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Randal M. Bundy

Charlie Bowdre
Charlie Bowdre

Charles "Charlie" Bowdre (1848-1880) - Charlie Bowdre came from a prominent family in Wilkes County, Georgia where he was born in 1848. Raised in DeSoto County, Mississippi, he headed west and by 1874 he had landed in New Mexico where he was farming south of Lincoln. When the Lincoln County War erupted he fought with the McSween faction along side Billy the Kid. After losing the war, both he and the Kid, retreated to Fort Sumner, where Bowdre went to work as a cowboy. Though he was not overly involved with Billy's cattle rustling activities, he remained friends with several of the gang members and by association, was a suspect in their outlaw endeavors. In December, 1880 he was riding into Fort Sumner with Billy and his gang when Pat Garrett shot and killed gang member Thomas O'Folliard. The others escaped, but several days later, on December 23, 1880, Garrett and his possemen shot and killed Bowdre and captured the Kid and his gang at Stinking Springs. Bowdre is buried next to Billy the Kid at Fort Sumner's old military cemetery.

John Henry “Doc” Holliday
An early photograph of a young Doc Holliday
John Henry “Doc” Holliday received a doctoral degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1872. He practiced dentistry throughout the American Southwest, but he supplemented his income through gambling, an activity that led to many conflicts with the law and with other gamblers. In October 1881, while in Tombstone in the Arizona Territory, Holliday and his good friend Wyatt Earp were participants in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the most famous shootout in the history of the West. Although Holliday survived the gunfight, he ultimately died from tuberculosis in 1887. Holliday used this Single Action Army Revolver in many of his Western escapades, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
GOD may have created man,
but Sam Colt made them all Equal

by Randal M. Bundy
Colt 1874 owned by Doc Holliday
The actual 1874 Colt Single Action Army Revolver; serial number 11301 which was owned by gunslinger
"Doc Holliday" - Manufacturer: Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company.

No I did not originate the quote, which I am using here as the title of this article.  Although a little off topic from from my usual subjects of Politics, I have always found subjects and aspect of history to be fascinating.  The other day I came across this most unusual old photograph, displayed below. The back of the photograph indicates that it was taken in New Mexico in the year 1879 and is of a most unusuly collection of very historic figures in American History.  Pictured here is Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James & Charlie Bowdre.  Believe it or not the back also has the actual signitures of each person seen in this picture, which maks this photograph a very rare and valuable commodity.  There are several facinating things about this gathering, first I had no idea that some of these people lived at the same time period and I had no idea that they actually knew each other.  Expecially Doc Holiday, Jessie James and Billy the Kid.

Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Charlie Bowdre New Mexico 1879
 Left to Right:  Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James & Charlie Bowdre. taken in New Mexico in 1879

I had known that Charlie Bowdre was was an American cowboy and outlaw and was an associate and member of Billy the Kid's gang.  However the others came as a complete surprise to me that they knew each other and apparently on friendly enough terms to pose for a photograph togeather.  The fact that their signatures are clearly on the back of this photograph is an unusual and makes the photograph very valuable.  Apparently these 4 had been hired as law enforcers and the white cloth which is sticking out of the poctes on the vests indicate the are "Peace Officers".  At that time it held a special law enforcement significance.

The dicovery of this old and very rare photograph leaves me with a complete different impression of these historic charactors that we all grew up reading books about and watching movies which they are the subject of.  We must remember that prior to the 1900's people were generally not as healthy as they are today.  They were also not nearly a tall as we are either.  The average height for a male at that time would have been about 1 feet 5 inches and woman would have been perhaps 5 feet 3 inchesLooking at this photograph of these historic figures.  I never would have3 expectds that Doc Hilladay, Billy the Kid and Jessie James would have known each other and would have decided to have a group photograph togeather.  I do not know what they circumstance would have been for such an event.  I must confess that I do not recognize the name of  Charlie Bowdre, on the far right.  

I can say that according to todays standards of health and physique, the caracrtors on sight alone would not have been viewed as much of a threat to anyone.  They ceertainly would not look to be the types of people who would win in a boxing match against any typical American of today.  However back in those times the typical diet would have been much different than it is today.  We now know that infants and children in the formative years of development are effected by the lack of proper diet and nutrition.  Their physical stature would make them appear like these guys. It appears that because of improper early diet, they actually do appear as though the growth had been stunted in comparison to ours today.  However that of course did not make them any less vicious, ruthless and absolutely deadly with a Colt Revolver.

I suppose it was a good thing the guys were known to be good shots and ruthless.  Sam Colt was quoted as saying, "God may have created man, buy Sam Colt made them all equal.  He was of course referencing to his own invetion of the 6 shooting revolver which was available at that time and was very popular.  So a skinniny little runt of a guy would be able to hold his own in a crowd of much bigger men, as long as he could shoot a pistol well.

All of this also confirms what I have always said, that looks can be decieving when it comes to people. History also confirms this with some of the most distinuished soldiers of any war, did not particularly have looks that fit the part they played.  Some of this is reveiled by looking into the haunting eyes of these people.  Definately in those times in American History, if a person was not familiar with those they might see around them in a bar room, or walking throu town, you would not want to cross any of these guys when they might be having, "A Bad Day".

This particular time period in American History was very difficult for those who grew up at a time during and emediately after the so called American Civil War.  What we who are Southerners refer to as the War Between the States or the War of Northern Agression would rightfully also be refered to as Lincoln's War of Tyrannical Dictatorship was in fact economically distrssful for the entire country and life in the country would never be the same again.  This desperate time in the United States shows on the faces of many of these people shown in these photographs.  Many of the people were participants in that war.

Doc Holliday
This picture was taken in 1881 by Tombstone photographer, C. S. Fly, whose shop was at the site of the famous gunfight.
Charlie Bowdre
Charlie Bowdre with wife, Manuela
Charlie Browdre and Wife Manuela
Charlie Bowdre with wife, Manuela
This photo of Charlie and Manuela was taken on the same day at the same studio in Sante Fe. Note how the rifle is leaning differently in each photo and the pistol butt is facing differently also. Note also the blood stains on this photo, which Charlie was carrying in his pocket when he was shot and killed at Stinking Springs.

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