Along the Susquehanna

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BJHabermehl

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Good afternoon!

I’ve lately been reading through the forum and a recent discussion regarding the term “haversack” in the 18th century solidified my belief that this is my kind of place. So… hello!

I like to write and tend to be long winded, so the very abridged version of what I’ve poured out below is this: What would be the most historically accurate/period correct firearm for an enterprising colonial on the Susquehanna frontier c.1755? And… what kit(s) may match up with the history in the best possible way?

The long version:

I’m writing what will probably be a lengthy note asking for some guidance about building a smoothbore appropriate for the Pennsylvania frontier during the 1750s. My sincere thanks in advance if you take time to read this missive and choose to reply. I know you all are busy!

I grew up in Northumberland County a few miles from the former site of Shamokin and Fort Augusta. I’ve spent my life in the towns and mountains of central Pennsylvania and now live with my young family just west of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The site of the first attack of the Penns Creek Massacre (LeRoy family) is less than a mile from my front porch and the entire country here is littered with sites and events from the French and Indian War through the Revolution. I spend a great deal of time hunting (including with a production CVA Mountain Rifle I bought with confirmation money when I was 12…), fishing, camping and wandering through a large district, and I’m interested in going deeper than books or touristing can take me. Period hunts and overnight scouts are my intent. Maybe eventually living history. (Did highly authentic ACW once upon a time…)

I’m 43 with a young family and have been thinking on a flintlock appropriate for experiencing the 1750s-1760s in this area for going on 20 years. I’m finally in a position to build a gun… I have the skill set to do good work (I build bamboo fly rods, haft historic axes, etc.) but with my young family and demanding career, I don’t think I’m up for the time commitment of building from a slab of maple. Nor are my experience and skill quite ready for a scratch build.

Yet.

So, a kit then.


Just to state: Historical Correctness is important to me. Or as historically correct as can reasonably be achieved in these times. I have a running list of relic guns from this time period that I would love to build a bench copy of… I’m just not there yet.

So then… which kit as a basis for a civilian-owned smoothbore along the Susquehanna River during the French and Indian War? I’ve done a lot of research, and as I’m sure you all know, the historic record can get fuzzy when you try to get specific as to time and place. Especially for the 1750s-1760s. I believe I have a good understanding of the generalities of frontier guns of the period, I can make some educated assumptions, but could use some assistance in narrowing things down to what an enterprising colonial on the Pennsylvania frontier - one that placed appropriate importance on the acquisition of his firearm - would have equipped himself with to provide for and defend his family. Hunting, home defense, and off a’ranging when called upon.

My interests really are centered on American “assembled” guns, rather than imported European arms… though I would certainly embrace the right arm imported to Pennsylvania for sale to colonists. But the documented ingenuity of early gunmakers and smiths to create firearms and keep them in service for frontier work is damn fascinating to me. An early American “composite” gun seems appropriate - domestically stocked with imported or reclaimed lock and barrel and reclaimed, imported or self-made furniture. Surviving historic examples seem to run from ‘cobbled’ to very fine, though all carry a sense of purpose. Something like this may need to wait for a scratch build or starting with a non-inlet stock… but maybe one of the English trade kits would be an appropriate jumping off point for a colonial-made gun? I’m not sure this is achievable working from a pre-carved and pre-inlet parts set.

Arms imported to Philadelphia for the colonial trade would also likely be appropriate. An English fouling piece or fusee of the quality above those meant for the Indian trade but not to the level of a “fine” gun seems like an achievable build to produce a correct arm for the time and place.

I’m also much drawn to the Tulle Fusil de Chasse and other French trade guns - particularly the stock architecture - but cannot seem to historically justify those guns or ones domestically stocked in that manner being present on the Susquehanna frontier in the 1750s. Ditto use of the French hardware and locks. Maybe I’m mistaken in that regard. I’m hoping to avoid any sort of elaborate ‘backstory’ of how such a gun ended up in the Susquehanna Valley. I prefer to represent the common rather than the exceptional. Again… maybe my research and understanding is incomplete on the spread of the French types and they would have been present. All that said, if historical correctness for the time and place wasn’t paramount for me, I’d likely build a French gun.

