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Marlow Brothers History

The saga of the Marlow Brothers is a complex and very involved story. It's so involved that several books have been written about the incident, which happened in and around Graham, Texas in 1888 to 1891. The movie "The Sons of Katie Elder" (starring John Wayne) was based on the events of this story. We will give you a very brief overview of the events here and hope you'll read one of the many books about the incident and draw your own conclusions as to what really happened.

The Marlow Brothers, George, Charley, Alfred, Lewelleyn (Epp), and Boone moved from western Oklahoma to Fort Sill due to a rough winter. An Indian accused one of the brothers, George, of stealing a horse. The story soon escalated and an arrest warrant was issued for all the brothers.

The Northwest Federal District court located in Graham, Texas issued a warrant and Federal Deputy Marshal E.W. Johnson brought all the brothers, except George, back to Graham to stand trial.

George settled the family near Long Bend about a mile south of Wildcatter Ranch just outside of Graham. (A tornado destroyed the house, but part of the barn still standsf.) George went into Graham to see his brothers and was arrested. Three of the brothers bond out of jail but Boone remained. Boone eventually got out of jail.

When Sheriff Marion D. Wallace and Tom Collier, Deputy Sheriff, go back out to arrest Boone again, he kills Wallace.

The other four Brothers, Charley George, Alfred, and Epp, are taken back into custody. The Marlows broke out of jail once but were recaptured. In January of 1889, a mob attempted to remove the Marlows from the Graham jail in order to lynch them, but was unsuccessful. The decision was made to move the prisoners to Dallas via Weatherford.

The four Marlow brothers along with two other prisoners, were transferred during the dark of night with Deputy Marshal Johnson and several other guards. The group was ambushed by a mob and a gun battle began. Alfred and Epp Marlow were killed, but Charley and George each chained to a dead brother, cut the feet of the corpses with their pocketknives, and escaped. According to accounts from the incident "thirteen men, killed and wounded were lying along the road."

Boone, who was murdered in Oklahoma Territory (he was first poisoned and his body shot), along with his brothers Llewellen (Epp) and Alfred Marlow are buried in Finis Cemetary just a few miles from Wildcatter Ranch.

Read an account of the incident from the Jacksboro Gazette from January 24, 1889.

  • Marlow Brothers Ordeal 1888-1892, 188 Days of Hell on the Texas Frontier by Barbara A. Neal Ledbetter
    (This book is out of print but is available in our library)
  • The Fighting Marlows by Glenn Shirley
    (This book is out of print but is available in our library)
  • Historical fiction books written about the Marlow incident:
    • A Pilgrim Shadow by Alan C. Huffines

       Marlow Brothers      Marlow Brothers      Marlow Brothers
    Marlow brothers grave in Finis Cemetery about 7 miles from Wildcatter Ranch. All three brothers, Alfred, Boone, and Lewellen, are buried in the same grave. District Federal Courthouse where the Marlow Brothers were tried. Young County Jail where the Marlow Brothers were held.
         
       Marlow Brothers      Marlow Brothers    
    Dry Creek where the ambush took place.    

 
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