Author Topic: Southern rifle - NC or TN  (Read 3207 times)

Offline Hlbly

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2021, 11:32:33 PM »
At least 50 years, mayben60.

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2021, 03:47:01 AM »
The obvious suggestion here, which everyone is probably thinking, is why not contact the seller again and ask him how he arrived at the Isaac Sherill attribution, since he is the one with that knowledge, rather than anyone on this board.

Jerry Noble & Tom Moore, in their "Gun Trade In America" compendium on American gunmakers, gathered all known names from all significant sources to assemble their book. They have the following two entries:
1) "Sherill, Isaac - Burke Co., NC, fullstock percussion rifle. Source: Ed Dorr." [no info provided on who Ed Dorr was/is]
2) "Sheril, Franklin, Jackson, Jacob, Iredell Co., NC, all possible gunsmiths around 1850" Source: Bivens; Whisker et al
"Gunsmiths of the Carolinas." [note - I did not find this reference in Bivins]

The Whisker source above has two conflicting entries, i.e. same man with different first name/initial:
1) "Sherril, A. (1800-  )  1850 Iredell Co., NC. In his shop were his sons Franklin, Jackson and Jacob, listed as 'laborers.' " US Census
2) "Sherril, Hiram (1811-   ) 1850 Iredell Co., NC. In his shop were his sons Franklin, Jackson and Jacob, listed as 'laborers.' " US Census

Whisker illustrated an A. Sherrell full-stocked flintlock rifle, p.156, very different from the "attributed" rifle we are discussing. Unfortunately Whisker did not state if the rifle was signed or attributed by its owner. Whisker often accepted the owner's statement on who made a rifle at face value without more details. In this case, since it has an initial with last name, I would suspect the barrel was signed that way, since attributions usually have the full name... to make them look more official.

IF, IF, IF ... this rifle is made by Isaac Sherrill of Sherrill's Ford, then the man would most likely be Isaac Sherrill, b. Aug.1781 at Sherrills Ford, NC, and died Sept 1856 at Sherrills Ford, Catawba Co., NC. Sherrills Ford started out in Rowan Co., became part of a couple other counties as new ones were formed, and ended up in today's Catawba Co. The only reference to this man's occupation is in the 1850 census. That year he was living in Iredell Co., NC [ note it is the same county as the above reference to Hiram/A. Sherrill above], was 69 years old and listed as a "farmer." I could find no reference to his being a gunsmith, although at times other gunsmiths were listed as farmers when they owned a farm of significant value. This Isaac Sherrill had parents Moses and Martha Osborn Sherrill, and married Mary "Polly" Hibbits on July 22, 1835, in Catawba Co. Isaac died at Sherrills Ford, Catawba Co., NC in Sept. of 1856 and is buried in the Sherrill Family Cemetery at Sherrills Ford.

I would lean toward a NC origin for this interesting rifle, whether made by a Sherrill or another gunsmith, based on its stock architecture, and one small detail. The lower butt molding is a double line terminated under the guard with a small "S" figure. That double line with a small, "wavy" S figure is very similar to how the Bryan gunsmiths of Rowan Co., NC, did their lower butt moldings, which were carried into central Kentucky and seen in the Lexington School rifles by the Bryans and related gunmakers. While the S is standing in this case, rather than horizonal as on Bryan rifles, it remains very similar in overall design, and I have never seen that detail on a TN rifle. 

Shelby Gallien

Thanks again for the above.  Now that I talked to the seller after my trip home, I wanted to answer some of the above.  The source mentioned in the "Gun Trade In America" compendium about a Burke Co. NC rifle by Isaac Sherrill is who I bought it from.  He is best friends with David Byrd (long rifle author and decades long researcher of mountain rifles), and bought this rifle from him.  Both of these men are valuable research assets, but old enough not to use the internet much.  My phonecall was cut short by a family visitor, but I'll call back.  I mentioned the Whisker book "Gunsmiths of America", and he told me they quoted a lot of what David Byrd has said.  He talked to Whisker on the phone in the past few weeks.  So there is some circular referencing here. 

But I found the photo I took of the tag that the seller had on the rifle, it says "Late 1700s era original flint converted to percussion. From my personal collection."  among some other data I've already written in my original post. I forgot the actual hang tag said that.  So at least to sell the rifle he put that as an age, and type, and he seems very honest and knowledgeable.  Very.  I've talked to David several times recently but don't want to bother him to much, his health is poor and he's in his 80s.  Would an 1840s rifle still have the features like the double incised line on the butt, and the "S"?  Or a wooden butt with that single heel plate?  I don't know, but I'm just reporting what they are telling me about it. 

Thanks John and Hlbly too.  Your notes about the lockplate not looking like it was ever flint seems logical. I'll look at it closely when it get's here.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2021, 05:05:35 AM by AZshot »

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2021, 05:28:06 AM »
The key question remains unanswered: How was the Isaac Sherrill attribution arrived at for this rifle? Has someone seen a signed rifle with strong similarities to this one in order to make a good attribution, or is it an "educated" guess without seeing a signed rifle? Shelby Gallien

Offline Dutch Blacky

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2021, 10:00:32 AM »
The long curved hammer seems for me to be similar to the hammer of a Maynard system.
Maybe the hammer was replaced some time, or the gun was made later in the 2nd part of the 19th century????

