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Wild West Mystery Men Tintype

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    Posted 2 months ago

    (1 item)

    My father was an antique dealer and came onto this tintype in 1994 from a yard sale. Over the next 23 years he attempted to identify the three men in the photo. After his passing, I obtained the photo and have continued and potentially finished his work, identifying the three men.

    I am looking for any help to prove or disprove my theory on who these men may be. My theory thus far:

    John Simpson Chisum (seated) -Born 8/16/1824 Approximate age in tintype: 57

    Known as the Cattle King of the Pecos, John Chisum employed Billy the Kid during the Lincoln county war to fight off the many supporters of Chisum’s rival ranch, The House. The House emerged victorious, and Billy demanded his wages of $500 from Chisum. Chisum refused to pay Billy and in turn Billy began stealing cattle from Chisum.

    Chisum’s appearance in the tintype: “Chisum, whose face was scarred from a bout of smallpox in 1877, began to have other health problems.” (source:

    John Chisum played an integral role in helping elect Pat Garrett (the man who would eventually gun down and kill Billy the Kid.

    Barney Mason (Left)- Born 10/29/1848 Approximate age in tintype: 33

    Mason joined Billy the Kid’s gang, The Rustlers sometime during 1879. On January 14, 1880 Mason and Garrett married their respect wives in a joint ceremony. (For reference; Abrams photo of Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Barney Mason, and Dave Rudabaugh is believed to have been taken that day). Soon after, Mason defected from the Rustlers and aided Sheriff Pat Garret, whom Chisum helped to elect, in hunting down Billy the Kid.

    William “Bill” Robert (right) -Born 1/27/1854 Approximate age in tintype: 27

    Robert married Sallie Chisum, niece to John Chisum, twelve days after the joint weddings of Mason and Garret, on January 26, 1880.

    What brought these men together?

    Chisum was a wealthy man, involved in local politics enough to help elect Sheriff Garrett and in turn, Barney Mason as deputy . It is possible that this photograph is taken in the days leading up to the wedding of Sallie Chisum and William Robert and Barney Mason was still in town in Anton Chico, New Mexico.

    The approximate ages of the subjects in the photo compared to the ages of Chisum, Mason, and Robert all align visually. The three men have reason to be together in a photograph.

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    1. Vynil33rpm Vynil33rpm, 2 months ago
      Very interesting ,all of a sudden ,I feel like Charlie Chan
      Interesting to see if any ,post comments ,pop up
    2. Watchsearcher Watchsearcher, 2 months ago
      I somehow expected to see more serious looking guns.
      Were you able to confirm if William Robert was left handed?
    3. Elredein Elredein, 2 months ago
      @watchsaver thats a great idea. thank you. I was able to identify his firearm as a Smith & Wesson .38 Single Action Second Model. The other I have not been able to identify
    4. scottvez scottvez, 2 months ago
      What is the provenance? What lead to these three men out of all others in the world?

      What lead to the 1881 dating?

      Seated man doesn't appear to be that old to me. Mottled appearance on his face appears to be the tintype-- see background behind him.

      My views expressed in a posting:

    5. Elredein Elredein, 2 months ago
      Hi Scott, unfortunately there is no provenance. For two decades my dad believed seated was Doc Holiday and behind were Morgan and James Earp. As I continued to disprove Doc Holiday, my research led me to mysterious Dave Mather, Dave Rudabough and ultimately John Chisum being seated. As I researched Barney Mason, comparing him to the Abrams photo, which has provenance, he was, in my opinion, very much a match. The Abrams photo places them in or around 1881.

      Please see my twitter page for facial comparisons I’ve conducted. The story and face comparisons are my only leads. I’m very open to being disproven, I just want the mystery solved
    6. scottvez scottvez, 2 months ago
      So these went from Holiday and crew to another famous grouping? Why must they be historical figures? Why not Bill Smith and his two buddies?

      Without provenance you face an impossible task unless the same/ similar view surfaces with an ID.

      It is impossible to disprove/ prove. All I can do is point out inconsistencies.

      It is an interesting image in its own rights.

      Please read my posting.

    7. scottvez scottvez, 2 months ago
      The problem with "looks like" identifications is that the person making the ID, SEES WHAT THEY WANT TO SEE.

      Case in point-- your father saw the seated man as being in his 30s (Doc Holliday died at age 36), you see him in his 50s (suits the Chisum ID).

      I don't think he is anyone famous-- I see a man in late 20s- 30s.

    8. Jazzres Jazzres, 1 month ago
      Give it another 20-30 years and the artificial intelligent internet singularity will be able to identify exactly who these outlaw lookin fellows are. Dismiss the dismissers who enjoy the creative imagination. If you are interested enough you will spend the time to figure it out. Tintype whispering is a trip. All tension seeks resolution. Historical presence is the way i describe objects, photos, words, music that have a significant amount of unresolved mystery or story arc to them. The word haunted is obsolete. Research and read the freedom of information act c.i.a. Report on the Monroe Gateway technique. Dont let the autonaysayers the trolls, those that enjoy throwing shade get to you. There is a alot of phenomena behind certain historical figures and many people find themselves somehow within the mystery and process of unfolding. Do what you can and at the end of the day remember its not about you. enjoy the fact that you are receptive enough to be participating. Thats my two bits. Give or take.

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