A Surprising Research Find

When I decided to have my heroine rob a train, I figured her lack of robbing skills would be a bit more effective is she had at least one pistol. The problem with having only one and a pistol, is she’d be lucky to get off her one and only shot. What if she needed two? Or maybe even three? And since my heroine is a bit on the brassy side, I figured she couldn’t rob a train without pulling the trigger at least once, which meant she’d be in a lot of hot water when it came to high-tail it off the train.

As I was searching I continually asked myself if this what my heroine would use. I decided against any pistols. I needed her to have revolvers. My heroine pinches pennies, so I knew the guns wouldn’t be anything she would have splurged on, especially since she really doesn’t condone violence, except when necessary, of course.

I thought if she ‘borrowed’ the weapons from her deceased mentor that it would add more depth to the entire scene and possibly even into her character. Given the time frame my choices were somewhat limited but not too limited.

I chose the  6 shot 1851 Navy Revolver. It was a popular gun during the Civil War and among lawmen such as Wild Bill Hickok.

If you’re a history enthusiast, you can imagine my excitement when we ran across one of the reenactors with this in his pocket. I can’t remember what he said it was, for some reason I believe he said it was a ’57 Colt, but I could very well be wrong.

It’s tiny. Easy to conceal in the folds of a woman’s skirt. Small enough for a woman’s hand in the event she encountered blackguards out on the wild frontier.

Supposedly it was favored by newspaper men too. At least this one seemed to favor it. I never thought there would be too much of a need for a newspaper man to carry a weapon. But this was the Wild West. And if you think about it most presses contained their political standing within their names. If someone didn’t like a point of view, most likely the printing facility would be burnt, or the press man would be shot. But that is a blog for another day.

(This picture taken by Little Annie Oakley)

A few doors down from Mr. Potter (that’s not his actual name) was another man loading his gun with blanks. I didn’t get a very clear shot of the gun, and although the man answered a few of my questions, I had a feeling I was bothering him. BUT, I did discover his gun was none other than my 1851 Navy.

I was able to watch him prepare his gun for a little while. It was interesting to watch.

You can kind of see him in this second picture (another taken by LAA) tapping the powder dispenser flask into the revolver. I wish I could have asked him a few more questions (or even got to take a closer look), but since he had a show to put on, I figured he was pressed for time so I left him alone.  
I went to Abilene knowing I’d come away with some great research material, but seeing this was a surprising find, kind of like the whip cream. The train was the cherry.
If you’d like to see some more about the 1851 Colt Navy click here.

7 responses to “A Surprising Research Find”

  1. Alice, I really wish I could have at least inspected it a little bit closer. I wanted to see if it had the engravings.

  2. This is utterly and completely the neatest thing ever!

    Hey–have you gone to the Fort Scott reenactments they hold over the summer? Seriously, if you haven't, you would LOVE it. I am very biased because I grew up there, but the fort is amazing.

  3. Gillian, a friend of mine went to Ft. Scott the same weekend I went to Abilene. She said it was really cool. Last week she went to one just south of Council Grove. That's one I'd like to see too. They do the old time cook out and quilting etc. I'm looking to see if I can find a weekend trail ride that is reasonable as well.

  4. I saw you on the Seeker blog and thought I'd say hi. I love your post here! Research is not always easy for me…especially since I wrote a medieval, but I love to see how others do it!

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