If you’ve read all that, sincerely… thank you. I look forward learning here and to eventually getting a kit in hand and enjoying the making of something that will bring years of enjoyment and learning. Any and all advice - including any additional research suggestions! - is greatly appreciated.

With gratitude,

Ryan
Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania
Come to the Union county muzzleloaders smooth bore weekend, the first weekend in June two days of smooth bore shooting. Ask all the questions you desire. It only 7 or 8 miles from Mifflinburg. PM me for more info
 

drissel

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Like someone mentioned at the beginning, we like pictures, I been hoping to get up that way and look around for the Penns Creek Massacre places, so any pictures would be nice, used to go to camp Karoondiha for scouts, but that was before I was interested in the F&I era, Also like folks said, go to events, ask questions, most folks at them love to talk, this past weekend Fort Halifax had an event but was cancelled due to rain, not sure where else to tell you to find information but Facebook is where I get a lot of Information on events, like the one occurring at Fort Loudon in PA come the weekend of the 24 of June. will be a trade fair so a good place to come and meet folk and pick up some items, there is Gunmakers faire in Kempton July 29-31, this used to held at Dixons in Kempton, but they moved it to the community center at 83 Community Center Dr. , Kempton, PA 19529.. But
Facebook is a good place to find these events.
 
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Come to the Union county muzzleloaders smooth bore weekend, the first weekend in June two days of smooth bore shooting. Ask all the questions you desire. It only 7 or 8 miles from Mifflinburg. PM me for more info
I’ve been curious about that group! I’m a member at the sportsman’s club and drive up a LOT to fish. I’ll get in touch. Thanks!
 
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Like someone mentioned at the beginning, we like pictures, I been hoping to get up that way and look around for the Penns Creek Massacre places, so any pictures would be nice, used to go to camp Karoondiha for scouts, but that was before I was interested in the F&I era, Also like folks said, go to events, ask questions, most folks at them love to talk, this past weekend Fort Halifax had an event but was cancelled due to rain, not sure where else to tell you to find information but Facebook is where I get a lot of Information on events, like the one occurring at Fort Loudon in PA come the weekend of the 24 of June. will be a trade fair so a good place to come and meet folk and pick up some items, there is Gunmakers faire in Kempton July 29-31, this used to held at Dixons in Kempton, but they moved it to the community center at 83 Community Center Dr. , Kempton, PA 19529.. But
Facebook is a good place to find these events.
I spent a lot of time at Camp K. Depending on your age, we may have crossed paths.

As soon as I’m able to get mobile I’ll do some traveling and get photos and write up some of the local history. I smashed my leg at work in early February that required surgery and I’m just now getting off crutches. I’m anxious to get out and about.

I plan on some local events. I’d especially like to get to Fort Loudon. With young kids and a project that’s about to start a 6x10s schedule for a year, time may be at a premium.

Right now I’m looking at an English Fowler. The Bumford Fowler (not trade gun) in Of Sorts… has really grabbed me. If anyone has experience with Chambers kit, or a TOW stock and parts set, or another kit, I’d love to hear experiences!

Beautiful day here on the frontier!
 
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I spent a lot of time at Camp K. Depending on your age, we may have crossed paths.

As soon as I’m able to get mobile I’ll do some traveling and get photos and write up some of the local history. I smashed my leg at work in early February that required surgery and I’m just now getting off crutches. I’m anxious to get out and about.

I plan on some local events. I’d especially like to get to Fort Loudon. With young kids and a project that’s about to start a 6x10s schedule for a year, time may be at a premium.

Right now I’m looking at an English Fowler. The Bumford Fowler (not trade gun) in Of Sorts… has really grabbed me. If anyone has experience with Chambers kit, or a TOW stock and parts set, or another kit, I’d love to hear experiences!

Beautiful day here on the frontier!

Welcome to the Forum!

First, here's a "one stop shop" to look at some of the period arms in which you are interested.

