Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 27
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Of the original 300-piece collection, I have managed to acquire
100 Schwend guns, some complete and functional, some just rusty
barrels. Thankfully, the wax museum inventoried the entire collec-
tion including serial numbers and photographs. The museum's data,
along with Schwend family personal records, makes identification
much easier whenever a likely candidate surfaces. I have been for-
tunate enough to find and acquire most of the collection's famous
pieces, although a few have eluded me. A couple of the most prized
weapons that I have been able to restore to the Schwend Collection
are Bat Masterson's Colt single-action .45 caliber revolver and out-
law Frank James' Colt 1860 Army .44 caliber revolver.
Bat Masterson, who had retired from his life as a lawman, gam-
bler, and gunslinger, had heard through mutual friends of Deputy
Henry Harrison Schwend's passion for collecting weapons and gave
the Colt .45 to the deputy as a gift.
The Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver was dropped
by Frank James in an early 1880's brush with Missouri law enforce-
ment and was subsequently given to Harrison Schwend. The gun
was one of the first in the collection. Years later, James met with
Schwend during a stay in Henrietta and presented him with a hol-
ster and coin purse that belonged to his brother, Jesse James. The
holster was destroyed in the fire, but the coin purse's metal parts
survived and are part of the collection.
Unfortunately, there are very few remaining Schwend guns
to be found in the states. When I met with the insurance com-
pany folks in 1991, I learned that roughly half of the guns were
lost in the fire, and those firearms were dumped into the landfill
with what was left of the museum. The remaining 150 weapons
were sold at auction by the insurance company in 1989. More
than 50 of the auctioned guns were bought by one man and re-
sold in France and Germany. I created the Schwend Gun Collec-
tion website, www.schwendguns.us, a few years back in hope that
I might attract some international interest in my search. Although
the website has generated a number of emails here in the states,
none of those leads can be linked directly to the original collection,
and I have not had any web responses from overseas, which has
been a huge disappointment.
I have been working on a book about my family's old gun col-
lection using family documents, photographs, historic materials,
and Southwestern Historical Wax Museum records. I would like
to have the manuscript completed by the September 2010 Pioneer
Reunion in Henrietta, an event that I attend every three or four
years to exhibit the Schwend Collection at the old 1890 jail. My
hope is to introduce the book at that event and donate part of the
proceeds to the Clay County Historical Society. The organization
owns the 1890 jail and did a spectacular job of renovating the build-
ing, which is now their museum and research center. My great-uncle
Harrison spent quite a few of his peace-keeping days working in and
around this historic jailhouse, and my being there with his collection
seems especially appropriate. -Edited by Pam Murtha
Opposite page, top: Selby Schwend is pictured with an exhibit that he created
showcasing surviving weapons from his family's gun collection. Bottom: This his-
toric photo shows B.P. Schwend, of Henrietta, with a gun collection that he helped
assemble. That 300-piece collection was eventually sold for $3,000 to a Wichita Falls
This page, top: Bat Masterson's single-action, .45 caliber Colt revolver, is one of the
prized weapons in the collection, according to Schwend. Below: A Colt Model 1860
Army percussion revolver that once belonged to outlaw Frank James is also part of
the Schwend Collection.
HERITA GE Volume 2 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/27/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.