Author Topic: Who is gunmaker "JW"?  (Read 3865 times)

Indiana Gunmakers

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Who is gunmaker "JW"?
« on: June 26, 2009, 02:35:41 AM »
Would like some opinions on a maker that marked his work "JW". Wallace Gusler wrote of a rifle in Muzzle Blasts, November 2007 pgs 36, 37. He speculated that this maker may have been from Botetourt Co., Virginia or possibly East Tennessee.

In his book, Notes on Southern Long Rifles - Vol 2, page 120, Jerry Noble labels a rifle signed by "JW" from East Tennessee.

My two questions are:

1) Were the two rifles mentioned above made by the same maker?
2) Who is "JW"?

Offline G-Man

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Re: Who is gunmaker "JW"?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2009, 04:57:04 PM »
I just finally got volume 1 and 2 of Jerry's books at Friendship a few weeks ago.  I believe I know the rifle you are referring to, but will check the article and the book for the JW rifles when I get home.

When I first saw your post I was thinking of the 1790s stepped wrist iron mounted gun that Wallace attributes to the region between Botetourt County VA and East Tennessee, but that one is signed "GB" and that article was in November 2004.  If I recall, the one from Novermber 2007 you are referring to is the nice cut down East Tennesee style rifle, correct?

Guy

Indiana Gunmakers

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Re: Who is gunmaker "JW"?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2009, 08:01:14 PM »
The November '07 Muzzle Blasts article is titled, "A Valley of Virginia Rifle Gun Used in Kentucky". Gusler states that the barrel length is 46 1/16" and that it was previusly used on an earlier rifle. It appears to be of original length.

What I am most interested in is the cheekpiece inlay that is stamped "JW". I have a rifle that has a similar cheekpiece inlay and is stamped with the identical "JW". The barrel on my gun is hand-forged and possibly predates the stock by about 25 years(the cheekpiece inlay also has the date 1818 stamped on it).

I believe that Washington Hatfield made this rifle for his older brother, Emmanuel using the barrel from Emmanuel's first flintlock back in Tennessee. The inlay could have been removed from the original rifle and placed on the "new" gun. The Hatfields moved to Southern Indiana in 1831.

Sooo...my search still pivots on the fella ID'd as "JW".

Thanks for any help.

Offline G-Man

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Re: Who is gunmaker "JW"?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2009, 10:05:49 PM »
OK -  that's the "Noah Sharp" rifle with the buzzard head patchbox. I love that rifle -  it was one of the group on display at Abingdon that fall.  The "JW" rifle in Jerry's book is the one that he describes as "an east tennessee rifle with fine architecture" - it was also shown in his Muzzle Blasts article years ago.

One thing I have learned about these southern gunsmiths - never say never - some of them worked a real long time, moved around a whole lot, and made a range of styles depending on the time, place and customers.  So your observation regarding the cheek piece initials may indicate a new clue, a link or something not readily apparent by looking at the styles.

I don't know if anyone knows the answers to your questions for sure.  On your first, if I had to go on just the styles, I feel they were two different makers as they are pretty radically different styles and pretty far apart in age.  The JW gun in Jerry's book appears to post-date the "Noah Sharp" gun, probably by 30 to 40 years.

If the Noah Sharp rifle is not from Botetourt or farther down into SW Virginia, I would guess it to be from the Cumberland Plateau/Middle Tennessee or perhaps even central Kentucky.  Noah Sharp is pretty well nailed down as to time and place in Kentucky in the 1790s and he was not a gunsmith apparently, and he came from Virginia.  Wallace speculated in the article that Noah could have obtained it while in Virginia before leaving or on a return visit in the 1790s, but also doesn't rule out that it could have been made farther west.  It really looks to have strong ties to the work of Jacob Young and some gunsmiths working around middle Tennessee and Kentucky by the 1790s - to me it has a real similar feel to it as the Whitley gun - and in my opinion could have been obtained right there in Kentucky or Tennessee.  The reused barrel, to me anyway, sort of lends itself to the concept of the type of work some early gunsmiths in the region might be doing.

Good luck

Guy

« Last Edit: June 26, 2009, 10:07:38 PM by Guy Montfort »

Indiana Gunmakers

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Re: Who is gunmaker "JW"?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2009, 02:45:58 AM »
Guy,

Thanks for taking the time to give me a thoughtful response. You have confirmed some of my own thinking and given me some new avenues to explore. Someday I will send in some photos of my rifle so all can see
the question I am trying to answer.

A friend put me on to this website. What a great way to learn and share!

Jeff

Offline G-Man

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Re: Who is gunmaker "JW"?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2009, 03:30:03 PM »
Jeff - would love to see the sideplate too - like I said, the more of these early southern guns I get to see, the more I realize that I don't know - so there might be a link there.  You never know.

The Norris Tennessee-Kentucky Rifle show, that is open to ALR members, is a great place to see originals and to talk to and learn from some of the most knolwedgable southern rifle experts out there - I recommend it to anyone with an interest.

Guy