Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Billy The Kid Tintypes

Who ever coined the phrase, “lawless frontier” must have had been referring to New Mexico Territory in the late 1870s and early 80s, especially in Lincoln County. The lack of law enforcement in Lincoln County created an environment where ranchers, businessmen and outlaws cheated, stole, fought and killed one another in a series of clashes that eventually caught the nation’s attention. News from this bloody frontier motivated the president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, to remove the New Mexico governor and appoint a new governor, a Civil War general, Lew Wallace, to “clean up” the territory. (At the time, Lew Wallace was writing the epic novel Ben Hur.)

Many authors have written about what happened in Lincoln County, referring to different deadly clashes as the Lincoln County War. As intriguing as the history is of the Lincoln County War, what readers remembered most is one allusive character who sought refuge in the lawless county, and who participated in the fight; a murderer by the name of Billy the Kid.

Billy the Kid has been a part of the cultural lore of the American West since his reputation as a murderer emerged from the details of what happened in Lincoln County. Today books are still being published with new information and new perspectives on the Kid’s life. What follows on Western Americana Blog is a look at Billy the Kid through the lens of a camera. It has been generally known that there is only one photograph of Billy the Kid, one where he is standing holding the barrel end of a rifle. His pose is casual. A six-shooter hangs in its holster loosely around his hip. He is decked out with a vest, scarf around the neck, and a black top hat; His baggy pants are tucked into his boots.

Other than this picture, researchers claim that no others exist. But, It appears that the aficionados of Billy the Kid photographs are wrong. Not long ago an historian, Steve, who is a Billy the Kid enthusiast, was rummaging through an antique shop in Bend Oregon. In one of the displays he found a tintype that looked a lot like Billy the Kid. On further investigation throughout various nooks and crannies in the antique shop, he found tintypes of individuals that Steve believed could have been personalities who participated in the infamous Lincoln County War. If the photographs were authentic, Steve knew he was looking at sought after images that had never been publish. Steve relates his discovery in the article that follows. But first, if you are not up to snuff on your Billy the Kid history then here is a brief synopsis:

he best historical sources have it that Billy the Kid, or Henry William McCarty was born in the early 1860s to Catherine McCarty. Authors assume that McCarty is her married name, but there is no evidence that a Mr. McCarty fathered Henry or his brother, Joe. When the Kid was in Arizona, he took the name, William Bonney. A plausible explanation from one source for this name change is that William Bonney was actually Catherine’s first husband and the father of Henry. As the theory goes, when husband Bonney died, she married McCarty. For some reason, not clear to anyone, the Kid reverted back to his father’s name when he started down the criminal trail.

Explaining why the Kid became a murderous outlaw is difficult. He did grow up in some pretty rough mining camps, was the prototype of an urchin or street kid. But his mother was very hard working and managed to set aside money to invest in land while living in Wichita. In the mining camps in Arizona, where they lived for awhile, she continued her industry and gained the respect of her fellow townspeople. And, the Kids brother, Joe, did not turn to outlawry; he died a somewhat respectable citizen in Denver in 1930. But, an outlaw the Kid became. He killed his first man when he was eighteen while living around Fort Grant in Arizona Territory. After an altercation with the town’s blacksmith, F. P. Cahill, who had a habit of bulling the Kid, a fight ensued, Billy pulled a gun and shot Cahill, who was unarmed. Realizing that he was in jeopardy, the Kid managed to steal a fast horse and quickly left Arizona for New Mexico, where John Chisum, one of the largest landowners, was hiring cowboys; many of whom had sordid past, but Chisum never asked.

John Chisum is a central character in the Lincoln County War. He owned a large cattle ranch in the Pecos Valley known locally as South Spring Ranch. Chisum was the Cattle King of New Mexico, but he had competition from a firm called L.G. Murphy and Company. Murphy, and partner Dolan, owned a general store and trading post in the small town of Lincoln. The men had territorial legislators and the local sheriff in their back pockets. Murphy and Dolan made a fortune by unscrupulous and illegal means. Their biggest financial boom was their contracts with the United States Government to provide beef to the Apache Indians. Their financial return was great because they stole the cattle from the herds of John Chisum. Also in the Pecos Valley were English Businessman, John Tunstall, and Lawyer, Alexander McSween. These two, in silent partnership with John Chisum, established a general store and bank in Lincoln, in direct competition to Murphy and Dolan. So, we have two opposing camps, Tunstall, McSween and Chisum vs. Murphy, Dolan and the local sheriff, Brady.

n 1877, the raids on Chisum’s herds by Murphy’s thugs escalated and Chisum decided to fight back. In discovering evidence that his beef passed through a ranch owned by a fellow named Beckworth, Chisum sent his brother, Pitzer, and Forman Jim Highsow to investigate. A confrontation ensued , where one of Beckworth’s men was killed. This was the beginning of a series of conflicts that became known as the Lincoln County War.

