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Billy the Kid Photo

Billy the Kid photoYears ago I commented on the Billy the Kid PBS special and how the famous Billy the Kid photo kept appearing on the screen over and over. That’s because there are only two authentic photographs of Billy the Kid presently in existence.  The most famous one is a two-by-three-inch ferrotype or tintype, taken by an unknown itinerant photographer outside Beaver Smith’s Saloon in Old Fort Sumner, around 1880…Because it portrays Billy as a very unattractive person, many have called it his visa picture.

Originally people didn’t realize that since it was a tintype, the image was actually reversed.  So, everyone though Billy the Kid was left handed. This misconception even inspired the 1958 movie “The Left Handed Gun,” starring Paul Newman as Billy.

Finally firearms experts looked at the Kid’s Winchester and noticed its spring plate, where the cartridges are loaded, was on the left side.  But Winchester produced firearms with spring plates only on the right side.  So, later books and publications have the reversed image reversed, so it’s correct.

Recently the Billy the Kid photo went on the auction block and a retired Wichita industrialist who collects everything from Wild West memorabilia to Picassos bought it for $2 million…Incidentally, it was thought it would go for about $300,000.

Salted Undershirt

March 1, 1892, Daily Herald, El Paso, Texas – Five years ago I was suffering with a very severe throat trouble, so much so that I did not expect to live. An acquaintance told me that he could give me a remedy that would cure it and , as I had tried all of the doctors in my town without receiving any benefit, I decided to try the remedy suggested. I tried it, was permanently cured of my cough, and besides I discovered that I was not subject to colds.
I was conductor, running in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama. I was of course subjected to very hot cars in winter, and of necessity had constantly to get out in the cold at all hours of the night. In all that time I have never had a cold or the grip. You will be astonished at the remedy. It is simply to wear a salted undershirt.

Salted Undershirt

Take a summer undershirt and soak it in brine made with, a half pint of ordinary salt to about a quarter of water, and put out to dry. Wear this shirt next to the body. It is not unpleasant to wear and will, I am sure, keep off grip and bad colds, and, I firmly believe, consumption. If I were to live to be eighty years old, I have so much faith in the salted shirts that I would never cease to wear them. My reason for preferring the thin gauze shirt is because the salt makes a heavy shirt too stiff and hard. Wear the heavy shirt over the salted shirt

NOTE: This article written in 1892. It was the latest in medical news back then, but not necessarily now.

Bat Masterson – Gunfighter

Bat Masterson - GunfighterI find Bat Masterson one of the more intriguing men of the Old West.  He is known as a gunfighter, but he was in very few gun fights.

The last gunfight he was in took place on this day back in 1881.  It was to help out his brother Jim.  Jim owned a business in Dodge City and was having trouble with Al Updegraff, a business partner.  It had even involved gunfire.

I don’t know if Jim actually said the words, “I going to get my big brother and he’ll beat you up,” but Bat, in Tombstone at the time, heard about the conflict and jumped on a train to Dodge City.

Not a man to mince words, Bat immediately spotted Updegraff and brother-in-law Peacock and said, “I have come over a thousand miles to settle this.  I know you are heeled, now fight!”  All three men immediately drew their guns.

In the fracas Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.  The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns and stopped the shooting.  No one was mortally injured in the shooting, and in accordance with Old West standards, the gunfight was fought fairly.  So Masterson was fined $8.  He paid the fine and took the next train out of Dodge City.

As an aside, had Bat not left Tombstone to help his brother, the chances are excellent he would have been around to help his friend Wyatt Earp in another gunfight…The one that took place at the OK Corral.

Hiram Rhoades Revels, First Black Congressman

Hiram Rhoades RevelsIn 1870 Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, was sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Black ever to sit in Congress.

During the Civil War, Revels, a college-educated minister, helped form Black army regiments for the Union cause, started a school for freed men, and served as a chaplain for the Union Army.  Revels remained in the former Confederate state after the war and entered into Reconstruction-era Southern politics.

In 1865, Revels left the AME Church, the first independent black denomination in the US, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was assigned briefly to churches in Leavenworth, Kansas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1866, he was called as a permanent pastor at a church in Natchez, Mississippi, where he settled with his wife and five daughters. He became an elder in the Mississippi District of the Methodist Church, continued his ministerial work, and founded schools for black children.

During Reconstruction, Revels was elected alderman in Natchez in 1868. In 1869 he was elected to represent Adams County in the Mississippi State Senate.

It’s interesting to note that the Senate seat Revels held was once held by Jefferson David, the former president of the Confederacy.

The Passing of the Old West Boots

Considering the popularity of Old West boots today, here is an interesting article from 1894.

Disuse of Foot Gear Once Popular East and West.

Old West BootsNovember 7, 1894, Evening News, El Paso, Texas – The diminished use of boots is a matter of concern to the manufacturers of them and to the producers of heavy leather and heavy calfskins.  Twenty years ago the calf boot industry was a leading one in New England.  Whole towns were studded with factories, which produced calf boots exclusively.  For a decade the sale has been gradually falling off, and today it is of hardly any importance.

A few manufacturers of shoes include boots as a specialty, but the demand is too light to amount to much.  When calf boots were more in vogue, manufacturers consulted the partialities of the cowboys, to whom price was a secondary consideration.  The legs were frequently corded with silk stitching.  The star and crescent and other fanciful ornamentations were inlaid on the legs of the boots.  There were high heels, and boots were striking specimens of mechanical art.  The soles were inlaid with copper, zinc and brass nails.

The cowboys no longer pay $15 for a pair of boots.  They want substance instead of show.  But they were not the only wearers of calf boots.  They were extensively worn.  Many men prefer them today, though the number is growing less.

The old-fashioned stoga boots were formerly sold in large quantities.  They are well nigh obsolete.  There followed a demand for a lighter and more stylish article.  A kip boot of finer texture was produced, about equal in appearance to the best calf boot, but this, too, has fallen somewhat into disuse, and the sales this season are scarcely over one-half the usual amount.  Even the farmers are using heavy shoes instead of boots, and if it becomes a necessity to wear long legged boots they buy rubber.

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