True West Magazine
True West Magazine
True West Magazine

True West Magazine

True West relates our history back to the present day, showing readers the important role our heritage plays in keeping the spirit of the West alive!

Silan Lewis, a Choctaw convicted of murder, chose his executioner—childhood friend Lyman Pursely. In Wilburton, Indian Territory, on November 4, 1894, Lewis was blindfolded and kneeling on the ground, with two men holding his arms, when Sheriff Pursely fired his Winchester. The lawman missed the heart, though, and Lewis lived for three minutes as the sheriff smothered his old friend to death.

A double “twitch-up” gallows was used to hang murderers Francis Gilbert and Merrick Rosengrants in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000 spectators in Denver, Colorado, on July 29, 1881. – Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Department –

On June 3, 1898, James Fleming Parker became the last man hanged at the Courthouse Plaza in Prescott, Arizona. The train robber was in the Yavapai County Jail when he shot and killed Assistant District Attorney Erasmus Lee Norris during an escape attempt, a crime that sent him to the scaffold. – Courtesy Sharlot Hall Museum –

Before Ketchum lost his head, a photographer captured the noose being placed around his neck. Ketchum holds the dubious distinction of being the only person ever put to death for the offense of “felonious assault upon a railway train” in New Mexico Territory. – Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

The surgeon during Crook’s horse meat march, Valentine McGillycuddy (above) would run into Crazy Horse again. When Crazy Horse was stabbed at Nebraska’s Camp Robinson, the doctor cared for the chief until he died on September 5, 1877. – Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration –

Once relief trains reached the starving, exhausted troops and got them fed, photographer Stanley J. Morrow convinced soldiers to re-enact scenes of the march: fighting over the horse meat (above); butchering the horse and shooting another horse for food (next two slides). – True West Archives –

Recalling this grueling march, Col. Andrew S. Burt remembered scout Jack Crawford (above) “gnawing at a horse’s rib fresh from the coals and glad to get the rib.” – True West Archives –

When the food ran out after 15 days, Gen. George Crook’s troops were not only weary and starving, they had to make camp without fires to warm the chill out of their bones. Shown here are Crook’s men on the field along Whitewood Creek, in Dakota Territory, at the end of the 1876 starvation march. – Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration –

With her standard-grade Winchester Model 1892 lever-action, repeating magazine rifle in hand, this latter-day huntress in wide-brimmed hat, middy blouse and skirt strikes a rather risqué pose for the time. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2004.045 –

In this circa 1900-1905 cabinet card, this plainly dressed sportsman models with his hunting dog and a cartridge belt full of ammunition for his standard-grade Winchester Model 1895 lever-action, repeating magazine rifle. A John Browning design, this model utilized a box magazine in lieu of the familiar tubular magazine beneath the barrel. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2004.230.02 –

Standing at the ready and accompanied by his rather mournful hound, this huntsman poses with a standard-grade Winchester Model 1873 lever-action, repeating sporting rifle having a case-hardened frame and an adjustable buckhorn rear sight. Two indistinguishable pocket-sized cartridge revolvers are thrust into the fellow’s belt in this circa 1880-85 tintype. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2003.034 –

Very likely a Wild West show or vaudeville marksman, the theatrical gent in this circa 1895-1905 cabinet card evokes the latter-day frontier with his Western headgear and thigh-high boots à la Buffalo Bill Cody. He models with a .22-caliber Model 1891 Marlin lever-action repeating rifle having a special order, half-octagon barrel and special order checkered stocking with pistol grip. – Courtesy Private Collection –

Defeated and temporarily deported from his native land, this undaunted and stern-visaged Nez Perce man poses in tribal costume and prominently holds a Colt Model 1860 Army, Richards-conversion revolver, in this circa 1880 carte de visite by H Beck of Winfield, Kansas. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2004.015.3 –

Garbed in a fringed buckskin costume this “western” poser grasps what appears to be a percussion Sharps New Model 1863 straight-breech carbine without a patchbox. The ignition system, outmoded at the time the photograph was taken circa 1885-95, suggests that the gun most likely served as a studio prop. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2003.111 –

This successful, buckskin-clad sport hunter proudly poses with his ursine trophy. Balanced over the subject’s arm is the weapon that no doubt brought the bear to bag—a Sharps Model 1874 sporting rifle made in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Long-cased metallic cartridges for the rifle are arrayed in a belt below the subject’s elbow in this circa 1880-85 photo. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1994.10.1744 –

Accompanied by his attentive dogs in this circa 1865-70 tintype, this fellow is armed with a double rifle—or combination rifle-shotgun—with superposed barrels and percussion locks, a Bowie knife and what appears to be a small-cartridge deringer. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2002.113 –

Striking a jaunty pose in this circa 1865-70 carte de visite, these lads wear leather game bags and hold half-stocked percussion sporting rifles. Rifle at left—fitted with double set triggers—appears to be a comparatively fancy specimen for a youth. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2003.196 –

Posed with his faithful canine in this circa 1865-70 tintype, this rustic, pipe-smoking hunter conspicuously exhibits his half-stocked percussion sporting rifle—finished with rather unusual checkering at wrist and extended, handhold trigger guard strap. – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2003.268 –

In this circa 1880-90 cabinet card, this frontier type poses with the two marque firearms that later were claimed to have “won the West.” The gent holds a Winchester Model 1873 lever-action carbine, while a Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army revolver resides in his open-topped belt holster. (The long-cased cartridges in his belt would fit neither weapon.) – Courtesy Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, RC2006.038 –

In 1884, Assistant Surgeon W.W.R. Fisher (seated next to an unknown Indian scout) left his pleasant posting at California’s Presidio of San Francisco for a more austere existence at Arizona’s Fort Apache, which, by comparison to his considerable time campaigning in southern Arizona and northern Mexico, seemed comfortable.

The interior of a late 19th-century military medical ward, like this one at Fort Riley in Kansas in 1899, was a far cry from earlier wards that, in some instances, barely kept patients out of the elements. – Courtesy Sidney B. Brinkerhoff Collection –

While wheeled vehicles had their place, the rough terrain found in Arizona and in many other areas of the West required ingenuity to transport the wounded. Mule back was just one means to solve this challenge. – Courtesy Library of Congress –

Shown four years after his surrender to the Union, Robert E. Lee sits with Confederate officers at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. – Courtesy Heritage Auctions, February 21, 2006 –

Confederate Pvt. Simeon J. Crews of Company F, 7th Texas Cavalry Regiment, poses with his cut down saber and a revolver. After the news of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender, his unit disbanded on May 27, 1865, at Wild Cat Bluff in Texas. Rebels disgruntled by losing the war are believed to have joined John Rapp and notorious gunman Ben Thompson in raiding the treasury in Austin that June. – Courtesy Library of Congress –

Jack Stilwell is shown in his prime, above left, as a scout. The 1893 photo of Jack, above right, was taken when he was elected police judge of El Reno, Oklahoma. He likely earned his nickname “Comanche Jack” as early as 1877, while serving as court interpreter, in all cases dealing with Comanches, for Judge Isaac Parker at the Western District of Arkansas that oversaw the Indian Territory.