Portraits of the Doctor…

OWDR_DocHollidayAge20His thesis was “Diseases of the Teeth”. This is Doc in March of 1872 upon the occasion of his graduation as a Doctor of Dental Surgery from The Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . He would return to Atlanta, Georgia, via St. Louis, Missouri and again take up residence at Aunt Permila and Uncle John’s at 66 Forest Street. He would join the office of Dr. Arthur C. Ford in the spring, but would not be able to practice on his own until he obtained his license after turning 21 on August 14, 1872. Photo: U.S. PD

OWDR_DocHolliday1879The only one known to have been signed by the man himself; this photograph originates in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1879. The photographer is unknown. 1879 was a busy year for Doc, he spent time at the Lunger’s Club, opened a new practice, found himself indited for “keeping a gaming table”, traveled from New Mexico to Kansas, then to Colorado, back to New Mexico and managed to become involved in a railroad war during his travels… and that was just in the first three months of the year! Later that year, he might have shot Mike Gordon (see: Doc History: Who did Doc Shoot?), moved his operations to the new AT&SF rail connection in booming East Las Vegas and had W.G. Ward build a build a building out there. Established “The Holliday Saloon and Gambling Concession” with limited partner, Jordan J. Webb. Got himself indited again on the gaming charge and then once, for “carrying a deadly weapon”. He finished the year by moving to Prescott seeking greener pastures, partly on advice from Wyatt Earp. Photo: U.S. PD

OWDR_DocHolliday_TmbstnThis photograph is often alleged to have been taken by C.S. Fly in Tombstone in early 1882; therefore some two to three months after the OK Corral. I therefore assume it would have been taken after the closing of the hearing before Judge Spicer (11/30/1881) and before the murder of Morgan Earp at Campbell and Hatch’s Billiard Parlor (03/18/1882). Doc wasn’t real available in Tombstone after that… It is also “alleged” to be Doc. There is no provenance for this picture, or it’s relatives). This photograph (not retouched), appears to have been part of a set taken at one sitting; including one with the subject wearing a bowler. A version of this picture, highly retouched (with a cowlick), is probably the most common photograph used to represent Doc Holliday. Photo: U.S. PD

OWDR_DocHollidayCmn Heavily retouched, never-the-less, this is clearly the popular choice for the representation of Doc. It has appeared in numerous books, magazines and newspaper stories. As noted above, this is part of a series taken at one sitting; possibly by Camillus Fly. c. 1882. Photo: U.S. PD, subject, photographer and modifications in debate…

OWDR_Doc_PortraitThis unique charcoal portrait, found in a cabin near the city, is claimed to be that of an older Doc Holliday. It is on loan to The Glenwood Springs Historical Society and may be viewed at the museum in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (see: Links to Friends, below) Doc was in Glenwood Springs from May 24, 1887 until his death November 8th. He was known to have been descending into miliary consumption (tuberculosis) during that time. He was 36 when he arrived and turned 37 August 14th. Could this be a portrait of that Doc? Photo: © Frontier Historical Society, used by permission. Do you know anything about this portrait that the museum should know? Please contact them via Links to Friends.

There were certainly some look-a likes around, even in Tombstone.
John_Escobel_NOT_DOCHere is an example and we even know who he was. This handsome gentleman [a Frenchman] was John Escapule (Escobel) of Tombstone, Arizona Territory who made his fortune in the silver boom on Goose Flats. One source I have, says that he was at one time, mayor of that fair city on Goose Flats. [anybody know?] (this photo too, may well have been made by C.S. Fly) Photo: U.S. PD (c. early 1880’s)

OWDR_Not_DocWebThis photo is often alleged to be Doc and is regularly used to represent him although it doesn’t look remotely like him. It has been around for comparison for years so you would think folks could figure it out. This cigar chomping fellow is unknown. I rather doubt that a serious consumptive like Doc smoked too many cigars. There is no provenance, what-so-ever for this photograph. Photo: U.S. PD