Now, enter Billy the Kid. The Kid was in Lincoln County with other outlaws laying low from the law. He worked at various ranches and was working at the Tunstall (on Chisum’s team) ranch when an 18 man posse, instructed by Murphy set out to deliver legal papers to Tunstall. There was trouble,(Murphy knew there would be) when the posse overtook Tunstall and his men, which included Billy the Kid. Tunstall’s men headed for cover, but Tunstall was too late, he was shot and killed. His partner McSween avenged the killing by sending his posse, which included the Kid, to arrest Murphy’s men. After a shootout, they apprehended two men and rode to Chisum’s ranch, where they spent the night. They locked their two prisoners in one of the bedrooms. After they left the next day, the Kid and his men killed their prisoners and left their bodies beside the road. Sheepherders found and buried the men.

This posse, now referred to as the Regulators, consisted of Dick Brewer, Billy the Kid, Charlie Bowdre, Tom O’Folliard, and cousins, Frank and George Coe. Their actions compounded the antagonisms from both sides and escalated the war. Shortly after Tunstall was killed, the Regulators went after a guy by the name of Buckshot Bill Roberts, who Billy the Kid thought was out to kill him. There was a shoot out at Buckshot’s cabin, Buckshot went down fighting, killing Dick Brewer and wounding several more. Billy the Kid now took over the leadership of the Regulators. After Sheriff Brady (a Murphy man) heard about Buckshot’s murder, he wrote out warrants for the arrest of the Kid and his men. On April 1, 1878, the Kid ambushed Brady and killed him. Without a sheriff, lawlessness prevailed, with the kid leading the pack. It was at this juncture that an official, with no love loss for the governor, took the issue to Washington D.C. and President Hayes.

he most significant and penultimate battle of the “War” was in July 10, 1878 when a posse of forty cattlemen and cowboys, with warrants for the Kid’s arrest, converged on Alexander McSween’s house, where the kid was holed up. After a three day siege, and seven men dead, the house burned to the ground and the Kid et el ran for the hills, where they hid out with occasional raids for horses. During one raid, the Kid killed a bookkeeper at the Indian agency, who had tried to stop the men from stealing the horses. The Kid with his gang of thieves and murderers continued to steal horses and stand as examples of complete lawlessness in New Mexico Territory until the new Governor, Lew Wallace, arrived and the citizens elected a new sheriff, Pat Garrett, in the fall of 1880. Garrett apprehend Billy the Kid in the spring of 1881, he was sentenced to death. However, the Kid escaped. Garrett, humiliated and more determined than ever, caught up with the Kid at Fort Sumner in July 1881; Billy the Kid was shot dead by Garrett, who at first thought the Kid was an intruder, but in recognizing his voice, knew it was the Kid for whom he had been looking.

Steve’s narrative on finding The Sallie Chisum Collection of Ferrotypes

It was three days after Christmas 2006. Outside it was five degrees and blowing twenty knots, yet I was perspiring. I was standing in the nick knack cluttered Glenroe antique shop in Bend Oregon. I was mesmerized by a face that looked out at me from a little tintype; a ferrotype really. The photo, still in its original paper frame was of a young man, probably still a teenager. His cheeks had been tinted slightly pink. He seemed to peer nervously at me from inside that red bordered oval. His expression looked as if staring into that yawning camera lens made him feel uncomfortable, as if he was looking down the barrel of a Colt .45.

stepped to the glass topped counter and spoke to the owner of the shop. Her name, it turned out was Mary Davis. She is a great fan of tintypes. I showed her the picture. She had seen it before. I said to her, “This is Billy the Kid!”. She replied, “That’s nice, he’s six dollars and fifty cents.”