Hunting Guns in Colonial America (ladybemused.com)

The following links are to kits that fit your criteria:

Either the "Pennsylvania Fowler" or the "Smooth Rifle" here:

Jim Chambers Flintlocks

Also the "New England Colonial Fowler/Militia Musket" can be worked into something you might like, if you want a larger bore:

Jim Chambers Flintlocks

Also the "English Fowler/Officers Fusil" would be another

Jim Chambers Flintlocks


Jim has GOOD parts in his kits and especially the locks, themselves, which will make or break your build if you choose a lesser lock. He also allows some changes in his kits and you can check out his entire site for that.

As someone already mentioned, choose a Maple or Cherry stock for any of these guns and that automatically makes it either an American Re-stock or American Assembled gun.

Gus

PS My first reenactment at Bentonville was in 1981. Great area and folks.

Gus
 
Last edited:

cositrike

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Good afternoon!

I’ve lately been reading through the forum and a recent discussion regarding the term “haversack” in the 18th century solidified my belief that this is my kind of place. So… hello!

I like to write and tend to be long winded, so the very abridged version of what I’ve poured out below is this: What would be the most historically accurate/period correct firearm for an enterprising colonial on the Susquehanna frontier c.1755? And… what kit(s) may match up with the history in the best possible way?

The long version:

I’m writing what will probably be a lengthy note asking for some guidance about building a smoothbore appropriate for the Pennsylvania frontier during the 1750s. My sincere thanks in advance if you take time to read this missive and choose to reply. I know you all are busy!

I grew up in Northumberland County a few miles from the former site of Shamokin and Fort Augusta. I’ve spent my life in the towns and mountains of central Pennsylvania and now live with my young family just west of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The site of the first attack of the Penns Creek Massacre (LeRoy family) is less than a mile from my front porch and the entire country here is littered with sites and events from the French and Indian War through the Revolution. I spend a great deal of time hunting (including with a production CVA Mountain Rifle I bought with confirmation money when I was 12…), fishing, camping and wandering through a large district, and I’m interested in going deeper than books or touristing can take me. Period hunts and overnight scouts are my intent. Maybe eventually living history. (Did highly authentic ACW once upon a time…)

I’m 43 with a young family and have been thinking on a flintlock appropriate for experiencing the 1750s-1760s in this area for going on 20 years. I’m finally in a position to build a gun… I have the skill set to do good work (I build bamboo fly rods, haft historic axes, etc.) but with my young family and demanding career, I don’t think I’m up for the time commitment of building from a slab of maple. Nor are my experience and skill quite ready for a scratch build.

Yet.

So, a kit then.


Just to state: Historical Correctness is important to me. Or as historically correct as can reasonably be achieved in these times. I have a running list of relic guns from this time period that I would love to build a bench copy of… I’m just not there yet.

So then… which kit as a basis for a civilian-owned smoothbore along the Susquehanna River during the French and Indian War? I’ve done a lot of research, and as I’m sure you all know, the historic record can get fuzzy when you try to get specific as to time and place. Especially for the 1750s-1760s. I believe I have a good understanding of the generalities of frontier guns of the period, I can make some educated assumptions, but could use some assistance in narrowing things down to what an enterprising colonial on the Pennsylvania frontier - one that placed appropriate importance on the acquisition of his firearm - would have equipped himself with to provide for and defend his family. Hunting, home defense, and off a’ranging when called upon.

My interests really are centered on American “assembled” guns, rather than imported European arms… though I would certainly embrace the right arm imported to Pennsylvania for sale to colonists. But the documented ingenuity of early gunmakers and smiths to create firearms and keep them in service for frontier work is damn fascinating to me. An early American “composite” gun seems appropriate - domestically stocked with imported or reclaimed lock and barrel and reclaimed, imported or self-made furniture. Surviving historic examples seem to run from ‘cobbled’ to very fine, though all carry a sense of purpose. Something like this may need to wait for a scratch build or starting with a non-inlet stock… but maybe one of the English trade kits would be an appropriate jumping off point for a colonial-made gun? I’m not sure this is achievable working from a pre-carved and pre-inlet parts set.

