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U.S. Marshals and the Model 1895
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October 11, 2023 - 4:54 pm
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I am the firearms historian for the Wyoming State Museum.  Researching Joe LeFors, I found this picture of the Union Pacific posse organized to pursue The Wild Bunch after the 1900 robbery of a UP train at Tipton Wyoming.  Several of the members are holding 1895s.  I think LeFors has one as well based on the barrel length.

Any thoughts about how and why the posse acquired these Winchesters?  I’ve contacted the U.S. Marshals Museum but no response yet.

 

Here’s a link.   LeFors is third from the right in the standing group picture. 

 

https://auctions.oldwestevents.com/lots/view/1-1YTB6C/important-wild-bunch-joe-lefors-posse-photos

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October 11, 2023 - 11:14 pm
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Hi

I’d found those images and a few more from those events on the American Heritage Center website and they were used with permission and cited in the Model 1895 book.  I had read Joe LeFors: “I slickered Tom Horn” by Chip Carlson at the time, although I don’t remember if there were any details about the 1895s in LeFors’ accounts.  Some of the same images were used in that book too. 

My guess in regard to why they’d choose the 1895 is that it was a quality repeating rifle that used the standard US Army cartridge of the time.  The rifles and ammo should have been readily available as far as I know.  I wonder why they didn’t have the carbine variation (introduced a couple of years prior) instead of the sporting rifle.  Maybe they had the rifles for a while.

Arizona and Texas Rangers used the Model 1895 for a time, again, to the best of my knowledge, chambered for the .30 caliber US Army cartridges.  You probably knew this already.  

The City of Asheville (25) and Buncombe County, NC, (15) ordered .30 US chambered Model 1895 sporting rifles with shotgun butts in 1906, as noted in the factory warehouse ledgers, Model Room book, and also shown in the Model 1895 book and the Fall 2017 Winchester Collector.  The local government at the time noted that they wanted the rifles purchased to “be interchangeable with guns used by the State militia or U.S. Service.”  I don’t remember if there was an explanation of why they didn’t choose the .30-03 at the time (maybe the state wasn’t using the cartridge), but they missed the .30-06 in the Model 1895 by a couple of years.  Various police departments, mining companies, railroads, etc. apparently ordered 1895s throughout production.  Sometimes these are also noted in the available factory records and can be verified, or are documented in some other source.  Many 1895s (and other Winchesters + lots of ammo) found their way to the border and into Mexico in the 1910s as well.  Some of those sales records from the are also in the Model 1895 book and in the Winter 2018 Winchester Collector.  

Regards

Brad Dunbar

http://1895book.com/

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October 12, 2023 - 12:57 pm
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Brad, thanks again for all the information you have provided.  The picture of LeFors on the cover of the “Slickered” book was extracted from the posse picture in front of the train.  I’m sure you know that. 

I contacted the U.S. Marshal’s museum.  The curator said the 1895s were not provided by the Marshals.  He said they may have been purchased individually.  Seems odd they would end up with the same rifle.  You note companies including railroads ordered 1895s.  Union Pacific organized and paid the posse, provided the train for transportation.  Could be UP also provided the rifles. 

I have LeFors autobiography, “Wyoming Peace Officer” and others on Tom Horn.  According to Ball in the “The Life and Legend of Tom Horn,” one of the Miller boys had a .30-40 Winchester.  The Millers were neighbors of the Nickells and involved in long-standing feud with them.  Horn had a single .30-40 cartridge in his pocket when he was arrested and charged with killing Willie Nickell.

For those not familiar with the story, Tom Horn was a range detective in the employ of cattlemen in the late 19th Century.  He is suspected of shooting several “rustlers” in Wyoming and Colorado before the 14-year-old boy was ambushed.  Horn “confessed” to the killing in an interview with LeFors, was convicted and hanged in Cheyenne on November 20, 1903.  His guilt or innocence is still debated.  His Winchester .30-30 with documented provenance sold at auction for $149,500 in 2014.  

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October 28, 2023 - 12:21 pm
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Update.  This week I was contacted by the director of the Union Pacific Firearms Museum. She said it was almost certain that UP provided the 1895s to the Tipton posse. The museum has Winchester rifles from 1866 to 1894.  Some are branded “UP” on the stock.  Apparently it was common for the UP to provide firearms to employees including in some cases during WWII.

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October 28, 2023 - 3:18 pm
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The rifles may have been requested by the posse.  Smokeless cartridges were all the rage and would conceal where they were fired from. RDB

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