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Billy the Kid and Regulators
Posted By: stepmac, 02-01-2013, 09:26 PM

Photographs are not only beautiful and interesting, but also windows into the past. Casual pictures taken of a New York street scene in 1946, ho hum at the time, are fascinating today.

In the fall of 1877, a teenage girl named Sallie Lucy Chisum traveled from east/central Texas along with her widowed father, two younger brothers and a servant or two to New Mexico Territory. There her family moved in with her famous rancher Uncle, John S. Chisum. Sallie, a spunky blond, met Billy Bonney, aka Billy the Kid. They danced together, mostly square dances, and took wild rides along the Pecos River bed. When asked about Billy's checkered other life Sallie was quoted as saying, "He was always in the pink when he was with me."

Photographers known as tintypers traveled the countryside selling little photographs. They often used a four lens camera that imprinted a single processed sheet of an extremely thin iron, with four nearly identical images. These were dried, varnished, and cut into individual photographs. The price was usually a quarter for the lot.

Tintype photography was high tech in those days and Sallie, wanting to be hip, collected pictures of her family and friends. Included where pictures of Billy the Kid and his pals who formed a gang called the Regulators. Their reason for being was to avenge the cold blooded murder of their employer, a 24 year old Englishman named John H. Tunstall. Soon before Sallie died, she gave her collection to her niece, her brother's daughter. She stored it in her attic where it was forgotten.

Decades after the death of Sallie's niece her house, which had been locked up, was opened by some of her family and it's contents sold in a yard sale. The little tintypes, now long forgotten were tossed into old donut boxes. They ended up in a local antique store where they were put on display for sale. I came along and recognized who they were of. It took me years to identify all of them and today I've id'd most of them.

Below, we see Sallie Chisum ca. 1878, Sallie and her first husband, William Robert and herself, and Billy the Kid. He is about 18/19 but he looks younger. His apparent youth disarmed his enemies. A big mistake. When this picture was taken, probably in late March 1878, he had already killed three men.

Last edited by stepmac; 02-02-2013 at 05:45 PM.
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02-01-2013, 09:42 PM - 1 Like   #2
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The originals are quite small. Along the bottom of Billy's picture is the name and address of the man who made the image. I drove to his hometown and discovered his personal photo album, probably made by his wife, who did the tinting. Pictures of Regulators who I did not find in Sallie's collection I found in the photographer's album, those I was allowed to copy. The rest I own.

None of these photos are known.

I'll post a few more.

When one is researching old photographs and you find such as these two, it makes you jump out of your skin. These two pics are of the same man and I found them 2,000 miles apart! One in Sallie's collection and the other within the photographer's album. These are the only two pictures of John Middleton. If you read a history of Billy the Kid the author might mention that there are no pictures of him. Well, now there are two!
02-01-2013, 09:48 PM   #3
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Interesting bit of history and narrative backed up with photos that remain in excellent shape, quite a find on your part, TFS, Bob
02-01-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
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Billy had a good friend named Tom O. Folliard (or Tom O'Folliard) who was killed, shot down in cold blood, by the same man who eventually killed the Kid. His name was Pat Garrett. He was murdered in 1906.

Pictures of Tom are rare. I have seen three. One, which is generally known and often published, shows him much younger, possibly 15. Here we see him about when he was killed. He was 22, a 6 footer and weighted 180 lbs. He was a readhead. His hair and lips are slightly tinted as are most of the pictures. Here Tom peers at us from within the gloom. It's eery. Billy was killed about 8 months after him.

02-01-2013, 10:09 PM   #5
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For those of you who may be wondering how I was able to identify the Sallie Chisum's photos, this is an example. The bottom image is a published and long know picture of Richard "Dick" Brewer, the man who hired Billy the Kid and organized the Regulators. The other picture, on top, I found with several other Regulators.

The earlier (lower) pic was taken about five years before the other, when Dick was living in Missiouri. He died within a week, I think, after my pic of him was made. He was 28. He was shot in his left eye by Buckshot Roberts.

Tintypes are mirror images. Usualy I show them as they look in the original. Mirror images.

Antique, historically important photos add an important twist to photography which is something we should not ignore. We must remember that our photos are history the day after we take them, which is why it is important to print our pictures and put them someplace where they will survive.

I would like to place these two pictures of Brewer side by side, but I don't know how to do it. Can a mod. help?

