Author Topic: Gardner, Thaddeus North Carolina  (Read 7044 times)

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Gardner, Thaddeus North Carolina
« on: December 14, 2008, 09:19:13 PM »
 I thought I would share a couple of my favorite and most important Longrifles with you today. My main collecting interest over the last thirty years has been the Longrifles made here in Guilford County which we call locally Jamestown Rifles.  In doing research for my book on this subject I found that the credit for starting this local school should be given to three men, Thaddeus Gardner, David Grose, and Craft Jackson. Of those three men, only Thaddeus Gardner was a long time rifle maker in this area.William & Susannah Gardner were part of a large group of English Quakers that moved from Nantucket Island to Guiford County in 1772. Two years later in 1774, they had a son Thaddeus. William purchased a farm on Bull Run Creek in the present day Sedgefield Lakes/Adams Farm area.I have not been able to learn when, where or for whom Thaddeus Gardner served as an apprentice to learn to make Longrifles or when he went in business for himself. He would have been 21 years old in 1795 and possibly began making rifles that early but there is no documentation for that. In the 1810 census he is listed as living on the Old Salisbury Road (now called Gallimore Dairy Road) with his wife and son William, born in 1807. He later had two more sons Grafton (born in 1817 and later became the Superintendent of the Mendenhall, Jones, & Gardner Rifle Factory in Jamestown 1861-1864) and Bartlett (born 1819). Thaddeus Gardner was disowned by Deep River Monthly Meeting in 1814 for excessive profanity and failing to mend his ways after repeated warnings.Thaddeus Gardner built a water powered mill along the waters of Deep River. The remains of his Mill Race can be seen along present day Gallimore Dairy Road about three hundred yards East of Hwy 68 near the site of Greensboro Pipe Company. All three of Thaddeus Gardner's sons worked with him in his rifle making business. All of the signed rifles that I have seen from his shop are signed T.G. on the barrel.Thaddeus had a sister named Mary Lamb that was disowned by Deep River Monthly Meeting for marrying out of meeting in 1805. She had a son named William Lamb in 1806. He went on to become the best known and most widely respected of all of the 87 gunsmiths in the Guilford County Longrifle School. I believe that William also worked as an apprentice for his uncle Thaddeus, and later they went in business together as their are a few early rifles that survive that are signed T.G. & W.L. William Lamb's first gun shop was located only 200 yards from Gardners. He was known locally as Captain Billy.In 1836, Thaddeus Gardner took out an ad in a Charlotte, North Carolina newspaper that said he had Rifle Guns for Sale, 40 or 50 on hand, finished in the best manner. He listed his address as Friendship P.O.His gun shop was still in operation in the 1850 census of manufacturing for Guilford County and was being run by his son William. The shop was still making barrels, employed two and half men, used 2,000 pounds of iron and 1,000 bushels of coal annually. The shop was completing 200 rifle barrels and 100 finished rifles valued at $650 per year. Thaddeus Gardner is listed in the 1850 census as a gunsmith, age 76.Thaddeus Gardner died in 1852. He created a will in 1848 that said he left to sons William, Grafton, and Bartlett, the Gun Smith Shop, all water power and privileges connected with the same...also all of my tools in said Gun Smith Shop. The shop closed prior to 1860. William Gardner moved to Kansas in 1861. Bartlett Gardner had moved to Huntington County, Indiana in 1852.The biggest mystery concerning Thaddeus Gardner is why more of his Longrifles do no survive. In 28 years of actively collecting and searching, I have only ever seen 4 rifles signed T.G. and 3 rifles signed T.G. & W.L. Have any of you on this forum seen a T.G. signed rifle or own one?From studying his earliest known rifle I think he contributed the slender stock architecture that became the standard for what we call today the Jamestown Rifle. This is also the earliest rifle with what we refer to as a Jamestown style broken fore-stock molding. On this rifle the fore-stock molding stops and starts around the ram-rod thimbles. Numerous later full-stock, patchbox Jamestown Rifles show this same feature stoping and starting around diamond inlays. All four of the Thaddeus Gardner signed rifles that I have seen only have a short one screw barrel tang which is different from the norm for this school.                            Please let me know if you can add to my (and our) knowledge with additional examples of his work.This is the earliest known rifle that I have seen that was signed by Thaddeus Garner. I would date this rifle around 1815. I have never seen a half-stock percussion rifle signed by him, but would guess that some must exist. This rifle is a good example of an early Jamestown Syle Twisted Star or Daisy Patchbox.This rifle was part of the Ragsdale family collection. It was on display in the 1970's and 1980's at the High Point Museum. It was in poor condition with the trigger guard totaly missing and toe plate torn off and about ten pieces of wood missing from the fore-stock. The rifle was taken off of display by the museum due to the poor condition and put in storage.  In 2006, I worked out an agreement with the family to pay for the restoration of the rifle and it came to me. I am very pleased with the results. I hope you enjoy them also.







Here is a T.G. & W.L. signed barrel that I purchased with a re-stocked rifle over ten years ago.

I will also include this T.G. & W.L. Longrifle in my collection. I purchased it from a man in Statesville, N.C. back around 1985. I sold it to a friend in 1990 and bought it back from him in 2002. It is an original flint-lock.





I hope you enjoy these Longrifles and the history of the men that made them.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2020, 06:29:44 PM by rich pierce »