Arms imported to Philadelphia for the colonial trade would also likely be appropriate. An English fouling piece or fusee of the quality above those meant for the Indian trade but not to the level of a “fine” gun seems like an achievable build to produce a correct arm for the time and place.

I’m also much drawn to the Tulle Fusil de Chasse and other French trade guns - particularly the stock architecture - but cannot seem to historically justify those guns or ones domestically stocked in that manner being present on the Susquehanna frontier in the 1750s. Ditto use of the French hardware and locks. Maybe I’m mistaken in that regard. I’m hoping to avoid any sort of elaborate ‘backstory’ of how such a gun ended up in the Susquehanna Valley. I prefer to represent the common rather than the exceptional. Again… maybe my research and understanding is incomplete on the spread of the French types and they would have been present. All that said, if historical correctness for the time and place wasn’t paramount for me, I’d likely build a French gun.

If you’ve read all that, sincerely… thank you. I look forward learning here and to eventually getting a kit in hand and enjoying the making of something that will bring years of enjoyment and learning. Any and all advice - including any additional research suggestions! - is greatly appreciated.

With gratitude,

Ryan
Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania
For further research, have a look at Flintlock Fowlers, the first guns made in America, by Tom Grinslade
 
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Along the Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
Welcome to the Forum!

First, here's a "one stop shop" to look at some of the period arms in which you are interested.

Hunting Guns in Colonial America (ladybemused.com)

The following links are to kits that fit your criteria:

Either the "Pennsylvania Fowler" or the "Smooth Rifle" here:

Jim Chambers Flintlocks

Also the "New England Colonial Fowler/Militia Musket" can be worked into something you might like, if you want a larger bore:

Jim Chambers Flintlocks

Also the "English Fowler/Officers Fusil" would be another

Jim Chambers Flintlocks


Jim has GOOD parts in his kits and especially the locks, themselves, which will make or break your build if you choose a lesser lock. He also allows some changes in his kits and you can check out his entire site for that.

As someone already mentioned, choose a Maple or Cherry stock for any of these guns and that automatically makes it either an American Re-stock or American Assembled gun.

Gus

PS My first reenactment at Bentonville was in 1981. Great area and folks.

Gus
Thanks, Gus! I’m leaning heavily towards a Chambers English Fowler. When I spoke with Jim and Barbie via email some time ago, they were awaiting walnut stocks and barrels. But Chambers seems to have an excellent reputation, so I may be patient and wait for one of kits. I’m not up for a smooth rifle just yet. And Jim mentioned that the PA Fowler is actually a later gun… c.1790. Though from the images on his site, I can’t see that. I trust his judgement though.

I’m not sure of any other English Fowler kits around. I have Track’s English Fowler plans… I think both Track and Petriconica are fall until Walnut pre-carves are available. Not sure I’m ready to start with a plank…

For further research, have a look at Flintlock Fowlers, the first guns made in America, by Tom Grinslade
Got it in my library. Wonderful volume and there are some fine choices there. A lot of guns in Grinsdale’s book are ‘true’ fowling pieces meant for waterfowling rather than ‘utility’ smoothbores. The comparatively shorter guns shown are great examples of what I’m interested in.
 

zimmerstutzen

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Good afternoon!

I’ve lately been reading through the forum and a recent discussion regarding the term “haversack” in the 18th century solidified my belief that this is my kind of place. So… hello!

I like to write and tend to be long winded, so the very abridged version of what I’ve poured out below is this: What would be the most historically accurate/period correct firearm for an enterprising colonial on the Susquehanna frontier c.1755? And… what kit(s) may match up with the history in the best possible way?

The long version:

I’m writing what will probably be a lengthy note asking for some guidance about building a smoothbore appropriate for the Pennsylvania frontier during the 1750s. My sincere thanks in advance if you take time to read this missive and choose to reply. I know you all are busy!

