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Posted January 23, 2003
An article on the death of Lee McMurtry
of Quantrill's band
From the Wichita Daily Times, Wichita Falls, Texas, June 23, 1908:
Lee McMurtry in Last Sleep
Fought With Quantrell and Jesse James, Dies Here.
Fort Worth Telegram.
Lee B. McMurtry, 66 years old, died Sunday in Fort Worth and with his passing one of the most remarkable characters of the early days of the southwest goes to its final reward. McMurtry was a personal friend and long time associate of Jesse James in the days of his career in Missouri. He has told many listeners how he was with "Bill" Quantrell [sic] when he was shot, toward the close of the civil war, and last fall at Wichita Falls met Cole Younger for the first time in thirty-six years.
McMurtry was present at the famous massacre at Lawrence, Kan., when the entire city was shot up and burned. Once with a few comrades when surrounded by Colorado troops he cut his way through the military cordon and in his flight that day had three horses shot from under him.
When the James boys were broken up he fled to Mexico and later returned to New Mexico. He he freighted for years, but later returned and stood trial, coming clear of all charges made against him.
Made a Fine Sheriff.
Next he appears as peace officer and was made sheriff of Wichita county. At Wichita Falls he made the best sheriff the country thereabouts had even known. He was absolutely fearless and enforced the law to the letter.
It is told of him that when a member of the Quantrell guerilla band during the civil war he once saved the life of the now Senator Stephen B. Elkins, who was a school boy friend of his. McMurtry, who cast his lot with the Quantrell band, often told how he came to join that organization.
The company, he always explained, was raised of fearless and daring men of the frontier who were accustomed to ride and shoot and was intended as a light horse attachment of the Confederate army. Their recklessness led them into trouble with the leaders of Confederacy and before they were aware of it they were declared outlaws and the hands of both the federal and Confederate governments were against them.
"I fought under the black flag for two years," said McMurtry to a Telegram reporter last fall at Wichita Falls, "and I tell you it's a might dangerous business."
$10,000 Reward Offered for Him.
At one time the United States government placed a reward of $10,000 upon McMurtry's head. That was in the days directly following the civil war and when the James gang was raiding through Missouri and Kansas. His home was in Clay County, Missouri.
Last fall when Cole Younger started out with his show company the meeting of the two men at Wichita Falls was touching. Younger had only a short time before been released from a long term in the penitentiary as a result of his many expeditions in the early days of the bandit operations.
The two men recognized each other after the separation of thirty-six years and Younger was taken to McMurtry's home, where they spent hours in telling their reminiscences of the days when the only law was the law of the gun. The death of McMurtry came very suddenly Sunday. He was visiting at the home of his daughter in this city at 1514 Lawrence avenue, when he was suddenly stricken and died.
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©2003 D. H. Rule
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