I found a portrait of my great-great grandfather holding a cocked revolver, circa 1870s. Was that common?
Your great-great grandfather was most likely posing in a photo gallery with an unloaded pistol. The photographer might have provided the gun, as well as the clothing. There are many similar portrait photos from that period. We can’t imagine anyone posing for a photograph holding a loaded, cocked revolver.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at email@example.com.