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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cas City Historical Society (Moderators: St. George, Silver Creek Slim)  |  Topic: Doc Hollidays sidearm at Tombstone 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Doc Hollidays sidearm at Tombstone  (Read 5921 times)
bear tooth billy
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« on: February 20, 2016, 08:50:29 am »


I spent a couple days in Tombstone last month, and have just finished reading "The last gunfight"
It has got my interest in Doc Holliday, I am wondering what sidearm he carried. Was it a nickel
1877 colt lightning (shopkeepers model), and what caliber. Also is there any documentation
of a shoulder holster. It's curious how a hotheaded, drunk with a criminal past would be issued
a conceal carry permit.  Thanks

                                              BTB

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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 08:54:30 am »

I should clarify that what I'm about to say is based off of some very cursory knowledge. I haven't read anything in regards to specifics, so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. From what I've read, Doc likely carried a Colt SAA with the Cavalry length barrel. From what I've read, that was the revolver he carried throughout most, if not all of his time in the West.

Was 'The Last Gunfight' good? Always looking for a new book to listen to at work (audio books are wonderful).
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2016, 11:19:49 am »

According to R.L. Wilson book, , 'The Peacemakers' - he carried to Colts - a shoulder-holstered DA  'Thunderer' or 'Lightning') and a 7 1/2" SAA - the SAA being the preferred piece.

He also carried a knife.

There are a 'lot' of purportedly 'Doc Holliday' firearms extant - just so's you're aware...

Scouts Out!
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2016, 01:44:37 pm »

The short answer is that no one knows what handgun Doc used in the fight. Of course he had the Wells Fargo shotgun at the beginning, but witnesses also described a nickel colored handgun. Witnesses were mostly not knowledgeable about guns and their descriptions varied a bit.  The only guns involved that we really know about were those used by Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury (both Colt's Frontier Six-Shooters, I believe) because they were identified by serial number during the inquest.

St. George is correct about the proliferation of guns that "belonged" to Doc and other famous characters. We need to be very cautious, but it does make for interesting discussion. There does exist a 7 1/2" SAA with fairly good provenance.

Here are some guns purported to belong to famous individuals, some with solid provenance and others with less so.  https://theautry.org/the-colt-revolver-in-the-american-west/historic-individuals

CC Griff
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Black River Smith
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2016, 07:16:44 pm »

Beside the Colt SAA pictured in the Peacemaker - Wilson book.

I have read information according to a chapter on Doc in the book Guns and the Gunfighters by Guns and Ammo editors that he owned a nickel ivory Colt 1851 Mason conversion; a silver and gold 41 Rem Derringer(this has engraving 'To Doc from Kate' on it); a 10GA shotgun and 2 Colt SAA(not defined).  These were found in his belonging at the time of his death.
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bear tooth billy
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2016, 09:03:37 am »

At the gunfighters hall of fame in Tombstone, at the Doc Holliday display they have a colt
lightning, nickel , shopkeepers model (4'' barrel). Interesting to me because I have one just
like it. I read that he carried a concealed silver self cocker, and was wondering about clarification
Thanks

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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2016, 05:39:37 pm »

Beside the Colt SAA pictured in the Peacemaker - Wilson book.

I have read information according to a chapter on Doc in the book Guns and the Gunfighters by Guns and Ammo editors that he owned a nickel ivory Colt 1851 Mason conversion; a silver and gold 41 Rem Derringer(this has engraving 'To Doc from Kate' on it); a 10GA shotgun and 2 Colt SAA(not defined).  These were found in his belonging at the time of his death.

Quite a number of years ago, I saw the Remington O/U double derringer engraved "To Doc from Kate" at the Beinfield show in Las Vegas. At the time, a friend of mine and I were doing an extensive survey of Remington O/U Double D's, which culminated in the publication of a book on the subject. The gun in question was a model manufactured several years after Doc had passed!  Purportedly, Doc's nephew presented that gun or one like it to the hotelier in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to pay Doc's bill. Whether that story is true or not I can't say. It may very well be true, but if so, Doc's nephew or somebody...well, uh...  Whatever the case, Doc could NOT have used that gun, unless his ghost... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2016, 07:56:51 pm »

Bear tooth,

I guess what I am insinuating by my text is just -- how do you know what was in the display was accurate?  Where they claiming it belonging to the real 'Doc' or to the movie, Tombstone - Doc?

