Gordon "Doc" Scurlock - Cowboy Gunfighter
gunfighter, and founding member
County War, Scurlock began his
life as the sixth of 11 children in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. He was
born on January 11, 1850 to Priestly Norman Scurlock and Esther Ann
When he grew up, he studied medicine for a
brief time in New Orleans, Louisiana where he received his nickname.
However, when he thought he had contracted tuberculosis, he went to
Mexico, hoping that it would be cured.
Scurlock was described as having
dark brown hair and brown eyes, and a slight build at just 5 feet 8 inches
tall and weighing about 150 pounds. Despite his size, he acquired a
reputation as a gunfighter in Mexico, beginning when he and another man
were playing cards in a saloon. When an argument erupted between Scurlock
and another player, the dispute turned to gunplay. In the end, the other
player was dead and Scurlock wounded, having received a bullet in the
mouth, which knocked out his two front teeth before exiting through the
back of his neck. Unbelievably, Scurlock survived.
Josiah Gordon "Doc" Scurlock
In 1871, Scurlock
returned to the United States, where he went to work for
years later, Doc showed his shooting skills once again when he and
another cowboy, named Jack Holt, were surprised by a group of
In the attack, Holt was killed, but Scurlock took refuge behind some
rocks and after several hours of gunplay, he killed the Indian leader.
Hiding into the night, Scurlock was able to slip away, walking some 20
miles for help.
By May, 1875 Chisum
had moved his operations to New Mexico,
and Scurlock joined the cowboys at his ranch near
In September 1875, another riding
partner of Scurlock's was killed by Indians
and Doc was so upset over the incident that he went to Chisum
telling him he wanted to quit. But Chisum
didn’t want him to leave and refused to pay him. Scurlock; however,
was determined and took his payment from Chisum
via three horses, two saddles, and a rifle. Wanted for the thievery,
he fled to
Arizona with some of
men hot on his trail. When the other cowboys caught up with him,
however, Scurlock explained the situation and they let him go.
Arizona, Scurlock met
and the two men opened a cheese factory on the Gila River, where it is
said they hired for a brief time, a young man who went by the name of
Billy the Kid.
The cheese factory was short lived, however, and Scurlock and Bowdre
soon left Arizona for Lincoln County, New Mexico.
There, they bought a ranch on credit from
Lawrence G. Murphy, an illegal transaction propagated by the L. G.
Murphy & Co. monopoly, which was just one of the many causes of the
Lincoln County War.
On September 2,
1876, Scurlock accidentally shot and killed his friend, Mike G.
Harkins, manager of John H. Riley’s store at Blazer’s Mill, while he
was examining a pistol.
The following month, he married María
Antonia Miguela Herrera on October 19, 1876, in
and ironically, his best friend,
married Maria’s sister, making the two brother-in-laws. Scurlock and
his wife would eventually have ten children.
During this time,
horse and cattle rustling were rampant in Lincoln County and Scurlock
served on several posses to pursue the thieves, some of which were hanged.
In January 1877, Scurlock and a neighbor, George Coe, were arrested by Lincoln County
for suspicion of harboring a murdering fugitive and member of the
Jesse Evans Gang named Frank Freeman. For several days, Scurlock and Coe were
allegedly tortured until they were released.
way, Scurlock befriended several area ranchers including John
Dick Brewer. When
along with a lawyer named
Alexander McSween, set up a rival business to oppose the Murphy and
Dolan Mercantile and Banking Company, which monopolized the trade in
Lincoln County, Scurlock supported their operation, openly defying
Lawrence Murphy and
and Dolan; however, not wanting to lose their lucrative business monopoly,
began a series of retaliation efforts. When John
was killed in February
1878, all out war erupted in Lincoln County, and fighting against the
monopoly was a group called the
of which Scurlock was a founding member.
Battle at Blazer's Mills on April 4, 1878, Scurlock was shot in the leg by
Buckshot Roberts and
Dick Brewer was killed.
A number of other skirmishes took place during the Lincoln County War, taking
the lives of more men, including
Frank MacNab. After
MacNab was killed, Scurlock became the third
leader of the
Dolan-Murphy man was replaced by John Copeland, who supported the
McSween faction, Scurlock served as a deputy sheriff for a short time.
Lincoln County War continued
to rage until November, 1878 when the governor finally had to step in,
threatening martial law. In order to return the peace, the governor;
proclaimed amnesty for all those involved in the Lincoln County War
they were not already under indictment This proclamation; however, did not include
Billy the Kid. Officially, this ended the Lincoln County War, but not before nineteen people had been killed in the
A year later, Scurlock
had given away his guns and moved to the
he settled down to live a peaceful life. He disassociated himself from his
gunfighting past and rarely spoke of it. Working at a variety of jobs over the
next decades, he also pursued a number of intellectual activities,
including reading the classics and writing poetry. He died at the age of
79 in Eastland, Texas on July
of America, updated April, 2017.
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