Last edited by stepmac; 02-02-2013 at 05:50 PM.
02-01-2013, 10:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
Interesting bit of history and narrative backed up with photos that remain in excellent shape, quite a find on your part, TFS, Bob
Most of the pictures, Bob, are like new. Amazing. Some are a bit faded, as if they were put on display and a few look as if they were stepped upon. I didn't find all of them in one clump, but had to wander around the little store picking through hundreds of tintypes and CDV's. I know I missed a few because I saw some that I did not buy that were gone the next time I came into the store. I did not buy them all at once.

At first I only bought pictures of people I recognized! I had already read half a dozen books on the Kid. I passed up quiet a few. After I discovered that I missed some I bought all of them that looked right; the same pose, techique, style, etc... So I bought dozens that I could not ID. It took me several years of travel and research to ID them all, but to this date there are a few I cannot ID.

Here is one that is easy. It is Frank Coe, a great friend of the kid who died in 1931.

Last edited by stepmac; 02-01-2013 at 11:41 PM.
02-02-2013, 06:34 AM   #7
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Fantastic piece of history you have there! TFS!
02-02-2013, 11:39 AM   #8
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Charming and youthful looking though he was, Billy Bonney was a killer. Historicans are sure he killed four men, but he probably pulled the trigger on 10 or more. Old legend says he killed 21, one for each year of his life, but this is probably untrue. Sallie Chisum must have been fascinated by what was going on around her. Her collection includes photos not only the Kid and his buddies, but of several of the people he murdered. Following are two. Standing, is Sheriff William "Major" Brady. Billy, along with five others, shot him down in the main street of Lincoln, NMT on April 1st, 1878. Billy was eventually convicted of his murder and sentenced to hang. He escaped and while doing so shot and killed two of his guards. One, Ameredith "Bob" Olinger is shown below, probably with Lily Casey, who claimed they were planning to wed.

All of Sallie's photos are previously unknown.

This photo I have flipped so Brady is shown as he looked in life. The original is tiny, about an inch and a half by two and a half inches.

Here we see Bob Olinger. This image was probably made within a few weeks or days before his death. The Kid nearly blew the man in two using the deputities personal heavily loaded double barreled shotgun. (No, it was not loaded with dimes!)

02-02-2013, 11:57 AM   #9
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Many of the tintypes I've shown are not very good photos, even in the original. Focus and lighting was problematic when making tintypes. Following are some of the better ones.

These three photographs show some interesting players in the Lincoln County War. The first is another picture of Billy Bonney, taken, I believe on the morning of 27 December 1880. He has been given a new suit and was photographed inside his jail cell. The other man was a hard core killer, but he looks innocent enough. He is James. J. Dolan the leader of the other side from Billy's in the LCW. The Hispanic boy is Yginio (Eugene) Salazar, a good friend of the Kid. Billy spoke Spanish like a native. Young Yginio here was nearly killed in the "big Killing" in Lincoln on 19 July 1878. He was shot down and left for dead. Here one can see a still healing wound on his forehead. He lived until 1926. That little mustache grew to be something to be proud of!
02-02-2013, 01:01 PM   #10
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For sure some very interesting photography.. TFS. Cliff
02-02-2013, 02:01 PM   #11
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These are fascinating. I have never seen an photos of William Bonney other than that barely discernible junk they show on TV when they do a piece on him. Thanks very much. I did a "clean up" on one of them and will post, if you like.
02-02-2013, 02:39 PM   #12
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Fascinating collection, thanks for posting.

I owned a Time Life book called "The Gunfighters", which was chock full of photos and life stories of these heros and desperadoes. Someone must have liked the book too much, because it disappeared. I really must replace it. Wild Bill Hickock was my favourite, he was the original gunslinger.
02-02-2013, 04:18 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by gjtoth Quote
These are fascinating. I have never seen an photos of William Bonney other than that barely discernible junk they show on TV when they do a piece on him. Thanks very much. I did a "clean up" on one of them and will post, if you like.
Yeah, Gary please do post a 'clean up'. I took most of the pictures several years ago. WB and focus are sometimes an issue with my earlier copies. I'm going to take better ones. I've got a camera stand that works much better than my earlier hand held images. Usually I make copies using reflected natural light that comes through a window. I don't have a camera stand with lightening.

