Author Topic: The Lehigh Indian Head  (Read 55617 times)

Bob Smalser

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The Lehigh Indian Head
« on: February 05, 2011, 08:31:40 PM »
The references state that these are unique to rifles from Old Northampton County surrounding Allentown, and are found on Newhard, Kuntz, Moll, Rupp and George rifles, among others of the same style of riflemaking.


Published explanations for the decoration vary.  One description explains them as a depiction of the “Sons of Liberty” head.  Another believes they are guardian angels.  A third description is of a woman’s face, and perhaps the strongest is of Lenni Lenape Chief Tammany (Tamend), a friend to settlers who negotiated William Penn’s 1683 treaty.  Compare the headdresses in the painting below to the rifle above.


My research into the lives of the people involved leads me in a different direction. The continuing thread that united early Pennsylvania settlers of mixed ethnicity, background and faith across two generations and more was the fear of Indian attack.  Peter Silver below wrote an entire 400-page book on the unifying nature of this fear, and he makes a good point.  Between 1755 and 1783, each and every Moll, Newhard and Kuntz gunsmith as well as those at Christian Springs either had a relative killed by Indians, participated in the burial parties recovering the remains of Indian victims, was a member of a local defense force or later the organized militia, or was a close friend or relation of someone who was.  And like all strong human emotions, those feelings later extended to children, grandchildren, and beyond.

In November-December 1755 the Delaware didn’t just massacre the 12 Moravian missionaries at Gnadenhutten (Lehighton) many are familiar with, they raided and burned throughout the northern area of Old Northampton County, killing dozens of noncombatants, including Newhard and Kuntz family members who would later become in-laws to the Molls.  One farm a war party bypassed to attack the weaker farm adjacent to it was a Newhard farm, and the dead there were their in-laws.


After a similar incident in 1763 along a 10-mile swath through Whitehall and Allen Townships, Joseph Mickley below wrote his well-footnoted account from archives and live interviews with survivors in 1819.  Twenty three settlers had been murdered and mutilated, 13 of them young children.  This narrative is particularly poignant…and particularly gruesome.  And these Lenni Lenape weren’t part of any organized rebellion occurring farther west….these were friendly, local Indians who routinely traded in Bethlehem, avenging an isolated robbery and murder.

The largest incident in eastern Pennsylvania was in the Wyoming Valley in 1778.  William Nester below reports 302 scalps were taken and over a thousand homes burned by Seneca Indians led by British officers.  This was followed a few months later by the Cherry Valley massacre across the border in New York, with 44 killed and 45 captured.

Nor do these well-documented incidents include all the random incidents of murder, robbery and mutilation.  One doesn’t have to probe very far in Lehigh and Wyoming Valley genealogies of the period to find “killed by Indians” here and there.

Justification or lack of it notwithstanding, the impact of the terror of these attacks, especially the random ones, was undoubtedly profound and far-reaching.  Instead of (or in addition to, depending on the user’s mood) a whimsical depiction of Chief Tammany, in the context of time and place I’m more inclined to believe the message was, “this rifle is capable of a clean head shot.”  My evidence? 

  a)  The first two family members I had enlist to fight in the Revolutionary War were frontiersmen who enlisted in the regulars to fight Indians, not for any urban notions of liberty, taxation or representation.  One’s family had been made refugees by the Indian attacks of 1755, and the farm they had spent 20 years building was turned into “wastelands”.  The other’s 69-year-old father-in-law had been “murdered, stripped and scalped” the year before.  Both enlisted in rifle battalions led by experienced and well-known Indian fighters.

b)  The double Indian head above in Ronald Gabel’s photograph is on a double-barreled rifle.  Probably one of the Kuntz’s, who had lost family members to Indian attacks.

Further Reading:

https://www.home.earthlink.net/~pagca/page35.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamanend

Gabel, Ronald G., Thoughts on The Northampton School of Pennsylvania Gunmaking, Gabelguns.com, 34p.

Mickley, Joseph J., Ancestry.com. Brief account of murders by the Indians, and the cause thereof, in Northampton County, Penn'a., October 8th, 1763 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.  Also available free on-line via Google Books.
 
Nester, William R., The Frontier War for American Independence, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg PA, 2004, 423pp.

