Gunfight at the Ranch

Many traces of Texas history can be found around the ranch. One such piece of evidence is a crudely engraved gravestone near the headquarters. As the story goes according to Henry Scheer Jr., in 1873 John Murphy owned land that eventually became the Scheer Ranch, now Wellborn 2R Ranch. He had hired several men to help him – Frank Smith, Ed Koozier (brother of John Murphy’s wife, Esther) and John Barrington. Murphy had employed them to stay with his family and do farm work while he was gone from the ranch.

When he returned things hadn’t gone as he wanted and the whole outfit got into a fight – the three employed men against John Murphy. They shot Murphy in the face with a load of shot and while he was in the house washing the blood from his face, someone stuck a Winchester through a crack in the house and shot him in the back and killed him. Smith fled the
scene and stole a good horse of Murphy’s but was captured by soldiers near Fort Sill and returned to the officers in Texas.

Upon Murphy’s death, John Barrington immediately married his widow, Esther, who was also the sister of another one of the wanted men, Ed Koozier. The Barringtons were arrested a few days after Murphy was killed, but they gave a straw bond, left the country and were never heard from again. No account was given about Koozier. Frank Smith was brought to trial on April 8, 1874 and was convicted of the crime of murder in the first degree and sentenced to hang. He was held in jail until the hanging execution took place on May 14, 1875. John Murphy’s gravestone made of native rock marks his burial site just a few hundred yards from where the barn still stands at the north section of Wellborn 2R.

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