This iconic Smith & Wesson First Model Schofield revolver was shipped on July 12, 1875, to the Springfield Armory per the factory letter. The included documentation indicates the revolver and accompanying holster were acquired by Milton Shanton in Missouri and that the revolver and tooled left handed holster had belonged to the famous outlaw Jesse James. They were then passed down through his family in Ohio after his death and remained in the family until it was sold by Bernice M. Gilmerr in 1975. In addition to the family history, the holster is particularly important. Another First Model Schofield, sn. 366, a right handed holster with virtually identical designs, and a cartridge belt are also attributed to Jesse James and were part of the set of guns displayed by Jesse James Jr. Pages from "Fired in Anger" by Robert Elman, "Outlaws of the Old West" from the November 1982 issue of "Western Frontier," and "Guns and the Gun Fighters" from Guns & Ammo are included showing that Schofield and holster rig. The holster with sn. 366 and the current one are indeed very, very similar. The revolver is a classic Smith & Wesson First Model Schofield. Only 3,035 First Models were manufactured in 1875, mainly for the U.S. Army. They were issued to the 4th, 9th, and 10th U.S. Cavalry, the latter two the famous "Buffalo Soldiers." They were also issued to state militias. Some were still in use in the Spanish-American War, but many were sold off as surplus in the 1880s, and they saw use in civilian hands in the American West in the late 19th century, including by outlaws and Wells, Fargo & Co. Express agents. It has a pinned, rounded blade front sight as well as a long sighting groove along the top of the rib and a notch rear sight on the distinctive Schofield latch. The left side of the barrel has the two-line patent marking, and the right side has the one-line Schofield patent marking. The cylinder is numbered "146" and also marked "L" and "P" on the rear face. The butt has the serial number "273," and the right side of the butt under the grip is stamped "A.H. RYAN." The grips were reshaped and then lined on the interior. The left side "Slim Jim" holster for this revolver matches the right side holster that has historically been displayed with the Crittenden board James attributed Schofield sn. 366. It has a closed toe, floral tooling, and belt loop with four brass rivets. With one being left handed, one being right handed, both holding First Model Schofield revolvers, and both being attributed to Jesse James through different sources, it is clear this revolver and holster is something very special. This revolver has been featured in multiple publications and been displayed in renowned museums for many years. This revolver and holster were on display at NRA National Sporting Arms Museum in 2013-2022 and was the NRA Museums' "Gun of the day" on November 12, 2019. It was previously displayed at the National Firearms Museum in 2008-2009 as reported in "American Rifleman" and "True West" magazines. They are featured on page 176 of "Guns of the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum" where it is noted as "Jesse James attributed Smith & Wesson Schofield and Holster." They were also featured in "Treasures of the NRA National Firearms Museum," "Illustrated History of Firearms from the NRA Museums," "Old Guns and Whispering Ghosts" by Jesse L. Hardin, and "Smith & Wesson Sixguns of the Old West" by David R. Chicoine. The revolver is also mentioned in "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson" by Supica and Nahas as "reported to have been used by a James Gang member, possibly Jesse." In "Guns West!: A Retrospective of the Old West," it is listed as "Smith & Wesson 1st Model Schofield with Holster sn 273, .45 S&W Schofield caliber. This revolver and holster are attributed to the outlaw Jesse James (1847-1882) and match the revolver and holster set kept by Governor Thomas T. Crittenden. The grip frame is stamped 'A.H. Ryan,' a known member of the James gang." Jim Supica stated, "Cartridges & bullets fired through this gun were sold at Friend of NRA auctions as fund-raisers" and also indicated it was featured on Ozarks Watch TV. It was also featured in the articles "Smoking Gun!?! Family Finds Possible Tie To Western Legend: Father, Son Believe They Own One of Jesse James' Revolvers" by Gene Ballinger in Volume 19, No. 19 of "The Courier" from May 11, 1995, and "Outlaw Jesse James' Pistol Found?" by John P. Karshner in the Fall 1996 issue of "The Texas Gun Collector" which discusses much of the included provenance information discussed below. Provenance: A letter from Jim Supica, now-former Director of the NRA National Firearms Museum, states: "This particular revolver is tied to Jesse James through three different threads, each leading to the James Gang: 1. The chain of ownership is documented in signed statements and affidavits. These report the gun given or sold, along with Jesse's gold watch, by Frank and Jesse James in the 1880's to Milton Shanton (b. 1854), inherited by his brother William Shanton (b. 1862) in 1923, who gave it to his niece Bernice Gilmerr at that time. Mrs. Gilmerr documented the story in writing in 1975 when she sold the gun. Each of the two owners following Mrs. Gilmerr have provided affidavits documenting the gun's chain of ownership, which accompanied the gun to the current owner. 2. The holster accompanying the gun appears to be the left hand mate to the famous holster and cartridge belt displayed by Jesse James, Jr., on an exhibit board of his father's firearms (sometimes referred to as the 'Crittenden Board'). The floral carved pattern appears to be the same, and there appears to be a worn area on the cartridge belt where a second holster was carried at one time. The revolver accompanying the holster on the board is a S&W Schofield. It is very possible that a side by side comparison of the two Schofields and holsters would shed further light on the subject. 3. Stamped underneath the wood grips on the grip frame is the name 'A.H(?). RYAN.' The age of this marking suggests it was applied during the period of use. 'Andy Ryan' was known to be a member of the James Gang. One must be especially careful in examining historic attribution of any Old West outlaw, especially one as famous as Jesse James. Any one of the threads listed above might not be fully compelling, but taken together they make an excellent case that this revolver was once used by the James Gang, with a strong likelihood that it was carried by Jesse himself." A binder of information is included containing the information noted in Supica's letter. John P. Karshner of Adelphi, Ohio, stated, "That I believe that this Schofield and holster were at one time owned by the famous outlaw Jesse James, as discussed in the following documents- a. Magazine article 'Outlaw Jesse James' Pistol Found?' Fall 1996 The Texas Gun Collector b. Newspaper article 'Smoking Gun!?! Family Finds Possible Tie to Western Legend' in Volume 19, No. 19 of The Courier newspaper. c. Dana Zeigler affidavit dated August 26, 1997. d. Handwritten statement signed by Bernice M. Gilmerr, dated 11-20-75." He also notes, "That I believe that the 'A.H. RYAN' marking indicates possible possession at one time by James gang member Andy Ryan, and know of no other explanation for this marking," and, "That to the best of my knowledge and belief, the chain of ownership of this revolver has been as follows- a. Jesse and Frank James to their friends John, William & Milton Shanton in the 1880's. b. Milton Shanton to his niece Bernice Gilmerr & her husband Roy in 1924. c. Bernice Gilmerr to Dana Zeigler (fellow Mason with Roy Gilmerr) in 1976. d. Dana Zeigler to me in 1993." An affidavit from his son John P. Karshner II is also included stating the same information, and other correspondence between Supica and the Karshners is included. The younger Karshner notes that he believes this revolver and holster are the left hand matching pistol and holster from Jesse James's rig and indicated that the prior owner of those items also believed these were likely the mates from that set. He also indicates Jesse James's watch remained in the Shanton family. Provenance documentation on the other Schofield revolver attributed to Jesse James, sn. 366, and its holster and rig are also in the file. Jesse James's widow is said to have indicated that sn. 366 was the revolver James set down moments before he was assassinated by Bob Ford. A Dana Zeigler statement from 1998 is also included. They state that they purchased the revolver in 1975 from Bernice Gilmerr and that her husband was a friend and fellow Mason. "Mr. Gilmerr had told me that Bernice's two Uncles, William and Milton Shanton, had been friends with Jesse and Frank James. Both William and Milton Shanton would visit their brother John Shanton, in Missouri. As a result of their friendship with Jesse and Frank James, they were given the 1875 Schofield, serial number 273, the floral carved holster, and a pocket watch. Mrs. Gilmerr further told me that William and Milton Shanton were friends of the James Brothers. Mrs. Gilmerr further told me that Milton had left the pistol and holster with her and her husband in 1923 and told that if did not return for them, it would go to them." Another handwritten document signed by Bernice M. Gilmerr in 1975 has a slightly different story of how the Shanton's got the revolver. It states that, "Milton Shanton had a shoe shop in Missouri beside of a gun shop. He purchased this Smith and Wesson gun from this gun shop with the understanding it had belonged to the James Brothers. Mr Shanton never married so at his death his Brother William Shanton fell heir to the gun. In the last years of Wm Shanton's life he had no home only staying with some one wherever he could so he brought the gun to Roy and I and told him if he never called for it the gun was ours. He died and we still had the gun. Serial no on the butt of gun No 273. Sold to Dana Zeigler November 19, 1975." Karshner in the Texas Gun Collector article noted above indicates Barbara Shanton said her aunt had listed the gun as purchased because she didn't want her family to be associated with the James Gang. Milton Shanton (1854-1911), then a resident of Kansas, died of typhoid fever while on a visit to his family in Ohio and was identified as a baker and single on his death certificate. The Chillicothe Gazette indicates William Shanton of Concord was listed among his survivors. He lived until 1945. The Texas Gun Collector article suggested the family had indicated John Shanton owned a farm in Missouri where Frank and Jesse James would hide out. Details on John (b. 1844) after his marriage in Ohio in 1864 are unclear aside from the fact that he appears to have died prior to Milton. A John Shanton lived several miles outside of Butler, Missouri, in 1885, and this may have been where the farm in question was located. Bernice Marie Voss Gilmerr's (1902-1994) mother was Minnie Shanton (1874-1946) of Ohio. Jesse James, Outlaw: Jesse James (1847-1882) needs little introduction. He is easily one of America's most famous outlaws. In popular culture, James is widely portrayed as a Robin Hood figure, but the historical record reveals him as a much darker, more merciless figure who left numerous bodies in his wake in the 1860s, 1870s, and early 1880s. He has been the subject of numerous dime novels, history books, articles, movies, television series, and more. He was both lauded and reviled in his own day and became a classic western icon and subject of multiple films in the 20th century and more recently "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007) which shows James wearing a cartridge belt with two holsters with very similar designs and tooling as those that accompany the Jesse James attributed Schofields. Clearly the film crew did their research and was aware of one or both of these revolvers and their holsters. Jesse James was born near Kearney, Missouri. His father owned six slaves but died when Jesse was still a young boy while in California preaching to '49ers during the Gold Rush. His mother remarried, and the family owned seven slaves that worked on their tobacco farm prior to the Civil War. Young Jesse got off to a bloody start as a pro-Confederate guerrilla with his brother Frank during the Civil War. He was a teenager when the war began, but his elder brother went off to fight. Frank was a member of the infamous Quantrill's Raiders which conducted the massacre at the famous abolitionist stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas, destroying the town and killing around 180 men and boys. Jesse was whipped and his stepfather tortured when Union forces came to the family farm seeking information on Frank and the Confederate raiders. Too young to properly enlist, Jesse nonetheless rode off to fight for the Confederacy and joined the "Bushwhackers" with his brother. They later fought under "Bloody Bill" Anderson, including in the Centralia Massacre during which the town was looted, an unarmed man was killed, and then around 22 unarmed Union soldiers were stripped, executed, and scalped or otherwise mutilated. Around 123 responding Union soldiers were ambushed and killed in the Battle of Centralia, including Union Major Andrew Johnston who was reportedly shot by Jesse. Some of those that surrendered were tortured before being killed, and many of the slain Union dead were mutilated. Jesse was also severely wounded twice during the war. Thus, from the beginning of his "career," he and his allies left many unarmed men dead in their wake. During Reconstruction, some of his former comrades continued to operate illegally against the Republican led government in Missouri. Jesse and Frank are believed to have helped break out a former Quantrill Raider in 1866 in Jackson County. On December 7, 1869, Jesse and Frank shot and robbed a cashier. Many of their subsequent robberies also left men dead in their wake, sometimes because of their Republican or Union Army connections. By 1869, Governor Thomas T. Crittenden had put an award for Jesse's capture, and he clearly enjoyed the notoriety and wrote in to the newspapers promoting himself as a hardened Confederate hero fighting against Republican domination and continued to use other former Confederates to shelter him from persecution. Over time, the outlaws, known as the James-Younger Gang led by Jesse James and Cole Younger, conducted a long string of bank robberies and then turned their attention to trains and stagecoaches which were easier. Their first train robbery was on July 21, 1873, outside of Adair, Iowa. In addition to the contents of the express car, the gang robbed the passengers. Nonetheless, their exploits earned them fame and admiration from many, and even other crimes committed by different outlaws were blamed on the famous gang. Jesse married his first cousin, Zerelda Mimms, named after his mother. Their son Jesse Edward James was born in 1875. By that time, the Pinkertons and law enforcement were working to track down James and his outlaws, and the Pinkertons attacked the James family farm in 1875 thinking Jesse and Frank James where there. They tossed a smoke bomb into the house to smoke them out. Their nine year old half-brother Archie threw the bomb into the fireplace leading to an explosion that killed Archie and permanently maimed their mother who had one arm blown off in the explosion. Soon after, a neighbor who had aided the Pinkertons and one of their agents were shot and killed. The following year, the James-Younger Gang was nearly wiped out when they attempted to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota. Jesse shot the bank cashier when he refused to open the safe, and the townsfolk armed themselves and assailed the gang. Several gang members were killed or seriously wounded. By the time the smoke cleared, everyone but Jesse and Frank were either dead or arrested. The James brothers fled and hid out in Tennessee. Frank apparently wanted to retire from the outlaw life and live in peace with his family, but Jesse created a new gang of outlaws in 1879 robbing for money and fame rather than to resist the Republicans and pulled Frank back into it. Multiple gang members were killed or captured, and Jesse's circle of support kept shrinking. Governor Thomas T. Crittenden's offer of a reward enticed Bob and Charley Ford to stop Jesse James. Bob had also been arrested for the murder of Wood Hite earlier that year and was promised to be pardoned if he helped bring down James. He shot Jesse James in the back of the head while he was unarmed. Jesse was reportedly meeting with the Fords to plan one last big robbery before settling down. It has generally been believed that James knew he had been betrayed and accepted his fate before he was shot on April 3, 1882. Instead of receiving a reward, the Ford brothers were arrested and convicted for murder and sentenced to death. They were then pardoned by the governor and received only part of the reward. Charley Ford killed himself two years later, and Bob Ford made money with a stage show reenacting the event and was shot in his saloon in Creede, Colorado, in 1892. Frank surrendered himself to the authorities and was acquitted. He later appeared in some Wild West shows with Cole Younger in the early 20th century. At least seventeen men were killed by Jesse James and his outlaws. Across approximately 26 heists, they stole around $200,000 (worth over $5,000,000 today). "A.H. Ryan": The "A.H. RYAN" marking under the grip may be for Andy Ryan. Brothers Andy and Bill Ryan were implicated as members of the James Gang and appear in various sources on the gang, including the included pages of "Jesse James and Bill Ryan at Nashville" by Ted P. Yeatman. Both are mentioned in "The Trial of Frank James for Murder, With Confessions of Dick Liddil and Clarence Hite, and History of the James Gang" from 1898. Liddil's confession notes that Andy Ryan was a boy and helped with horses. Bill Ryan was captured in 1881 after pulling his pistols on a man in a saloon and running his mouth about being an outlaw. He had $1,400, expensive jewelry, two revolvers, seventy-five cartridges, and maps. