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General discussion => Antique Gun Collecting => Topic started by: A.Merrill on October 21, 2010, 06:29:21 AM

Title: Guns in walls
Post by: A.Merrill on October 21, 2010, 06:29:21 AM
    Why did people put guns in the walls when they built their homes? I know of four that has been found while tearing down old houses.    AL
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Mike R on October 21, 2010, 03:41:24 PM
Do you live north or south of the Mason-Dixon?   In the south some hid their guns from confiscation by the conquoring Union Army and vindictive Reconstuction governments.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: nord on October 21, 2010, 03:42:13 PM
I can't answer but I can add...

I own a F&I map horn owned by one Ebenezer Seeley. It would appear that he was too old to serve in the Revolution but his sons did. After the war they moved up the Chemung valley with one brother settling in the Elmira area and the other in the Lawerenceville, PA area. Whether Ebenezer ever made it here I don't know, but I believe not.

In any case I happened on a Seeley family member and shared with him about the horn. He, in turn, told me what he knew of the family history and that the original homestead is standing today and still owned by the family. He further stated that family tradition maintains that somewhere hidden in a wall of the home lies the rifle used in the Revolution. Possibly Ebenezer's rifle or possibly something a bit later.

So many additions and changes to the home. Walls moved, closets or  covered over, and I believe a fireplace totally hidden if I recall correctly. Imagine (if it exists) having that gun within inches of you for years on end without knowing it's there.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Fullstock longrifle on October 21, 2010, 03:43:16 PM
I've heard several stories through the years of old guns being found hidden in the walls of an old house.  The best one was about a Patterson Colt that was packed in grease and wrapped in a rag.  Of course nobody had actually seen the Patterson, but they had heard about it.  I always chalked it up to being an urban myth.  I would be interested in hearing stories from people who have actually made such a discovery.

Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Sequatchie Rifle on October 21, 2010, 04:18:02 PM
My Father was involved in moving an old log house in Warren County, Tennessee in the early 1970's.  When they began disasembling it the found a Confederate Dispatch Pouch contain letters/reports and a Colt Pocket Model still loaded.  Our neighbor growing up found an old "muzzleloader" in his grandparents attic that was still loaded.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Levy on October 21, 2010, 05:21:09 PM
A number of years ago I had the opportunity to clean an 1860 Model Colt that was found in the walls of the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine, FL.  It was still loaded and in the original holster.  it was completely seized up and had been coated many times with laquer by the finder.  I was able to free everything up and get it back into operating condition, but not firing condition.  It is now on display in the Museum of Florida History.  The State bought it.  A friend of mine was digging around in a collapsed barn and found a musket that was driven into the ground muzzle first by the collapse.  Half of all the firearms that have been brought into our Conservation lab have been loaded (including shipwreck cannons).  One cannon was loaded with a ball and a barshot.

James Levy
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: woodsrunner on October 21, 2010, 06:01:22 PM
James Levy has to have one of the most interesting jobs a firearms fancier could have! I always get a big "charge" out of going by and seeing him at the Lab!

