"Murder steer": Fine Gilliland kills Fort Davis cattleman

January 28th, 1891

On this day in 1891, Fine Gilliland shot and killed Fort Davis cattleman Henry Harrison Powe during a roundup near Leoncita Springs in Brewster County. Gilliland had been sent by the firm of Dubois and Wentworth to make sure none of the local ranchers appropriated any of the company's cattle; he became embroiled in a dispute with Powe over an unbranded brindle yearling steer found without its mother. Powe believed that the steer belonged to a cow with his HHP brand, but Gilliland disagreed and a gunfight ensued. Gilliland killed Powe and fled on horseback, but was himself killed a few days later in a shootout with two Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, the cowboys branded "MURDER" on one side of the yearling and "JAN 28 91" on the other. Legend has it that the "murder steer" still appears whenever foul play has occurred; the incident also inspired an episode of the television series Rawhide and a ballad by Canadian folk singer Ian Tyson.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

Share this article

Share the Texas Day by Day

Get a Piece of Texas History in Your Inbox

With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
Get your Texas Day by Day delivered straight to your inbox:

Calendar

Archive

  • Discover what happened on any date in Texas History.

  • View Now!

Send an eCard

Personalize a piece of Texas history. Share a Day by Day article with friends.

eCard image Send Now

Become a TSHA Member

Get insider access to the most exclusive Texas history club in the nation.

tsha logo Join Today!

Archive

  • Discover what happened on any date in Texas History.

  • View Now!

Send an eCard

Personalize a piece of Texas history. Share a Day by Day article with friends.

eCard image Send Now

Become a TSHA Member

Get insider access to the most exclusive Texas history club in the nation.

tsha logo Join Today!

"Murder steer": Fine Gilliland kills Fort Davis cattleman

January 28th, 1891

On this day in 1891, Fine Gilliland shot and killed Fort Davis cattleman Henry Harrison Powe during a roundup near Leoncita Springs in Brewster County. Gilliland had been sent by the firm of Dubois and Wentworth to make sure none of the local ranchers appropriated any of the company's cattle; he became embroiled in a dispute with Powe over an unbranded brindle yearling steer found without its mother. Powe believed that the steer belonged to a cow with his HHP brand, but Gilliland disagreed and a gunfight ensued. Gilliland killed Powe and fled on horseback, but was himself killed a few days later in a shootout with two Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, the cowboys branded "MURDER" on one side of the yearling and "JAN 28 91" on the other. Legend has it that the "murder steer" still appears whenever foul play has occurred; the incident also inspired an episode of the television series Rawhide and a ballad by Canadian folk singer Ian Tyson.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

Share this article

Share the Texas Day by Day

Get a Piece of Texas History in Your Inbox

With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
Get your Texas Day by Day delivered straight to your inbox: