Author Topic: My favorite mountain longrifle  (Read 3221 times)

Offline mbriggs

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My favorite mountain longrifle
« on: March 29, 2020, 11:07:34 PM »
I have been studying and collecting Piedmont North Carolina longrifles for the last forty years.  I have been blessed to be able to own many good examples from all nine longrifle schools in this state.

The Appalachian School was always my least favorite of our schools when I first started studying this subject.  The rifles from our mountains were too plain for my taste and in the words of John Bivins' "lacked artistic merit" in comparison with the more ornate examples from the Piedmont schools.

That feeling began to change about ten years ago thanks to Gerald Neaves and Eddy Huckabee when they brought three rifles made by Joseph McDowell Whitson, Sr. & Jr. to a longrifle collectors group meeting in Salisbury, N.C.

This was my first time being exposed to rifles made by this father and son who worked in Buncombe County N.C.  While not ornate or fancy, these rifles had artistic merit. I was able to purchase this rifle from Gerald and have enjoyed having it in my collection.

 

















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This rifle was made in 1842 by Joseph McDowell Whitson, Sr. for William Pinkney McBee.  McBee was born in Lincolnton, N.C. 
His father Vardry McBee was one of the founders of Greenville, S.C.

I hope you enjoy looking at it.

Michael
« Last Edit: March 29, 2020, 11:24:38 PM by mbriggs »
C. Michael Briggs

Offline Tanselman

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2020, 11:52:28 PM »
I fully agree with Michael's comments posted here. I felt the same way initially, preferring the more ornate rifles made in Kentucky. But then I saw the work of Pleasant Wilson, made down in southeastern Kentucky in Clay County in the hill country...getting near the Cumberland Gap area. His rifles have striking architecture, and I should mention his parents came from NC so Wilson's work may have some relationship to the rifles Michael likes. I love the guns with four pipes and long, slender barrels with skinny forestocks. Let me share my favorite rifle, which I think is perfection in stocking, and almost a "brother" to Michael's rifle. 

Shelby Gallien


« Last Edit: March 30, 2020, 03:08:17 AM by Tanselman »

Offline mbriggs

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2020, 12:00:21 AM »
Shelby,
That is beautiful.  I can see why you like it. 

Thanks for posting it.

Michael
C. Michael Briggs

Online louieparker

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2020, 12:01:33 AM »
mbiggs... That is a fine looking rifle for sure.   When I first saw the photo I thought it was another maker.. I am going back a long ways and memory is not the best..But is there a resemblance between this rifle and the work of mcbee  or known connection?  Not sure that's spell correct. There was one in our circle back in the eighties.. It was a very good looking rifle also...LP

Online louieparker

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2020, 12:08:34 AM »
Sorry for the last post  I apparently got a bit confused. Sorry to say not the first time....LP

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2020, 12:32:31 AM »
Great looking rifles. Thanks for the postings.

Offline Sequatchie Rifle

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2020, 12:38:21 AM »
I agree with Michael and Shelby. They have pleasing lines and beautiful architecture. Here is my Whitson rifle, also from Gerald.














"We fight not for glory, nor riches nor honors, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.” Declaration of Arbroath, 1320

Offline mony

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2020, 12:40:09 AM »
Beautiful and delicate lines on both rifles. Very pleasing to the eye.

Offline dogbest

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2020, 12:50:47 AM »
Beautiful looking rifles - slim and elegant.
Sometimes less is more.

Offline mbriggs

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2020, 04:09:39 AM »
The second Whitson rifle is the work of the son.  I used to own that rifle at one time.

Michael
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Offline wildcatter

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2020, 04:30:20 AM »
Michael,

Great rifle and historical connection between father and son. Thanks for sharing.

Matt
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Offline oldtravler61

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2020, 04:41:30 AM »
  Thanks for showing...these are my all time favorites...what great lines an character....thanks for posting...Oldtravler

Online Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2020, 05:04:49 AM »
... Interesting rifles,...  do I recall seeing the Whitson for Carson (which is a close mate of the Whitson for McBee rifle) many years ago and it was a caplock,...? ... and, which county  in NC did the Whitsons live and work,...?

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2020, 03:13:08 PM »
  Michael,
   The word "Classic" would define that rifle, Beautiful gun.

    Tim

Offline mbriggs

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2020, 03:20:50 PM »
Hi Dana,
I am glad you liked the rifle.

