For decades the whereabouts of this magnificent artifact have been a mystery to Western historians – until now.
To clear the record first: A common misconception is that Isam Dart was really an outlaw named “Ned Huddleston” who ran with the “Tip Gault Gang”. None of this is true. For another post on Isam’s real story, see Museum Marvel #21
In 2016 the museum acquired Isam Dart’s leather cuffs – he was wearing them when murdered in 1900 by infamous gun-for-hire, Tom Horn. The exhaustive research to assure the cuff’s authenticity led to a 1960s archive of a Denver reporter’s notes. One note casually referred to “Mrs. Stanton” owning the original Isam Dart tintype photo.
Who was Mrs. Stanton? Why did she have Isam’s original photo? Where was she now?!
The museum discovered that a Bess Stanton had passed away in Utah in 1974 with no heirs. Interestingly, Mrs. Stanton was born in 1887 to the Allens – early settlers in Brown’s Park, CO where Isam lived and died. But what ever happened to Bess’ belongings?
Remarkably we found Bess’ attorney still practicing law. The attorney remembered that Bess’ friend Dick Bennett was the executor of her estate. Though the Bennetts had also passed away, they had a daughter alive and well – Joan Radosevich. She and husband Alex had also been longtime residents of Brown’s Park.
Upon identifying Joan, a phone call was quickly placed with a simple question: “Do you happen to own a photo of a black cowboy named Isam Dart”? The rest is history.
Joan and Alex recently donated an entire binder of items once owned by Mrs. Stanton to the museum. It contains not only the Isam tintype, but other highly significant items including 2 handwritten letters by Matt Warner – Butch Cassidy’s right hand man. In one letter Matt even talks about Tom Horn trying to kill him as well!
So what do we know about the Isam photo? In 1890 Isam skipped bail while awaiting trial in Hahns Peak, CO for arson. He laid low in Denver for a couple of years where he had his picture taken by African American photographer John Green. Isam then mailed it to his friends, Bess’ parents, the Allens. Written on the original tintype sleeve in Bess’ hand is: “Given to John C. Allen and wife around 1892”.