Company D, Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers, 1887
Heritage Auctions is selling the original cabinet card photo of this iconic Western image from the John N. McWilliams Texas Ranger Collection on September 20th in Dallas.
Back row from left: Jim King (murdered while working undercover February 11, 1890), Bass Outlaw (discharged 1889, killed by Constable John Selman in El Paso April 4, 1894), Riley Boston, Charles Fusselman (ambushed and killed by rustlers April 17, 1890), James William “Tink” Durbin, Ernest Rogers, Charles Barton, Walter Jones; Sitting (from left): Robert Bell, Cal Aten, Captain Frank Jones (Killed in a fight with Mexican bandits near San Elizario, Texas, June 30, 1893, Joseph Walter Durbin (retired and became sheriff of Frio County), Frank L. Schmid Jr. (died June 17, 1893 of gunshot wounds received August 16, 1889 in Fort Bend County when caught in a crossfire between two hostile political parties).
Winchester and Colt Model 1873s seem to be the universal choice.
The mortality rate from gunshots for members of this small group of men was pretty impressive. Five out of fourteen (four on the right side of the law) were dead with the next seven years.
William Alexander Anderson “Bigfoot” Wallace (April 3, 1817 – January 7, 1899)
The highlight of Heritage Auctions’ upcoming March 1-2 “Texana” sale seems to be an albumen photograph dating from 1872 of the famous veteran of the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican War, Indian fighter, and Texas Ranger “Bigfoot” Wallace.
Bigfoot Wallace appears in the Larry McMurtry novel Dead Man’s Walk, later made into a movie in which Wallace was played by Keith Carradine.
It’s interesting to note that, as late as 1872, the legendary frontiersman is found leaning on a percussion lock long rifle. No Spencer repeater or Model 1866 Winchester for him. Wallace is also packing some unidentifiable large pistol in a covered holster, facing forward on his left hip. He looks like a tough hombre.
George Armstrong Custer’s Personal Army-Issue Model 1865 Spencer Carbine
A good friend from Yale, Tom Slater (JE ‘72), is Director of Americana at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. An email update from that auction house reports that Tom has outdone himself in putting together a really spectacular group of offerings for Heritage’s December 11th & 12th Western Americana auction
The undoubted highlight of the sale is George Armstrong Custer’s personal Spencer repeating carbine, bearing his name scratched on the buttstock, and frequently mentioned in his accounts of hunting. The bidding starts at $50,000; but, even with recession clouds still lowering over Obamistan, it will probably go much higher.
[T]he Spencer carbine offered here pre-dates his Fort Abraham Lincoln period, it does date from the Indian Wars, and could quite possibly have been with him at the Battle of Washita.
It was part of the legendary collection of Dr. Lawrence A. Frost of Monroe, Michigan, who at one time had what may have been the most extensive private collection of Custer artifacts and relics ever assembled. A signed identification tag in Frost’s hand which accompanies the gun identifies it as a “Spencer Carbine – Saddle Ring / Cal. 50, No. 3658, Model 1865 / ‘G. Custer – 7 Cav USA’ cut into wooden stock…Used by Gen. Custer in Kansas in 1867 campaign.” ...
Dr. Frost purchased the carbine in 1955 from Howard Berry. A notarized bill of sale describes the gun in detail. In a 1973 letter (a copy of which is included in this lot), Frost refers to purchasing various Custer items from Berry, whom he describes as “a former 7th Cavalryman”. Frost states that he showed them to James Calhoun Custer (a nephew of Gen. Custer and son of Nevin Custer), and that Custer assured him he remembered these items which had been shown to him by his father who stated that they were the General’s.