My memory is not the best, but I believe the rifle that Joseph McDowell Whitson, Sr. made for Tench Carson is the one owned by Eddy Huckabee.

It is the rifle that helped identify the maker as it is the only rifle signed with both the maker's name and owner's names with a silver plate on the barrel.

I do not remember if the rifle is flint or percussion.

I have read that Whitson lived and worked in Buncombe County.
C. Michael Briggs

Offline scottmc

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2020, 03:40:36 PM »
Mr. Briggs, thanks for posting these rifles.  I have found their simplistic lines and slenderness attractive to my eye.  My mentor/teacher finds the Lancaster, reading, lehighs to be the artistic rifles due to their carving and engraving so for that reason, I was able to easily wrestle a william Douglas out of his collection so I could say "I own one".  This site has definitely elevated my knowledge of these rifles due to folks like you sharing information and pictures.

So as not to detract from this thread, in another I'd be interested to hear or see more about a N.C. builder, McKee.  There is one in Iveys book but u dont hear or see much about him.

Thanks again!
Remember Paoli!

Offline Buck

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2020, 04:14:17 PM »
Michael,

Great rifle, I had the same train of thought also. I haven't been collecting as long as you have, but I've had the good fortune to have the chance to see Louie Parker twice a year and his collection spans the gambit - all of them good guns. from the Elaborately ornate to the plain - it doesn't matter a good gun is a good gun.

Buck

Offline mbriggs

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2020, 04:14:55 PM »
Scott,
I purchased my James McKee rifle at an auction last summer.  I posted photos of it on this site last fall you can find with the search feature.

My interest in McKee is that he was born in Mecklenburg County in 1788.  When he was orphaned in 1805, the local court bound him to gunsmith Zenas Alexander to serve as an apprentice.  I own the only known signed Zenas Alexander rifle and have two signed silver spoons by him. I also have a silver mounted Mecklenburg School pistol attributed to him as he was the only local gunsmith who also worked as a silversmith.

After he finished his apprenticeship McKee moved to Buncombe County and made Appalachian School rifles. I only know of two signed examples by him.

Michael
C. Michael Briggs

Offline Dennis Glazener

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2020, 04:40:12 PM »
Beautiful rifle Michael and I also like the one Sequatchie Rifle posted.
Dennis
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Offline BOB HILL

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2020, 04:50:17 PM »
Michael, thanks for posting these pictures. The first mountain rifle I fell in love with was the Robert Hughes rifle in John Bivins’ book. The work of the Whitsons has always reminded me of this rifle. I’ve always felt there was a connection between these makers.
They are all so graceful.
Bob

South Carolina Lowcountry

Offline scottmc

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2020, 02:40:10 AM »
Thanks Mr. Briggs.  I just found it and now remember the thread.  I know someone who has a Myron Carlson set of McKee hardware and I doubt he will ever build it.  I'm gonna try and talk him out of it just like I did the Douglas rifle😄
Remember Paoli!

Offline mbriggs

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2021, 07:33:06 PM »
With the two new post featuring two rifles attributed to the Whitson gunsmiths I decided to bring up this old post of a great rifle attributed to Joseph McDowell Whitson, Sr.

This great rifle was made for William Pinkney McBee, whose father Vardry McBee founded the city of Greenville, S.C.

Enjoy,


Michael
« Last Edit: October 09, 2021, 07:51:10 PM by mbriggs »
C. Michael Briggs

Offline Sequatchie Rifle

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2021, 07:44:44 PM »
A wonderful rifle!!!!
"We fight not for glory, nor riches nor honors, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.” Declaration of Arbroath, 1320

Offline Molly

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2021, 07:51:21 PM »
Interesting to say the least.  Artistic merit is an understatement.  One southern builder call such works graceful and elegant not overdone or gaudy.  We could not agree more.  The Wilson rifle is most interesting.  We have been following that rifle, more like trying to find out who owned it, since it sold at a Little John's auction in Feb of 2017 and I think I recall the sales price which is really not germane to this discussion.   It's also noteworthy that at the time it was sold it included a written commentary by some apparent expert that it was probably related to the Wilson's of Botetourt County.  The only name was "P. Wilson" which is how it is signed.  Never seen anything like it come from Botetourt County.  But no matter, it is a exceptional work.  So where is it now?

Offline Chris_B

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Re: My favorite mountain longrifle
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2021, 09:10:27 PM »
Very interesting and pleasing to the
eye rifles here indeed!
Kind regards from Germany, Chris