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Author Topic: Rifles at Fort Pitt  (Read 1887 times)
J.D.
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« on: October 12, 2009, 05:26:39 PM »

An short, but interesting article, on the Ohio Longrifle Collectors page, about guns, gunsmiths and trade, in general, at Fort Pitt in the years following the french withdrawal.

http://www.aolrc.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/vol-x-no-1-feb-1988.pdf

God bless and good reading
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G-Man
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2009, 05:45:19 PM »

I've seen that article before - interesting stuff. 

I always wondered about the date that Moses Henry relocated to what is now Ross County, Ohio (1769?).  Is that a typo, or does this imply that Baynton, Morgan and Wharton sent Henry west to establish a gunsmith shop/trade in the midst of the Shawnee villages in the lower Scioto Valley?  Other than military and trading posts, there really was no white settlement in Ohio at the time - it was well beyond the Proclamation Line.    In 1769, that area was pretty much the center of the Shawnee homeland with several large villages in the Scioto Valley, and lots of other villages nearby too - Mingo, Wyandot, and Delaware.  It would have been a fairly enticing place for a trading firm to set up operations, and given that Baynton, Morgan and Wharton were operating as far west as the Illinois country at the time, I guess the few hundred miles from Fort Pitt to the Scioto Valley by river, or even shorter trip by land, would not be overly difficult.

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J.D.
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2009, 10:51:11 PM »

Wasn't there a gunsmith operating in one of the NDN towns, prior to the french incursion into western PA? I'm thinking Venango in the late 1740's or early 1750's, but may be wrong about the location. 1747 seems to ring a bell.

If that smith was operating so far from the western edge of the frontier, at that early date, why wouldn't Henry travel to the Scioto Valley, provided there was adequate compensation?

From the trade companies perspective, it would be good business to have a gunsmith to repair NDN guns in or near a trading post. Or, it is possible that the NDN agency contracted with Bayton Whorton and Morgan to hire a gunsmith to repair and refurbish their arms in one of the larger  villages, especially in light of George Crohgan's "adventure to the Illinois Country". While that is speculation, that is a possibility worthy of research.

NDN agencies did hire gunsmiths specifically to repair guns for the local NDNs. Creamer in Southern Illinois comes to mind, in the very early 19th century. I believe that Hawken did repair work for the NDN agency, located in St. Louis, so that appears to be a fairly common practice, though at a later date.

I believe that the Proclamation line was designed to prevent settlement in the NDN country west of the Appalachian Mountains. Trading posts were exempt, or at least not bothered.

Interesting stuff, worthy of speculation and further research.

God bless
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G-Man
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2009, 07:44:36 AM »

It really is.  And the only reason he could have gone would be to supply/repair native guns - not really any other customers out there at the time!  Smiley  As you pointed out, the Proclamation Line was there to prevent uncontrolled settlement - the English still wanted to maintain control of trade with the natives and control of who got the best land, how it was parted out, etc.

The whole article is interesting, but that one line and date are the most fascinating to me.  Here in the Oho Valley,  there is sadly a lot of indifference to the rich native and colonial period history - most of it has been forgotten and paved over.  

(Did a little more checking - apparently Moses Henry is pretty well documented to have moved west into the Shawnee villages in the Scioto Valley, worked as a trader and gunsmith before the Revolution, and married  a woman who had been taken captive by the Shawnee years earlier.  He was noted as being there during a visit by a traveling British missionary who visited one of the "Chillicothe" village sites in 1773.)

I would love to read more about Moses Henry and what he did after setting up shop in Ross County - and whatever became of him.  Did he return east eventually?  Or did he live out his life in the area, or move with the Shawnee as they kept moving north and west to stay  beyond the encroachment of settlers in the years after the Revolution? I would also like to learn about any other gunsmiths who might have been working in the region prior to the Revolution.

Guy
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J.D.
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2009, 08:14:46 PM »

I found the notation mentioned in my last post, unfortunately, I didn't make note of the source.

Thomas Burney worked as a gunsmith & blacksmith at Muskingum in 1749, and Pickawilinay by 1750. A boring bit of for a  caliber smaller than would be normally  used for a smoothbore was recovered from the site of his shop at Pickawilinay.

I did find this article on the history of Pickawilinay, with a mention of Burney in the last paragraph of the article.

http://www.littleturtle.org/Pickawillany%20History.htm

Interesting stuff.

God bless
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wmrike
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2009, 10:10:35 AM »

What I found particularly interesting was the apparent fact that by this time the Indians, 100-150 years beyond solid contact with the Europeons,  had lost their flint knapping skills and were reliant on ready-made gunflints.  A loss of functional art.
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rich pierce
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2009, 02:03:34 PM »

An ancestor of mine, Myndert Wemp (the family name soon became Wemple) was a gunsmith to the Senecas in the 1750's.  The William Johnson papers document that the Seneca begged for a smith to come and live with them and repair their guns and kettles and tools.  Doesn't tell us anything about rifles, etc.  I think that in most cases frontier gunsmiths did repair work more than manufacturing of new guns, which couold more readily be made at the settlements easily reached by trade.
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St. Louis, Missouri
Bill
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2009, 09:29:32 PM »

What a terrific article! I just finished reading "Guns at the Forks" a couple and this article was certainly a welcome addition.
Bill Miller
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"Always carry a firearm east of Aldgate, Watson."
J.D.
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2009, 02:35:31 PM »

There are several good books on the history of the area surrounding Fort Pitt and parts west.

"The Ill Starred General" is a good one about Braddocks campaign, as is another one, whose title I  can't remember, at the moment.

"The Tuscarawas Valley in the Indian Days 1750-1797" is pretty good too. TVID is  a compilation of original journals and maps of the period. Good stuff.

God bless
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spgordon
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2009, 08:22:25 AM »

Hello.  I'm a new member to this forum, but I've written a bit on Moses Henry--you can find the article (with, unfortunately, a few sentences omitted when printed regarding his years at Vincennes) at: http://www.jacobsburg.org/images/jhs_march_2008.pdf  (it starts at p. 6).

I've discovered some new information about him since I wrote this, too. In August 1772, Moses Henry returned to Lancaster and, on the 15th, visited Lititz, where the Moravian minister wrote in the congregational diary: "In the last several days Br. Billy Henry was here with his brother for a visit. [His brother] is a gunsmith among the Shawnees, a 100 miles farther than Zekkelemukpechuenk."

I would be very interested, generally, to learn more about Moses Henry...

Happy Holidays,

Scott Gordon
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Curt J
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« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2009, 03:57:34 PM »

Fascinating stuff!
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projeeper
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« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2009, 01:32:09 PM »

there are still rifles at fort pitt in the meusem there,also at the hienz history center with the f&i war exhibt and at the carniage meusem and so much more pertaing to this time period
  pittsburgh isn,t that old smokey city that it used to be and it,s worth a stop for a day or two if your driving through western pa
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