Initially I bought just the photograph of Billy. At the time, I noticed a few other likely tintypes in the pile, but I was so taken aback by finding that first photo that all I wanted to do was to buy it and leave. I paid cash. I drove home. My wife was working in the kitchen. I walked up to her and gently removed the photo from my shirt pocket and presented it to her. I said, “Look, I’ve found a picture of Billy the Kid!“ She glanced at it and said, “Sure you did.” My first of about a hundred rejections.

After a few days I went back to the Glenroe antique shop to see if I could find more tintypes. I sifted through the shelves, bins, and stacks of photos, old cards, sheet music and stereographs. I noted a few dozen tintypes that seemed similar in style, lighting, pose, age and condition. Almost all of them were busts. Some were damaged, a few badly so; but many were nearly like new, maybe a third retained their paper frames. All but one were small, about 2 x 3 ½ inches square. If still in their paper frame they were about the same size of a playing card. I had yet to understand that these photographs belonged to Sallie Chisum and that in all, there were over 70 of them.

Sallie Chisum, her father James and her two younger brothers Walter Pitzer and William James Chisum, along with their cook Mary, arrived in New Mexico in the Fall of 1877. They moved onto James’s brother’s ranch. He was the famous, and in some quarters infamous, John Simpson Chisum. He was a pioneer in the cattle business in East and Central Texas and Southeastern New Mexico Territory. When Sallie and her family arrived they moved into the adobe ranch house along with everyone else in the clan. The Lincoln County War was just over the horizon. It didn’t officially break out until February 18, 1878 when Dolan/Murphy men murdered Billy the Kid’s employer, rancher, store owner, and banker John Tunstall.

Not long after Sallie arrived on her uncle John Chisum’s ranch, she met William Bonney, who worked as a cowboy on various ranches in the Pecos Valley, including John Chisum’s ranch. Sallie and Billy were friends, perhaps more than that. Of Billy, Sallie wrote: “He was brimming over with light hearted gaiety and good humor…He always looked as if he had just stepped out of a band box. In a broad brimmed white hat, dark coat and vest, gray trousers worn over his boots, gray flannel shirt and black four in hand tie, and sometimes-- would you believe it?--a flower in his label and quite the dandy.” She paints quite a picture of the fun loving young fellow. Truth be known, Billy was probably more taken by Sallie than she was of him. To Sallie Chisum, Billy the Kid was probably just another cowpoke vying for her attention. As a matter of fact during 1877-78 and most of 1879, Sallie Chisum was the apple of every cowpoke’s eye from Ruidoso to central Texas.

If the Kid and Sallie had been an “item” their relationship cooled quickly, because a year and a half before Billy was killed Sallie Lucy Chisum married George William Robert, pronounced (Row bert). He was an educated and relatively well off Danish immigrant. In Sallie’s eyes William must have appeared to be a much better match and certainly superior husband/father material than the Kid.

The Tintypes

I have grouped the tintypes into three groups. The first and most numerous are Sallie and William Chisum’s family, another group is Sallie’s Chisum family, the next group is the smallest and consists of Sallie’s women friends, and the last are participants in the Lincoln County War. Sallie understood the Lincoln County War and the forces that caused the conflict. Her uncle John S. Chisum was one of the leaders of the Tunstall/McSween faction. Some of the battles were fought in Sallie’s back yard, or close by. Sallie knew the players on both sides. Her collection includes fighters on the Tunstall/McSween and on the Dolan/Murphy sides. When the posse that called themselves the Regulators arrived at the South Spring ranch with two captives in tow, each suspected in the killing of John Tunstall, Sallie gave the two frightened men her bedroom for the night. It was the only room in the house without a window. The men slept very little. They wrote letters to their families. They suspected that their number was up. It was. The following day while on their way to Lincoln, they were murdered by Dick Brewer’s posse. A posse that included Billy the kid.

The Search For Authenticity

I trust Sallie Chisum’s ability to gather a meaningful group of photographs. She was obviously dedicated to the task. When I consider that these tintypes were about to be lost and that I found them; I must admit that I sense an eerie connection with Sallie. She and I have/had a similar mission. She collected the pictures to remember her family, and to record the visage of her friends, including men who were participants in the Lincoln County War. I am doing the same thing and with the same pictures. In a strange Twilight Zone sort of way, Sallie Chisum and I are partners.

