Author Topic: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)  (Read 1334 times)

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2019, 09:38:58 PM »
Scott is there any possibility that work on PA state arms during the war occurring at CS may have been "funneled" (for lack of a better way to say it) through someone in Bethlehem?

"There were some time ago between two & three hundred old Arms in bad order left at Bethlehem by the Continental Troops passing thro' the Place, & Mr. Okely, who had the care of them, wrote about two months ago that he was putting them into the hands of Workmen to be repaired..."
Board of War to Timothy Matlack, October 18, 1777
(1 PA Archives V, 685)

Who might the "workmen" have been?  This does not seem to in any way tie into the work being done over in Allentown by Cowell and Tyler as Cowell dealt with the continental congress directly and there are copious references of this available.  While there are many references in the archives to Bethlehem during the period the Brits were occupying Philadelphia, I don't believe I ever have uncovered any reference to arms makers or gunsmiths or whatever actually working on arms in Bethlehem.  So who were these Workmen?
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline spgordon

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2019, 11:00:22 PM »
I don't think I had ever seen this quotation before. I wish I had! Thanks.

I think it is likely that the "Workmen" were the folks at Christiansbrunn, the "four five and some times six hands" that Henry recalled: Henry himself, Weiss, Loesch, Levering, Hantsch. Authorities diverted a lot of labor to the Christiansbrunn gunshop in these years.

Matlack indicates that these were "Continental" arms, not PA state arms. So perhaps they were the arms that Henry referred to when he said that, in addition to the PA contract that Oerter had secured, he (Henry) had after he took over "more than one thousand stand [of ] Arms to repair for the U States army"? Maybe?

So now I want to find that August 1778 letter from John Okely to the Board of War about these arms!

« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 11:08:25 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2019, 11:16:56 PM »
 This is fascinating guys. Thanks for taking the time and sharing.

   Tim C.

Online smart dog

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2019, 11:20:20 PM »
Hi Eric and Scott,
Thanks to both of you for a lot of great information.  Eric, I understand your desire to get back to the rifle in question. I am not trying to change the discussion but it seems to some extent that speculation about Beck and the rifle attributed to him are based mostly on where he worked and for how long.  It seems to me that the larger context of what was happening around the Moravian settlements might provide more insight.  For example, both of you mention that Beck was at Nazareth during 1761-1764 and I believe, Scott, you said he was teaching school.  Prior to that he was in Bethlehem for a few months only.  It is unlikely, he could have made the rifle in question then.  He goes to Nazareth to teach and while there, Pontiac's rebellion happens. The gun shop at CS might have been affected by that and pushed to produce arms for defense or sale to worried civilians. Is it not plausible despite the surviving documentation Scott mentioned, that Beck was recruited to assist making guns during that period or was the shop oblivious to those external events?  The emergency lasted until 1764, when he left for NC.  I am not trying to desperately place Beck at CS but Moravian records might not cover every detail and forces acting outside the Moravian bubble might force them to change plans.

dave     
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Offline backsplash75

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #29 on: December 04, 2019, 11:24:21 PM »
snip...

It is crucial to realize, though, that these arms were not produced by Moravian gunsmiths: they were purchased from New York. The merchant Dirck Brinkenhoff reported in December 1755 that Moravians in Bethlehem had sent to New York “to purchase some small arms & to borrow as many more as they could.” With “about 60 small arms, 7 or 8 Blunderbusses & 2 Wall-Pieces,” Brinkenhoff added, “they are determined to make a vigorous Defence.”

VERY cool stuff, is there any further info on this purchase or what types of arms these were?

Offline spgordon

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #30 on: December 04, 2019, 11:28:04 PM »
Dave: We know that Albrecht, who was assigned to teach in the schools, was also doing some work in the gunshop, so it is certainly possible that Beck--who is 1762 is living at Christiansbrunn and in 1764 living at Nazareth Hall (very close to one another)--could have worked in the Christiansbrunn gunshop.

The Moravians were definitely not oblivious to external events and Christiansbrunn gunshop adjusts to accommodate what were surely demands from the outside during the 1770s. We don't know exactly what motivated the construction of the shop itself in late summer 1763 (though I think it is the Indian war) or exactly what the shop produced and how the shop's products were sold--even whether they were sold to a "general public"--but it certainly is possible that Beck worked in it at times from 1762 to 1764. Just cannot know for sure.
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline spgordon

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2019, 11:32:47 PM »
snip...

It is crucial to realize, though, that these arms were not produced by Moravian gunsmiths: they were purchased from New York. The merchant Dirck Brinkenhoff reported in December 1755 that Moravians in Bethlehem had sent to New York “to purchase some small arms & to borrow as many more as they could.” With “about 60 small arms, 7 or 8 Blunderbusses & 2 Wall-Pieces,” Brinkenhoff added, “they are determined to make a vigorous Defence.”

VERY cool stuff, is there any further info on this purchase or what types of arms these were?

