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Educated Gunfighter

Doc Scurlock with wife, Antonia. Photo taken around 1877, when Doc would have been around 28

Josiah Gordon "Doc" Scurlock was born in Tallapoosa, Alabama on January 11, 1849. He studied medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, so he really was a 'doc.' When he was around twenty, he went to Mexico fearing tuberculosis (although another source claims he went to Mexico in order to use his medical knowledge to aid in a yellow fever epidemic). While in Mexico, he got into an argument over a card game with a man and they both drew their pistols. The other man shot first and the bullet went through Doc's mouth, knocking out his two front teeth and coming out the back of his neck without any serious damage. Doc quickly returned fire and killed the other man. Doc returned to the U. S. in 1871 and went to work for John Chisum. In September 1875, Doc's riding partner, Newt Higgins, was killed by Indians and Doc was so shook up by this that he asked Chisum if he could quit. Chisum wouldn't let him quit so Doc stole three Chisum horses, two saddles, and a rifle and fled to Arizona Territory. Chisum sent some of his men after Doc and they caught up with him, but when he explained to them why he stole the stuff, they let him go. Doc met Charlie Bowdre in Arizona and the two opened a cheese factory there on the Gila River. It's been said by descendants of Doc and Charlie that one of their first employees was Billy the Kid, and this seems very likely. Doc and Charlie later returned to Lincoln County, New Mexico after they closed the cheese factory in spring of 1876. Doc and Charlie were sold a ranch on public domain land on the Rio Ruidoso by L. G. Murphy & Co. on credit, making them a victim of the Murphy & Co. monopoly. On September 2, 1876, Doc accidentally shot and killed his friend Mike Harkins while he was examing a pistol. On October 19, 1876, Doc married Antonia Herrera. Doc's best friend Charlie Bowdre married Antonia's half-sister, Manuela Herrera shortly thereafter, making Doc and Charlie brothers-in-law. For the next year or so, Doc was in several posses that were catching horse thieves. He, Charlie, and others even lynched some of the thieves they caught. In Jan. 1877, Sheriff William Brady arrested Doc and his friend and neighbor George Coe under suspicion of harboring a murdering fugitive and member of the Jessie Evans Gang named Frank Freeman. For the next few days, Doc and George were treated very harshly, and allegedly even tortured, by Brady. Eventually, however, they were both released. In Oct. of 1877, the Jessie Evans Gang stole horses belonging to John Tunstall, Alex McSween, and Dick Brewer from Brewer's Rio Ruidoso ranch. Doc and Charlie, as well as Brewer, went off in pursuit of the Evans Gang, and did locate them, but were unable to regain possession of the stolen horses. After John Tunstall was killed in Feb. 1878, Doc became a founding member of the Regulators and was involved in most of the battles of the Lincoln County War. In the Battle at Blazer's Mills on April 4, 1878, Doc was shot in the leg by Buckshot Roberts. Doc later became the third leader to the Regulators as well, after prior leaders Dick Brewer and Frank MacNab had been killed. He was also appointed a deputy to Sheriff John Copeland (who was the sheriff that replaced Sheriff William Brady, and who was also a McSween partisan). During the Five-Day Battle in Lincoln, Doc took over to Ellis house at the east end of Lincoln along with Frank Coe, Charlie Bowdre, Dan Dedrick, John Middleton, John Scroggins, and Dirty Steve Stephens. It was also during the Five-Day Battle that Doc basically stopped acting as the Regulators' leader, letting Billy the Kid take over from then on. After the war, he and Charlie left their Rio Ruidoso ranch and moved with their wives to Fort Sumner, in San Miguel County. While there, he quit the Regulators with Charlie, and the two got jobs working as ranch-hands on the ranches of Pete Maxwell and Thomas Yerby. Doc later joined Billy the Kid, Tom Folliard, George Bowers, and Yginio Salazar in Lincoln on Feb. 18, 1879 in a failed attempt to make peace with Dolan and his gunmen. After witnessing Dolan and his men kill Sue McSween's lawyer, Huston Chapman, that same night, and after Billy had been promised a pardon by Gov. Lew Wallace if he testified to this fact before a grand jury, Doc and Billy turned themselves in to Sheriff George Kimbrell on March 21, 1879. For the next twenty-seven days, they were under house arrest at Juan Patron's house. After Billy testified before the grand jury, at it became clear that Wallace was not going to pardon him, both Doc and Billy left the Patron house and returned to Fort Sumner. In the Fall of 1879, Doc joined his fellow former Regulators Billy, Tom Folliard, and Charlie Bowdre in forming a new gang called The Rustlers. However, after they stole 118 head of Chisum cattle and the law started to come down on the gang, Doc took his family and left New Mexico Territory for Tascosa, Texas. While there, he hung up his gun forever. After Billy the Kid broke out of jail in Lincoln in late April 1881, he fled to Tascosa and stayed with Doc there for a few days. Doc later became a teacher in Vernon, Texas. His family also moved to Cleburne, Granbury, Mabank, and last Eastland, all in Texas. In that time, Doc was a farmer, linguist, doctor, and teacher. He also wrote poetry in his free time. He and his wife had ten children altogether, two of them dying while very young. However, throughout the rest of his years Doc never talked of his past in the Lincoln County War. Antonia Herrera Scurlock died in 1919. Doc died in Eastland, Texas on July 25, 1929. That was the end of the most educated of Billy the Kid's pals.

Doc Scurlock, retired gunfighter

This photo was taken around 1886 when Doc was 36, long after he'd settled down in Texas.