I was thrilled to find these photographs. I wanted to share them with known Billy the Kid scholars. Therefore, I contacted either through email or personally many of the experts. I emailed the English writer, Fred Nolan; considered by many as the living expert on Billy the Kid. I met with Dr. Harwood Hinton, the well known and respected authority on the Chisum family. I visited Bob Boze Bell in his office at True West magazine. He said the images were intriguing. I took the pictures to Lincoln New Mexico, Billy the Kid’s old stomping grounds. I showed them to the director of the museum there. No real interest. We drove to the Billy the Kid Museum in Fort Sumner and displayed the pictures for Tim Sweet the man who runs the private museum there. He found them interesting. I visited the Historical Societies in Lincoln, Roswell, Carlsbad, Silver City and Ruidoso, everyone who saw the photos were intrigued by them. What! I thought. intrigued? interested! How about; wonderful!, enlightening!, or a great and amazing and amazing find! I was a bit disheartened and bewildered. But I kept saying over and over to myself, “These pictures are the real deal, I’m positive of it!” An expert can discount just one photograph, but how about the entire group? I have after all, not only Billy, but many of his Regulator pals as well as Sallie’s family and her Chisum relatives. I have Sallie’s friends, including: Lily Casey, Matilda Davis, Helena Coe, Phoebe Brown Coe, Eliza Jane Hester and a women named Angie Clouse. There are sixty tintypes in all. Then, of course I have William Robert’s European family. Forget Billy the Kid for a moment, consider all of the others!

Everyone to whom I showed the photos, asked me the same question. What is your provenance? I had to honestly reply, that I had none “Aren‘t the pictures enough? Can’t they speak for themselves? I asked. In a word - no.

Consider my plight. I had to find out where those pictures came from and who owned them and how they got to the antique store. What are the chances of discovering an old tintype and then finding out who it was and how it got there? Mary Davis said that a picker brought the tintypes in a year or so prior, but she didn’t recall the individual. People are coming in all of the time giving her things to sell. She said that at the time she was undergoing chemotherapy and the drugs muddled her memory. So I can’t chase down the person who brought them to Mary’s store.

I started an email search. I contacted a fellow who makes old west documentaries. He said that I should contact Steve Sederwall who is a Billy expert and lives smack dab in the middle of Billy Country. Sederwall is one of a group of fellows who wanted to dig up the Billy the Kid grave site in Fort Sumner, and the supposed one in Hico Texas, and Billy’s mother’s grave in Silver City. He wanted to compare DNA to find out who was related to whom. Steve Sederwall is an amazing, larger than life fellow. He told me to contact a well-known and published old west historian who he used to work with. The man wishes to remain anomalous. I contacted him via email. He told me that Sallie Chisum had a favorite niece, whose name was Ara Phillips. He said she was buried in the Hope Cemetery in Oregon.

I Googled Hope Oregon. It’s in eastern Oregon. My wife and I drove out there. We found where Hope Oregon had been, but today there is no Hope. There is an abandoned general store and an old brick schoolhouse that had been turned into a private dwelling.

In a nearby historical society, I met a woman named Betty Elliot. She is the president of the local genealogy club. I told her I was looking for Ara Phillips’ family. She knew them. She told me how to find Ara Phillips’ two sons. Both are octogenarians. One’s name is Fred and the other is Wayne. I called Fred. He picked up during he first ring. “Hello!” He said in a big full voice.

“Mr. Phillips?” I asked.

“Yep, that’s me.” He replied. I explained who I was and that I was studying the Chisum family. I asked him if he knew or had ever heard of Sallie Chisum. He thought for a moment and said slowly, “noooo, I don‘t think so.” Then he hesitated and exclaimed, nearly shouting, “Oh, do you mean Aunt Sallie?”

Fred and Wayne are descendants of Sallie Chisum’s brother, Walter . Walter married Inez P. Simpson. They had three children, James, Oscar and Ara. After Ara’s father died in 1919, Ara and her mother Inez moved to Troutdale Oregon and lived with Ara’s brother, James W. and his wife Effie. In Troutdale, Ara enrolled in a business college and met and married Wayne E. Phillips. They moved onto the family ranch and raised two boys—Fred and Wayne, the men that I interviewed.

