Westside Pioneer Home Page

COBWEB CORNERS: General Palmer's other pistol

By Mel McFarland

       In looking through a newspaper from about 80 years ago, I ran across a story that is just the thing this column is all about. A familiar name does not make it less attractive.
       It seems a man was arrested with a large amount of venison, but no hunting license. He also had the weapon used in the crime, a.44-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol. This item is the center of this story. It had been owned by a well known local resident, General Palmer!
       The El Paso County Sheriffs Office researched the case. The gun was clearly engraved on one side, “General Wm. J. Palmer,” and on the other side “D&RG RR.” A check with the Pioneers Museum revealed that its collection included a pistol identical except for one thing. It had an ivory grip, while the “crime” weapon had a wooden grip. This was not uncommon because ivory grips of any value would be replaced with more utilitarian wood.
       General Palmer had been gone for more than 30 years by this time, but the man accused in the shooting was not even that old. He reported that the pistol had belonged to his father, who was no longer alive.
       In the end, the young man must have kept the pistol. It has not been heard of since.
       To learn more, I contacted the museum. It seems that the guns had been made as a pair. The one belonging to the museum dates from the 1870s. It had been donated by the general's daughters in the museum's very early days.
       Who knows if the weapon in question still exists? If it does, it is quite valuable, but the chances of it having been destroyed are quite high. Not very many artifacts like this turn up, and it would be interesting to hear if the family is still around!

(Posted 5/15/17; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

       Would you like to respond to this column? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)