Author Topic: Nicholas Shennefelt 090511-1  (Read 9108 times)

Offline nord

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Nicholas Shennefelt 090511-1
« on: May 14, 2009, 06:47:28 PM »
A late percussion period rifle by Nicholas Shennefelt.  Shennefelt worked variously in Huntington, Armstrong and Clarion Counties.  He was born on 4 Feb 1799 and his gunsmithing career spanned nearly 47 years.   There is a lot of good information on Shennefelt in Russell "Hop" Harriger's book  Longrifles of Pennsylvania Vol 1, Jefferson, Clarion and Elk Counties..

The rifle in the photos has a 44" barrel and is about 38 cal.  I believe it has 41 silver inlays, and of course the eagle in the oval. on the cheekpiece.

ADDENDUM 05/21/09:

I feel the gun was made circa 1840 in Clarion Co. [Armstrong Co. - Same physical location, but political boundaries changed.]

The gun was made for Cornelius George Washington Stover of Callensburg Clarion Co. I purchased it from the family in 1994 and I keep forgetting to get a letter of authenticity from them. A top priority now.

Cornelius was in Co. A of the 103rd Pa. Vol. and served with my great granddad. Yes just my great granddad as he joined in 1863 at 14 .Big for his age I've been told.They were captured at New Bern N.C. in 1864 and both survived Andersonville. After the war Cornelius owned a boarding house along the Clarion river and also piloted log rafts for many years.He is buried at Callensburg.


This is just a dandy rifle showing good even use, and patina without abuse during its working days. The silver inlays are very tastefully done and add to the attractiveness overall. It was built in the Huntingdon style, but has much better architecture than many seen from that area. Shennefelt was a highly competent gun maker and seems to have had a long working life, even though his pieces are relatively uncommon.

This is a great rifle made in the Huntingdon tradition. I'd love to compare it side-to-side with the William Lloyd rifle as the similarities are certainly evident. Both highly inlaid, both fairly late... The Lloyd dating from about 1839. (No later according to family members.)

It seems that we're just now beginning to appreciate these "western" guns to the degree they deserve.  Perhaps made in a different style than the products of the Susquehanna valley and eastward and perhaps not  deserving of any negative connotation by comparison. We're now seeming to come to the conclusion that these rifles stand on their own as beautiful examples of frontier life and art in the 1830's and 40's. Bravo!


By way of further background, Shennefelt is viewed as a pioneer in the Huntingdon County school, in light of his early presence in Huntingdon (prior to the full development of that school).  He was born in 1799 and raised in Centre County and is believed to have apprenticed there with presumably the Albrights in Millheim, Centre County.  After working for a short period of time in Huntingdon County (1819-1823), he moved on to western Pennsylvania.

Nice rifle in good condition, lots of character. I do wonder if the silver inlays might actually be German silver. They look very very evenly colored, whereas coin silver often is brighter, or if not, then blotchier.  The stock color and condition are great. It has the dark, slowly oxidizing surface we love, with the beautiful lighter worn areas highlighted by the golden curly maple underneath. Great rifle, great stock, great scott!

An exceptionally nice Shennefelt rifle! We have a Nicholas Shennefelt rifle on display here, in our county historical society's museum. I'm on the board of directors and could probably get permission to photograph it and submit it also, if there is sufficient interest in including another one. Needless to say, this one should be moved to the Library.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 09:50:09 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.