Fred and Wayne inspected the photographs. When Wayne came to the cart de visite of the blond headed little boy, who is Fred Robert, Sallie’s son. He demanded to know where I got the picture! He exclaimed with some rancor, “I know this picture! I’ve seen it before! Where did you get this?!” I answered saying that I found it in a store in Bend. I’m not sure that he believed me. I gave him a nice copy. ( Cart De Visite is a type of small photograph patented in Paris in 1850. It was usually made of an albumen print, which was a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card. The size of a carte de visite is 2⅛ × 3½ inches mounted on a card sized 2½ × 4 inches.)

Why, I wondered did Ara’s two boys only recognize pictures of children in their family? Why not the famous people? Then I found out. They were never shown the pictures. They recalled seeing only children who were also their relatives. I decided that I needed to know more about Ara Phillips, who died in 1974. I was told by her family that Ara seldom discussed her past. They knew that they were Chisum’s and that their family had known Billy the Kid but Ara’s boys did not recall many details.

As far as I could tell all of the Chisum relatives are ashamed of the family’s loss of their New Mexico cattle empire. Certainly Sallie Chisum would never discuss her past, at least after she aged. Dr. Harwood Hinton, the Chisum authority told me that when asked about the old days, Sallie would say, “Talk to Frank.” Frank Chisum was an ex-slave who John Chisum purchased for $6,200 worth of cattle to the Confederate forces stationed in and around Vicksburg in 1862. He became a Chisum and was very much loved by the family.

I was shown some Chisum family photos by members of the Phillips family. Walter Pitzer Chisum, Sallie’s brother, had been their grandfather. Their picture archive contained unknown pictures of the South Spring ranch, as well as Sallie Chisum, young and old, and her children and Inez, among others. I was also shown an early edition of Walter Nobel Burn’s book The Saga of Billy the Kid. It is inscribed to Inez by her Dodge City brother, Dr. Oscar H. Simpson. The family I met in Oregon are real, died in the wool relatives of Sallie Chisum.

They agreed that the photographs that I found in the antique shop in Bend were legit, but they could only actually recall seeing two. I asked them how they could get from their ownership to mine. I was told that after Ara died that her daughter in law held a large yard sale and that she sold everything that she could that had been owned by Ara. Apparently she cleaned out her attic. The women who sold Ara’s things died in 1995.

I believe that the collection of tintypes were sold in the yard sale sometime after Ara’s death. However there is a 30 year gap. There are other branches of the Chisum family living in Oregon who owned and sold Chisum artifacts. They hail from Ara’s two brothers, Oscar and James Chisum, who lived in Troutdale and eventually moved to Gresham, where their mother, Inez is buried. I spoke with a woman who had been married to James. They divorced before James died. She said that Ara’s two brothers fought over the sale of Chisum artifacts to the point that they became estranged and never spoke again. Both are gone today. Maybe the pictures came from them. But I think the yard sale is a more likely source.

The weakest link in this story is how Ara Phillips happened to take possession of Sallie’s tintypes. In 1890, Sallies separated from her husband, and he took their two boys. She married John Sleigman and moved to Artesia, New Mexico. The two divorced in 1905. Sallie, Sleigman, her brother Walter and Ara’s mother Inez ranched for awhile around Artesia. As already stated, after Walter’s death Inez took her daughter and moved to Oregon. It could be that Ara become the owner of the tintypes at this time. For the last 14 years of Sallie’s life, she lived with her grandson. She died in 1934 and is buried in Roswell, New Mexico.

That’s my story. I have left out some details about the Oregon side of the Chisum family in an effort to protect their privacy, but they live here and not far from where I live. The most disappointing aspect of this entire episode has been the non-response by so-called, experts. Some have been quite terse and rude. Others have been patient and respectful, but still skeptical. They center their attention upon the pictures of Billy. It is hard to match mine scientifically with the known image, because that image is in bad condition and indistinct. You can look at the pictures and decide for yourself, but as you are matching things up remember to match up the collection as a whole. What are the chances, after all; of finding not just one picture that looks like a famous Old West scoundrel, but of finding a few score of them, and all of them related to a single place, event, family and time? Many known pictures of these people show them as elderly men and women. Sallie’s collection shows them when they were in fighting trim. Now you can see that Billy the Kid was indeed a nice looking young fellow. He did have blue eyes with little brown specks in them.

