receive a guide dog, and ironically, her guide dog was whimpering by her side when she was discovered dead on a Roswell street in 1947 after suffering a fatal heart attack. A simple marker in the Roswell cemetery marks her grave, but as author Hall remarks, Elizabeth Garrett’s life and work will always be remembered for its beauty and grace.”
      —Jack Janowski, Albuquerque Journal