DH Another Not DocHere is another “not Doc”. This one has also been used by several books on the subject. Compared with “known” photos of the the good doctor, most anyone can see they don’t match. There is no provenance, what-so-ever for this photograph. Photo U.S. PD unknown


OWDR_Doc_HollidayDentistWebThis Post Card can be found for sale on the internet.  Note that the work is marked copyright 2005 by a Gary Dunlap. While he may have rights to his card design, if the photograph is genuine, it is, by definition, in the U.S. public domain (pre – 1923). No one I am aware of, save Mr. Dunlap, believes this to be a photo of Doc. There is no viable provenance. Card Design: 2005 ©? Gary Dunlap, Fair Use.  {Doc}



This is the end of the old Doc photos for a while. These are the most common. There are a few others floating around, none too good.

 So you think you might have a “new” picture or a tintype of Doc
or some other western notable?

I get calls and emails from folks who think they have turned up an item that no one else has yet seen. Unlikely, but it could be… Just for starters, here are some of the issues you need to be prepared to address to prove your case.

How did you come by the item?
Any chance that you can prove a chain of possession
of the item from its creation to your hand?
Who do you think made the original? Why do you think that?
Where was it supposed to have been done?
Can you show that the subject was ever at the place
where the original was thought to have been created?
Can you demonstrate that they were there or somewhere near at the correct time?

Please Note:
The references and links in the following paragraphs are only available on on my subscription Western History site. ($20. U.S. per year).

These are some of the things that would constitute provenance for a historical item; the proof and verification that it is actually as claimed. With a photo, there will also be the various forensic opinions as to whether the subject is actually the person in question. Almost always, fraught with disagreement between “experts”. The court of historical opinion can be brutal. Oh, and don’t get caught up in the thought that you must “protect” the image, lest it be stolen. If, as likely with these things, its pre-1923, it is already in the public domain and you can’t copyright it. Make a low resolution copy and put it out on the internet and see if you can get some help proving it’s what you claim it is. Understand that the value, if any, is only in the item itself. A copy of the tintype of Billy the Kid is out there everywhere (see: Photo Gallery – Lawman and Outlaws PhotosBilly the Kid). Only the original in Bob McCubbin‘s Collection is worth the 1.2 million alleged to have been paid for it. There are several classic examples of photos of famous personages with not quite enough provenance. The outlaw Jesse Evans and Sioux Chief Crazy Horse are two that come to mind. Both photos and some others, can be found on Old West Daily Reader (Ex. see: Photo Gallery – Indian PhotosCrazy Horse & Wk. 12, 03/22/1882 – Jesse).


Doc’s Guns

Doc’s firearms are lost to history. He most likely pawned his “jewelry” as his fortunes declined. For example: his shootout with Billy Allen in Leadville, Colorado (08/19/1884) appears to have been with a borrowed gun. (Maybe a Thunderer?) Any Gun that could be reliably traced to Doc would be worth tens of thousands of dollars in today’s gun market (Here is that provenance thing again). The guns shown here are the “right” guns, ones like those he actually used; they’re just not Doc’s guns. I have taken these entries from the firearms photo sections of my historical website: I have left in the OWDR references for the convenience of subscribers. Non-subscribers may be able to see some entries (worth a try).

IOWDR_1851_Navy_Colt_ModAn 1851 Navy Colt (.36 cal. blackpowder, percussion), was probably the second handgun in Doc’s life. We know Henry Burroughs Holliday had one and later Uncle John (Dr. John Stiles Holliday) gave one to each Doc and and his cousin Robert (1872). His first gun may well have been grandfather Robert’s revolutionary war, single shot flintlock pistol. However, we can easily believe that it was dad’s Navy that made Doc a marksman. One of the most reliable, accurate and best of the early percussion repeating pistols. Wild Bill Hickok carried a brace (2) of these fine guns. This one is modern, one of the series made by Colt when they began a commemorative production of the piece again. Photo: R.W. Doc Boyle, a performance gun. (OWDR Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – Mike’s Revolvers P.1)

