Engraved Colt Single Action Army with silver grips and Mexican silver mounted holster rig.
Estimated Value: $30,000 - $40,000
Engraved Colt Single Action Army with silver grips and Mexican silver mounted holster rig.
Estimated Value: $30,000 - $40,000
I once had a dream that I was an FBI agent who specialized in hunting Nazi war criminals. Michael Landon (Little Joe) from Bonanza was my partner. And yes, we both wore cowboy outfits, carried six shooters, and rode horses. We nailed the evil Nazi in a Walmart parking lot. He drew a Luger pistol on me but Little Joe shot it out of his hand. I then tackled him and cuffed him.
The Smith & Wesson Model 3 Schofield Single Action,
The S&W Model 3 came in many variations, but the most popular models where the Russian and the Schofield. The Russian was the model produced for the Russian Army while the Schofield was produced for the US Military. The Schofield Model was an improvement of the regular Model 3 with modifications made by Major George W. Schofield, a high respected and experienced cavalry officer. The original Model 3 was a top break revolver where the revolver opened along a hinged frame exposing the cylinder’s chambers. When the revolver was opened an extractor also ejected the empty casings all at once. This system was much faster than the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army, in which empty casings had to be manually unload one at a time, then cartridges loaded one at a time through a loading port.
While the system was a great improvement in theory, there was one terrible flaw. In in the heat of combat an enemy grabbed the barrel and pulled down, it would break the revolver open while causing the cartridges to be ejected, thus effectively unload the revolver. Major Schofield re-designed the Model 3’s break top system so that it would only open by actuating a lever, which could be accomplished with a flick of the user’s thumb.
The Schofield revolver was adopted by the US Army and issued to officers and cavalry along with the Colt Model 1873. Originally they were chambered for .45 Schofield, a shortened version of the .45 Colt that could be fired from the Colt Model 1873. Later they were chambered for a new cartridge called the .44 S&W. Outside of the military the Schofield was popular with civilians. A number of outlaws, lawmen, and cowboys used them such as Jesse James, John Wesley Hardin, Pat Garrett, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgil Earp, and Billy the Kid. They were also popular with Wells Fargo and Company, who often issued them to their road agents.
Production was discontinued in 1898. Today several reproduction models are produced by Uberti and Armi San Marco.
Colt Model 1851 with silver overlaid ivory grips. Comes complete with bowie knife and Slim Jim holster rig.
Sold at Auction: $13,000
The Ambush of Capt. Jonathan Davis,
On December 19th, 1854 Mexican War veteran Capt. Jonathon Davis was traveling a trail in El Dorado County, California with two companions, James C. McDonald and Dr. Bolivar A. Sparks, when they were suddenly ambushed by a gang of 14 cutthroat bandits. A motley collection of the lowest scum of the earth, the gang had made a living robbing and murdering American and Chinese miners on their way to the California gold fields. At the outset of the ambush McDonald was killed and Dr. Sparks was wounded.
Outnumbered 14 to 1, Capt. Davis drew a pair of cap and ball single action revolvers and returned fire. In a blaze of gunfire Davis managed to kill seven of the outlaws and wound three others. With his revolvers empty, Davis drew his bowie knife as the remaining four bandits charged, also armed with knives and a sword. Davis parried a slash from the sword wielding attacker, then stabbed him in the chest. He then sliced the fingers off another attacker followed by a slash which removed a third assailants nose. The remaining assailant and the wounded fled in terror.
The whole battle was witnessed by a hunting party on a nearby hill. When they arrived at the scene they found 7 dead bandits, four others would later succumb to their wounds. As for Davis he escaped the onslaught unharmed with the exception of a few scratches and a bullet hole in his hat.
