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 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 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 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.
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.
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