Silver, Peter Rhoads, Our Savage Neighbors, WW Norton and Company, New York, 2008.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 04:09:10 AM by Dennis Glazener »

Offline Kermit

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 09:45:08 PM »
Excellent read, Bob. Thank you. Care to weigh in on why some of them seem to be obviously--at least to viewers in our millenium--female? Some seem to be women with visible/bare breasts. Descriptions often say these images are women. Puzzled.

Do you have documentation for the "head shot" notion? Really curious about this. It's an element of decoration that has long intrigued me.
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2011, 11:13:38 PM »
There was an article in a KRA Bulletin (1990)--reprinted in the brown Selected Articles book--about these images.The most difficult question, it seems to me, is why they would appear only in Northampton/Lehigh county rifles? After all, quarrels with Indians and hatred towards Indians, esp. after 1763, were widespread in Pennsylvania. Why wouldn't they appear on Lancaster rifles, too? Or rifles from Virginia, for that matter? It makes you wonder if there is something particular to the region that gave rise to this particular symbol. Or, it might just be that local gunsmiths copied something they liked from nearby gunsmiths but the practice didn't spread far.

I don't know enough about what's known about which gunsmiths made the rifles with these images--in particular, whether any Moravian-made rifles contain these images. If so, that would be evidence against the "head shot" notion. Moravian settlements suffered from Indian attacks, but it is extremely unlikely Moravian makers would have included any symbol on their rifles that gloried in or advocated the killing of Indians.

Scott

« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 11:18:36 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Bob Smalser

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2011, 11:38:40 PM »
... Care to weigh in on why some of them seem to be obviously--at least to viewers in our millennium--female? Some seem to be women with visible/bare breasts. Descriptions often say these images are women.

To a hirsute Swabian or Frank, the hairless nature of Native Americans may have had feminine connotations.  The headdresses of the image and the painting are a bit close for coincidence.

And regarding my crude analysis of head shots, perhaps the message was more subtle that I'm portraying...the intent being the user could read into the image what he wished to. 

I'm also intrigued why these decorations are confined to Lehigh rifles.  I don't believe any Moravian smiths used them.  Why they weren’t common in Lancaster can be explained in terms of distance from the more warlike tribes, but not Virginia or the Ohio Valley. 

I'd like to hear the opinions of some folk-art and Pennsylvania-Dutch symbol specialists...but in the context of time and place.  Peter Silver has an excellent thesis in fear being a powerful unifying factor, but his presentation is too flawed to recommend.  He demonstrates little understanding of fear and human reactions to it, and the book is a difficult read.

« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 12:04:27 AM by Bob Smalser »

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2011, 12:18:22 AM »
Are most of the rifles on which these appear dated to the 1770s? I realize such datings are conjectural. But certainly in the 1750s and 1760s, Lancaster considered itself on the frontier. In November 1755, as the frontier collapsed after Braddock's defeat, the Pennsylvania Gazette reported (erroneously), that “1500 French and Indians had burnt Lancaster Town to the Ground.” (Sorry for the original spelling!)

They strike me as Indians, too, not "sons of liberty"--although I've heard very knowledgeable folks suggest that these figures appeared on Lehigh Valley rifles because, from fall 1777-summer 1778, the Liberty Bell was hidden in Allentown. That would require all the rifles with this image to have been made after 1777/78 (or the image could have been added to earlier rifles, I guess).

Scott
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 12:18:58 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Tom Currie

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 12:25:18 AM »
I too struggle with the idea that a female indian is on the rifle because that's what the rifle's intended target is. And not sure how the images you present on the double barrelled rifle could be anything but female.  

I have a hard time thinking how the smiths of the day would put what they preceived as an evil figure on a carefully made rifle. Doesn't make sense to me.

Given the fact that the first " Indian head " I know of is the Antes double gun, maybe his interactions with the Moravians and their interaction with friendly indians inspired this decorative figure. Maybe the lehigh smiths mentioned above followed suit applying this to there rifles also a generation later.

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2011, 12:38:25 AM »
Thanks for the post Bob, this is a great subject to explore. I confess to not being able too add much to the discussion except enthusiam.  Gary

Offline Bill of the 45th

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2011, 12:40:09 AM »
Just my thoughts, for what little they're worth.  First it is a stylized figure, and as Bob has mentioned about the observations of the time of the natives lacking hair, I see the stylized head dress, with a bare chested Brave/chief.  The so  called breasts could just be depicting the bare chest or tattoos, or war paint or other decoration on the chest.  We are talking about a decoration, either carved or engraved that is roughly the size of todays postage stamp, and has limitations in its life likeness.

