PHILLIP GOODBREAD “DOBOY” TAYLOR
Sometimes destiny has a marvelous way of interfering with our best laid plans. At
precisely the same moment that Chuck Parsons was penning his book The Sutton-Taylor
Feud in nearby Luling, Texas I was busily compiling A Day’s Ride From Here, a
collection of short stories and tidbits of local history, less than one hundred and forty
miles away in Mountain Home, Texas. Both of us speak of Phillip Goodbread “Doboy”
Taylor in our writing. Chuck from the perspective of “Doboy’s” role in the Sutton-Taylor
affair, and I from a standpoint of local interest…given that this Taylor lad met his
untimely end less than A Day’s Ride From Here.
We never spoke of “Doboy”, nor discussed our respective books, until recently.
While sipping coffee one afternoon at a local Kerrville, Texas bistro we suddenly found
ourselves musing about “Doboy’s” killer, a tough old character named Simpson “Sim”
Hosltein. Both of us had searched for more information on Holstein, including a possible
notation in the sheriff’s files. Chuck had made an unsuccessful visit to the courthouse. I
was more than anxious to “best” him, so I proudly announced that I was quite sure of the
whereabouts of the elusive Holstein file. “It’s probably in the sheriff’s files” I proudly
chortled, anxious to add that “they are in a barn behind the sheriff’s office…and the pile
is about seven feet high and twenty nine feet long the last time I measured it”. I quickly
added that I was not, at this point, interested enough in Sim Holstein to spend my summer
looking for the file.
It was a pleasant afternoon. The company, coffee, and conversation were all superb.
With nothing more than a silent nod between us we seemed to agree that Sim Holstein
would have to wait for another day. But...there was that troublesome matter of the name
of the hotel that “Doboy” was killed in front of. Neither of us had been able to find it.
One local “authority” volunteered that the building in question once stood near the library
on Water street. I was sure he was wrong, but the hale fellow was not about to have his
theory overturned by a pesky fact. My hypothesis was that the structure in question had to
be the St. Charles, The Gerdes or The Tivy. All three had a fence in front that seemed to
match up with the story.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Philip “Doboy” Taylor was in Kerrville, Texas
in November 1871 where he was lobbying for a job working as an agent for a New York
cattle firm. Unfortunately the job belonged to another man named Simpson “Sim”
Holstein. Holstein was cattle drover and a rough character by all accounts. He had been
born in Louisiana in 1847 and had most recently lived in Gonzales, Texas. One
afternoon Doboy Taylor called Holstein out of a downtown Kerrville hotel and threatened
him. The discussion soon turned into a quarrel. Taylor pulled his pistol and confronted
Sim. Sim leaped a low gate and grappled with Taylor. Taylor fired his pistol and missed.
Sim Holstein then tore the gun from Taylor’s hand and shot him with it. Taylor, hit at
close range, fell to the ground but soon stood up. Sim fired a second time, once again
knocking Taylor to the ground. Miraculously Taylor rose again, and was shot a third time
by Holstein. After the third shot Taylor staggered away calling for help. He died from
the multiple gunshot wounds about six hours later.1
Neither Chuck nor I mentioned the name of the hotel in our books because, quite
honestly, we had not been able to nail that detail down. As most of you know, an
unresolved detail is a curse to an historian and writer. Those maddening fine points are
the things that nightmares are made of. After rethinking my research I decided that I may
have left one source untapped. A dear friend and accomplished historian, Dr. Joseph
Luther, had mentioned to me once that he had access to some local newspaper archives
that were not available to the public. Joe indulged me, and quickly came back with an
article that filled in half of the missing blank. The hotel was at the corner of Washington
and Water Streets in Kerrville, and was called the Pruitt.2 Still not satisfied with only half
the answer, we pressed on. The next hit yielded the solution.
In 1859, the Jackson brothers had a store at the corner of Water and Washington
streets. John E. Ochse also had a sizeable store at the same intersection, where Notre
Dame Catholic Church now stands. Ochse provided supplies to Captain John W.
Sansom’s Texas Ranger Company.3 Over the years there were a series of hotels at that
corner. An 1898 map of Kerrville shows the Cravey Hotel on the correct corner of Water
and Washington.4 The Cravey Hotel later became the Gerdes Hotel, but during the 1870s
it was The Pruitt Hotel. Bingo!
The accompanying photos show the Pruitt Hotel as the building looked around the
turn of the last century. Having been blessed with a vivid imagination I can practically
see Sim Holstein vaulting the gate in pursuit of the interloper “Doboy” Taylor.
The Pruitt Hotel – Kerrville, Texas
San Antonio Express News. 13 December 1871
The Kerrville Mountain Sun. 23 June 1933
Texas State Archives & Library Commission. Texas Adjutant Genera Service Records 1836-1935.
Frontier Forces. Call Number 401-139. Sansom, John
The 1898 Sanborn map of Kerrville. Created originally for the fire insurance industry for risk assessment
purposes, Sanborn fire insurance maps (Sanborn maps) contain detailed information on such building
features as size, shape, construction type (and sometimes date), use, and street address.
Caldwell, Clifford R. .2009. A Day’s Ride From Here: Volume I, Mountain Home, Texas. Mountain
Home, Texas: Published by the author
Hunter, J. Marvin, 2006, The Trail Drivers of Texas, Austin, Texas, University of Texas
Parsons, Chuck. 2009. The Sutton-Taylor Feud. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas
Sonnichsen, C.L.. 1971. Texas Feuds. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico