Page 8 - Auction84-Book2
P. 8

LOT 1004
Well-Documented and Incredibly Historic Western Outlaw Cherokee Bill Attributed Winchester Model 1886 Lever Action Rifle - Serial no. 15416, 38-56 WCF cal., 26 inch octagon bbl., blue/casehardened finish, walnut stock. This rifle was manufactured in 1888 and has a German silver blade front sight, adjustable sporting rear sight, standard markings, plain stock and forearm, and “CHEROKEE/BILL” and “R” in white paint on the right side of the stock. Crawford Goldsby (1876-1896), born at Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas, was best known by his alias Cherokee Bill, was one of the most notorious outlaws of the late 19th century in Indian Territory. Though his life on the run was short lived, his actions were reported around the country. He was part Cherokee, part white, part Mexican, and part African-American. His father was one of the Buffalo soldiers. Cherokee Bill is known to have been involved in several gunfights and robberies in the mid 1890s as a member of the Cook gang when he was just 18 years old. He killed lawman Sequoyah Houston when Houston and a posse tried to arrest Bill and Jim Cook (also part Cherokee). He also killed his brother-in-law after the finding out he had beaten his sister and shot and killed Ernest Melton during the robbery of the Shufeldt & Son General Store in Lenapah. When the gang robbed the Lincoln County Bank in Chandler on July 31, 1894, Cherokee Bill was on the look out at the front and reportedly shot barber J.B. Mitchell with his Winchester after Mitchell ignored his command to sit down and shut up. Others were killed in some of the gang’s robberies, possibly by Cherokee Bill. He was captured on Ike Roger’s farm at the end of January in 1895 and was sentenced to hang for Melton’s murder in April. His lawyers managed to delay the execution.
After a revolver and ammunition were smuggled into the jail, Cherokee Bill shot and killed guard Lawrence Keating in a botched escape attempt on July 26, 1895. In late July 1895, at the same time Cherokee Bill’s killing of the guard was reported, a dispute over a .40-82 Winchester owned by Cherokee Bill is also recorded. The various newspapers indicate that rifle was ordered by Judge Parker to be turned over to Eagan Bros. of Salpulpa. Cherokee Bill had apparently purchased that rifle at midnight at their shop on account. He was convicted for murder a second time by Judge Parker and executed by hanging on March 17, 1896. Asked if he had any final words he is said to have replied, “No. I came here to die, not to make a speech.” He was only 20 years old when he was executed. His brother Clarence Goldsby shot and killed Ike Rogers on April 20, 1897, in revenge. Rogers had apparently befriended Cherokee Bill in order to betray and capture him and had also threatened his life. Goldsby reportedly disappeared after the shooting and joined the U.S. Army under an alias. He was rumored to have been the famous Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa in 1914, but others noted that Goldsby had already died in 1911 and was buried beside his notorious brother in Cherokee National Cemetery in Fort Gibson.
The included factory letter indicates this rifle was in .38-56 and had an octagon barrel, and plain trigger when it was received in the warehouse on March 22, 1888, and shipped on April 23, 1888, in order number 7108. The included research and provenance file contains a July 29, 1998, dated notarized letter from Preston Rose in which he states: “The story always was that when Cherokee Bill was incarcerated, the jailer made an agreement to provide Cherokee Bill a weekly allotment of whiskey in exchange for this Winchester. Mr. Will Wirsing, a local gunsmith, traded the jailer a double barrel shotgun for this rifle. Mr. Will Wirsing had the gun on display in his store window for many years and he painted Cherokee Bill’s name on the rifle as can be seen in some old photographs dating back to the turn of the century. The rifle appears to have never been touched since the photos were published.

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