OWDR_LeMatRevPFThis unusual firearm is a Le Mat Revolver from the Civil War era. Confederate Generals P.G.T. Beauregard, J.E.B. Stuart, Doc’s father, Henry, and others carried LeMat revolvers. This one is a genuine late model in pinfire. The originals (1856-65) were French made and ran the Union blockade to get into Confederate America. In .35; 36; 42 & .44 cal percussion, nine shots in the cylinder and a 16 ga. shotgun as the cylinder shaft. All an attempt to add firepower when it wasn’t practical to reload in “adverse” conditions. A large, barrel heavy, awkward gun and not terribly powerful but that last shot with buck and ball was a big one. This gun sports a lanyard ring, supposedly identifying it as the cavalry version. Never made in large quantities [est. 2,900] and even then, not all got past the blockades so they are rare and very expensive in the today’s collectors market. A few came west. I’d bet Doc shot dad’s. I have a modern replica I use for performance. Photo: U.S. PD U.S. Gov (OWDR Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – Handguns)

OWDRP_77_Lightning01 Colt 1877 Lightning with a birds head grip, .38 cal., six shots. A wise man only loaded five and carried the piece hammer down on the empty cylinder. The weapon will definitely fire if the hammer is bumped hard enough; such as being dropped. This was the first commercially successful double action pistol, a “self cocker” as the old timers called it. Meaning that one could pull the trigger and the guns mechanism rotated the cylinder, cocked the hammer and dropped it, firing the round. A fine little gun but the internal parts were a bit delicate. Its big brother, the Thunderer was somewhat larger and in .41 cal. They might or might not have a Colt style under barrel extractor. Barrel lengths from 2″ to 6″. The “nickel plated shooter” wielded by Doc Holliday, that the cowboys reported to Judge Spicer after the “Streetfight in Tombstone”, as the local citizenry described it, was a Lightning. (see: OWDR Wk. 43, 10/26/1881) Photo: R.W. “Doc” Boyle; This is one of my performance guns, serial no. 24024 built in 1882. (OWDR Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – Handguns)

OWDRP_66_Rem01This heavy little fellow is an 1866 Remington Derringer in .41 rimfire; single action, spur trigger, superposed barrels with an oscillating firing pin which fired each barrel in turn. Apparently Remington did not serialize these guns. This one is #23, but that is an assembly number, not a serial number. It is a type two, “B” model (it has an extractor), manufactured sometime between 1866 and 1888. Short range with a small charge, but nasty up close. A backup gun and one commonly carried by the the soiled doves. Kate was said to have given one of these to Doc. (see: OWDR Wk. 50, 12/12/1866) Photo: R.W. “Doc” Boyle; This one is one of my performance guns. (OWDR Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – Handguns)

Children of the Henry; the wonderful Winchesters

OWDR_66_Win_CrpHere’s two: An 1866 “Yellow Boy”, this one is a Model 2 Carbine in .44 rimfire, # 76942 (1871). Lighter and shorter than the rifles, these guns have a “saddle rings” but were usually carried in a scabbard along side the horse maybe under the fender (short distance; guns carried under the fender on a long haul chafe the horse.) with the butt forward and often high on the horse’s neck; not butt to the rear as seen in so many western movies. Sagebrush and other things pull weapons carried in that fashion and leave them on the ground and they can’t be conveniently reached from the saddle. I know of no “evidence” of Doc ever using a ’66 but he may well have done so sometime as they were certainly around. (see: Photo Gallery – OWDR Cowboy Photos, Grabil’s “Cowboy”). (see also: OWDR Wk. 09, 03/02/1866)

