July 4, 1878

On the Fourth of July, 1878, Texas Jack joined Doctor Carver for a shooting exhibition in Deerfoot Park, Brooklyn, New York.



From the New York Sun, July 5, 1878.




At three P.M. yesterday, Dr. Carver stepped to the front of the little shed, near the centre of Deerfoot Park. Four Winchester rifles lay on a table to the right. The famed Texas Jack and Col. Fletcher, of San Francisco, briskly shoved bullets into the rifles, supplying themselves from a strong rug carpet-bag on the table. A barrel of glass balls, stood thirty-five feet away. The Doctor picked up a rifle and took a position near the table. The spectators spread out in two long wings on each side.


Carver's long auburn hair was thrown behind his ears. He wore dark pantaloons, lapped over his boots, a soft, white flannel shirt, his light-colored sombrero, and a glazed belt, with a gold buckle, nearly as large as a railroad frog. His right hand was covered with a grimy buckskin glove, and the corner of a blue silk handkerchief peered from the pocket of his shirt. A white silk scarf encircled his neck, and was fastened to his bosom by the diamond-eyed and ruby-nostriled gold horse's head presented to him after breaking fifty successive glass balls while riding a horse at full speed in California. The magnificent badge given by his friends in San Francisco, on Washington's birthday, after the breaking of eight hundred and eighty-five balls out of a possible one thousand, swung from his left breast.


At the Doctor's request Col. Fletcher tossed several glass balls in the air, for the purpose of putting him in trim. The most of them were shattered as though struck by lightning. There were four or five misses, but from twenty to thirty were broken before the Doctor stopped shooting. “Throw them up as high as you can — higher, higher”’ said the Doctor; and up they went, eighty or ninety feet, and were broken on the turn. Each ball was filled with feathers, and as the glass was shattered the feathers floated off on the wind.


The Doctor then tried to shoot thrice, reloading his gun twice while a ball was in the air, and break it at the third shot. He did it on the third trial. Half of the ball fell among the spectators behind him. Texas Jack said, “Dead bird, but fell out of bounds.” This drew a laugh from the usually saturnine Doctor.

The work of the day was begun. What had been done was mere by-play. One hundred balls were thrown into the air alternately, and they melted away like magic. The Doctor shattered ninety-one out of the hundred. As fast as each rifle was emptied of its score of balls he laid it upon the table and seized a fresh gun. He shot faster than Texas Jack could load. The balls were hurled in the air from fifteen to eighteen yards in front of the Doctor. The hot rifles were handed to an attendant, who set them in a tub of water, and sponged them off like horses. They were then wiped out and handed to Texas Jack, who reloaded them.


After again successfully trying his triple shot, a ball was tossed skyward and broken by the Doctor, who aimed and discharged the rifle with one hand. He then began to call for trade dollars. Several were thrown into the air, and promptly chopped by the Doctor's bullets. Some were sent spinning a hundred yards, and it was amusing to see the crowd start, after them before they fell. A Peruvian Sol was chipped. Texas Jack matched the Peruvian with a Mexican dollar. Pointing to the cap of liberty in the centre, he shouted, “Knock out that cap, Doctor.” The dollar was sent above the heads of the spectators, the rifle cracked, and Jack flew after the metal. It had a hole through the centre, and the liberty cap was taken out as neatly as though cut out by a chisel. Nothing but the rays of the sun remained. A quarter was flipped up and shot out of sight. Jack said he saw it going a long way off. “It turned sideways,” said he, “and dropped in the edge of the grass,” pointing to a patch of timothy over one hundred yards away. Its owner was chagrined, for he wanted it as a memento. A five-cent nickel glistened in the sunlight, and was snuffed out like a candle. A cent followed it with a ‘pi-i-ing’ that vibrated on the drum of the ear like the twang of a guitar string.


Mr. Haynes then announced that the Doctor would break a hundred balls on time. The four rifles were loaded, and a man detailed to assist Texas Jack in keeping them loaded. A boy stepped to the barrel and handed the balls to Col. Fletcher, who kept them in the air as fast as he could throw them. The Doctor stood as though carved in stone. The rifle was raised and fired. A quick jerk downward with the right hand popped the empty shell in his face, and a second shot was heard. Eighteen glass balls were broken as quick as a lazy man could clap his hands eighteen times. Then a ball was missed: There was another long run of dead shots, followed by two misses. One hundred and eight balls were broken in three minutes and fifty-three seconds. The time would have been even better, were it not for an awkward balk with one of the rifles. This is the best time ever made by the Doctor, beating his Boston time over forty seconds. He discharged the rifles faster than two men could load them.


Col. Fletcher then stood a hundred paces away, and began to hurl glass balls at the Doctor's head. The Doctor missed the first two, and then shattered four in succession. They were thrown with such force that the broken pieces were showered upon Carver's broad-brimmed sombrero. During this scene two martins darted across his vision, and quick as thought he blazed away, but missed them.

