The Outlaw’s Daughter
Lying side by side at Oakland Cemetery are Houston Rhode, the 15-year-old child of German immigrant parents, and Delores “Lola” Scurlock Herrera, the 25-year-old daughter of a notorious outlaw. The boy died from a heart condition; his parents buried him October 21, 1916. A week later, having lost her battle with septicemia, Lola was placed next to the boy, apparently with no stone to mark her loss.
It was Josiah Gordon “Doc” Scurlock who provided the particulars for his daughter’s official death certificate. Lola had been living in Gossett in Kaufman County when she became ill; she made her way to Dallas and entered St. Paul’s Sanitarium at Bryan and Hall. There, she spent three weeks battling septicemia (blood poisoning) that developed from an abscess in her pelvis.
Doc Scurlock had hung up his guns decades before he traveled to his daughter’s death bed. He already had lost two daughters — his first-born child died at age two, his second-born at 15. And, in 1912, he lost his wife of 36 years. Whether he would have wished it on the day Lola died, he would live another 13 years without any of them.
Born in Alabama in 1849, Scurlock famously rode alongside Billy the Kid. The son of a farmer, he allegedly studied medicine in New Orleans, thereby earning his outlaw nickname. He lived in Mexico for a time, but returned to the American West in 1871, when he went to work as a line rider for John Chisum, defending the cattleman’s stock from rustlers. After a dispute with Chisum, Scurlock headed to Arizona, where he met and went into business with Charlie Bowdre.
By 1876, Scurlock and Bowdre had made their way to Lincoln County, New Mexico, where they bought a ranch. They also stormed the local jail to free and hang a cattle rustler, the prelude to a year-long occupation of pursuing and arresting horse thieves…and lynching some of them.
Within two years, Scurlock had assumed leadership of the Regulators, a deputized posse that fought in the Lincoln County War, an Old West conflict between rival factions that ultimately collapsed. The “war” is best known as the occasion for Sheriff Pat Garrett to hunt down and kill three Regulators, including Billy the Kid. Historical accounts of these events suggest Scurlock was by far the more significant Regulator, but the Kid’s death made him a legend.
It wasn’t all dirty business in Lincoln County for partners Scurlock and Bowdre: It was there that Scurlock met and, in 1876, married Maria Antonia Herrera, a native of northern New Mexico who would bear him 10 children. Charlie Bowdre married Antonia’s sister, Manuela.
The first two Scurlock children were born in Lincoln County; the third in San Miguel County, also in New Mexico. The rest came along after the family moved to Texas. Marriage and fatherhood apparently tamed the outlaw in Scurlock. The 1880 census for Potter County shows the old gunslinger was in charge of the local “mail station.”
In 1884, Doc and Antonia moved their family to Wilbarger County near Vernon, where Lola was born in 1891. At nine, she was living a conventional country-girl life: She and her seven siblings worked on the farm Scurlock purchased farther east in Hood County. All but the youngest two children were literate, suggesting they all attended school, though their mother, Antonia, could not read and write.
Lola stayed close to home into her adult years. On August 2, 1911, in the Granbury, Texas courthouse, she married a man named Eliseo Herrera, born in New Mexico. They were together five years before her death.
Why it was her father and not her husband who oversaw the paperwork related to her untimely death is not known. It’s also a mystery why a woman with so many family members — including one famous outlaw — doesn’t have a stone marking her final resting place.
As for that famous outlaw, he made his home in Eastland (about 125 miles west of Dallas) in the last years of his life. There, between 1921 and 1925, he worked as a road hand for the state highway department. An article written for Transportation News in 1999 notes that he enjoyed reading the classics and, oddly, wrote book reviews for University of Texas students.
A heart attack killed Scurlock July 25, 1929. Despite spending some of his youth defying the odds, he lived to be 79 years old.
Doc Scurlock is buried with his wife, Antonia, in Eastland City Cemetery, where he enjoys the benefits of notoriety. He not only has a handsome stone marker that he shares with his wife, but a bonus mini-biography that he shares with Billy the Kid.
NOTE: In the 1988 hit movie Young Guns, about the young hotheads who fought the Lincoln County War, Emilio Estevez portrays Billy the Kid, while Kiefer Sutherland plays a poetry-loving Doc Scurlock.