Inherited engraved SAA .41
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  1. #201
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    I took a closer look at the letter from
    Charles H. Burritt,
    again...

    Here is what I got from what you have posted. But the rest of the letter should also be most informative.

    My cliff notes translation of what happened in a rather short time frame, Buffalo, May 19 1892.

    Marshall Mitchell talks a drunk Henry Smith into a walk and disarms him of two hand guns..one a pearl handed ornate Colt taken (stolen) from the hardware stores moments prior..

    Marshall Mitchell gives both of Smith's guns to Johnson Long for safe keeping and sends them both on their way.

    Smith gets his guns back from Johnson Long and shoots up the town some before Charlie Taylor shows up and gets both Smith and Long out of town.

    2 warrants are issued for Henry Smith from the local court, drunk and disorderly, discharging a firearm, and the 2nd for resisting an officer.

    Shortly after that altercation, in the letter the writer talks of a Deputy Marshal (likely a court appointed US Marshal) seeing Henry Smith again in a "outlaw" camp. The rest of that letter should be interesting.

    I'd want to see the old court records for the area and see if Henry Smith ever had those warrants served on him or if a warrant for murder was ever issued in Smith's name.

    One thing is for sure in my mind, that Colt didn't just disappear. It was simply too valuable to do so. It might have been traded or given to someone else along the way for favors but I'd bet that gun was well known to both sides.

  2. #202
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    My buddy Kurt just published this “Historical Fiction” two months ago. It weaves together the tale of the Johnson Co war and the Spring Creek Raid and sets it with a common character.
    Its a neat read. Lots of really good history and interviews.
    Ill send you a copy.
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  3. #203
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    While I await the return of the lady helping me from the Johnson County Library, my copy of "The war on Powder River - The History of an Insurrection" arrived. On Page 252 in Chapter 24, an entry appears that seems to support a part of the story detailed by Charles Burritt in his letter dated May 22, 1892. This entry, however, seems to insinuate the City Marshall disarmed the men with the "pearl handled six-shooter" which took their fancy.

    And it specifically references killing "merchants who had sided with the invaders if they refused to hand over some item like a pearl handled six-shooter". This would have been a direct reference to George Munkres, identified in Burritt's letter by name, who was known to have supported the invaders and was a friend to Frank Canton. More later!
    Pg 252.jpg
    These troublemakers we called the Red Sash gang, because they affected the then-popular cowboy style of a red sash around the waist as a badge of membership. The leader was Charles Taylor, and members included Ed Starr, and "Black Henry" Smith, Clayton Cruse, Henry Smith (identified in Burritt's letter as the one who took the SAA from the Munkres store) and Ed Starr, just to name a few.
    Last edited by sumthin_nu; 08-21-2019 at 08:08 AM. Reason: incorrect placement
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  5. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by sumthin_nu
    ...This entry, however, seems to insinuate the City Marshall disarmed the men with the "pearl handled six-shooter" which took their fancy.
    A close read of Charles Burritt's letter says the City Marshal did indeed disarm Henry Smith of the Pearl handled gun. But he also says the Marshal gave Smith's gun/guns back to Johnson Long for safe keeping and sends them both on their way.

    Interesting as then Smith and Johnson by Burritt's account shoot up the town some before finally leaving. But I'd wonder just how common 41 Colt was then, as now. I suspect he didn't have ammo for the pearl handled/engraved gun but was just shooting his own 6 gun and still carried the pearl handled engraved gun as he left town as a "trophy" for buffaloing the merchant.