Concerning pics of William Bonney. There is one famous one that is undeniably him. That is the one you usually see. He is standing with a black hat flopped on his head sideways. He holds a Winchester carbine in one hand. It was probably taken in 1878 or 79 outside of Beaver Smith's saloon in Fort Sumner, NMT. A photographer's assistant is holding a long reflector. Several people who knew the Kid identified that photo as genuine. One commented that the image "does not do the Kid justice". There are at least a dozen others that IMO are not him. One or two are said to have pretty good provenance, but it doesn't matter. Not him.

In the museum in Lincoln NM there is a life sized enlargement of that famous (Usually called "The Upham") picture of Billy. I took a picture of it. Here it is along with a detail.

Last edited by stepmac; 02-02-2013 at 04:43 PM.
02-02-2013, 04:53 PM   #14
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The pictures of Billy Bonney seen above are orientated as in life. Billy's right eyebrow was slightly "broken", his left was darker and arched. Some one must have busted his nose because it bent way off to his left. He had buck teeth, and if he thought about it, he closed his lips over them. It is obvious that in the middle picture he has done just that.

Historians, looking at the well know picture I've shown above, have stated that the boy was ugly and looked like an imbecile. You can see for yourself that he was rather nice looking. It is a fact that women went crazy over him. He had a glowing, easy to laugh personality, and frankly he was wild about the girls too. He was known to shower his various lady loves with expensive gifts, jewelry and such. He never had anything of value himself except maybe for his favorite mare which he valued at $75.

In the pic below he has aged about three years from the above pics and it is easy to see how his jaw became stronger and his face leaner. He still, however; has closed his lips over his buck teeth.

Writers have often written about Billy's clear blue eyes. Here, finally one can actually see them! Dr. Hoyt, a friend of the Kid, said that Billy's eyes were clear blue with brown rims with little brown specks in them. (In the picture they have been tinted to match is tie.) Yep, that's right. He wasn't bad looking at all. He was much better looking than the Upham pic that people flash on when they think about Billy the Kid.

Last edited by stepmac; 02-02-2013 at 05:05 PM.
02-02-2013, 05:28 PM   #15
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BTW: the bottom pic of the Kid was probably taken as a mug shot. It has been torn from some kind of book or album. Sallie collected this picture and I have no idea how she got it. When I found it, (it is quite small, about the size of a large postage stamp) I didn't at first recognize him. It sent a copy to an BTK authority and he wrote back saying that it was an "intriguing" pic of the Kid. Then I looked again. He was proud of that watch and chain. It is extant and I've seen a picture of it, but I can't find it now. I would like to find who owns it so that I could match it to the one in the picture. The dull back ground is his jail cell wall. Dull gray. He is also posed close to the lens, jail cells are narrow. When captured, on 22 December 1880 he and his fellows were filthy. The sheriff, Pat Garrett saw that his prisoners (3) were cleaned up, shaven and had hair cuts. He provided new suits for all three. Billy's, as you can see, didn't fit him very well. The other two men, Dirty Dave Rudabaugh and Billy Wilson were photographed and also in new suits. Sallie collected those pictures too and I own them. There are no known pictures of either man extant. The only other picture of Dirty Dave is of his decapitated head!

Here are Dirty Dave Rudabaugh and Billy Wilson. Dave was also locked down in his cell. Wilson, however; was not thought an escape risk and was allowed to walk around in the alley outside his cell and mixed with the deputies. They said he was "depressed". The camera focused on his hands. He was young, something like 23. He looks older, but look again. He was blond and sported a red mustache. He was given a new suit, but his boots the originals. They didn't have time to have new boots made. They look pretty rough to me. Note he and Dirty Dave also got new hats. Billy got one too and there is another picture of him wearing it.

These men are awaiting trial. All were convicted and all escaped but not together. Rudabaugh went to Mexico where he survived for six years. He was a cold blooded killer. One day he killed one too many men and a crowd of locals beat him to death. They sawed off his head and took a picture of a man holding it. He looks better in mine. Wilson disappeared from history. Billy was convicted and sentenced to hang in May, Friday the 13th, 1881. He was taken to Lincoln to await trial. They were building a gallows outside. He killed his guards and got away. He lived another three and a half months, dieing in his girlfriend's brother's bedroom, shot in the heart by Pat Garrett.

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