That is why I type what I did behind the 2 - Colt SAA (not defined).  The Colt lightning was a double action revolver only in 38colt caliber.

Trailrider,
The derringer you saw could have been a fake or made up look alike.  That does happen.  The derringer listed in the book is SN 474 dating to the early 1870's.  Was that the SN on the gun you handled?  474 SN seems awfully early in the production series to me and would be before he died.
PS.  I know the SN's for Rem derringers were crazy but I think I would trust the G&A editors documentation and photo's from the '80's book over a gunshow dealers offering.  If it where real it would not be in show but a museum.  IMO
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2016, 08:10:34 pm »

BRS, I don't know if the gun in the display is accurate or not, I thought it was cool that it was
just like mine. I've seen prices at the Rock Island Auction and if a gun can be really documented
to have belonged to someone famous they bring BIG money. I am just wondering if there is any
REAL documentation to what he carried  Thanks for your expertise
                     BTB
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2016, 08:39:07 pm »

Bear Tooth,

Just to change directions and 'help your point' I did find a statement in the Alder book Guns of the American West where he states...'Doc was another historic figure who took a liking to the Colt's Model 1877 double action revolver..... and in 1877 acquired the .38 Colt caliber double action Lightening.'

But no pictures or documentation of the gun is provided.

In none of my books have I ever come across a photo of this possible Colt DA directly associated to him.
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2016, 08:53:37 pm »

Doc had one sister that died before he was born. He had no nephew.
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2016, 12:28:44 am »

At that time, no one had ever thought of a 'concealed carry permit'.

Why?

Because they didn't and wouldn't exist until the next century...

Men weren't as judgmental of other men as one might think - pretty much every man drank and smoked and many were touchy, as well - just like they are, today, and guess what?

No one kept track.

They pretty well went and did what they pleased, and if they stepped across a line, they sometimes got caught doing it, and sometimes there just wasn't any proof - or care, if someone died.

The phrase - He needed killin' ' - was a well-accepted one in the times they lived in.

Do not make the mistake of judging the past by today's standards - it doesn't work.

Scouts Out!
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 12:42:47 pm »



Do not make the mistake of judging the past by today's standards - it doesn't work.

Scouts Out!
[/quote]

Amen!
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2016, 02:00:30 am »

I own Docs nickel and gold plated Derringer as well as the provenance which includes a letter from the Wells family who worked at the Glenwood Springs Hotel where Doc died and owned the gun until 1974..almost 100 years.
The gun you saw in Vegas was real. It was given to Wells to pay for funeral expenses and hotel bills.
The serial numbers mean very little as the guns were numbered to 1-999 or 1-9999 and then repeated so there are more than 1 474 out there. But there is only one that is engraved on the backstrap "To Doc from Kate". The patina within the engraving is very hard to fake.
The only way to date these guns is by the Remington inscriptions on either the sides of the barrel or the top of the barrel.
The first guns the inscription was on either side of the barrel. Then they moved the inscription to the top of the barrel due to the shell extractor lever which got in the way on the inscription.
Docs gun ..on the top barrel in two separate lines says:
"E. Remington & Sons. Ilion NY.
Elliot's Patent Dec 12, 1865
This inscription is before Remington owned the patent and dates the gun between 1870 & 1888. It is period correct
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« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2016, 02:12:40 am »

PS if things workout it will be on display in Glenwood Springs or Tombstone for all to see!
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« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2016, 09:34:04 am »

