I am researching one of the Wild Bunch, Will Carver, who is supposed to have been at the San Antonio Fair on October 1, 1900. Any information you may have specific to him being there, and also just general information regarding what there was for him and his cohorts to do at that particular year’s exhibition would be greatly appreciated.

If you happen to have any information about the Fort Worth Five picture taken a few weeks later, that would be welcome as well.

While prominent citizens from other cities - attorneys, military officers, newspaper editors and their families - were reported to have visited the 1900 San Antonio International Fair, if ex-cowboy and late-stage outlaw William Richard Carver was there he must have gone incognito.

Nicknamed “News” for his pleasure in reading of his exploits in the papers, Carver may very well have seen advertisements for the fair as early as June 1900, when organizers announced the dates, Oct. 20-Nov. 2, 1900.

A combination of a county fair and a trade show for U.S. and Mexican exhibitors, the annual San Antonio International Fair first was held in 1888 on 80 acres of leased ground 3 miles south of downtown on a site later known as Riverside Park.

The event was something of a fabulous wannabe: Each year, the hope was to make enough money on exhibitors’ fees and attendance to finance the next year’s fair, but the autumn dates almost guaranteed inclement weather for several days of the two-week run.

For the first few months of 1900, members of the fair association pressed their fellow business people for subscription money to spruce up the fair’s infrastructure — a new roof for the main exposition building, improvements to the grounds and new buildings for the Mexican exhibits and for additional restaurants. Without emergency funding, the city’s marquee event was threatened with yearly extinction.

To increase attendance, the fair association also worked with railroads to attract visitors from Central and South Texas and beyond with special, bargain-ticket prices. Within the city, extended streetcar and spur-line rail service shuttled fairgoers efficiently between downtown San Antonio and the fairgrounds.

Would Carver or any of his bank-and-train-robbing associates have wanted to attend? It seems possible, since the fair’s programming was intended to include something to appeal to all manner of interests.

If Carver might not have had much interest in prize needlework or the Best Baby contest, he might have wanted to see Alamo Iron Works drilling an artesian well on the premises, a local electric company’s light-up model of an all-electrified city, an art exhibit with some “attractive Texas cowboy pictures,” band concerts or even the militia units conducting precision drills. At many of the exhibits, visitors could get collectible badges or other free souvenirs.

As a onetime dollar-a-day hand at the Sixes or T Half-Circle Ranch near Sonora, Carver might have taken a professional interest in the livestock exhibits — prize cattle kept in 20 “stables” with 21 stalls each. A U.S. government fisheries exhibit showed off prime specimens of all kinds of game fish in glass-sided tanks, and a sideshow promised to present only “moral entertainment,” which might imply there was some question about that.

To fuel a daylong visit, there were tablecloth-and-china restaurants and saloons with a full bar, as well as stands selling hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and beer.

At the time of the San Antonio fair, Carver probably still had some of his three-way share of the loot from the Sept. 19, 1900, robbery of the First National Bank in Winnemucca, Nev. Visitors to the fair with a taste for gambling could play roulette or other games or bet on an all-day series of races, matching anything on hooves (horses, ponies and mules), sometimes in combination with something on wheels (wagons, carriages, traps). High-dollar purses (up to $400 for the first prize) were awarded several times a day, as enthusiasts cheered from the bleachers.

During the fair, there also were night attractions: a re-enactment of the Battle of San Juan Hill (a July 1, 1898, engagement in the Spanish-American War) in San Pedro Springs Park, ending with a fireworks display depicting Robert E. Lee and other historical figures; and a touring play based on “The Sorrows of Satan,” originally a best-selling book, at the Grand Opera House.

Members of the Wild Bunch, a loose confederation of outlaws overlapping with the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, also were known to have visited Fannie Porter’s house of prostitution at Durango Boulevard and San Saba Street in San Antonio’s Red Light District.

By the time the famous group photograph was taken, five of the so-called Wild Bunch - who weren’t especially violent in the commission of their crimes - were residents in another vice district, Hell’s Half Acre in Fort Worth.

Carver and others were staying in a hotel above a grocery store at 1014½ Main St. in Fort Worth, just a few blocks away from the upstairs studio at 705½ Main St., where photographer John Swartz specialized in formal portraits and was running a special, offering 12 prints for $1.75, at the time.

For whatever reason Carver, with Harry “the Sundance Kid” Longabaugh, Ben “the Tall Texan” Kilpatrick, Robert Leroy “Butch Cassidy” Parker and Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, decided to get their picture taken together. Prints made later are labeled Nov. 21, 1900, either the date of the sitting or when the prints were ready.

Dressed up in what look like new clothes, the men are shown in front of a studio backdrop. Only three of them (Carver, Parker and Longabaugh) are thought to have been in on the Winnemucca job, and the five are not known to have participated in any other together.

It’s not known when or if the outlaws picked up their prints, but at least one was on display when Charles R. Scott, chief detective of the Fort Worth Police Department, stopped by the photo studio. Before easy-to-use cameras were widely available, Swartz had the contract to take mug shots for the Fort Worth Police Department. It was part of Scott’s job to bring detainees to the studio for their photo sessions and to pick up the prints when they were ready.

When he saw the Wild Bunch portrait, he recognized Carver, Logan and Kilpatrick from Wells Fargo circulars about the 1899 robbery of the Texas Flyer train near Folsom, New Mexico Territory. He asked the photographer for prints and shared them with the Pinkerton detective agency, also looking for the men in the photo. From then on, their pictures were distributed widely to public and private law-enforcement, and one by one, the Wild Bunch would be captured or killed on the basis of that identification.

Carver may have been among those who came back to San Antonio and enjoyed a “going-away party” given in February 1901 by Madame Porter, who was interviewed by a Pinkerton detective, according to the entry about her in the Handbook of Texas.

A few months later, Carver was with George Kilpatrick (Ben’s brother) in Sonora, probably casing a bank, when he was recognized by a saloon bartender who reported them to the sheriff. A posse showed up just as Carver and Kilpatrick were about to buy feed for their horses at a bakery. One of them may have reached for a gun, or maybe one of the sheriff’s men was spooked by their reputation, but shooting erupted. Kilpatrick survived; Carver didn’t.

Carver’s “personal effects were auctioned off to pay for burial expenses in the Sonora Cemetery,” wrote Bill Hodges in “ The End of Will Carver ” on the Bullock Museum website, thestoryoftexas.com. “The excess money was sent to his family who erected the gravestone that includes only the date of his death, April 2, 1901.”