Author Topic: Bishop, Robert - Illinois 090208-1  (Read 10400 times)

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Bishop, Robert - Illinois 090208-1
« on: February 09, 2009, 05:38:05 PM »
Robert Bishop rifle made in Petersburg, Menard County, Illinois. Bishop was born in Portsmouth, England, December 27, 1815. While Robert was still a child, his parents moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where Robert was raised and educated. His father was also a gunsmith, and had experimented with revolving cylinder firearms before his death, which came before they achieved any popularity. Robert was still a boy when his father died, but had already shown himself to have an inventive mind and strong mechanical ability. At the age of 13, Robert went to sea, working on whaling ships for the next ten years of his life. After leaving the sea in about 1838, he located in St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked as a gunsmith for the next several years. He arrived in Petersburg, Menard County, Illinois, on November 19, 1841, and opened a gunsmith shop. He continued to work at his trade there until his death, June 4, 1884. He was an early settler there, and was affectionately known as "Uncle Robert" by local people.
Petersburg was but a tiny hamlet when Bishop arrived there. His first home was a log cabin that stood on the lot adjoining the red brick Georgian house he built in the late 1840's, which still stands. His first gunsmith shop, when he arrived in 1841,  was in a small frame building that had been moved onto that same lot. This building had timbers of oak, ceiling of sycamore, and weather boarding of walnut. It had been moved in on skids from its original location in New Salem, a distance of about four miles. In New Salem it had been occupied by Abraham Lincoln as a store and post office from 1832 - 1835. Lincoln was a personal friend of Bishop's and frequently visited him at his home at 217 West Sheridan Road, Petersburg. In those days Lincoln was still a little known country lawyer.
This rifle is a fairly early one, signed in script: "R. Bishop Maker Petersburg Ill". It was probably made during the 1840's. His later rifles are stamped
"R. BISHOP GUNMAKER PETERSBURG ILL." with a one piece stamp.The purpose of this rifle is open for discussion. It is a very big gun! The overall size might lead one to believe it was a "chunk gun", but the caliber is way larger than most chunk guns. It is also a bit long to be considered a "Plains Rifle" in the usual sense. Perhaps the term "Buffalo Gun" might be more accurate than "Plains Rifle" in this case. It isn't the kind of rifle that one would carry in the wilderness, but would have served well shooting buffalo from a stand.
The vital statistics are as follows:
Length overall:                    62"
Barrel length:                     46"
Barrel width across flats:    1 1/8"  no taper
Caliber:                             .55
Rifling:                               seven grooves, wide lands - narrow grooves
Length of pull:                    13 7/8"
Weight:                              13 lbs. 3 oz.

« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 07:44:19 PM by Dennis Glazener »
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.