I have seen some  converted european pistols with a hammer  like this. Might it be, that this form of a hammer was used in the late percussion time?

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #29 on: July 08, 2021, 03:43:44 PM »
The key question remains unanswered: How was the Isaac Sherrill attribution arrived at for this rifle? Has someone seen a signed rifle with strong similarities to this one in order to make a good attribution, or is it an "educated" guess without seeing a signed rifle? Shelby Gallien

I concur.  My wife was doing some genealogy research on the name last night, and I said "of course, we're basing all this on something unsubstantiated. If he had said it was a "Fred Gump" rifle, we'd be searching him..."  We decided to talk to the previous owners some more before doing anything else. Thanks for all the conjectures and educated analysis, it's seeming to narrow down to either upstate SC or the Rowan/Burke co. area of NC.  Dating will come later.

Offline JTR

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #30 on: July 08, 2021, 07:45:38 PM »
I was going to post this picture last night, because it sounds like you might not have seen an actual Flint to Percussion conversion, but couldn't get to it.

So, this is a very typical conversion, on one of the guns I have.
On the front end of the lock, the two red arrows are where the Frizzen spring was mounted, and the mounting holes are now plugged.
Above that, the small black arrow is the threaded hole were the frizzen was mounted, now plugged also. The Pan would have been where the percussion drum is now.
The bolt end at the far right hand side is the end of the forward lock plate mounting bolt.
The dark circle between the two red arrows is the end of the Main Spring mounting pin.
And just as a point of history, the practical use of percussion locks in the US didn't come about until late 1820's / 1830 in rural areas, and even later in the back woods.

Good luck with your search!
John 




computer screen dimensions
John Robbins

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #31 on: July 08, 2021, 08:23:26 PM »
Thanks a lot.  You are right, I was spending a lot of time googling images and trying to figure out the "tells".  Your guide makes it easy!

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #32 on: July 08, 2021, 09:56:13 PM »
It arrived from UPS, safe!  Talk about bubble wrapping, there were like 5 layers, sandwiched between sheets of cardboard for stiffening, in a large outside box.  Costly to have UPS pack, but at least this store knew what they were doing.

Putting it on the rack beside my others, it seems to be just as long.  Will need to reassess if it was cut down.

« Last Edit: July 09, 2021, 05:03:00 AM by AZshot »

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #33 on: July 09, 2021, 05:04:53 AM »
Long rifles are so hard to photograph in their entirety. 









« Last Edit: July 10, 2021, 12:26:35 AM by AZshot »

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #34 on: July 09, 2021, 05:08:22 AM »
Details.  The barrel is swamped.







« Last Edit: July 09, 2021, 11:50:08 PM by AZshot »

Offline wildcatter

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2021, 04:14:07 AM »
Appreciate the extra pictures, and the picture of where the ramrod enters the stock, no pipe which isn't uncommon. I am really perplexed as to the circle with holes closest to the wrist in the heel plate. Does that piece turn? Is it a compartment of some sort? Or does that help mount the heel to comb? Haven't seen that before. Still think it has a NC feel to it.
You have to play this game like somebody just hit your mother with a two-by-four.

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2021, 08:17:16 PM »
I also saw that disk with the dots on it, at the heelplate, and wondered.  I assume it's a crew with a special tool needed.  I have a spanner for Circlips, I may try to gently turn it.  But don't want to break anything.

Oh yeah, I also found a dimple or hole in the toe, about 3" from the triggerguard.  I assume this is a feather hole, but it seems shallow, or perhaps plugged with something.  Again...hate to mess it up exploring too much.

One of the triggerguard screws has decorative filing.  The other is probably a replacement, as is the rear tang screw. 
« Last Edit: July 11, 2021, 08:20:40 PM by AZshot »

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2021, 09:19:09 PM »
Mighty fine 'iron gun' with loads of condition suggesting that someone really took good care of it and appreciated it. About as fine as it can get. Thank you for the great photos which really show the attributes of this beauty.
Dick

Offline WadePatton

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2021, 04:44:59 AM »
Very happy your gun got home safe. Good move getting it professionally packed.

I don't know much about SC guns, but nothing makes me think it was made in TN.

