George Adolphus Scarborough

George Adolphus Scarborough was born October 2, 1859 in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana to George Washington Scarborough and the former Martha Elizabeth Rutland. He was one of at least five siblings. In the 1860 census, the father is described as being a planter with 4,000 acres of land. In the 1870 census the father was shown as keeping a hotel. Between 1870 and 1880, the family had moved to Jones County, Texas. By then, George Adolphus had married the former Mary Frances McMahan on August 30, 1877 in McLennan County, Texas and began to raise their family.

A news report in the Fort Worth Daily Gazette of October 20, 1887 describes an incident in Haskell, Texas in which Sheriff George A. Scarborough and his brother Will, a deputy, shot and killed one A. J. Williams. The two Scarborough brothers had been in Haskell on their way to transport another prisoner to Seymour for trial in a district court. They were in a local saloon and George was sitting at a table writing when Williams and another man came in. The report said that Williams entered the saloon, cocked a double barrel shotgun and told George he was going to kill him. Hearing this, brother Will shot Williams, who fell to the floor and and later died. The article continued to say that Williams had previously been arrested by Scarborough in New Mexico and had brought him back to Texas where he was under indictment for attempted bribery of a law officer. George was to be a witness against Williams who may have wanted to prevent this by doing away with George. The case had been up for a change of venue.

Though the Williams killing was held to be justified, George was not reelected when his term ended and he moved on to work as a detective for several years before being hired as a deputy United States Marshal in 1893. In 1895, he was involved in another killing, one of cattle rustler and outlaw Martin Mrose (or Morose). Mrose had fled to Mexico but had sent his wife (or common law wife) Beulah “Bessie” Mrose to hire former outlaw turned lawyer John Wesley Hardin to defend him. Late at night on the evening of June 21, 1895 Scarborough, El Paso Police Chief Jeff Milton, Frank McMahon and possibly John Selman confronted Mrose as he exited the bridge from Mexico to El Paso for a prearranged meeting with Scarborough. According to an article in the Carlsbad (NM) Current-Argus of July 5, 1895, Milton and McMahon ordered Mrose to raise his hands. Mrose went for a Colt 45 he was carrying. Shots rang out and Mrose was killed. His body was taken to the Star stables undertaking rooms and he was pronounced dead. An inquest began shortly afterwards. Scarborough testified that he had received a letter from Mrose when Mrose was confined in a Juarez, Mexico jail. Mrose had asked for Scarborough to come to Mexico and meet him. Scarborough said that Mrose had replied that he was not able to meet at the time suggested and said he would send Scarborough a second letter suggesting another time. The two finally met in Mexico. Initially, Mrose had said he was not coming across to the United States but later decided to do so. Scarborough informed local officers Milton and McMahon that Mrose was coming over. Mrose and Scarborough met on the bridge after which Mrose crossed the bridge and was confronted by Milton and McMahon who had a warrant for Mrose’s arrest. Mrose was shot after raising his gun and pointing it at Scarborough.

The inquest cleared the lawmen of wrongdoing in the death of Mrose. During the procedings, John Wesley Hardin is said to have claimed that he had paid Milton and Scarborough to kill Mrose. Hardin was also romantically linked to Beulah Mrose in several other separate accounts. Hardin later withdrew his claim of it being a murder for hire. Though Scarborough was cleared of any improper actions, he lost his job as a United States Marshal. About two months later on August 19, 1895, Hardin was killed by lawman John Selman.

The following year, on April 5, 1896, Selman was killed by Scarborough. Conflicts between the two that are usually cited include Selman’s killing of Scarborough’s former friend and associate Bass Outlaw and Scarborough’s apparent refusal to help secure the release of Selman’s son from a Mexican jail where he was being held for attempting to elope with the fifteen year old daughter of a Mexican consular official. Scarborough was tried and acquitted for the murder of Selman.

Image believed to be in the public domain.

For the next several years, Scarborough lived near the Texas-New Mexico border, at one time living in Deming, New Mexico and working for the Grant (NM) County Cattlemen’s Association. On April 1, 1900, he was involved in a shootout with escaped prisoner George Stevens (or Stevenson) and murderer James Brooks near Benson, Arizona. According to an article in the San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) of April 5, 1900, he and deputy Walt Birchfield were caught in an ambush by the suspects. In the ensuing battle, one of the suspects was killed and both Scarborough and Birchfield were wounded, Birchfield less seriously than Scarborough. Scarborough’s leg was amputated but he later died from complications of his wound. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Deming, New Mexico. At the time of his death, Scarborough was forty years old.

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