Bill
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Bob Smalser

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2011, 01:02:07 AM »
This scan from Ron Gabel isn't very clear, but you can see variance in the level of femininity portrayed.


Bob Smalser

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2011, 01:21:46 AM »
Are most of the rifles on which these appear dated to the 1770s? I realize such datings are conjectural. But certainly in the 1750s and 1760s, Lancaster considered itself on the frontier. In November 1755, as the frontier collapsed after Braddock's defeat, the Pennsylvania Gazette reported (erroneously), that “1500 French and Indians had burnt Lancaster Town to the Ground.” (Sorry for the original spelling!)


The larger regional native force most hostile to settlers was the Iroquois Confederacy in western NY State.  They were often the group who pushed Iroquois-speaking Seneca and Algonquin-speaking Delaware to attack settlers.

By the time of Pontiac's Rebellion in the mid-1760's, the only tribes left around Lancaster were the remnants of Iroquois-speaking but Christian Conestogas, and the massacres there were often by settlers against natives.  See the Paxton Boys piece below.  There was more to the Paxton Rangers than the criminal element, but that's a story I'm still researching.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paxton_Boys

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conestoga_(people)
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 04:11:23 AM by Dennis Glazener »

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2011, 01:34:09 AM »
After Braddock's defeat in July 1755, the frontier collapsed and towns up and down the Susquehanna--and east of the Susquehanna--were regularly attacked by small parties of Indians. Lancaster expected to be attacked throughout the last months of 1755. The Paxton Boys incident (which involves whites slaughtering Indians) demonstrates, of course, that there was plenty of Indian hating in towns along the Susquehanna in the 1760s. It's certainly the case that no large Indian populations were living near Lancaster. But Lancaster and towns very close to it regularly experienced Indian warfare during the 1750s and 1760s.

So my only point was that, if these Indian heads were linked to Indian hatred, the puzzling question is why they aren't on rifles produced in Lancaster or Virginia as well as in the Lehigh Valley. (Part of the answer might be the date when these Indian heads start to show up--but even that is a puzzle. Why don't they appear until the 1770s? What makes them appear then?)

The best account of the Paxton Boys incidents is now: Kevin Kenny, Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Experiment (Oxford UP, 2009).

I've included a lot about the anxieties in Lancaster about Indian attacks in 1755-56 in my: "Martial Art: Benjamin West’s Death of Socrates, Colonial Politics, and the Puzzles of Patronage,” William and Mary Quarterly 65, 1 (2008): 65-100. The article focuses on the gunsmith William Henry, who commissioned West's painting. I'd be happy to send a copy to anybody who contacts me off-list (the journal doesn't make a free copy available online).

 

« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 01:47:22 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Bob Smalser

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2011, 03:02:09 AM »
...So my only point was that, if these Indian heads were linked to Indian hatred, the puzzling question is why they aren't on rifles produced in Lancaster or Virginia as well as in the Lehigh Valley

....Kevin Kenny, Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Experiment (Oxford UP, 2009).

I agree.  I passed Kevin Kenny by initially but just ordered it based on your comment.  

I'm working on Matthew Smith, who commanded my cousin's company in Thompson's Rifle Battalion.  Smith had been a sergeant in the original Paxton Rangers, was a spokesman of sorts during the Paxton Boy's Massacre, yet later became Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.  All references except Oscar Stroh manage to miss one piece or the other of this interesting man's life.  Murderer, hero, both?  Or were they different people?

Also interesting as a side note is that my 16-year-old cousin Philip Newhard (1759-1827) had enough english to get by in 1775 in a largely Scots-Irish unit composed of men from Harris Ferry, Donegal and Paxton. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Smith_(Pennsylvania_statesman)

Stroh, Oscar H., Thompson’s Battalion and/or The First Continental Regiment, Graphic Services, Harrisburg, PA Sep 1975.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 03:16:41 AM by Bob Smalser »

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2011, 03:18:33 AM »
Kenny mentions that Matthew Smith became a patriot during the Revolution--but doesn't mention that he's the same Matthew Smith who commanded a company in Thompson's Rifle Battalion. But John Joseph Henry was also in Smith's company, and the annotations to the 1877 edition of JJH's memoir note that Smith "took a warm interest in the affair at Conestoga and Lancaster in 1763-4, and was delegated by the Paxtang Boys to make a proper representation to the provincial assembly who were bent on persecuting that band of heroes" (p. 105). ("Band of heroes"--interesting.) See the GoogleBooks edition here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=h8xEAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA1&dq=john+joseph+henry+account+of+arnold%27s+campaign&hl=en&ei=oehNTeHNNcaAlAeEtrHvDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

I'll need to find a copy of Stroh. Hadn't come across that reference before.

