Author Topic: William Hobbs 130103-1 (Attributed)  (Read 11337 times)

Offline nord

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William Hobbs 130103-1 (Attributed)
« on: January 06, 2013, 06:02:42 PM »
Provenance: Dan Wallace Collection
Estimated date of manufacture: 1845-1855
Condition: Original with moderate wear patterns
Location: Talladega County, AL
Style: A few Higgins Clan indications but mostly independent Southern architecture

William Horton (Billy) Hobbs 1805 - 1895
b. 12/11/1805 in Sampson County, NC
d. 5/26/1895 in Ashland, Clay County, AL and buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery
1820 - In Sampson County, NC living in his father’s household.
1821 -  Family moves to Monroe County, GA with the creation of the county after       
              the signing of the first Treaty of Indian Springs ceding Creek lands to GA.
1827 – Marries Martha Davis on 5/13/1827 in Monroe County, GA.
1830 – At age 25 living next door to Wiley G. Higgins in the Higgins Mill area of
             Monroe County, GA. Listed on the same census page next to Wiley Higgins.               
             Apprenticed with and /or worked for Wiley G. Higgins approx. 1821 to
1840 – Living in Troup County, GA in the 697th District.
1844 – Moves to Talladega County, AL. 
1850 – Living in Talladega County, AL in the Northern District. Listed as Gunsmith
1860 -  Living in Talladega County, AL in the Northern District. Listed as Gunsmith   
1862 -  Working in Talladega County, AL with son William George Thomas (G.T.)
              Hobbs (1833 – 1906) gunsmith/blacksmith/distiller,
              manufacturing CSA Contract rifles.                                                                                                     
1870 – Living in Clay County, AL now farming and owning real estate valued at
              $1000 and personal property valued at $500.

Wiley G. Higgins appears to have continued to live at or around Higgins Mill in Monroe County, GA per the GA census of 1830 (Higgins Mill is about 8 miles NW of Forsyth in Monroe County) before moving to Macon County in 1839.  Indian Springs, a few miles to the NE became part of Butts County on 12/24/1825 when a northern portion of Monroe County was ceded as part of the new Butts County. William, Palmer A., Sterling T., David, and John Higgins continued to live in the Indian Springs and Iron Springs areas, Butts County per the GA census of 1830.
Willam Horton Hobbs’ grandson Asa Turner Hobbs married Susan Clementine Pruett, daughter of Carson Pruett of Prattville, Autauga County, AL
William Horton Hobbs granddaughter Maneva C. Hobbs in 1854 married Tom Pruett, son of the famous T. L. Pruett of Prattville, Autauga County, AL known blacksmith and knife maker of Confederate D-guard Bowies for the Autauga Guard.
I cannot find evidence of a formal CSA contract for rifles made in Talladega by Hobbs. So, it is apparent that W.H.Hobbs and son W.G.T. Hobbs were working for either Wallis & Rice or Lewis G. Sturdivant & Co., both of whom had Alabama CSA contracts for rifles and were located in Talladega, AL. Production continued until 15 July, 1864, when Major General Rousseau, under orders from Major General W.T. Sherman, reported that "two gun factories, several railroad cars, and the railroad depot was destroyed." (Murphy and Madaus)


This is a very nice southern rifle with attractive stock architecture. I would question the attribution, only because I have never seen a fully signed William H. Hobbs rifle, and wonder if anyone else has??? Just to be agrumentative, another possible maker is Kentuckian William H. Higgins of Trigg County, who is related to the Higgins clan of Alabama. His father was Palmer A. Higgins, another gunsmith connected to the Alabama Higgins. The stock architecture, cheekpiece, and tang style are all very much in the percussion era back action lock form used in Kentucky, and this rifle could easily be from KY... as well as other southen locations. So it's worth raising the question: Was the attributtion based on seeing a fully signed Hobbs rifle, or was it based on the gun being southern in appearance and finding that Hobbs' initials fit/matched the initials on the barrel?

I harp on proper identifcation of rifles on this site, because sometimes we accept what seems right, without actually having hard evidence that in fact it is a correct attribution. The rifle may well be by Hobbs, but if that isn't an iron-clad attribution with something more than just matching the initials on the barrel, its stock architecture and style could just as easily be from Kentucky.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 05:55:44 PM by Tim Crosby »
In Memory of Lt. Catherine Hauptman Miller 6/1/21 - 10/1/00 & Capt. Raymond A. Miller 12/26/13 - 5/15/03...  They served proudly.