Gang War of the Old West —- The Tong War of Weaverville
The California Gold Rush brought immigrants from all over the world who sought adventure, fame, and riches. Unfortunately many of these people brought with them seedy characters and old world problems. Among Chinese immigrants, Chinese gangs called the “tongs” settled in California seeking new opportunities among the west’s criminal classes. Just like gangs today, the tongs conducted a wide range of criminal activity including drug smuggling (opium), prostitution, gambling, extortion, murder, theft, and sex slavery. To portray a respectable front, they also tended to serve as rotary clubs, social clubs, and unions for the local Chinese miners.
The mining camp of Weaverville, California was home to over 2,000 Chinese immigrants and headquarters to two tongs called the Young Wo and Ah You. In 1854, a gambling dispute and conflict over mining rights led to friction between the two rival gangs. As one probably knows about Old West range wars and vicious gangs, this was not a situation that was going to end peacefully. The two gangs declared “there ain’t enough room in this town for the both of us” and prepared for war.
Immediately the two gangs being to raise militias armed with a motley collection of old world and new world weapons. Blacksmiths were hired to produce swords, spears, shields, and armor for the tongs. When local law enforcement authorities learned the tongs were arming, they issued fines to the blacksmiths. Rather than stop, the blacksmiths continued production as the fine was minuscule compared to the profits they were making. In addition to swords and spears, the tongs also acquired a number of military muskets left over from the Mexican War as well as some Colt revolvers. To learn how to use their new weaponry, which was mostly unknown to the Chinese at the time, the tongs hired white military advisers to train them.
As word spread of the coming battle, miners from all over the region came to Weaverville to place their bets and view the spectacle. In July of 1854 the two gangs met prepared to do battle, numbering about 260 men altogether. At first the sides were reluctant to fight each other, instead posturing in hopes of intimidating the other side into giving up. However, the onlookers began to incite the gangs in hopes for a bloody battle. Finally a Dutch miner drew his pistol and fired toward one of the gangs, sparking a frenzied bout of fighting. In an unusual display of arms, swords and spears clashed as tongs armed with muskets and revolvers also took potshots at each other. Due to the inexperience of the amateur tong gunfighters, few bullets found their mark. The battle raged for ten minutes before the local Sheriff and Federal Marshal was able to intervene and break up the fight. By the end of the battle 8 men lay dead and a dozens were wounded. Among those killed was the Dutch miner who, in the midst of the battle had been shot in the back of the head by a rival miner.
After the battle both tongs agreed that honor had been satisfied and made a truce. The two tongs never fought again.
The Legend of Stagecoach Mary,
Also known as Mary Fields, Stagecoach Mary was one of the toughest ladies of the Old West. Born as a slave on a Tennessee plantation in 1832, she gained her freedom after the Civil War and the resulting abolition of slavery. After the Civil War Mary made her way west where she eventually settled in Cascade County, Montana.
In Montana Mary would gain a reputation as one of the toughest characters in the territory. Unlike most women of the Victorian Era, Mary had a penchant for whiskey, cheap cigars, and brawling. It was not uncommon for men to harass her because of her race or her gender. Those who earned her disfavor did so at their own risk, as the six foot tall two hundred pound woman served up a mean knuckle sandwich. According to her obituary in Great Falls Examiner “she broke more noses than any other woman in Central Montana”.
In Montana Mary made a living doing heavy labor for a Roman Catholic convent. She did work such as carpentry, chopping wood, and stone work. However it was her job of transporting supplies to the convent by wagon that would earn her the name “Stagecoach Mary”. The job was certainly dangerous, as she braved fierce weather, bandits, robbers, and wild animals. In one instance her wagon was attacked by wolves, causing the horses to panic and overturn the wagon. Throughout the night Stagecoach Mary fought off several wolf attacks with a rifle, a ten gauge shotgun, and a pair of revolvers.
Mary’s job with the convent ended when another hired hand complained it was not fair that she made more money than him to the townspeople and the local bishop. When the bishop dismissed his claims, he went to a local saloon, saying that it was not fair that he should have to work with a black woman (he said something much more obscene). In response, Mary shot him in the bum. The bishop fired Mary, and she was out of a job.
