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Couple of well-armed gentlemen

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Oregon Bill:
Here are a couple of tough hombres -- my great great great Uncle Benjamin Franklin Burks and his son Thomas. Uncle Ben was born in Talbot County, Georgia in 1830, served an enlistment as a captain with the 2nd Mississippi Cavalry and died in 1895 in Ardmore, OK. Thomas was born in 1860, one of seven children born to Ben and Emily Smith Burks. I would place this image about 1885 and possibly taken in Texas; Ben would have been 55 and Thomas 25 in that year. Might have been taken earlier, but Thomas can't be much younger than his 20s, it seems to me. Both men are holding Colt Single Action Army Models of 1873. I find myself very greatly admiring the cut of Uncle Ben's coat.

Dave T:
Bill, those were called "Sack Coats" and were the sport coat of the late 19th Century. They also came as three piece suits with matching pants and vests. They are more often seen (in photos of the time) as just coats worn over regular clothing, like your unkle Ben. You could sure get to a cross-draw holster wearing one.


Hair Trigger Jim:
Nice picture; good story.  Thank you for sharing.

I'm wondering whether the photo is reversed, a mirror image of the original.  The buttons on the coats and vests, and even the breast pocket of the coat, seem "backwards" to modern eyes.  But I don't know if men's clothing all buttoned on the same side back then, or not.  I've never noticed one way or the other before, and I'm not home so I can't go peruse original photos in all my books I'm going to get around to reading someday!

But if it's flipped, they'd both be holding their revolvers in the left hand.  But maybe that makes sense for an old cavalry officer, and like father, like son?


I agree probably a reversed image.  A little too grainy to tell from the guns, but even the trouser flys are reversed. 

Very cool bit of family history you have there!

Oregon Bill:
Good eyes on the likely reversed image, fellas. I knew Thomas was wearing a sack coat, but Uncle Ben's seemed cut longer enough to seem to be a different style, and from a fabric with much nicer hang.
Ben was one of six of the seven sons of my ggg GF James Lyon Burks (cotton planter, Mississippi, 18 slaves as of Schedule 2 of the 1860 Census) who served the Confederacy; four survived. Silas died of Typhoid in 1861. Lemuel Andrew Jackson Burks died of gangrene not quite three months after taking a musket ball through the clavicle at Missionary Ridge. I have been in touch with the Army Medical Museum in Silver Spring and they recently confirmed that the clavicle is no longer in their collections. The notes and woodcut are from the multi-volume "Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion," a graphic catalog of the unspeakable things we did to each other in that conflict.



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