When I was a kid growing up, my Grandfather who reared me had an old 1863 Springfield Musket converted to a trap door that he kept hidden under the floor boards in the attic. It was a rifle that his Father, a former battery captain in the Confederate Army, had taken from a Union soldier guarding a polling place in Barbour County, (Eufaula) Alabama during the Great Election Riot of 1872. My Grandfather considered it stolen US government property, and was afraid that he would get into trouble if it were ever found out....even as late as the 1960's! Unfortunately he died while I was out on the North Atlantic riding one of those long pointy things painted haze gray in the "Union Navy" ;D and the old trap door disappeared before I could get home  :'(
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: projeeper on October 21, 2010, 07:13:21 PM
back in 1962 my parents bought a house with a big coal furnace while helping my dad remove it at the age of 7 in the rafters he found 2 longrifles both were flint with the flints still in the hammers!
 what became of them???????
 recently a friend of mine bought an old farmhouse in mecer county pa and found a trapdoor springfield and an engraved metal powder carrier in the cellar.oh it still had powder in it.
 years ago in the woods behind my dads camp in kelletville pa there was an old rifle in a fork of a tree that the tree had grown around and was about 15 feet up if it,s still there ??? maybe i,ll take my grandson for a look see.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Shreckmeister on October 21, 2010, 07:28:53 PM
Maybe they were like me and had to hide them so they wouldn't have to
explain buying them to their wives.   More seriously, I think most were
hidden to prevent theft while the owner was away from premises, perhaps
used in a murder.  In other words there are probably a thousand reasons.
    My uncle bought an old farmhouse in Gastown PA.  Tucked in the rafters
were over 50 letters from a civil war soldier to his mother.  He let a "historian"  take them to look at and the magically disappeared.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Tom Moore on October 21, 2010, 07:49:46 PM
My aunt bought a house in San Diego and found an 1851 Foot Officers Sword in the attic. Sent it to my father and I still have it. He found a 1/2 full bottle of rum in the attic of our old house. I'm not sure which he liked better!! ;D
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: lexington1 on October 21, 2010, 08:58:12 PM
I bought an 1876 Winchester from an older gentleman who said that he had found it in a mine shaft here in the mountains in Montana in the 30's.  When I bought it, he had made it into a lamp by screwing the buttstock to a base and running a cord through the barrel with a lamp at the end  :o

Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: T*O*F on October 21, 2010, 10:37:28 PM
The design of many of those old houses was such that the walls were accessible from the attic.  Guns could be lowered down into the walls from above and often had a cord attached to retrieve them.

Guys around here used to search old abandoned farm houses and such with metal detectors looking for "hits" within the walls and then recover the artifacts within.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Al Lapp on October 22, 2010, 12:58:40 AM
Quite a few years ago a fellow was tearing down a building in old china town and found a Colt Frontier six shooter (44 black powder model) wrapped in an oily rag on a beam in the basement. My friend got it. I should have bought it when I had the chance, but bought a U.S. colt s.a.a. built in 1875 (early). Couldn't afford them both at the time. That old colt had over 90 % finish. It went somewhere in the States.   Al
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: keweenaw on October 22, 2010, 06:21:27 PM
I put away a pair of binoculars for safe keeping when I was going to be away from home for some time.  Took years for me to find them - after I had bought a new pair to replace them.

Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Dennis Glazener on October 22, 2010, 08:41:08 PM
John Singleton Mosby was born in a home just up the road from where I now live. Several years ago the house was open for Garden Home week. A descendant was a docent there and told my wife and I that the home had been dissembled in order to move it to its present site. When this was done a full Union uniform was found between the floor boards of the first and second floor. It was assumed by the family to have been one that he wore on spy missions to the north.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: George on October 22, 2010, 10:14:54 PM
The Colt Patterson posting caught my eye.Two partners Steve and ? have a Civil War Museum in Bardstown Ky.They had a Patterson,Rapped in grease and in a rag found in a log cabin wall.A gunsmith,whom some of you may know Lloyd Gammon,now deceased,who used to have the booth in the sheep shed next to Jim Johnson at Friendship had it "restoring it" when I saw it,and was told the story.
I also bought a 1836 waters converted with a drum,from a picker that was found in a house being renovated on Florida Street in Mobile Al. so it does happen
Hope a lot of others come to light
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: mr. no gold on October 23, 2010, 12:44:25 AM
And speaking of San Diego-a lady bought an early craftsman style house in the community of El Cajon 20 years ago. The house had a second floor and a sealed attic. When she finally entered the attic she found a large collection of antique guns which had been sealed up and left. I heard about the find too late as the collection had been taken up to Oregon and sold.
On another occasion a house was being demolished for freeway improvements in the town of Escondido and in a basement the workmen encountered a false wall. When they removed it they found a mint 1912 motorcycle; the owner, a young fellow, had placed it there to protect it until he came back from WWI. Unfortunately he was killed and the bike was forgotten until the freeway construction. Since the house had been purchased by the state, they owned the bike. Today it is exhibited in an automotive museum, still gloriously like new! There are a number of other finds that I have heard of, but these are probably the best that I know.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: WElliott on October 23, 2010, 04:37:31 AM
There is a silver-mounted flintlock pistol in the museum of the Hermitage mansion on Nashville, Tennessee, which was found behind wall boards during renovation work on the house.  Interestingly, the pistol was clearly the work of master gunsmith Wiley G. Higgins of Georgia.  General (President) Andrew Jackson, who owned the Hermitage, was involved in campaigns against the Creek Indians in Georgia and the principal treaty with the Creeks was signed at Indian Springs, Georgia, in 1825- the period when the pistol was made.  Guess who was then a gunsmith in Indian Springs?  The journey of that pistol from Wiley Higgins' workshop to the inside of a wall at Andy Jackson's home would be interesting to know.

Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: WElliott on October 23, 2010, 04:41:11 AM
And, to follow up on what another commentator said above, journals, diaries and other sources record that lots of valuable items (including firearms) were hidden behind walls, under floorboards, under chicken coops, in the woods, and everywhere else imaginable during the invasion of the South in the 1860s. It is reasonable to assume that many were never recovered from their hiding place.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: j. pease on October 23, 2010, 05:16:48 AM
I was building my first percussion gun as a teenager in the 1960's when my aunt asked if I would like an old gun that was found in the rafters of one of my uncles relatives from Posey County Indiana. I said sure and soon was given a first year production Henry rifle with the original soldiers name and unit engravered on the frame. I did not know what I had and was given several offers for the gun. I decided to keep it and still have the gun. Some of the first troops issued the Henry were from southern Indiana.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Fullstock longrifle on October 23, 2010, 04:08:41 PM
Wow J.pease, now that's a great story!   :D
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: JCKelly on October 23, 2010, 07:05:19 PM
My old recollection is, that in Pennsylvania at least, when building a new house, an old gun would be placed in the wall to protect the house. In Pennsylvania that would be from unspecified evil.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Collector on October 23, 2010, 08:53:38 PM
Things are found in the walls of old homes, quite frequently; most notably, childrens clothing and childrens shoes in homes dating back to the C.17th and C18th and on occasion, firearms.   A few that I can remember, off hand:

An old abandoned one story wood structure on a heavily wooded/swampy piece of land that we used to hunt rabbits on.   Local lore told of a unsolved murder happening at the house in the days before the CW.  Property owners went to tear it down and a local gun collector was there and found a beautiful (and loaded and capped-except for one barrel) pepperbox pistol inside one of the walls.   

Another one was a early colonial home on the North Shore of Long Island, which during updating, a musket with  Brown Bess architecture and a Dutch hallmarked brass/bronze barrel was found, along with a large antlered hafted knife and a War of 1812 Officers Commission, inside one of the interior walls, all in beautifully preserved condition.  I discussed this one with Earl Lanning who was tracking down people who may have come in contact with brass/bronze barreled longarms, at the time. 

And lastly my middle brother was helping my father do an interior inspection of our churches steeple (C.1854) and while climbing the ladder, high up and in front of my father, found a beautiful 1861 Springfield musket and a Springfield training rifle, with a wooden barrel. 

Just a note, in these older homes, walls were not built to any modern standards, as we know of them today.  Floor boards were usually continuous and the studs of interior wall were just toe nailed directly into the flooring, irregularly, sometimes as much as 3 feet apart, but the stud was also a full dimensional 2"X2" or as big as 3"X3".  Also, my 1854 row home in GA, has 4 foot spacing between the non-load bearing walls, so there was plenty of room to put things.  In fact, some years back, a couple was converting two adjoining row home for a Bed and Breakfast and in the course of making a passageway to join the interiors of the two properties (National Historic District) and tearing out an interior wall, found the mummified, fully clothed and outfitted remains of a Union soldier, between the walls.  The remains and artifacts were taken by GBI and after examination, given to a museum for disposition.  I imagine (speculate) the soldier had committed some offense upon a local and just didn't show up for the next roll-call.  Vigilanty justice?  Murder?  Self defense?  An accident?  Who knows.   But what we do know, somebody didn't want him found and he wasn't for about 100 years.   

I have a few more, but I'm already boring you.  These old homes/building have never ceased to surprise me for nigh on 55 years.   What's even more surprising, is that things are still being found today, pretty much for just a simple lack of curiosity over the years.       
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Ohiogunr on October 24, 2010, 02:00:26 AM
Years ago in G&A or Shooting Times, I remember reading about a person who bought a farm house in Oklahoma I believe. The house's previous owners had died and the buyer got it lock stock and barrel. While cleaning out old trunks in the attic he came across an old Colt SAA. It was silver plated but mostly the plating had flaked off so he painted it black and nailed it to a piece of old barn siding and hung it on the wall. A few years later a friend noticed the gun and told him that if he would send 25 dollars and the serial number to Colt they would send him a letter of documentation showing who it was sent to originally as well as other specifics of it. He sent in the number and received a letter of congratulations from Colt, along with photo copies of the original order letter. Seems the gun he found was one of a set originally ordered by hand written letter by William B. Masterson (Bat!) Last I heard of this gun it sold at auction for several hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's the kind of bat I'd like to find in my attic! ;D
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Whitedog on October 24, 2010, 07:58:16 AM
Back in 1984, I worked with a 60 year old man who was known as "Trapper". He got the name when he used to trap for a living. We were doing some construction work for a company we worked for while discussing old guns and such. Trapper told me about a gun that he found hidden inside an outhouse of an old run down place he'd came upon while he was out snooping around in 1963 one day. He brought it in the next day for me to look at  It was a Pennsylvania Long Rifle with Henry Leman stamped on top of the barrel.  Trapper told me that he'd been thinking for twenty years that he should have the old broken stock that was missing about 17" of forearm thrown out and some new wood put on the barrel, lock and furniture so that he'd have an old gun to hang on his wall. The remains of the stock, although dried and colorless, was in pretty good shape except for a broken wrist that'd been repaired long ago with a copper band and the missing forarm wood, forend cap and upper thimble. The barrel was held onto the stock with a long piece of dried out surgical tubing wrapped around and around. The tang had been torn through one side from the tang screw hole outward, the trigger guard was twisted, The front sight blade was torn off the base leaving a little silver left to show what it'd been made of and the ramrod was missing. He gave the gun to me and said to keep it. I not only did, I had the missing wood replaced on the stock along with the missing forend cap and thimble. I carefully straightened out the trigger guard and  had another front sight blade put on the base. I carefully repaired the breech plug tang with a weld and it looks like it was never torn. I sure am glad that ol Trapper never replaced the original stock!
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Levy on October 25, 2010, 06:26:49 PM
My friend woodsrunner's (Rich) story about the trapdoor reminded me that I worked on 16 1868 Mod. Trapdoor muskets that were recovered from Lake DeSoto in Lake City, FL many years ago.  They were used by occupation troops to guard the polls during elections.  The men went into a local establishment to eat and were told they'd have to leave their guns outside.  While they were eating the guns were taken and thrown into the lake and never recovered until the lake was pumped down.  We cleaned up the remaining metal parts, bought a few bands and screws from DGW and some of them are now on display in the Courthouse there.  They were all 50/70 Gvt. and two of them had buckshot loads still in the barrels when recovered.  The loads of buckshot were sandwiched between wadding in the barrels, but the brass cartridge cases had been removed.  Presumably,  The bullets had been pulled from the cartridges before using them like this.   Four dug-out canoes were also found.  Apparently, a sheriff in the late 40's early 50's disposed of a number of confiscated handguns in the lake too.  In with the bunch of expected small caliber bellyguns were a couple of French military revolvers, a couple of Model 10 S&W's, a .32 cal. S&W rimfire that had pearl grips, engraved and nickel plated (Mod 1875 I believe).  The one I liked best was an Navy Model Allen and Wheelock .36 cal. percussion revolver with serial no. 247.

