Author Topic: Jim Bridger powder horn  (Read 4054 times)

Offline P.C.Child

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Jim Bridger powder horn
« on: August 23, 2020, 06:48:03 AM »
For those who haven't seen it before, here is a powder horn attributed to Jim Bridger located at the Fort Bridger museum.


Offline Panzerschwein

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2020, 09:26:58 AM »
The tip seems a mite odd?

Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2020, 12:21:45 PM »
Looks like a hunting horn to me.
American horses of Arabian descent.

Offline Levy

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2020, 04:55:29 PM »
It looks like the plug may have served a double duty as a powder measure also.  James Levy
James Levy

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2020, 05:01:39 PM »
Those eyelets screwed in it would be very unusual for a powder horn of Bridgerís period.
Andover, Vermont

Offline Daniel Coats

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2020, 06:55:02 PM »
Thanks for posting this and I don't want to demean it in any way but. Who knows what this horn looked like the last time Bridger had in his hands which may have only be momentary near the end of his life. My guess on the eyelets is that they were added much later to enable hanging it in a display. The powder measure tip is suspect too but would be interesting to see how many grains it holds. Sometimes museums will allow that to be checked with a substitute like corn meal or coarse ground black pepper.
Dan

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Offline P.C.Child

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2020, 08:34:36 PM »
 I thought that the eyelets seemed unusual for a horn of that period also. Inspection for obvious previous attachment points were limited because of the glass display case. The base was intact and showed no signs of previous staples or screws that I could see. I would imagine it was probably used momentarily later in his life. I think the tip also being the powder measure is a nifty idea. I plan on using that idea on some of my horns.  In my younger days, I remember another horn also attributed to Jim Bridger being on display there. It was much larger and the powder measure was said to throw 70 grains.
Those details stick out in my mind because the horn was much larger than I had seen anybody carry. I also imagined a much larger powder charge for some reason. Unfortunately none of the current employees present yesterday have been there long enough to remember it being on display.

Online Shreckmeister

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2020, 11:50:50 PM »
Shameful that they put that in a museum as related to Bridget. The curator should quit
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Online Shreckmeister

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2020, 11:52:34 PM »
Thatís not a charger. Itís a blowing horn.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2020, 02:40:48 PM by Shreckmeister »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline John SMOthermon

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2020, 01:59:02 AM »
Probably what Ol' Jim called in the dawgs with in his later years...

Just before he pee'ed on the fire!
Smo

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Offline Levy

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2020, 05:13:06 AM »
I'm interested in how you blow a horn with a base plug in it.  Levy
James Levy

Offline John SMOthermon

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2020, 04:34:40 PM »
I'm interested in how you blow a horn with a base plug in it.  Levy

You got to have healthy lungs!lol

Seriously, the plug/measure does look like the tip of some older blowing horns.

My first powder horn was my Dads old hunting horn that I made a crude wooden base plug for. 

Smo

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Online Shreckmeister

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2020, 02:43:55 PM »
I'm interested in how you blow a horn with a base plug in it.  Levy
   Iíll rephrase that. It started out as a blowing horn and someone plugged it to use as a powder horn long after Bridger was in the ground.  Iíve seen many of those here in PA
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Panzerschwein

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2020, 05:40:10 AM »
No gaudy embellishments. Nice, user Horn.

Offline Notchy Bob

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2020, 03:58:49 AM »
I was reading in my copy of John Baird's Fifteen Years in the Hawken Lode and found this illustration on page 95:




This is the caption that accompanies the image:





This looks to me like the same horn shown in the photo in post #1 of this thread... The same twist, same relative positions of the eyelets for the cord, and the same plug.  Baird states (in the caption) that the "Pouring plug is carved from horn tip with measuring device holding 51.4 grains of 3fffg [sic] powder."  With a statement that exact, I'm wondering if that figure might represent the actual grains weight, from a scale, rather than the volumetric equivalent.  If that's the case, I would estimate the powder charge by volume would probably be around 55 grains, or about two drams.

The caption states Bridger gave this horn to Grenville Dodge (1831-1916), who was an officer in the U.S. Army during the War Between the States, but was sent west to subdue the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho raiding parties on the Bozeman Trail.  Dodge stated he first met Bridger in Missouri in 1865, and hired him as a guide for the Eleventh Ohio Cavalry on their trip from Fort Riley to Fort Laramie.  Bridger stayed on as a guide, working out of Fort Laramie, and was awarded the title of "Major."  General Dodge apparently got to know Jim pretty well, and penned a biography which you can read online for free:  A Biographical Sketch of James Bridger.