    No record of the gun past the City Marshal giving Smith's gun/guns back to Johnson Long for safe keeping. No record of the City Marshal keeping the stolen gun and returning it to the merchant. No warrant issued for theft of the gun either. Which would be a distinct point of interest to all I suspect at the time and duly noted. Interesting no info past the return of gun/guns to Johnson Long. One or both? And no record of the pearl handled gun being returned to the merchant. Odd to me.
    Last edited by Cozmo; 08-21-2019 at 10:54 AM.
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  6. #205
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    Al valid points, Cozmo. I think seeing the remaining portion of the letter from Burritt, could give some clarity and is the next step. If that doesn't pan out, we also have a general time frame of beginning to end, between the two documents, to use in a search of the county/US records if available. I have a good contact at the county courthouse, and may even have access to the records I need via a web portal the county has set up. I also believe access to other records is a possibility, I am just wanting to cross off one before requesting support of another.
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  7. #206
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    Well one thing's for sure...Henry Smith was a cantankerous, mean SOB. And if he left down with that fancy Colt, likely he should (likely was at some point) have been shot
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  8. #207
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    Jim,

    I think you're on the right trail. I think it clearly was special ordered. Yes it was expensive for regular folks but to the kind of man that would appreciate this SAA it may have been small change. My question is why .41 Colt? It wasn't a popular caliber. Perhaps the prospective owner favored that caliber and may have had other arms chambered for the .41.
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  9. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bowles View Post
    Jim,

    I think you're on the right trail. I think it clearly was special ordered. Yes it was expensive for regular folks but to the kind of man that would appreciate this SAA it may have been small change. My question is why .41 Colt? It wasn't a popular caliber. Perhaps the prospective owner favored that caliber and may have had other arms chambered for the .41.
    Rick, the .41 seems to have had a following back then. I have read of quite a few Ranger and Lawman Colts that were .41's.
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  10. #209
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    Rick-I initially asked myself the same question about the .41 cal revolver, knowing that only 4% of Colt SAA's were produced in the .41 Caliber. Due to being in the middle of the JCW subject, I took a quick glance at Major Wolcott's List, and see 3 Colt rev's chambered for .41 cal.

    As a result, out of 40 confiscated revolvers on the list, 7 1/2% appear to be .41 cal, and out of the 37-38 that were listed as Colts, about 8% were .41 cal.... double the known historical average for Colt output in this caliber.

    While this is obviously a small sampling, it could possibly indicate that the .41 cal was more popular during this period than we would have thought.
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  11. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bowles
    I think you're on the right trail. I think it clearly was special ordered......
    I've no doubt Jim is on the right track.

    But I believe the letter from Charles H. Burritt we have been discussing clearly points out the fact the gun wasn't a special order for anyone in particular. Colt often had high grade guns available on hand and they got passed around to Colt dealers, loaned on account. If not sold they could be returned to Colt. Good for Colt. Good for the dealers. A lot going on in Buffalo in that time period. All news worthy back East. Buffalo would be a good place to send a fancy Colt as advertising.

    Here is what has been documented to date.

    Gun was on Shipped on April 7, 1892 to Munkres and Mathers in Buffalo Wyoming. Likely shipped Rail Express so it wouldn't be but a few days in transit.

    May 19, 1892...we know exactly where Henry Smith and a fancy Pearl handled Colt was in Buffalo.

    If the gun was special ordered as you suppose there was well over a month to pick it up from the hardware store.

    According to Burritt's letter, Munkres, the store keep, first told Henry Smith (the theif) the gun was unavailable. Then when press as to the gun's ownership, Munkres said the gun was sold previously to C.P. Johns. All of which was a story fabricated by Munkres according to Burritt's letter to avoid any conflict with Smith. Learning the pearl handled .41 actually belonged to C.P Johns (according to Munkres fabricated story), Smith then went looking for Johns with the pearl handled gun in hand. Saying something to the effect" He'd (Smith) would "get away with that" from Johns and left the store with the said gun in hand.

    By the details in Burritt's letter the gun was openly for sale in the hardware store (and had been for a month already) and no one, but the store, owned it prior to Smith showing up and asking to handle the gun in the store. The story someone did own the gun was only a fabrication by Munkres, attempting to avoid a a conflict with the drunk and belligerent Henry Smith.

    The real question is, did the gun leave town with Smith after being returned to Smith's partner by the City Marshal or did the town Marshal return the gun to Munkres and the store. I suspect from what we have seen so far and the character of those involved the gun left town in the possession of Henry Smith. But I do find an argument that the gun went back to the store as no warrant for theft was issued at the time, as were several others, against Smith.
    Last edited by Cozmo; 08-24-2019 at 07:37 AM.
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