AND I cannot get over how much I like that heel-guard only treatment of the butt.  I'm a devoted fan of the deep crescent in iron, but that's one gorgeous buttstock.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2021, 04:06:38 PM by WadePatton »
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Offline Tanselman

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2021, 07:29:46 AM »
Wade brought up an interesting point that may be part of the reason why this rifle [and others] is hard to locate. We know very little about South Carolina rifles, other than they probably have some characteristics of North Carolina rifles, and probably other "southern" details, and at times appear to be a "mixed bag" of details that throws a monkey wrench into efforts to identify them. We have no truly useful publication on South Carolina guns, other than Whisker's "Arms Makers of South Carolina," and that publication illustrates several  military contract rifles, but no identified civilian rifles. The single civilian rifle, used as cover art and presumed to be a SC rifle, is not signed but rather attributed, undoubtedly based on the captured lid patchbox not seen elsewhere, and a general "southern" feel. Perhaps we need to start a thread on what collectors of southern rifles think are defining details on South Carolina rifles, and try to build a better understanding of what SC rifles probably look like. Then perhaps a few of these "kind of like a NC rifle" pieces of interesting design might fall into place better. Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: July 12, 2021, 07:26:33 PM by Tanselman »

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2021, 09:11:00 AM »
Great suggestion, Shelby! So many fine southern guns are now coming in, it's a shame that there is a paucity of information about them. Quite possibly we may come to learn that all of the Southern states had their own schools in rifle making. Seems to be that whatever is learned would be a great contribution to the body of knowledge on these pieces. Should be relatively simple to create a research design to set up criteria by which to make some informed guesses.
Dick

Offline wildcatter

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #41 on: July 13, 2021, 05:03:14 AM »
Shelby,

I think that's a great idea. As one who only collects SC stuff, I would be willing to throw in what I have researched and written down. Supply pictures of guns signed and attributed and see what sticks.  All my notes are at home and I'm currently up at our place in Rhode Island, but I could go from memory on a few details and I may have a few photos I could post, I think.

Matt
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Offline WESTbury

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #42 on: July 13, 2021, 01:46:58 PM »
Great suggestion, Shelby! So many fine southern guns are now coming in, it's a shame that there is a paucity of information about them.
Dick

I'm going to to state some obvious points, so bear with me. :)

As someone who is very new to longrifle collecting, there has been far too much, by lightyears, concentration on Pennsylvania rifles. That has become very evident to me as I attempt to build a small library on longrifles. I've stated this before on this forum, the books available heretofore, have pretty much featured the same rifles over and over again.

Other than Mike Briggs great books, Southern Rifles are a mystery to me. if it were not for this forum, I would have never heard of them.

So to you guys who have been collecting them, go for it and get something published! It will be well received.
"We are not about to send American Boys 9 to 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian Boys ought to be doing for themselves."
President Lyndon B. Johnson October 21, 1964

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2021, 07:42:11 PM »
There are a few books and experts, but they are few and far between.  I started with Longrifles of North Carolina (Bivens), but it's a couple decades old.  I also like the Briggs series, much better photos, in color. 

Offline Hlbly

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2021, 09:36:16 PM »
The Bivins book is from the 1960ís. Darned good book for itís time.

Offline Bushwhacker

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2021, 08:56:49 PM »
I am a little late to this party but here goes....

I am Brian Sherrill. Adam Sherrill (The Pioneer) is my ancestor thru his son Aquilla, thru his son ISAAC, thru his son John, thru his son John, thru his son Benjamin, thru my Grandad Harry and Dad Gordon.

I am doing research on my line. There are several Isaacs in our lineage so which Isaac is this? Not much information on my line. I would be interested to know if we had actual gun makers back in the day. If you have info please share with me

Offline AZshot

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2021, 09:25:08 PM »
Hi, nice to meet you.  I still don't have any proof that this is who made the rifle, just attribution from the seller.  I had to write him a letter to ask where he came up with that.  Have not heard back, he's elderly and in poor health.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2021, 10:46:31 PM by AZshot »

Offline heinz

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Re: Southern rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2021, 02:08:44 AM »
The spurs on the triggers are suggested by Jerry Nobel to be a South Carolina characteristic.  The Beardens, who spent some time in SC also took that style across the Blue Ridge into Tennessee.  The swooping curves on the trigger guard also are consistent with other guns "attributed" to SC. 
kind regards, heinz

Offline Bushwhacker

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Re: Isaac Sherrill rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #48 on: August 12, 2021, 03:36:25 PM »
Hi, nice to meet you.  I still don't have any proof that this is who made the rifle, just attribution from the seller.  I had to write him a letter to ask where he came up with that.  Have not heard ba
ck, he's elderly and in poor health.
Please let me know when you hear back. I am truly interested by

Offline AZshot

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Re: Southern rifle - NC or TN
« Reply #49 on: May 14, 2022, 04:22:56 PM »
Almost a year later and I wanted to bump this post with what I've found since.  Wayne Bryson wanted to get pictures of this rifle for his recent Long Rifles of the Blue Ridge book, but because of an electronic communication problem, he wasn't able to get the pictures in time for printing.  Before printing he told me he will include another Isaac Sherrill in his book, and that he thinks mine is also Issac Sherrill.  That conversation was 6 months ago, and I anxiously awaited the book to compare my rifle to that one.  Unfortunately, when I tried to buy one just a week or two after publishing, he was out.  I'm on back-order. 

Can anyone private message me a photo of the page with the Issac Sherrill from the book, while I'm waiting?  ID'ing this rifle has been difficult, but I'm hearing from him it's what the original seller said it was too.  Thanks.