Veteran, cattleman, and businessman, would be one of the primary
New Mexico's Lincoln County War.
Born in Wexford,
Ireland in 1831 or 1834, Murphy immigrated to the United States
sometime before the
Civil War. In 1851, he enlisted in the United
State Army in Buffalo, New York and re-enlisted in 1856. When he was
discharged in 1861 from Fort McIntosh in Laredo,
where he enlisted in the First
When he was mustered out again at
he partnered in a business with another veteran named Emil Fritz. L.G.
Murphy & Co was a store and brewery established at Stanton.
Immediately profiting from their military contacts, they were awarded
government contracts to supply beef, vegetables, and other supplies to
Fort Stanton and the local Mescalero-Apache Reservation Agency. The
pair then began a scheme to sell land that didn’t own to aspiring
farmers and ranchers. Selling the land on credit, many were unable
meet their payments, resulting in Murphy and Fritz foreclosing on
their land, cattle, and/or crops. It was these cattle and crops that
fulfilled the contracts with the fort. The scandalous pair also
developed a number of contacts with a group of crooked
politicians called the Santa Fe Ring, who protected their illegal
In April, 1869, Murphy hired another
veteran named James J. Dolan, who had mustered out of
Fort Stanton and
worked as a clerk for the L. G. Murphy & Co.
Lincoln County was formed that same year,
and Murphy had political ambitions. He soon was commissioned a
District Probate Judge in the new county seat at nearby
In May, 1873, a hot-headed
James Dolan attempted to shoot
and kill a
Fort Stanton Captain named James Randlett. This would be just
one of the reasons for the demise of the profitable L. G. Murphy & Co.
In the meantime, Murphy’s partner, Emil Fritz, was diagnosed with
kidney disease, sold his interest to Murphy and returned to his native
home in Germany. On September, 1873, L. G. Murphy & Co. was
Fort Stanton, partly due to
Dolan's confrontation with
Captain Randlett, but due to accusations of price gauging and
scamming the local Mescalero-Apaches
of the supplies they were supposed to be providing. Amazingly; however,
Murphy did not lose his government contracts and quickly made plans to
establish a new business in
soon began on a two-story building for the new
L. G. Murphy & Co. Store, which took on the
nickname of "The House.” In April of 1874, former clerk,
James Dolan, bought into the business and the store, now called "Murphy
& Dolan Mercantile and Banking,”
officially opened for business. Murphy was once again able to obtain
lucrative government contacts, this time with
Sumner, and continued
his crooked business practices. In an area thriving with cattle, land
speculation and mining, the business was immensely profitable, and with
its political ties, the "House” monopolized the region’s economy.
For obvious reasons,
Murphy and his allies were disliked by the small farmers in Lincoln
County, as they were forced to pay high costs for their goods, while at
the same time, accepting low prices for their cattle.
Dolan and Murphy took on an additional partner named John
H. Riley. The next year, things come full circle for Murphy; however, when
he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March, 1877. He sold his interest to
Dolan and Riley and the business’ name changed to
Jas. J. Dolan & Co.