Custer used a wide range of military and commercially available firearms over the course of his career, but he had a special familiarity with Spencer carbines. During the Civil War his Michigan regiments were armed with Spencers (Carbines of the U.S. Cavalry, John McAulay, p. 32). As the war ended, a new Spencer model was issued to the army with a more powerful 56-50 cartridge (Spencer Repeating Firearms, Roy Marcot, pp. 80-81). When the 7th Cavalry was formed in 1866 (Bugles, Banners and War Bonnets, Ernest Reedstrom, pp. 1-2), the Spencer Carbine became standard issue (Carbines of the U.S. Cavalry, p. 88), and was in use by them until replaced by the Sharps carbine in 1870 (Carbines of the U.S. Cavalry, p. 95). In his 1980 book, Nomad, George A. Custer in Turf, Field and Farm, Brian W. Dippie reproduces an 1867 article written by Custer in which he describes in great detail a buffalo hunting expedition. He describes learning that pistol shots “only seemed to increase (the buffalo’s) speed.” Accordingly, Custer wrote, “I concluded to discard the use of my revolvers and trust my Spencer carbine” (p.117). The example offered here, serial #3658, is the 1865 model and should not be confused with the Spencer rifle gifted to Custer in 1866; that gun has never surfaced (Spencer Repeating Firearms, p. 152). The presentation gun would have been the 56-44 sporting model.
Custer’s regard for his Spencer carbine is evidenced in his own words in his autobiography, My Life on the Plains, where he writes: “Leaping from my bed I grasped my trusty Spencer which was always at my side” (p. 77).
The LA Times reported recently that a pair of sharp-eyed brothers apparently discovered two previously unknown photographs of Old West legend Wyatt Earp, one as a small boy, in a family photo album that they purchased in an antique shop in San Bernadino County for $50.
They could make a lot of money selling the photos at auction (if experts agree on the identification), but they have expressed the intention of keeping and licensing the images.
William Koch (one of the notorious conservative donor Koch Brothers) bought the 2×3” ferrotype taken by an unknown photographer in Fort Sumner, New Mexico in late 1879 or early 1880 at a Denver auction last Saturday.
This carte de visite image, commonly referred to as the Upham tintype (named for its longtime owner Frank Upham, a nephew of the original owner Dan Dedrick, one of Billy the Kid’s outlaw friends) is the only image of the famous Western gunfighter believed by experts to be authentic.
Wikipedia article on the Kid, which discusses the photograph.
AP is reporting that an alleged great-grandson of the fierce Chiricahua Apache warrior Geronimo has heard the urban legend that claims that some Yale men belonging to a well known Yale senior society, while stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma during WWI, “crooked” (a traditional society practice meaning “to appropriate for permanent addition to the society’s memorabilia”) Geronimo’s skull, and the alleged great-grandson is writing to the White House and demanding the skull’s return.
Legend has it that Yale University’s ultrasecret Skull and Bones society swiped the remains of American Indian leader Geronimo nearly a century ago from an army outpost in Oklahoma, and now Geronimo’s great-grandson wants the remains returned.
Harlyn Geronimo, of Mescalero, N.M., wants to prove the skull and bones that were purported spirited from the Indian leader’s burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to a stone tomb that serves as the club’s headquarters are in fact those of his great-grandfather.
If so, he wants to bury them near Geronimo’s birthplace in southern New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness.
“He died as a prisoner of war, and he is still a prisoner of war because his remains were not returned to his homeland,” said Harlyn Geronimo, 59. “Presently, we are looking for a proper consecrated burial.”
If the bones aren’t those of Geronimo, Harlyn Geronimo is certain they belonged to one of the Apache prisoners who died at Fort Sill. He said they should still be returned.
Harlyn Geronimo sent a letter last year to President Bush, asking for his help in recovering the bones. He figures since the president’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was allegedly one of those who helped steal the bones in 1918, the president would want to help return them to their rightful place.
But Harlyn Geronimo said: “I haven’t heard a word.”
The White House did not respond to messages asking for comment.
Their alleged custody of Geronimo’s skull is just one of numerous self-aggrandizing legends artfully disseminated by mischievous members of a certain Yale senior society over the course of its long existence.
But some politically correct and probably deluded younger alumni in a recent article in the alumni mag swallowed the yarn hook, line, and sinker.