Billy the Kid

The two tintypes of Billy appear to have been taken three years apart. The first is a young man, teenager really, nicely groomed, sitting quite posed for the picture.

The second is an older and wiser Billy the Kid. He was posed very close to the camera. The background is pure flat dark gray. He is cooperating with the photographer and is looking slightly down and to one side. He is intently staring at something next to and slightly below him. The picture is, therefore; very clear.

While scratched and slightly damaged it is a beautiful tintype. In style and clarity it looks nearly modern. I think the picture was taken in the Santa Fe jail after the Billy was captured at Stinking Springs on a cold December day in 1880. Billy appears more drawn than in the earlier photo that I think was taken about three years earlier. It looks as if the intervening three years have been hard on him. He is wearing a new suite. After the kid was captured Mike Cosgrove spent three dollars and fifty cents to buy a new suits for his prisoners. The kid got one. Apparently sheriff Pat Garrett wanted Billy to be presentable while he was being sentenced to hang. Billy’s gold watch chain dangles from his button hole, but the watch is hidden from view. Both of my photos are tinted, as are many in the collection. This latter picture of the kid shows his eyes and string tie tinted a light blue. I enlarged the image. I centered on his left eye (His real left eye. I reversed the tintype from the original mirror image.) Yep, Billy’s eyes were light blue with little brown specks, just as Billy’s friend, Dr. Hoyt described them.

Dirty Dave Rudabaugh.

Rudabaugh was another outlaw who road “the outlaw trail” from Kansas across the Soutwest. He and his gang, referred to as the Kansas City Gang, rode into Lincoln County New Mexico just in time to join forces with Billy the Kid and his followers and engage in a rampage of crime across the Territory.

In the tintypes it is amazing to see a tintype of another young man who is wearing a new suite. The young man was also posed near the camera, and was sitting in front of what looks like that same plain gray wall as Billy the Kid.

While Billy appears calm and even friendly, this man’s picture is sinister. His face is a nightmare. He is newly shaven. He glares at the camera. This person doesn’t appear to be too wild about having his picture taken. If this is indeed the person, whom I believe him to be, then this is the only known photo of him - living that is. There are two other possible pictures of this evil looking man, but they are incomplete. They are pictures of his decapitated head. In one, the head is being held between the hands of a gristly looking man, as if he is about to take a two handed set shot with it. In the other it’s perched on top of a long pole. The glaring man in my picture must be Dirty Dave Rudabaugh.

Rudabaugh’s brown hair turns up at the tips, just as it has been described. He appears to have a split lip, as if he had been in a fight. It was reported that he gave up easily at Stinking Springs, but when he arrived in Las Vegas, on his way to the Santa Fe jail an enraged lynch mob tried to get at him. He had killed a popular deputy sheriff there. He looks like he caught a right cross. He has a inexpertly trimmed and sharply angled mustache, a heavy brow and square jaw. After his capture Rudabaugh was jailed in the same jail and at the same time as was the kid. He was also given a new suite. In the photo it appears that his new suite did not suite him. He has torn open the paper collar as wide as he could. He appears to be unhappy, uncomfortable and very angry. The photos of Dirty Dave’s lopped off head are grim. Dirty Dave Rudabaugh was a very grim fellow. His claim to fame was that he is the only man who was arrested by Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and Pat Garrett; quite a pedigree. People wonder why the Kid tolerated him, it seems unlikely that the two men would get along; their personalities were so different, but they did spend several months together while they were on the run. They were, after all; partners in crime.

The Regulators Photographs in the collection

I found the Coe cousins, George Washington Coe, and Benjamin Franklin Coe. Both men were fellow Regulators and fought along side of Billy the Kid in the Lincoln County War.

George Coe

Frank Coe

The photos were probably taken in 1879, about when they were married. They are relatively young men; shown when they were in fighting trim. I also found beautiful images of their wives, Helena Tulley Coe and Phoebe Brown Coe. I sent these photos to Carl Robert Coe, the Coe family historian. He replied that he was amazed that I had indeed found never before seen images of the famous Coe cousins who had lived on their Glencoe estate near Lincoln, and fought along side Billy the Kid. George lived to 1941; Frank to 1931. The only other pictures of them show them as old men.