Scott
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 03:25:08 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Bob Smalser

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2011, 03:29:34 AM »
Kenny mentions that Matthew Smith became a patriot during the Revolution--but doesn't mention that he's the same Matthew Smith who commanded a company in Thompson's Rifle Battalion. But John Joseph Henry was also in Smith's company, and the annotations to the 1877 edition of JJH's memoir note that Smith "took a warm interest in the affair at Conestoga and Lancaster in 1763-4, and was delegated by the Paxtang Boys to make a proper representation to the provincial assembly who were bent on persecuting that band of heroes" (p. 105). ("Band of heroes"--interesting.)

Same fella. 

But The Paxton Rangers had a longer history than the Conestoga and Lancaster  incidents of 1763, and Stroh wrote a pamphlet on them that I've only recently found a copy of.  I suspect they were one of the ranging companies of frontiersmen volunteers protecting settlements earlier in the French and Indian War.

Offline Majorjoel

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 03:38:27 AM »
 
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 03:39:48 AM by Captjoel »
Joel Hall

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2011, 03:45:37 AM »
I suspect they were one of the ranging companies of frontiersmen volunteers protecting settlements earlier in the French and Indian War.

This is why you'll like the Kenny. If I remember rightly, he sets the Dec. 1763 Paxton Boys raids at Conestoga and then Lancaster is a larger context of "vigilante" activity before and after.

Unfortunately, Kenny doesn't make use of Lancaster's Moravian congregational diary. But Lancaster's minister recorded the event. It's the only "eyewitness" account recorded on the day of the event (or the day after) that exists, and it's never been published. William Henry, Jr., apparently saw what happened, but his account was told to John Heckewelder over fifty years later.

Here's the entry from the relevant day from the congregational diary:

Tuesday 27th [December 1763]
Between 2 and 3 o’clock in the afternoon 20 or more men came, all on horseback, riding up the open street to the courthouse, turned their horses around from time to time, went then to the prison and forced the door where the Manour Land Indians were and murdered all of them, there were 14 of them. They got back on their horse, they rode around the courthouse, shot their guns, yelling and making a terrible noise and rode then, as we heard, to Philadelphia, in order to kill the Indians there on Province Island.  We thought much of our dear hearts and we commended them to the dear Lord. Many Brethren visited us, they were very perplexed.

The diary also records the burial of the slaughtered Indians; I don't think that information survived anywhere except in these Moravian records.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 04:01:07 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Kermit

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2011, 05:10:36 AM »
Still interesting discussion. A lot of conjecture here. I'm awaiting a primary source. Anyone got one? :-\
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Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2011, 03:22:17 PM »
No written primary source--i.e., an eighteenth-century source--has yet been found that mentions these "indian" images on rifles, let alone one that explains them. Speculation, conjecture, interpretation, and debate are the only options.
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Bob Smalser

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2011, 05:23:59 PM »
Primary sources?

They all died almost 200 years ago.  And would probably be amused at these discussions, because like their "hex signs" and the like, creating some mystery may have been their intent.

Like the art on their Baptismal certificates, their images were probably styled not to reflect reality, but how the subject would appear in heaven.  Cleaner colors, simpler lines, pleasant ambiance.  Indians as they'd like them to be, not as they were.

Offline eastwind

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2011, 05:37:01 PM »
Apparently the  so-called Indian Head symbol was not exclusive to Lehigh/Allentown area gunsmiths.

Indian symbols very similar to those to found on Lehigh County guns have been found on Berks County guns made by Stophil Long, Jacob George and the Angstadt family makers of the Kutztown area. Indeed, one of the guns in my Berks County Long Rifles Exhibit in Reading last year, signed by Peter Angstadt, c1800 had the symbol incised just forward of the trigger guard. I was unable to show that symbol on that particular gun in my book, but do have a photo of it should anyone want to see it.

The symbol on Berks County guns seems to be endemic to the northern townships of Berks County and has not been found on guns made south of Reading or in the City of Reading.