James Levy
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Sam Everly on October 31, 2010, 05:37:23 AM
A friend of mine told me about this one . When he was about 14 or 15 he had a paper route in Mooresville NC. in the early 1960's. He made friends with a old fellow and he told him about his guns he collected over the years . All where pre 1900's and he told him he had them stashed in the walls. The old fellow died and the house was cleaned out. One day after school he was passing by and the fire dept, was burning down the old house . He did not think much about it , the next day or so he stopped by and was just looking around . He found the guns, or what was left of them , he told his dad and they went and picked them up and took them home. It must have been about 50 to 75 from what he told me , all Muzzle loaders. They ended up getting rid of them , to bad to do any thing with . That would make a grown man cry.           
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Gary on October 31, 2010, 07:25:06 AM
Gun confiscation was quite common during the American Civil War.  I suspect more guns were hidden in the South than in the North (since the Confederates really didn't north as frequently as Northerners went south).
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: A.Merrill on November 07, 2010, 01:35:41 AM
    The last one I know of around here, was a round barrel Fowler. The hammer and frizzen was missing, walnut stock, brass mounts. The wood is near black. A guy I know was tearing down an old house this past summer. The city is getting ready to tear down the house next door to me. I wonder if I will get lucky ;D.    AL
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Curt J on November 13, 2010, 07:04:14 AM
I have a percussion double-shotgun made by JAS. DONN & BRO. CANTON ILLS. which was found inside an interior wall of a house being remodeled in Dubuque, Iowa.


About forty years ago I knew an elderly gentleman who had been an antique dealer for most of his life, beginning in the 1930's.  He said he believed he had bought and sold at least three hundred muzzle-loading long guns for $3 to $5, before WWII. He told me that he had cleaned out the attic of a large victorian home, for an elderly lady, in exchange for the contents of the attic. When he thought he had finished, she told him there were three old guns down inside an interior wall that could be accessed from the attic. She instructed him to "get them out of there".  He had to lie on the attic floor and reach his arm down inside the wall to retrieve them. Two were longrifles, which he was able to reach and pull up quite easily. The third was a percussion double-shotgun. It being shorter, he was just able to insert  two fingers into the muzzles and thus pull it out. After he got it out of the wall and looked at it, he realized that both barrels were loaded, both nipples were capped, and both hammers were cocked.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: JBlk on November 14, 2010, 03:34:01 PM
My son works for a property management company.Just the other night he called and said that one of his fellow employees was spraying for insects in one of the properties that they manage when he discovered that he had sprayed a gun hidden in the basement rafters.He contacted the tenant and told him that he had accidentally sprayed his gun and suggested that the weapon be cleaned immediately to prevent damage.The tenant replied that he didn't own any guns.After removing the gun from its hiding place they discovered it was a hammer double that had probably been there for untold years.The resident of the property didn't want the weapon so it quickly was given to the finder, talk about luck.In about 1982 in the small town of 2500 people that I reside in they demolished a old red brick house for a parking area.When the high hoe broke into a area near the chimney area the air was suddenly full of Confederate script that had been hidden there.Allot of the script blew away before they discovered what it was, but there was many thousands of dollars.How all that money got up here in Yankee land is anybodies guess.
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: GrampaJack on November 14, 2010, 11:10:38 PM
My great grandparents lived in Warren PA. We would travel down from Jamestown once a month or so for dinner on Sunday. Hanging on the wall in the kitchen was an old lever gun that the old man told me he used to shoot buffalo in S. Dakota when he was a youth. This would have been in 1955 or there abouts. He would get the gun down and let me hold it while he told stories of shooting buffalo from a train car being pushed down the track. He always promised me that when he passed I would have the gun. Well, both he and Grandma died within 2 months of each other in 1968. They were both over 100 at the time and I was in college and could not get home for the funerals. One of my aunts was at the house a few days after the last funeral and a used furniture dealer came to the door and told her he would save the family the problems of getting rid of all the "junk". He paid her $100 and cleaned out the house, barn, workshop, and even took their car and the family photos. The gun was presumed to have been included. Now the worst part - the only thing I can remember about the gun was the receiver was brass and Grandpa referred to it as "old Henry".  After over 40 years it still bugs me. Jack 
Title: Re: Guns in walls
Post by: Curt J on November 15, 2010, 04:22:52 AM
I noticed that you are in Farmington, IL, not far from me.  I wonder whether that old double might have been made by JAS. DONN & BRO. CANTON ILLS. ?  Donn was a prolific maker of both percussion and breechloading doubles. Needless to say, they are fairly common in your area, since Canton and Farmington are both in Fulton County.