View Full Version : Cactus Jack

Dr Charlie
July 21, 2008, 12:50 PM
I own a Colt SA that Bannerman converted from 44-40 to 22 around the turn of the century. Enscribed on the cylinder is Jack De Motte alias Cactus Jack.
Have you heard of him? This is old engraving and is fairly well done.

July 24, 2008, 07:10 PM
I'll need to do some research, but I think he's mentioned in the book "The Crow Killer". It's the story of famed mountain man "Liver Eating" John Johnson and his exploits. Robert Redfords movie "Jeremiah Johnson" was based on it. Many of these characters had colorful names and personalities to match. Liver Eatin' Johnson died around 1899.

July 25, 2008, 07:39 AM
Boy, I would say that determining the significance of the engraving without any provenance is gonna be alot of problems. SOme of the specialist Colt collector forums might have some insight but it would maybe require the gun to be inspected in person by some expert. Without any documentation it might require someone with arcane or obscure knowledge to give any kind of answer and without that, I think you might find several opinions at opposition about it. But it sure sounds like a collectable item, in any case. If it looks like it would be worth it, a clue to the origins could be a Colt factory letter which would at least supply you with a starting point, but at considerable expense.

July 25, 2008, 08:01 PM
I thought 'Hatchet Jack' was the character that was portrayed in Jeremiah (Liver Eatin) Johnson.

James K
July 26, 2008, 11:06 PM
This doesn't answer the question, but the name "Motte" triggered an old memory and maybe this will help explain the difficulty in researching those kinds of markings.

I once saw a Luger at a gun shop with the backstrap engraved "Feldmarschall Johann von Mott." The shop owner wanted some fabulous price for the genuine German war souvenir taken from a Field Marshal. But the name Mott is not German, it is one of those north of England double-consonant names (ex: Diana Rigg, Ian Hogg).

Having access to a very good library at the time, I found a list of all German field marshals from the mid-19th century on. No Mott. Then I checked "Wer ist Wer", the German Who's Who, and "Wer war Wer" or Who Was Who. No Mott. So I tried the telephone book and started to call the four or five Motts listed. The second one was a John Mott, a gun "nut" with whom I later became friends. It had been his Luger, and another friend had had it engraved as a joke. He later sold the gun. I told him where it was, but he wasn't interested, having taken up varmint rifles.

So those markings might mean a valuable collector item. Or not.


July 26, 2008, 11:51 PM
Probably a CAS shooter.

July 27, 2008, 04:20 PM
I wonder if it is something he recently got or if it has been in the family for 75 years. That proves nothing but perhaps if old heirloom takes it out of the arena of modern spurious markings, perhaps.

July 27, 2008, 08:29 PM
Haven't had time to dig up my copy of the "Crow Killer"....the old mountain men would have rendezvous each year, there was a whole list of colorful names that attended. Jack De Motte sounds like it would be French, which many of the early trappers and mountain men were.

July 27, 2008, 08:41 PM
I remember reading a bio or seeing a movie about Wyatt Earp that had a man called Cactus Jack that rode with him briefly.