Texas Gun Collectors Association


Send to Geo. Converse were the words written by Bat Masterson in his 7 March 1882 letter from Trinidad, Colorado to the Colt Manufacturing Company. The reader may ponder over who George Converse was and why was Bat Masterson ordering him a Colt Single Action Army revolver just like the one he had received weeks earlier? I have, I believe, uncovered the answers to these questions during my research for this article. George Converse was born near White Oak Township, Henry County, Missouri in 1850. As young men, He and his brother, Washington, could handle an axe and would cut up cord-wood to sell to the steamboats traveling in the area. Seeking adventure, George left home in his early twenties and like many young frontiersman of the day, headed west. He went through Texas and little is known of his exploits there, but he must have made an impression because he obtained the nickname of ‘Texas George’. In his late twenties he herded Mexican burros to southern Colorado to pay for his trip. Arriving in Alamosa, Colorado and having been on the trail for many months, Texas George decided to relax a little in one of the many saloons. It appears that Texas George might have antagonized one of the locals―perhaps the smell of burro led to a few derogatory comments and the fight was on. He apparently won most handily, and the victory over one of the towns not-so- respected citizens, was noticed by the town authorities. One of those authorities was Alva Adams, hardware store owner and later Governor of the State from 1887-89, and again from 1897-99. A common occurrence in the old west was that only the strong prevailed, and thus it was that Texas George asked to take the position of city Marshal. It was said that he kept the turbulent element in the town in check


as long as he occupied that position. Alva Adams and Texas George remained friends for many years and were involved in mining operations and other business deals. It appears that some of Texas George’s ‘business deals’ may have involved gambling. On a visit to Santa Fe, he decided to play faro and came out the big winner, sharing his winnings and providing stakes to locals so that everyone was a winner. His loyalty to his home state of Missouri paid off when he bet on Little Casino, a horse from Sedalia, Missouri, against Red Buck, from Saguache, Colorado on 21 August 1880. Texas George may not have been well known in the lore of the west nor had Ned Buntline ever written a dime novel about him, but he could count among his friends, the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, Shotgun Collins, Luke Short and all the rest. Among his exploits, he had been a business partner of Bat Masterson at one time, and he had helped to round up stage robbers and cattle rustlers from the time of Billy the Kid. In December 1893, George Converse and Bat Masterson passed through Sedalia, Missouri on their way to Hot Springs, Arkansas. After a short visit there, they proceeded to Jacksonville, Florida to witness the Mitchell and Corbett prizefight. Both were admirers of Mitchell, the Englishman and probably returned to Colorado busted, after Corbett won with a knockout after 12 minutes of boxing. George moved to Florida for his health in later years and lived near Anastasia Island. After a very interesting career as a frontiersman, burro herder, lawman, gambler, miner and Colorado businessman, Texas George Converse hung up his hat for the final time in 1929 and is buried in Volusia County, FL. My search to find out who George Converse was began when, earlier this year, I received a Colt Archive letter on a firearm in my possession, a .45 caliber, 43⁄4” nickel single action army revolver with ivory stocks. This letter confirmed the configuration and indicated the gun was shipped 16 March 1882 to George Converse, address


unavailable. Several random searches on the internet had not turned up anything and then one day as I was reading A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver, by Graham, Kopec and Moore, something jumped out at me. Quoted in the book were several letters from Bat Masterson to Colt, ordering single action revolvers during the time frame from 1882 to 1885. I paid special attention to the one written on 7 March 1882, from Trinidad, Colorado:
Gents please duplicate the 45 caliber pistol you recently sent me and forward C.O.D. to this place immediately have the sight made exactly as the one on mine. Send to Geo. Converse. (emphasis added) Respectfully, Yours, W. B. Masterson.
Another Bat Masterson letter written on 25 March 1882, ordering another pistol like this one for another gentleman, ended with this statement:
...the one sent Converse (emphasis added) arrived this A.M. and is satisfactory.
So now I had an order date and a receiving date and my shipping date was right in the middle. There is no doubt that the George Converse I described above is the one for whom Bat Masterson was ordering the .45 Colt on March 7, 1882; however, the question remained—is this the same George Converse as named in my letter? The timing speaks for itself and is, in my opinion, much more than a major coincidence. The configuration of my gun is identical to the one that was shipped from Colt pm February 14, 1882 to Bat Masterson. Unfortunately, the front sight on my gun appears to have been altered or replaced, so the special higher and thicker sight ordered by Masterson cannot be confirmed.

The most compelling argument that this was the same George Converse came from a simple notation made by a Colt employee at the bottom of George’s letter of March 7, 1882; the notation indicated receipt of the letter on the 14th of March and that the gun would be shipped in two or three days. This would confirm that shipping occurred on either the 16th or 17th of March 1882, my gun shipped March 16, 1882. Conjecture leads me


to believe that upon seeing the Colt that Bat Masterson had received earlier that year, Texas George exclaimed something like, “I want one like that”. The best way to explain this is a quote from the aforementioned book, A Study...:
At this point one might begin to wonder if William Barclay Masterson’s careers as Buffalo Hunter, Lawman, Saloon Operator and Gambler might have been secondary occupations. He could have done very well for himself as a Colt Factory Sales Representative.

  • Sedalia Weekly Democrat, December 29, 1893
  • The Kansas City Globe, October 17, 1913
  • Chicago Tribune, 21 January 1894
  • Colt Manufacturing Company, LLC, Hartford, Connecticut - Archival Service
  • A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver; Graham, Kopec and Moore; Taylor Publishing Co., Dallas, Texas; 1976; ISBN-9780961523619 The Texas Gun Collector 60 SprFinalgl 200185
  • Masterson Letters to Samuel Colt 7 March 1882 & 25 March 1882; RG 103 Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company Records; circa 1810-1980, Series 3, Box 14, State Archives, Connecticut State Library.

About the Author

Tommy has been a member of the TGCA for a number of years, is a life member of the NRA, TSRA and the ABKA. He is better known for his collection of Civil War Firearms, Bowies and images. He previously authored an article on one of his identified Confederate Bowie Knives, The McCuistion Brothers Bowie, in the Spring 2000 issue of The Texas Gun Collector. He is a retired Civil Engineer and resides in Rowlett, Texas and can be found most weekends prowling flea markets and gun shows looking for treasures.