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison but was released early in 1889 and then supposedly killed shortly thereafter in a riding accident. However, he was reportedly arrested again for a burglary in 1895 under another alias, released again in 1897, shot and captured in 1898, acquitted, and was then accused of being involved in another train robbery just a few days later. His brother, Andy Ryan, was arrested for an 1898 train robbery and was accused of being part of a new gang with Jesse James Jr. After his father's assassination, young Jesse was employed by Thomas T. Crittenden Jr., the son of Governor Thomas T. Crittenden of Missouri. He worked for Crittenden for a few years before Crittenden secured him a position at a packing house in Kansas City where he worked until 1898 when he opened a cigar stand by the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City. In 1899, James and Ryan were arrested for train robbery. Another man claimed by the authorities to be Bill Ryan was also arrested but was found to be an older man named Bill Jennings. A card identifying the robbers as John Kennedy, Bill Ryan, Bill Anderson, Sam Brown, and Jim Redmond is said to have been left during the robbery. William W. Lowe claimed he, James, and Andy Ryan planned the Leeds hold-up together, and Lowe's confession formed the main basis of the case against Jesse James Jr. His version of the events placed Jesse James Jr. and Andy Ryan as two of the main bandits in the affair. However, the defense successfully convinced the jurors of James innocence and the case against Andy Ryan also fell apart as a result. During the trial, Ryan said he hadn't heard from his brother since 1893 and claimed he had gone to Venezuela as part of a surveying company. The Leeds train robbery case and its outcome were widely reported. For example, the Sacramento Daily Union, on March 2, 1899, announced that "All Train Robbery Cases Dismissed" and noted that "W.H. Lowe, the self-confessed robber, and Andy Ryan and Charles Pole left the jail free men." Prior to his arrest Ryan had been a fireman but was fired due to his association with John Kennedy. He was briefly reinstated after his release and soon owned a saloon at 1529 West 9th Street in Kansas City, Missouri, and later one at 12th and Wyoming Street. He choked to death in February 1904 at the age of 45. His obituary in the Kansas City Star noted him as "a relative of Bill Ryan and friend of John Kennedy, train robbers" and indicated he came to Kansas City 19 years prior. Unfortunately, other details such as his real full name have not been found. The evidence against his friend Jack "the Quail Hunter" Kennedy was stronger. He is said to have committed seven train robberies in the 1890s and was convicted and served twelve years at the Missouri Penitentiary. After his acquittal, Jesse James Jr. wrote a book about his father titled "Jesse James, My Father. The First and Only True Story of His Adventures Ever Written" which included an account of Jesse Jr.'s trial and played it up as a move by officials to get him imprisoned through association with the Ryans. He later opened a pawn shop, became a lawyer, ran a restaurant in Los Angeles, and played the roll of his father in the films "Jesse James Under the Black Flag" and "Jesse James the Outlaw," both released in 1921 and also was an adviser for the 1927 film "Jesse James." Provenance: The Shanton Family; The Gilmerr Family; The Karshner Family, The Supica Collection
Very good. The revolver has a lot of Old West appeal and shows definite signs of use but has been well-maintained and retains a very nice bore and excellent action. The finish is largely gone and replaced by a mottled gray and brown patina with some light oxidation and pitting. There are strong traces of original blue finish around the screws and pins and in some of the other protected areas. The hammer has some faint case colors. The modified grips are also very good and have mild edge wear, a few dings, and minor scratches. The lock-up remains tight, and the action is excellent. The holster is also fine and has distinct tooling, mild surface wear consistent with use, and solid stitching. This is an incredible opportunity to get your hands on a well-known Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver and holster long attributed to legendary outlaw Jesse James and that has been on display in renowned firearms museums and featured in multiple publications.
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