He became a prominent politician in New Mexico at an early age. In a span of seven years, he rose from Lincoln’s first school teacher to Speaker of the Territorial House at the age of 25, the youngest in New Mexico history. A friend of Billy the Kid, he held the young desperado under house arrest at the request of Republican Governor Lew Wallace who promised to let the Kid skip on a murder charge if he testified against two frontier thugs wanted for another murder. At the time, Wallace was penning the final chapters of Ben Hur. Billy kept his end of the bargain. Wallace didn’t.
Danger was no stranger to Patrón. He was shot in the back by a hot-headed Irishman, a partner in one of the two feuding factions, and left with a lame left leg. Later, he ducked two other attempts on his life, but luck ran out on him in April 1884, inside a smoky saloon in the small hamlet of Puerto de Luna, near Santa Rosa, N.M. A Texas cowboy named Michael Maney shot Patrón through the heart and killed him. Maney said it was self-defense. Patrón’s family and friends claimed it was an assassination to silence Patrón who knew too much damaging information about one faction in the war. Patrón was 32 years old when killed and so revered, he was buried under the floor of a Catholic Church he helped to build in Puerto de Luna. Had he lived, many believed he would have been elected New Mexico’s first congressman when it became a state in 1912.