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Doc Scurlock Black Sheep in Our Family

Published on October 8, 2016 by sherons

I assume almost all our families have a black sheep in there somewhere.  Doc Scurlock is the black sheep in our family.  Who is the black sheep in your family?

Doc_ScurlockDoc Scurlock was a colorful character.  Josiah Gordon "Doc" Scurlock was born in Alabama January 11, 1849.  He studied medicine in New Orleans, and picked up the nickname "Doc".  As an adult he was 5'8", weighed 150#, had brown eyes and dark blond hair.

In 1870 Doc went to Mexico.

While playing cards he got into an argument and a gun battle began.  The other man shot first, hitting Doc in the mouth, knocking out 2 front teeth, and the bullet exited in the back of his neck without any more serious damage.  Talk about lucky!  Doc returned fire and killed the man that shot him.

Doc Scurlock returned to the United States in 1871 and went to work for John Chisum as a line rider.

The rider's job was to defend Chisum and his cattle holdings against cattle rustlers.  In 1873 Doc was riding with Jack Holt. when they were surprised by Indians.  After Holt was killed Doc wisely hid in the rocks and after a long fight, he killed the Indian leader.  During the night Doc was able to slip away and walk 20 miles for help.

Then, in September, 1875, Newt Higgins, Doc Scurlock's riding partner, was killed by Indians.

By this time the ranch had been moved to near Rosewell, New Mexico.  Doc was so upset after his second friend's death, he told Chisum he was quitting.  I guess he figured his luck had run out.  Chisum wouldn't hear of it and refused to pay him.  The newspapers reported that Doc Scurlock stole three horses, two saddles and a rifle and left for Arizona.

Chisum sent men after Doc and they caught up with him.  When Doc explained that he took the horses because Chisum wouldn't pay him, the men let him go.

In Arizona Doc met Charlie Bowdre and they opened a cheese factory that didn't last too long.

Their descendants say that one of the first employees was Billy the Kid.  When the factory closed, Billy the Kid and his now best friend Bowdre went back to Lincoln County, New Mexico.  They bought a ranch on the Rio Ruidoso, on credit from L.G. Murphy.  That made them victims of the L.G. Murphy & Co. monopoly.  This was an illegal transaction and transactions like these were one of the causes of the Lincoln County War.

In October, 1876 Doc married Maria Antonia Miguela Herrera in Lincoln, New Mexico.  His best friend, Charlie Bowdre, married Maria's sister, so he and Charlie became brother-in-laws.

Horse and cattle rustling were rampant during this time in Lincoln County.  Doc was on several posses that pursued the thieves, and some were caught and hanged.

During this period of time, Doc Scurlock had befriended John Tunstall and Dick Brewer, local ranchers.

Tunstall  and an attorney named Alexander McSween set up a competing business  with the Murphy & Dolan Mercantile and Banking Company.  Murphy & Dolan had monopolized trade in Lincoln County.  Doc openly defied the monopoly, supporting his friends Turnstall and McSween.

Murphy & Dolan did not want to lose their very lucrative monopoly, so they began retaliating.

John Tunstall was murdered in February, 1878, causing all-out war to erupt in Lincoln County.  A group call The Regulators was formed and Doc Scurlock was one of the founding members.  He was involved in most of the gun battles and on April 4, was shot in the leg.  After the first two leaders of The Regulators were killed, Dick Brewer and Frank McNab, Doc Scurlock became the third and final leader.

Doc Scurlock wanted poster

Wanted Poster for Doc Scurlock

Doc Scurlock even served as a deputy sheriff and in May, 1878 he led a posse of 18 - 20 men, including Billy the Kid and his best friend Bowdre to the Dolan - Riley Ranch.  They were searching for those involved in the killing of McNab.  Story has it they captured "Indian" Manuel Segovia, the one that had shot McNab.  "Indian" was killed while reportedly trying to escape.

As a result of this raid on the Dolan ranch, Sheriff Copeland was removed as sheriff because he would not side with the Murphy faction.  This raid hurt the Regulators, as one of their supporters in a position of authority was removed from office.

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid tried to make a deal with the governor.

Doc Scurlock was captured and held in jail on suspicion of murder, along with Billy the Kid.

They had attempted to make a deal with the governor, and when it fell through, Billy the Kid and Doc Scurlock were told they would be charged.  Because they were facing extradition, they rode out of Lincoln County on June 17, 1879 and the sheriff did not attempt to stop them.

In August, 1979, Billy and the gang, including Doc Scurlock, stole a large number of cattle from Chisum.  When a posse was sent after them, Doc decided it was time to to leave the gang and give up his gun-fighting days and ways.

In the fall of 1879, Doc gave away all his guns and moved his family to Texas.  He rarely spoke of his past.  Doc became a highly respected citizen.  The 1880 census for Potter County shows he was keeping the mail station.  Doc held a variety of jobs over the next decades.  He even read the classics and wrote poetry.

Good Citizen Doc Scurlock

Very respected older "Doc" Scurlock

In the fall of 1879, Doc gave away all his guns and moved his family to Texas.  He rarely spoke of his past.  He became a highly respected citizen.  In 1880 the census for Potter County shows he was keeping the mail station.  He held a variety of jobs over the next decades.  Doc even read the classics and wrote poetry.

Doc Scurlock died at the age of 79 on July 25, 1929 and is buried in Eastland, Texas.







Meet The Author
Dan and I were childhood sweethearts and will celebrate our 53 anniversary in May. We moved to the country in 1971 and have loved raising our two boys on the farm. After my parents died, we acquired the 112 acre farm and bought the adjoining 60 acre farm. We now have 172 beautiful acres with a little over one mile of San Gabriel River frontage. We remodeled the three homes on the farm and have offered them as vacation rental homes since 2010. We have hosted guests from every state and 21 countries and have loved meeting many different people. We raise cattle, goats, hay and pecans on the farm and there is always something going on! I love giving tours of the farm to our guests in a Polaris and show them the river, animals, hiking areas and give a little history of the farm. Well behave pets are welcome and the owners and the pets love being able to be off-leash. Wildlife is abundant and guests love seeing deer, bobcat, fox, coyote, raccoon, possom, rabbits, skunks, and armadillo. The farm is a birder's delights with the varied terrains - prairie top pastures, wooded hillside and bluffs, heavily wooded areas, and the river wetlands. Many bird watchers have seen lifers while visiting (a bird they have never seen in person before). Roadrunners are a favorite! Our youngest son was only 6 weeks old when we moved to the farm and he has built a home along the bluff and raised his family here. Our oldest son owns a business in Dallas and when he retires, he will move back to the farm. Guests have loved fishing and tubing the river, looking for fossils, or simply skipping rocks and wading with their little ones. Others have enjoyed hiking the spring-fed creek bed, looking for arrowheads, and hiking about the 172 acres. Others have enjoyed sitting in the outdoor areas of the homes and soaking up the peace and quiet as they enjoy the beauty from the bluffs and watch the birds and wildlife that comes by.
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