Tom O. Folliard
This Photo Shows Tom at about the time he was killed, in December 1880. He was killed by the same man who killed his pal, Billy the Kid.

Sherrif William Brady

The photo of Sheriff William Brady is loaded with clues, and although the image is small; he is not more than two inches tall, it is quite clear. The Sheriff is shown standing on a grassy lawn. He is bordered on two sides by a tall canvas, obviously hung up to be a reflector.

He is standing almost at full length but with his hand leans lightly on the back of a little ornate stool. He obviously wanted to steady himself for the six second exposure. He looks to be an athletic man. He his raw boned , square jawed and appears healthy. He is not the portly man that we see in other supposed pictures of the Brady, but when matched against newly discovered pictures of Brady one can see that my picture is William Brady. He wore a full mustache that put Groucho Marx’s to shame. He appears to be a bit of a dandy. He combed his hair with a prominent and unique swoopy doopy wave that laid on his forehead. Other pictures of him show this same hair style. He is wearing an overly large almost clown like bow tie. He dons a dark suit and wears dusty boots. He has pulled his trouser legs over his boot tops. His square belt buckle has caught the light as has a half dollar sized Masonic Emblem that dangles at his waist. Brady was active Mason. So were most of the Dolan men in Lincoln. So, for that matter, were the Chisums. The Lincoln County War was at least partially a race war. Since the Hispanic population, which outnumbered the Anglos by about 40 to one where Catholic they could not become Masons, but the Anglos who wanted to dominate business in Lincoln could.

Jimmy Dolan, who was Catholic changed to a protestant denomination so that he could become a Mason. (He changed back just before he died. He wanted the Last Rights before he died. He was obviously remained a Catholic at heart.) The white population being Masons could hold their meetings in secret from what they called “The Mexican” population.

Juan Patron was the leader of that Mexican population. He was a friend of the Kid. His picture is part of Sallie’s collection. Juan was shot in the back by Jimmy Dolan who was using a Sharps buffalo rifle. He survived, only to be shot again, and this time killed in 1884.

The Chisum Family

Most of the Chisum family collection are of Sallie and her husband’s family, the Roberts. They include four pictures of Sallie herself.

Young Sallie

Sallie in 1930

One shows her sitting next to her first husband.

Others include s half a dozen photos of the Sallie and William’s two boys, John and Fred. I see them as toddlers, young boys and teenagers. I have a copy of a verified and unpublished photo of the Robert family that I purchased from the Haley Memorial Library in Midland, Texas. Jim Bradshaw, the very helpful and skilled archivist there told me that Mr. Haley met John Robert when the man was living in North Hollywood, California in 1929. He gave Haley the photo and identified himself and his parents. He did not identify his young brother, Fred; who is sitting next to him on his tricycle. John may have purposely ignored his younger brother because by1929, the two boys had become estranged and lived far apart. They didn’t speak.


  1. I think it is worth noting that a great deal of your evidence is based on the idea that Sallie Chisum owned all of these photos. But just because they were in the same shop doesn't mean they were from the same collection. In fact they were not found together, just in the same shop. The owner didn't know who brought them in, so could not be counted on to say that they all came in together. I want this to be true as much as everyone else, but the burden of proof lies with you.

  2. I have a lead on a recently discovered tintype that bears a stunning resemblance to Billy the Kid. If you're interested in it, please contact me at Thanks

  3. dave rudabaugh, as far as i've read, was never involved with any group called the kansas city gang. The gang in Las Vegas, New Mexico you're most likely referring to was called the Dodge City Gang at times, due to the members of this 'gang' being connected through their Dodge city connections. It was supposedly just a group of friends and acquaintances who knew each other from the Dodge City, Kansas area who,among other things and much like others in boom towns throughout the west, attempted to reap the benefits of the boom in Las Vegas by monopolizing with the protection of 'the law'. One of these people, either jj. webb or hoodo brown (don't remember which), happened to be coroner as well as a 'law man'. Needless to say, there were many 'accidental' or 'justified' deaths under this mans watch that could have benefited from a second opinion. Rudubaugh was, reportedly, one of the worst among this crew, commiting full blown robberies, etc...

  4. It seems as if the decapitated Dave Rudubaugh does not have the same pronounced ears that your Dave Rudubaugh has.