 Patrick Hornberger
BERKS COUNTY LONG RIFLES & GUNMAKERS
2009, Berks County Historical Society
Patrick Hornberger

Offline Tom Currie

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2011, 06:14:05 PM »
Capjoel's post with paragarph and picture makes perfect sense to me, bare breast and all. If Europeans used this symbol to represent young America I can see that being adopted by colonials also. The eagle later became our national symbol but the french hung on the "liberty " symbol of America for quite a while and sent over a statue as proof.

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2011, 07:00:10 PM »
While I understand the curiosity  and have wondered myself and realize that there are several  thought provoking theories here, I simply see it as a decorative feature.
Given the likelyhood of  finding some explanation from the time, by someone who was engaged in putting them on rifles, wondering what mystical meaning they might have is relatively pointless.  Its impossible to get inside Antes' head for example to find out why he carved the figures on the swivel breech.
Its entirely possible that we are "reading" far too much into it.

While there is symbolism in many inlays etc on kentucky rifles figuring out exactly what they really meant? The square and compass is pretty easy to figure, some Christian symbols maybe, but the rest?

The double rifle may have a carved and silver figure because when the rifle was done the person that ordered it had wanted one in silver rather than carved?? So the smith put on a silver one. We will never know.
Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Tom Currie

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2011, 07:30:47 PM »
Dan, For those interested in discussing this topic the discussion is not " relativley pointless". For those not interested I imagine would be.

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2011, 10:43:11 PM »
I agree with Dan that we may "never know" the significance of these "indian" heads (if that's what they are). But saying that is quite different than saying there is no significance to them at all (that they are "simply" decorative). They are decorative, of course, but the question folks have been discussing is why gunsmiths in a relatively localized area, the Allentown-Kutztown corridor, and at a very particular time (late 18century) began to decorate the rifles they made with these figures. If the figures were more common, perhaps we could say they were "simply" decorative: i.e., riflemakers added them to their rifles without thinking much about them. But the fact that they appear only on rifles made in a particular location makes it difficult to think of them as not having some significance. The significance may not be political (i.e., standing for liberty or for indian hatred), but they must have some significance--even if we cannot (right now) understand it.

I'm very interested, as Tom was, with the image posted by Captjoel. That image was from a Connecticut regimental flag, I think, from the early 1780s. I wonder if much is known about regimental designs from eastern PA companies?

Understanding historical mysteries like this can take time. It may be that, sooner or later, somebody will come across an image from a contemporary engraving, or a regimental flag, or sketched in a letter, that will resemble these carved images so closely that it will be immediately apparent what they must have meant to the eighteenth-century gunsmiths who carved them. Until then, we can only speculate.

Scott
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 10:56:30 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2011, 11:30:24 PM »
Dan, For those interested in discussing this topic the discussion is not " relativley pointless". For those not interested I imagine would be.

Poor choice of words.
I believe its impossible to determine at this date "why" it was used or even what it represents by discussion. If it looks like a native then its a native. If it looks like a woman maybe its a woman.
I would LOVE to know what it means or what it represents.
Maybe its a gnome. Similar figures date to the 17th century according to

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/gardening--a-love-that-dare-not-speak-its-gnome-garden-ornaments-2-kitsch-digging-for-apples-fishing-in-a-brook-or-sitting-in-selfimportant-rows-the-little-people-are-publicly-derided-but-privately-adored-helen-chappell-on-a-british-obsession-1500384.html

They were popular in Germany it seems. It appears that the figure could be some whimsical figure that came over from Germany with one of the gun makers and he put it on a gun as some whimsical spiritual guardian. Does it appear anywhere other than rifles?

Saying that they put it on because they hated natives or that certain features are breasts (people who could draw as well as some of these guys could could draw  breast I suspect) or that it was to tell people to make head shots is simply speculation even wild speculation. Does a Griffin like creature on a rifle mean its for shooting Griffins or is it just something artistic or was it specified by the person commissioning the rifle since it was on a coat of arms. Its not possible determine with any degree of certainty.

Speculation can be interesting and a lot of fun and there might even be a "consensus" but it will still be a guess. Since its not mentioned by the rifle makers or owners of the time anywhere that anyone here knows of, unless I missed something, its all speculation.
For this reason trying to pin down some specific meaning for it or even what it actually represents is impossible since there is no way of finding out.
Now if someone takes the trouble to read everything written in 18th and 19th century PA and comes up with some mention that is a smoking gun then so be it. But I doubt such a mention exists.
The value in discussions such as this is that it gets people thinking and looking. Who knows maybe someone WILL FIND an explanation?
Until then its a whimsical decorative feature on some longrifles.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman