Notes on the song, Murphy's Ranch

Judging by the typography, these notes were written by J.D. Robb after recording Price's rendition of the song:

An informant who requested that his name not be divulged gave me the following statement about a rancher named Murphy who is possibly the Murphy referred to in the song mentioned above, sometimes called Murphy's Ranch in Mexico. Some of the coincidences which make me think that this is so are the fact that Texans to this day refer to New Mexico as Mexico and that the song itself says that the events described took place starting in the spring of 1873. Murphy had a ranch somewhere in the neighborhood of Alamogordo, but he established another ranch called the Flying H near Fort Stanton. This was only a short distance from the Pecos River ranch country of John Chisum. Although Chisum owned close to 100,000 head of cattle, he did not own a single acre of land, but his cattle ranged far and wide none of the land being fence.

Murphy, said my informant, staffed his Flying H ranch with gunmen-cowboys. He and his gunmen frequently raided Chisum's land and would carry off and brand as many as 500 of Chisum's cattle at a time. Murphy or his men would drive these cattle to Fort Stanton where they would be sold for the use of the Army or the Apache Indians on the Mescalero reservation. These herds came to be known as the "miracle herds".

It was Murphy, said my informant, who precipitated the Lincoln County War in the following manner:

Murphy alleged that a man named McSweeney who was a lawyer had collected the proceeds of a life insurance policy in which Murphy claimed an interest. The proceeds, in cash, had not been turned over by McSweeney to Murphy or the persons entitled to it, at least in Murphy's opinion. Murphy was unable to secure a warrant of attachment on Tunstall's ranch southwest of Lincoln, Tunstall being a partner of McSweeney. Murphy, it seems, had sent a group of some twenty or twenty-one of his gunmen-cowboys with a deputy sheriff to serve the warrant on Tunstall at his store in Lincoln. However, Tunstall was at his ranch and a friend rode to him with the news. Tunstall thereupon set out for Lincoln together with Billy the Kid, who was working for him, and another cowboy. Meanwhile, Murphy's band had ridden to the Tunstall rannch by another route and had served the warrant on Tunstall's foreman there. Thereafter they took off in pursuit of Tunstall. When Billy the Kid saw the Murphy band approaching he said to Tunstall, "We'd better take to the woods or they'll kill us all." Tunstall refused, stating that he was not going to start a fight and would let them take him into Lincoln if they wanted to. Billy the Kid and the other cowboy took refuge in the woods and watched the Murphy band overtake Tunstall. There was some argument when suddenly one of the Murphy band shot and killed Tunstall. Billy the Kid thereupon swore that in vengeance for the murder of his friend Tunstall he would kill every man in the Murphy band.