I own Docs nickel and gold plated Derringer as well as the provenance which includes a letter from the Wells family who worked at the Glenwood Springs Hotel where Doc died and owned the gun until 1974..almost 100 years.
The gun you saw in Vegas was real. It was given to Wells to pay for funeral expenses and hotel bills.
The serial numbers mean very little as the guns were numbered to 1-999 or 1-9999 and then repeated so there are more than 1 474 out there. But there is only one that is engraved on the backstrap "To Doc from Kate". The patina within the engraving is very hard to fake.
The only way to date these guns is by the Remington inscriptions on either the sides of the barrel or the top of the barrel.
The first guns the inscription was on either side of the barrel. Then they moved the inscription to the top of the barrel due to the shell extractor lever which got in the way on the inscription.
Docs gun ..on the top barrel in two separate lines says:
"E. Remington & Sons. Ilion NY.
Elliot's Patent Dec 12, 1865
This inscription is before Remington owned the patent and dates the gun between 1870 & 1888. It is period correct
It has been quite some time since I saw the gun at the Las Vegas show, and because the gun shown in "Guns of the Gunfighters" was NOT shown in a top view, there was no way to tell which model it was.  If your derringer has the two-line address on top, then it is a Second Model, which was manufactured early enough to have been Doc's.  One question I have is:  the gun shown in "GOTG" has the checkering on the ejector thumbpiece vertical and horizontal ( +++ ).  But most if not all of the Second Models we examined, including my own, have the checkering diagonally oriented ( xxx ).  Second Models were numbered consecutively into the several thousand ranges, but we don't know exactly how many times the numbers were repeated.  We saw duplicate numbers including two #571's. It is too bad the top of the gun in GOTG wasn't shown.  IIRC, the gun I saw at that Las Vegas show had only a single-line address on top! Which is why I concluded that gun was a Third Model.  Could easily have been a fake. Glad to have some additional info.  Smiley  For more information on Remington O/U Doubles, see our book, "Dr. William H. Elliot's Remington Double Deringer" (note the use of the single "r" in deringer...whether one "r" or two is a whole other story!).  Ain't history fascinating???  Smiley Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2016, 08:33:41 am »

It's a type I Model 2. Apparently there were two runs (~18,000) made from 1-9999 and then repeated.
The ejector piece has very defined horizontal grooves with much less defined slightly angled grooves. I've seen several variations.
Regarding your post on this site Doc didn't have any nephews. His sister died at 6 months old and his adopted brother also died at a very early age.
Saw another post of yours on a different site that mentions this nephew giving the gun to as payment to someone in Deadwood, SD
Doc Holliday died at the Glenwood Springs Hotel in Colorado which is where the gun stayed until, at least 1968, where the first owner of the gun worked and lived so not sure where you got your info.
I do know that the previous owner, who owned the gun for over 35 years, travelled a lot and displayed the gun several times. Based on your other info I'd have to see the gun you saw in Vegas before I could comment further.
I can say that I've never seen or heard of any other derringers inscribed with "To Doc from Kate" after a ton of research. Ever.
I'm sure Henry Deringer will forgive us for that extra "r"
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« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2016, 12:48:13 pm »

Howdy, again, Pard!
The only reference to Doc's "nephew" was what was in Guns of the Gunfighters.  Even though E.J. Williams and I surveyed many hundreds of the Remington derringers (the spell checker just added in the second "r") in preparation for the 1995 article in Man-At-Arms, and later as co-authors of the book, it was certainly impossible to have seen more than a few percent of the total production over the 69 years of production by the various incarnations of "Remington". One thing we did find was that there was overlap between the various "models". The reason is that what we call "serial numbers" were really not.  Rather, they were batch numbers for the purpose of matching barrels to frames, and for inventory control. One of the minor, but notable situations in this regard, was the early "Remington-UMC" guns (Fourth Models by our terminology) with three-digit numbers. For the most part, these had thumbpieces and hammer knurling like those seen on the Remington Arms Co. guns. Also you can find a number of Fourth Model with the L prefix with date codes out of order of the serial numbers. How could this be?  Likely because the gun barrels and frames were matched to each other, but before final assembly, were simply tossed into a parts bin, and then given final finishing and assembly in a "last-in, first-out" order. The date codes were then stamped on the lumps under the barrels.  Similarly, Second (two-line address on top of the barrel) Model guns might have early 3rd Model parts installed. (Why bother re-stamping the new company name on finished barrels?)

Bottom line, I bow to your documentation of the authenticity of Doc's derringer (there...it did it again!), and apologize for casting any doubt on it.  Too bad these guns didn't come with speakers and flash drives so they could talk to us!  Wink  I've owned several different original guns that I wish could tell me their stories directly. No matter how hard I listen, they don't speak to me...at least in audible words. Sometimes, though, there is enough documentation here and there...