After a failed attempt at running a restaurant, Stagecoach Mary was hired to run freight for the US Postal Service. Today she holds the distinction of being the first African American postal employee. Despite delivering parcels to some of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana, Mary gained a reputation for always delivering on time regardless of the weather or terrain.
At the age of seventy, Stagecoach Mary retired from the parcel business and opened a laundry. In one incident when a customer refused to pay, the 72 year old woman knocked out one of his teeth. For the remainder of her life Mary settled down to peace and quiet, drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars. She passed away in 1914 at the age of 82.
Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870),
A Texas lawyer, politician, land baron, and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, Samuel Augustus Maverick was one of the wealthiest land barons of the mid 1800’s. One of his most notable business practices was that he never branded his own cattle, believing the process to be too painful for the animals. He also had little interest in his heard as his wealth came from real estate and stock trading. Thus he did little to keep track of his own herd and cared little if some may be reclaimed by other cattle herders.
As a result of Maverick’s cattle lacking brands, other cattleman and cowboys of the area began to call all unmarked cattle that did not belong to the heard “Mavericks”. Over time, the term became popular across the country, referring to a person who is independently minded.
An Apache man poses with his rare Evans Repeating Lever Action Rifle. Notice how he has nicely decorated the rifle.
A Bad Day for a Gunfighter,
During the days of the Old West, John Wesley Hardin was considered the meanest, most ruthless, and most dangerous outlaw of his time. Responsible for the deaths of 27 men (although he boasted over 40), Hardin was a skilled and deadly gunfighter, so deadly that he was even able to outdraw the legendary Wild Bill Hickok on one occasion. However, Hardin’s downfall was very uncharacteristic for the deadliest gunfighter of the Old West. Sometimes even the best can have a bad day.
On August 24th, 1877 Texas Rangers caught up with Hardin at a train-station in Pensacola, Florida. A team of Rangers and local police boarded the train and cautiously approached Hardin’s seat. It took little time for Hardin to realize that the law was on to him. As the Rangers and cops approached, Hardin immediately leaped from his seat and attempted to draw his pistol, reportedly a Smith and Wesson Schofield revolver. A fast draw, even from the waistband of his pants, Hardin could have easily gunned down many lawmen and perhaps even make an escape. But something unexpected happened, as he drew his revolver the hammer became entangled on his suspenders. With the revolver helplessly tangled on his clothing Hardin was left desperately stood in the aisle of the train futilely tugging at his pistol. Before he could yank it loose a Texas Ranger calmly approached Hardin and whacked him across the head with the butt of his pistol, causing Harden to black out.
Hardin would be extradited to Texas, where he was sentenced to 25 years at Huntsville Prison for the murder of Deputy Charles Webb.
Wild Bill Hickok at Cards by N.C. Wyath, 1916.
Wild Bill to the Card Cheat —-I’m calling the hand that’s in your hat!
The Kepplinger Holdout card cheating device, late 19th century,
J. D. Kepplinger was a master card cheat and con man in the late 19th century. In 1888 the brilliant Kepplinger invented his own card holdout device. The device attached to his arm, which was concealed by his sleeve, which was connected by a cable to a mechanism attached to his thighs. When he opened and closed his legs a metal claw would popup through his sleeve and snatch away a card for later. When Kepplinger needed that card later, he simply opened his legs again, and the device would conveniently insert the card back into his hand.
With his special Kepplinger holdout device, also known as the San Francisco holdout, J.D. Kepplinger was able to clean out many cardplayers throughout the Old West. That was until professional gamblers became suspicious.
One day during a pleasant game of poker three other gamblers seized him and dragged him to the back of the saloon. There they stripped off his clothes and discovered the ingenious device. They offered Kepplinger two options, either he construct devices for them or he face the consequences of being caught cheating at cards (which mean’t being shot or beaten up). Kepplinger made more devices for his new comrades, who formed a team of card cheats. For over a year the team grew rich cleaning out the table of the Barbary Coast and San Francisco. That was until they were caught by the police and sent to prison.