George Adolphus Scarborough, frontier peace officer, son of George Washington and Martha Elizabeth (Rutland) Scarborough, was born in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, on October 2, 1859. He went to McLennan County, Texas, with his family in 1874 and, while still an adolescent, worked as a cowboy in McCulloch County. There he met Mary Frances McMahan, whom he married in McLennan County on August 30, 1877. Seven children were born of this union. In 1883 Scarborough moved to Jones County, where his father had settled, and established a home in Anson. He was elected sheriff in November 1884, the second to hold that position in Jones County, and was reelected in 1886. He shot and killed A. J. Williams, a notorious outlaw, in Haskell on October 15, 1887, and was later tried for murder and acquitted. After losing his bid for another term in 1888, he worked as a stock detective until accepting appointment as a deputy United States marshal for the Western District of Texas in 1893. At El Paso on June 29, 1895, he participated with fellow officers Jeff (Jefferson Davis) Milton and Frank McMahan in the killing of a wanted New Mexico cattle rustler, Martin Mroz. He again stood trial for murder and was acquitted. On April 5, 1896, in El Paso Scarborough killed John Selman, a celebrated gunman. He won an acquittal for the third time but was forced to resign as United States marshall. He then went to Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, where he dealt in cattle and horses, buying and selling as a representative of the large ranchers of the area. Later he moved to Deming, New Mexico, where he resumed his career in law enforcement, working as a stock detective while other commissions he held included deputy sheriff and state ranger. He was engaged in this activity when he was wounded severely in a gunbattle with rustlers near San Simon, Arizona. Brought to his home in Deming, he died there on April 6, 1900.
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Robert K. DeArment, George Scarborough: The Life and Death of a Lawman on the Closing Frontier (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996). J. Evetts Haley, Jeff Milton (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1948). Leon C. Metz, John Selman (New York: Hastings House, 1966; 2d ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Laura J. D. Scarborough, Southern Kith and Kin (4 vols., Abilene, Texas, 1951–58). C. L. Sonnichsen, Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande (2 vols., El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1968, 1980).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Robert K. DeArment,
“Scarborough, George Adolphus,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 05, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
July 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
March 22, 2022