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2016, 02:02:41 am »

Howdy!
Are you referring to the book "Guns of the Gunfighters" by Doc O'Meara?
The only pic of a Derringer i could find n that book, was on page 109, the one owned by Buffalo Bill.
In the three pages about Doc Holliday it only shows a pic of a Colt that Katie Elder identified as Docs and a pic of a shotgun that was believed to be the same type as what Doc carried.

Yes it would be great if these guns could talk but they don't need to when you've got great documentation and a solid timeline of ownership.
I don't have a problem with people questioning the authenticity of a thing but I find it frustrating when incorrect, unresearched statements are thrown around. Makes it that much harder to indentfy the facts.

I emailed a pic  of the affidavit and a few pics of the gun for R.W. "Doc" Boyle to post on his website.
If you already haven't found it ..have a look see if you like .
Here's the link: 
http://dochollidaylive.biz/docs-guns/

Merry Christmas!
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2016, 10:01:34 am »

One has to watch regarding guns owned by famous people.  A couple of years ago one of the old west magazines had an ad for a gun auction and it showed a Colt '73 in a 4 3/4 " bbl that belonged to Tom Custer.  Tom was killed at LBH on June 25, 1876.  My understanding was that Colt '73s with that bbl length were not manufactured prior to Tom's death.  If he did own it, why wasn't it with him at LBH as a saddle bag gun?
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« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2017, 03:16:33 pm »

Howdy!
Are you referring to the book "Guns of the Gunfighters" by Doc O'Meara?
The only pic of a Derringer i could find n that book, was on page 109, the one owned by Buffalo Bill.
In the three pages about Doc Holliday it only shows a pic of a Colt that Katie Elder identified as Docs and a pic of a shotgun that was believed to be the same type as what Doc carried.

Yes it would be great if these guns could talk but they don't need to when you've got great documentation and a solid timeline of ownership.
I don't have a problem with people questioning the authenticity of a thing but I find it frustrating when incorrect, unresearched statements are thrown around. Makes it that much harder to indentfy the facts.

I emailed a pic  of the affidavit and a few pics of the gun for R.W. "Doc" Boyle to post on his website.
If you already haven't found it ..have a look see if you like .
Here's the link: 
http://dochollidaylive.biz/docs-guns/

Merry Christmas!

I have just gone to the link you posted above. Although it is hard to see the details that would help (me) identify the "model" of the gun, I do now believe that is a two-line address and patent date, which would identify the gun as a 2nd Model (we use the Karl F. Moldenhauer system of classifying the variations).  It has been too many years since I examined the gun at the Beinfeld show in Las Vegas. I have NOT examined the gun in possession of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society. I talked with Mr. Kight about the gun a few days ago, giving him the criteria for determining the vintage of the gun, and some references. I asked for some clear photos of the top of the gun, or at least a description of the markings, but have not heard back from him.

The extractor thumbpiece, which was the only thing shown in the book "Guns of the Gunfighters" (Peterson Publishing 1975) that distinguishes the model of the gun, is definitely a Third Model thumbpiece (vertical and horizontal line with no border around the thumbpiece.  It is possible that the extractor was replaced at some point in time with the later version. Not hard to do, and not uncommon.

Given the gun shown is a 2nd Model, then it definitely could be of a vintage that Doc Holiday might have owned.  So far as the inscription is concerned, Kate might have been trying to make up for having accused Doc of robbing the stage.  Given their tempestuous, off-and-on relationship, she might more readily have given him the contents of both barrels.  Shocked Roll Eyes
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Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

Your obedient servant,
Trailrider,
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« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2017, 06:17:44 pm »

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/colorado/articles/2017-03-12/old-west-gunfighters-pistol-returns-to-colorado-town

"A historical society in Colorado has authorized the $84,000 purchase of a pistol previously owned by one of the Old West's most famous gunfighters."  Shocked
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« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2017, 12:37:12 pm »

Was 'The Last Gunfight' good? Always looking for a new book to listen to at work (audio books are wonderful).

Very good, much history and less Pro Earp or Pro Clanton nonsense. 
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