The Moravians saved a lot, including this invoice describing some of the arms collected in NY and sent to Bethlehem (as well as, on a subsequent page, who contributed $$ to enable this exchange):


Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline spgordon

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2019, 11:37:09 PM »
And here's the passport that permitted the guns to be sent.





Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline backsplash75

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2019, 03:05:31 AM »
snip
Quote

The Moravians saved a lot, including this invoice describing some of the arms collected in NY and sent to Bethlehem (as well as, on a subsequent page, who contributed $$ to enable this exchange):



Mr. Gordon,
WOWSA. Thanks so much, that is pretty spectacular stuff. Interesting to note that they didn't buy in Philly, but given the amount of post Braddock panic and Pennsylvania buying anything that went bang around the same time a scarcity of such in the colony makes total sense.

From "Of Sorts for Provincials" by Mullins

"...Pennsylvania acquired firearms from a dizzying array of sources in 1756 (seventeen total), in quantities as small as two from Leon'd. Melchoir, to the year's largest purchase of 1,500 Fire Arms and fifteen “18 Lbrs” cannon from Barclay & Sons (An Account of Arms and Ammunition 1756: Pennsylvania Archives 1756 page 25).  Along with the 4,789 total firearms received that year were 29 cannon, 14 swivels, 710 tomahawks 66 Pistols, 13 wall guns, 68 cutlasses, and ammunition... "

 Thanks so much for sharing that info, it made my day!

 8)

Offline spgordon

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2019, 03:52:56 AM »
Hmm, wish we knew more about that Leonard Melchior (1714-1777), who arrived in Philadelphia in 1732 and was a merchant. Two summers ago I found this receipt in the Moravian Archives--documenting that in 1770 the Moravians bought five gun barrels and four gun locks from him. (That's his signature in German script on the top image!)





« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 03:56:53 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Levy

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #35 on: December 05, 2019, 05:04:24 AM »
As an aside to this informative discussion.  In 1949 two Seminole burials were discovered and excavated at Payne's Prairie in Florida.  Payne's Prairie is located just south of Gainesville, FL.  Parts of a rifle were excavated.  The butt plate was early, wide and had several bands filed into the butt plate return.  The trigger guard recovered was like the one on #42.  The rear of the trigger bow was vertical.  The side plate looked rather crude in the drawing and the ram rod pipes were ribbed, like on a trade gun.  Wallace looked at the pictures and thought the gun was a restock.  Some of the artifacts reside in the U of F's artifact collections and others have been misplaced.  James Levy
James Levy

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Gusler's "An 18th-Century Moravian Rifle Gun from North Carolina" (2005)
« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2019, 01:56:47 AM »
I believe Wallace has illustrated some of the hardware found in those burials.  Also, I believe the 1785 Colhoun box in silver (not to mention the guard and sideplate) is likewise somehow tied to this rifle (42).  If the date on the pre-restocked Colhoun rifle is accurate and original to the time of stocking (i.e., not retroactively engraved) and the original rifle was a product of the Moravians in NC, then I can't see any other way that it (the Calhoun rifle) wasn't a product of Jacob Loesch.  Loesch has been described as an "ingenious mechanic" and surely was quite familiar with Oerter's two-piece cast boxes.  Are these 'beehive' versions attributable to Loesch's development and potentially carried on - at least initially - by Christopher Vogler?

Meanwhile, before my old website crashed, I had published photos of a buttstock ca 1790 + or - that appeared to have been stocked in the Allentown area and was extensively carved in a manner I believe was consistent with whoever carved #42.  The majority of the gun was long gone but the buttstock had been turned into a lamp for a school shop project.  This stock was at KRA @ 2006, and a number of use both viewed and photographed it, yet I have never seen any discussion of it despite the fact that I personally find it almost impossible to view it as *not* having been carved by the same guy.  It is a remarkable piece of carving.

Trying to put rifle 42 into a specific box has proven to be elusive, and to my way of thinking, has only gotten more complicated as more comparisons are brought to light.  The rifle seems to have have one foot firmly planted in PA and one firmly planted in NC.  It gives me a headache.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2019, 05:54:07 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline mr. no gold

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At my age, it takes awhile, but I finally caught up to Rifle #42. For a time that piece lived out here in California and it has my finger prints on it, too. It is a truly wonderful rifle and one of the best out there. It is a big gun and appears to be a tad unwieldy, but that is far from the case. That alone makes me thing that it can't be CB product. The carving is splendid, but oddly there is no engraving at a time when engraving would sometimes appear at various place on such superior guns. The side opeming lid to the patch box is unusual and until you get to Bucks County, you don't see the same treatment, and at a later time. The carving appeared to my eye to be quite unique with a prominent plateau around the tang. The cheek rest area carving is bold and extremely well done. As I looked at the style with the opposed whorls I was remined of the later maker George Beck of Western PA, and much later the work of John Sherrry. Too many years of separation, I know, but the Beck connection might be in there somewhere as G. Beck was somewhat early. Call it a visual connection, I guess.
So, I don't have any idea who made it but thought that I would share what I do know about the gun. Wallace may be right on this one as he has been on many others.
Dick