IOWDR_1873_Win_Crp01The Model 1873 featured the same design but now the receiver was steel instead of brass. This one (also a carbine) is a nice old example of “The Gun That Won The West!”; in 44-40 centerfire, it is a Model 1, #95551A (1882). Other cartridges were introduced for the ’73 in later years but the design was inherently too weak and short of throw to handle anything larger than pistol cartridges. None the less, the Model 1866 was produced until 1898 and the Model 1873 until 1919. (see: OWDR Wk. 50, 12/11/1880) Doc did tell Ike Clanton the night before the OK gunfight that he had killed Newman Hayes “Old Man” Clanton (Ike’s father) with one of these (a rifle) at Skeleton (Guadalupe) Canyon (see: OWDR Wk. 33, 08/13/1881) Both photos R.W. “Doc” Boyle; both “Doc” performance guns.  (Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – OWDR Long Guns)   [001 & 007]

OWDR_HenryThis is an Italian Replica (Uberti) of the original 1862 Henry. This is the military version, it has sling attachments. This modern rifle is in 44-40, the original was .44 Henry rimfire. Note that the Henry lacks both a wooden fore end and the loading port of the later generation Winchesters. This rifle has a much longer barrel than the carbines above; not so convienent horseback. Doc was known to have carried a Henry on occasion. Well preserved Henry’s bring big prices today. Photo: R.W. “Doc” Boyle; one of my performance guns. {001} (Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – OWDR Long Guns)

OWDR-12boreMuleEarShotgunWe This is a black powder, 12 bore, mule ear (the hammers), coach gun; aka. sawed off shotgun. Guns such as this were often carried by various kinds of express guards on wagons, stagecoaches and trains. The barrels are about 20 inches long. The front trigger is the right barrel the rear the left. Often loaded with Buckshot (00 Buck is .33 in., nine in 12 ga.).They are powerful, handy and deadly. The cowboys said, “A pistol means a shootin’. A shotgun means a buryin’!” Wyatt Earp called them “street howitzers”. Virgil Earp traded Doc a cane for a double barrel shotgun (thought to possibly have been a Wells-Fargo 10 bore) when Doc arrived at Hafford’s corner shortly before the Gunfight at the OK Corral. This was the gun that Doc would use to kill Tom McLaury. It would have looked very much like this one. This shotgun, while almost one hundred years old and sporting laminated (Damascus) steel barrels; still can’t compare to the real western antiques of the 1880’s even though it looks just like them and works exactly the same way. This imported 1920’s gun is Belgian made (W. Richards) and like most such guns began life as a hunter with barrels of perhaps 30″ or more. This is a Doc performance gun and I do shoot light blanks in it . Photo: R.W. “Doc” Boyle (sorry I’ll get a better one up later.) {001} (Photo Gallery – Weapons Photos – OWDR Long Guns)

Doc certainly would have used a number of other firearms. The .41 Colt Thunderer comes to mind as well as various other Remington and Colt models. We just don’t know if he owned any of them. Unlikely, as the big handguns were too awkward when seated at a table for long stretches of time. Of the two times we know he used a shotgun, they were loaners. The Henry rifle may well have been his. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about outlaws, lawmen and express guards; they all continuously updated their firearms right along with the technology; often, easily outstripping the military. And, of course, so did the Indians. Custer’s troopers (OWDR Wk.26, 06/25/1876) would have had a lot say about the firepower difference between single shot trap-door Springfields (copper cartridges aside) and lever action repeating Henrys and Winchesters. Although 30 minutes wouldn’t have been a lot of time to delve into it. Doc was working at The Bella Union Variety in Cheyenne, Wyoming about then. He like everyone else would not have heard about Custer until after the Yellowstone River steamboat Far West, it’s whistle blaring, arrived in Bismark, North Dakota near midnight (see: OWDR Wk. 27, 07/05/1876) and the world learned by telegraph what had occurred at the Little Bighorn.

For those with a further interest in the firearms; I outline some of the technology changes taking place in the times of the old west, from early percussion to center fire metallic cartridges at: Aided by gun photos provided by collector/contributors in the U.S. and abroad, the progression in guns and ammunition is clearly visible in the photos; with one collector (Mike Long) showing an excellent Colt (’51 Navy) conversion that went from percussion, to rimfire, to centerfire (use link above). It is a subscription site, $20 U.S. per year. Take a look anyhow and please leave me a Facebook “Like ” as your ride by. Doc


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