Col. Fletcher then hurled a bail in the sky with all his force. It went up like a rocket, and began a beautiful curve a hundred feet above Carver's head. He kept his feet, bent himself backward in the shape of a bow, drew the rifle to his eye, and shivered the glass into a million of fragments. A handful of feathers appeared and sailed away upon the air like the fiery drippings of an exploded rocket.

After this feat the Doctor discarded the rifle for a Parker shotgun. Col. Fletcher stood thirty yards distant, and threw the balls away beyond him. They were broken repeatedly at from seventy to eighty yards. After several trials the Doctor broke at that distance two balls thrown in the air at the same time. He repeated this feat three times.


A heavy ball made of bell metal, Col. Fletcher's invention, so constructed that it would ring whenever a shot touched it, was rolled in the air. The Doctor rang it fifteen times twice before it reached the ground. These shots were made at a distance of from fifty to sixty yards. The Doctor then retired.

The most of the spectators rushed for the cars, more than satisfied. The Doctor drew on his coat, and quietly drank two glasses of sarsaparilla. He takes nothing stronger.


After a half hour’s rest he raised a rifle without removing his coat, and asked his friend Texas Jack to pitch up something while he emptied the gun. Jack tossed up a peanut at fifteen feet, and the Doctor shot off the end. A ginger snap was split in twain. The cover of a paper box was propped on the ground fifty feet away. The Doctor discharged his rifle from the hip, and promptly put two bullets through it. He afterward broke three soda-bottles at the same distance, shooting in the same manner; but he made many misses while blazing at the bottles. All the bullets, however, struck the ground within three inches of them. Many persons think that the Doctor takes no aim while shooting from the hip. This is a mistake, for the manner in which he runs his eye along the barrel, gazes at the sight, and takes in the object in view, shows that he seeks a correct angle before pulling the trigger. In shooting on the wing he takes sight without shutting either eye. This attracted the attention of a stranger yesterday. “Why do you aim with both eyes open, Doctor?” he inquired.


“Oh, it's a habit I acquired on the Plains,” responded the Doctor. “When shooting deer, I kept one eye open for the deer and the other one open for Indians!”


After the hip-shooting, the Doctor seemed attacked with a rifle fever. He blazed away at anything. Two pocket match-boxes were spun into the air and knocked into smithereens. A gentleman threw up a blue lead-pencil, and it fell to the ground in two pieces. A black pencil met the same fate. A lusty bumble-bee hummed over the sward, and the Doctor greeted it with a bullet that out-hummed the insect, for the bee flew off at a tangent, and took the ground in a bee line. The Doctor had shot away its wing. One of the most surprising shots was at a rifle cartridge. It was struck the first time at twenty-five feet, and the shell knocked off. Carver drove the bullet through the air with the second shot. A silver three-cent piece was wiped out on the second trial. An enthusiastic genius wobbled his pocket-book sky-ward, and it came down with a hole in it. There was a general laugh when it was discovered that the man had forgotten to take the money out of it.


A folded copy of The Sun went up, and came down pierced. On unfolding it twenty-five holes were found in the paper. Texas Jack threw up two bricks. There were two reports, and the spectators were covered with brick-dust. The Doctor broke a brick, reloaded his gun, and shot one of the detached pieces to atoms while in the air. He also shot off the neck of a soda-bottle while in the air, recharged his rifle, and shattered the bottle before it fell.


This last feat was so surprising that a gentlemanly Spaniard, wearing a diamond on his shirt-front blazing like a star, expressed his unbounded admiration. “I know how to shoot very nice,” said he. “I see these things. I hardly don't believe it.”


Col. Fletcher then threw up a fence picket endwise. A bullet pierced its centre. Again it was launched into the atmosphere. A second bullet went through the hole made by the first. The picket was kept in the air, and in seven shots the Doctor cut it in two pieces. A negro with a buck saw could not have done better.


Mr. J. T. Hill, one of Col. Berdan’s sharpshooters, picked up a piece of lath six inches long, stood forty feet away, and asked the Doctor to shoot it out of his hand. Carver did so. Then Texas Jack held up a shingle, and seven bullets were sent through it so close together that they made a hole large enough for a rat to jump through. Hill then held up an exploded cartridge, and the Doctor shot it from between his thumb and forefinger. Hill had never seen the Doctor until yesterday, but after witnessing his shooting said that he would not hesitate to “hold up a fly by the hind legs, and let him rip away at it.”


When the writer left Deerfoot Park, twilight was approaching; but the fever was still on the Doctor. Texas Jack and he were shooting at silver quarters with a revolver that looked as though it might be owned by a German shoemaker. In this match Texas Jack was holding his own. Quarters were struck every minute, and sent bounding into the air, to the delight of a dozen little urchins who were hopeful of picking up the stray ones.


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