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.
The all-time auction record for a Colt Revolver was made his week at James D. Julia, Inc. in Fairfield, Maine, when a Colt Whitneyville Walker, marked “Company A #201,” issued at Vera Cruz in 1847 to Texas Ranger Private Sam Wilson sold for $920,000.
Samuel Colt produced, between 1847 and 1849, roughly 1100 massive .44 caliber revolvers along the lines suggested by Texas Ranger Captain Samuel Walker.
The Walker Colt could be argued to have been the most powerful handgun in the world up until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935. Its use by Texas Rangers in the Mexican War and in frontier battles with the Comanche Indians combined with its rarity and extraordinary size all combine to make the Walker Colt the ne plus ultra of 19th century collectible revolvers.
Antique and Auction News explains why this particular example was so desirable.
With the Wilson/Kenly Walker there are some specific attributes that make this example stand far above all others known. First of all is its spectacular condition. The Walker was so revered during its period of use that one of the first actions that occurred as a Texas Ranger fell in battle was the retrieval of his Walker pistol. The thousand martial Walker pistols originally produced saw a tremendous use in future years. Those few examples that have survived are almost all in extremely worn and well-used condition. Very rarely is there even a hint of finish left on the revolver. It is not uncommon to find many or most of the markings worn off, parts replaced, etc. The Wilson/Kenly Revolver, however, is in extraordinary condition, retaining 40-60% of its original finish, and of equal importance, retaining all of the inspector marks, proof marks, and other fragile idiosyncrasies almost never seen on other surviving Walkers. This resulting masterpiece literally makes it a reference study in what a real martial Walker looked like at the time of issue.
A second very appealing aspect of this important revolver is its impeccable provenance. The gun was originally issued to Samuel Wilson, a private in the Texas Rangers. Not only is it recorded that the Walkers were issued to his Company, Wilson also scratched his name on the brass trigger guard of this most prized of his possessions. Wilson unfortunately died in late 1847 or early 1848 at Jalapa and Major Kenly, at that time Jalapa’s Garrison Commandant and in charge of the hospital, obviously obtained the gun at Wilson’s demise. He kept this and other items he collected throughout the battle for his entire life, and passed them on down to his descendants. The consignor, an octogenarian from Libby, Montana, first saw the gun in 1941 when he and his mother retrieved it along with the Walker Flask from the family homestead. It had been in the possession of his mother’s aunt (Kenly was a great-uncle to this aunt). The Colt Walker A Company No. 210 has never been outside the family, nor ever offered for private sale before. October 7, 2008 will be the first time. The Walker will be offered with a $500,000 to $1,000,000 pre-sale estimate.