Page 129 - 4090-BOOK1
P. 129

  LOT 149
Documented Hartley & Graham Soft Shipped Engraved Antique Black Powder
Colt Single Action Army Revolver Attributed to Texas Desperado Brack Cornett of the
Cornett-Whitley Gang with Factory Letter - Serial no. 87925, 45 Long Colt cal., 4 5/8 inch
round bbl., blue finish, antique ivory grips. This revolver comes with a notarized statement from
Edward F. Cornett stating: “Regarding Colt Single Action Army Model revolver, serial number
87925, blue finish, engraved with ivory stocks, which belonged to Braxton ‘Brack’ Cornett, Texas
outlaw and gunfighter and leader of the Cornett-Whitley gang of train and bank robbers, circa
1800s in Texas. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as part of my research of our family’s history
and ancestry, I contacted various relatives in Texas, primarily in the Goliad area and obtained
information regarding Brack Cornett. It’s now over 50 years ago since that time, however, among
those I was able to contact, I recall talking with Mr. Lynn Cornett, Mr. Roger Cornett and Pearl Sherrill. All
were direct descendants of Brack Cornett’s and his immediate family. In the course of making these contacts, I
learned that Brack Cornett’s Colt revolver was available for sale, so I purchased the gun and have owned it ever since.
In 1981 I obtained a Colt historical letter indicating the revolver was shipped “in the soft” on Feb. 17, 1883, to Hartley
& Graham, New York, NY. I was told by several Colt collectors that it was probably engraved by one of their contract engravers. Also included with the gun is a copy of the book, ‘The Cornett-Whitley Gang’, by David Johnson.” As noted
above, the revolver is accompanied by a factory letter listing it in .45 caliber with “Soft” finish and the barrel length
and grips not listed when it was part of a shipment of 25 revolvers on February 17, 1883, to Hartley & Graham in New
York City. They were major dealers and distributors and often had revolvers engraved by talented artists such as L.D. Nimschke in New York City. The revolver features extensive scroll engraving with beaded backgrounds and wavy line and dot accents. It also has a blade front sight, the one-line barrel address, smaller ejector rod button, “black powder” frame with screw that secures the arbor pin, the three-line patent marking on the left side of the frame, “45 CAL” on the left side of the trigger guard at the front, assembly number “6458” on the loading gate, and matching serial numbers.
Braxton “Brack” Cornett (1841-1888) was an infamous Texas outlaw in the late 19th century and was the co-leader of the Bill Whitley Gang also known as the Brack Cornett Gang or the Cornett-Whitley Gang. In a classic western photograph of Cornett, he can be seen carrying a pair of Colts in his holsters. The gang formed in early 1887 and five robbed trains and a bank in Texas starting in May of that year. Cornett led the gang in what the New York Times called “the most daring train robbery that ever occurred in Texas.” Though they had early success, soon the law was on top them, and their days were numbered. They stopped them from robbing another train that year on September 22nd and shot it out before fleeing and robbing a different train a few days later. On the 25th, they engaged in another shootout and Whitley was killed and another was captured. Cornett was on the run in Arizona, but he was soon killed by Texas Ranger Alfred Alee in Frio. His death was widely reported in the newspapers in February 1888. For example,
the Weekly Monitor in Fort Scott, Kansas, reported the story of Cornett coming to Alee’s place and taking dinner, but Alee didn’t recognize him immediately. Once he realized who it was, he maneuvered to take him prisoner, calling to him “Consider yourself my prisoner.” Alee reported that “He was the quickest man I ever saw. Even with the advantage I held, he drew and fired before I could press the trigger. At the report of his pistol my hat spun around and fell to my side. There was a hole through the brim and a lock of my hair fell to my left shoulder. I fired and he sprang to his feet. I fired twice more and he returned again. Then I pulled on him for the last time, and he fell forward on his face.” The two men had been childhood friends, and there has long been speculation that Cornett tried to go to Alee for help. Alee himself was knifed and killed in 1896 by Laredo City Marshall Joseph Barthelow. CONDITION: Good with a mix of refinished blue and plum brown finish, moderate pitting concentrated on the cylinder, shortened barrel, renumbered trigger guard, partially obliterated barrel address, and general moderate wear. The poorly fitting, undersized grips are also good and have attractive aged patina, moderate handling wear, age lines/cracks, and attractive grain. The hammer doesn’t have all three clicks, but the revolver otherwise functions fine.
Provenance: Texas Outlaw Brack Cornett; Edward F. Cornett.
Estimate: 5,000 - 7,500

   127   128   129   130   131