‘So does one gunfight, where he emerged the “winner,” make a gunfighter of one? Maybe a shootist, as Clay Allison called himself?’
Not for Children
I enjoyed John Koster’s “Wynken, Blynken and Drinkin’: Denver Journalist Eugene Field” in the August 2011 Wild West. I have in my library a 1900 edition of his Tribune Primer, first published in 1882. Written in the format of a children’s primer, it is, well, not for children! A sample:
This is a gun.
Is the gun loaded? Really, I do not know.
Let us find out.
Put the gun on the table, and you, Susie,
blow down one barrel, while you, Charlie,
blow down the other.
Yes, it was loaded.
Run quick, Jennie, and pick up Susie’s head
and Charlie’s lower jaw
before the nasty blood gets over the new carpet.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Look-alikes and S&W No. 3s
Besides the other interesting features in the August 2011 issue, two items attracted my attention. I thought the P. 10 photo was of historian Fred Nolan but had to smile when I learned it was in fact of actor Stuart Whitman!
Lee Silva’s “Guns of the West” article on the Smith & Wesson No. 3 American reminded me that some years back, I asked S&W if they had any record of Buffalo Bill purchasing a pair of No. 3s in March 1874, but they said no, although the record did show that he made several purchases at various times. I posed the question, because when Wild Bill Hickok decided to go back West, Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro presented him with a pair of No. 3s. I presumed then that Buffalo Bill probably purchased them from a New York dealer. Some years ago the late Ethel Hickok, Wild Bill’s niece, gave me a copy of an undated and unsourced clipping from her scrapbook which reported that Wild Bill had been interviewed and was armed with a pair of S&W revolvers that were accurate at long range. That, so far as I know, is the last reference to those pistols, because no trace of them has been found, and at his death he is believed to have been armed with a pair of Navy conversions to rim- or center-fire.
Joseph G. Rosa
In your excellent June 2011 issue, on P. 10 of “Roundup,” the piece “Tombstone and Tucson” caught my interest—the reason being a humorous incident that I was part of in one of my visits to Tombstone. My companion on these trips was a fine educated lady from Dumfries, Scotland, who is responsible for all student teachers in southwest Scotland. On this day a few years ago we had been down to Thursday Crossing on the San Pedro, and a slip in the mud necessitated returning to the Best Western so Elspeth could wash and change. We then drove over to the Laundromat/autowash next to Boothill. While Elspeth went in to do her laundry, I took the opportunity to wash the Crown Vic.
I had barely started, when Elspeth reappeared and urgently begged me to come inside with her. “There’s a man with a gun in there!” she whispered. Following her in, I found an inoffensive-looking man loading a machine; on his belt was a holstered automatic pistol. On inquiry I found he was not a law officer, just an ordinary citizen taking advantage of Arizona’s open-carry law. We often joked about this later…so very different from Dumfries, Scotland, and, truth to tell, so different also from North Vancouver, Canada!
North Vancouver, British Columbia
A Gunfight in Bodie
I thought I was an expert on the history of Bodie, Calif., but Lee A. Silva—in his October 2011 “Guns of the West” article on Remington’s Models 1875 and 1890—found a story I’ve never heard before. He writes: “An outlaw known as ‘Redtop’ Callihan was wearing a Model 1875 Remington when he was gunned down in Bodie, Calif., in 1892 after allegedly killing six men with it.” I’d love to know the source of this story.
Michael H. Piatt
Author Lee Silva responds: My source was the caption for the photograph of Callihan’s Remington on P. 299 of Firearms of the American West, 1866–1894, by Louis A. Garavaglia and Charles G. Worman. Their source was John Kopec, one of the co-authors of A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver and a longtime authenticator of guns. Kopec told me over the phone that he got the revolver from a pioneer gun collector who told him the oral history of the Remington. Don Chaput, curator emeritus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, could not find any written proof of the story.
Send letters to Wild West, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176 or e-mail us. Please include city and phone number.