The Dalton Gang

post mortem photography skull illusion dalton gang

This post mortem photograph was flagged up on the Skull’s Facebook page by a reader who thought it would be worth including here. As I said at the time – although I had seen the photo before, I’d always been unsure as to whether it should be classed as a post mortem photo, at least in the way such pictures are generally perceived.

Most post mortem or memento mori images were created to be just that – a memento of a lost loved one. Whereas this photograph of the Dalton Gang is almost a trophy – proof that the lawmen (eventually) won out. They’re being photographed to prove a point, not out of respect. On the other hand, a gun is laid symbolically across them – I wonder if it’s one of theirs, or whether it belonged to whoever killed them?

I’d also be interested to know if there’s a reason for them being laid out without their boots on – anyone?

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4 Responses to The Dalton Gang

  1. Squeaky says:

    I think taking their boots off was a way of dissing them. As far as I understand it, to “Die with your boots on” was a badge of honour – it shows you died in battle, or at least as a man of vitality and strength, not in bed from sicknesses, weakness bought on by age, or possibly cowardice.

  2. Heather says:

    Yes, the removal of their boots was a way of dishonoring them.

  3. Catherine M says:

    I have commented on this exact photograph on another site, saying that disrespect [I even used the ''dissing'' term!]was most likely the reason- there was a book called ”Bury me in my Boots” about the London Homeless – I was obsessed with WW1, and there is a wonderful book called ”All Quiet on the Western Front”, where a pair of soft leather boots had a lot of value, and when their soldier owner died of injuries in a field hospital, the boots were taken. Boots had value, even ones that had conformed to the feet of another man.

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