Bridger evidently moved back to Missouri when he was 71 (about 1875), and his health began to fail two years later.  He eventually lost his eyesight, and was functionally blind for the last few years of his life.  He died in 1881.  I don't know if Dodge saw Bridger after the old scout left the plains or not.  If not, the horn must have been given to Dodge some time between 1865, when Dodge met him, and 1875, when Bridger moved back to Missouri.  John Baird's book, Fifteen Years in the Hawken Lode, from which the illustrations above were taken, was first published in 1971, so the horn must be at least that old.  I agree, the eyelets for the suspension cord "look" a little suspect, but do any of us really know when eyelets like that came into use?  Bridger was not isolated.  He had plenty of contacts with trading posts and military institutions in the west.  If eyelets were available, there's no reason he would not have used them.

I recall reading, somewhere, that Bridger presented his famous Hawken to an Army officer, with the admonition to "Keep 'er clean!"  Was that officer General Dodge?  Was that the same Bridger Hawken that is now with the Montana Historical Society?

It would be interesting to track down the provenance and chain of custody of this old horn and either validate or refute its association with James Bridger.  Apparently, John Baird didn't question it.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us.  Should have rode horses.  Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife

Offline jbigley

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2020, 05:12:42 AM »
I have seen that same horn at the Fort Bridger  museum, and had similar questions about it at first. However, we need to remember that Fort Bridger was a trading post, and as such Jim had access to many different items from various sources--passing pilgrims, to the semi-annual supply train-- which could have included a powder horn such as this. I might not fit our idea of a PC horn of the Fur Trade Era horn, but remember that Bridger wasn't always a fur trapper, and cared nothing about being PC. He was also a business man, and an army scout. I'm sure that Jim had several rifles, possibly a shotgun or fowler, and possibly a pistol or two. In a past issue of Guns of the Old West, there is an article on "Jim Bridger's Rifle," with photos of a .40 caliber percussion halfstock with back action lock that looks for all the world like a mid 19th C Eastern rifle. It was reportedly a gift from his business partner, Louis Vasquez. I'll bet that Jim *might* have had separate shooting bags and horns for his guns, like many of us do today--especially while living at Fort Bridger, where he could "accumulate" gear, without having to pack it all on his mule. I appreciate Notchy Bob's input with the pic and caption from Baird's book. Baird may not have had everything correct when it came to Hawken rifles and mountain men, but we know --or at least there is strong evidence to suspect--from his book that this particular horn has been attributed to Bridger for quite a while. Just my .02. FWIW, I enjoyed reading all of the comments in this particular thread. Thanks for posting--JB

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2020, 06:02:59 PM »
 The Bridger .40 cal. rifle with the back action lock and double cheek rests was made in New York.

  Hungry Horse

Offline jbigley

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2020, 07:33:09 PM »
The Bridger .40 cal. rifle with the back action lock and double cheek rests was made in New York.

  Hungry Horse
Thanks. HH. Seems my instincts--at least re, the rifle-- were correct. Many "Western" artifacts were actually made out East; that's where the manufacturing" took place, and a lot of the trading houses as well. Thanks.--JB

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Re: Jim Bridger powder horn
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2021, 12:33:13 AM »
You gentlemen mentioning one of Bridger's rifle reminds me of custom muzzleloading gunsmith (GRRW) Carl Walker. I was asking questions about GRRW having had a Bridger Hawken rifle on loan for a long period of time.

Carl told me "when these folks (firms) were in the process of building a gun sometimes the process doesn't always go as planned." The Bridger Hawken is a good example, when at Green River Rifle Works gunsmiths Carl Walker and Gardell Powell took the Bridger rifle apart to look at how things were done. Pretty much standard but for one thing, the rifling tool got off at the muzzle end removing the rifling for 6 to 8 inches. Carl commented "they didn't start over, they just finished the gun and sent it out the door". Bridger probably never knew there was an issue.

This answered questions we have had about some of the mistakes seen on antiqye guns we have had over the years. Makes me feel better about some of the modern guns we have owned that had flaws from the factory. How many got out the door and were never noticed?

Thank you for your time.  :)