I grew up in Northumberland County a few miles from the former site of Shamokin and Fort Augusta. I’ve spent my life in the towns and mountains of central Pennsylvania and now live with my young family just west of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The site of the first attack of the Penns Creek Massacre (LeRoy family) is less than a mile from my front porch and the entire country here is littered with sites and events from the French and Indian War through the Revolution. I spend a great deal of time hunting (including with a production CVA Mountain Rifle I bought with confirmation money when I was 12…), fishing, camping and wandering through a large district, and I’m interested in going deeper than books or touristing can take me. Period hunts and overnight scouts are my intent. Maybe eventually living history. (Did highly authentic ACW once upon a time…)

I’m 43 with a young family and have been thinking on a flintlock appropriate for experiencing the 1750s-1760s in this area for going on 20 years. I’m finally in a position to build a gun… I have the skill set to do good work (I build bamboo fly rods, haft historic axes, etc.) but with my young family and demanding career, I don’t think I’m up for the time commitment of building from a slab of maple. Nor are my experience and skill quite ready for a scratch build.

Well I am on the banks of the Susquehanna a bit further downstream in what was supposed to be Maryland, according to the King's Charter to Lord Calvert. Even according to the Charter to Penn. 8 miles south of Wrightsville, just up the hill from the site of Cresap's fort and the armed conflict between Maryland and Pennsylvania in the 1730's. My ancestors include the Angstadt family of 1700's gunsmiths from Berks county.

Welcome.
 
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Thanks, Gus! I’m leaning heavily towards a Chambers English Fowler. When I spoke with Jim and Barbie via email some time ago, they were awaiting walnut stocks and barrels. But Chambers seems to have an excellent reputation, so I may be patient and wait for one of kits. I’m not up for a smooth rifle just yet. And Jim mentioned that the PA Fowler is actually a later gun… c.1790. Though from the images on his site, I can’t see that. I trust his judgement though.

I’m not sure of any other English Fowler kits around. I have Track’s English Fowler plans… I think both Track and Petriconica are fall until Walnut pre-carves are available. Not sure I’m ready to start with a plank…


Got it in my library. Wonderful volume and there are some fine choices there. A lot of guns in Grinsdale’s book are ‘true’ fowling pieces meant for waterfowling rather than ‘utility’ smoothbores. The comparatively shorter guns shown are great examples of what I’m interested in.

Thought you might enjoy this:

1652400840312.png


The Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina Rifle - Scavengeology

Gus
 
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Was talking to my uncle this past weekend who has done quite a bit of research into our family‘s genealogy. The founder of our clan moved from Pennsylvania to the north western border of North Carolina pre 1740. They were Scot Irish. He couldn’t remember the exact dates but they moved into Tennessee early on. I have been thinking about a Chambers PA Fowler or a Clay Smith trade gun. Would also like some feedback on these choices.
 

BJHabermehl

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Was talking to my uncle this past weekend who has done quite a bit of research into our family‘s genealogy. The founder of our clan moved from Pennsylvania to the north western border of North Carolina pre 1740. They were Scot Irish. He couldn’t remember the exact dates but they moved into Tennessee early on. I have been thinking about a Chambers PA Fowler or a Clay Smith trade gun. Would also like some feedback on these choices.
You could do far worse than either of these choices. Both would fit well. I have a custom type G trade gun I built for myself. The various trade guns were ubiquitous. They were the mossbergs and Stevens guns of the period.
 

rich pierce

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Clay tends to provide Type G or Carolina trade guns with stocks of maple and such which is not at all correct. If that matters to you then request walnut.
 

Sooty Scot

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If you are seriously considering an HC firelock, assembled from scrounged parts, I recall a credible one, posted on this forum (about three years ago, if memory isn't playing games again). You may find it archived.
I saved a picture, but lost that, and years of others, to a crash, or I'd dig it out and repost it for you.

I respect your concern with historical accuracy. I working up the backstory for the Fusil de Chasse I just acquired for use in reenacting. I gave in to the attraction you mentioned. I think it's a beautifully designed firelock, & it handles as well as it looks. (Of necessity, I build my personas around the weapons I have, shoehorning their )history when necessary.
 
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You could do far worse than either of these choices. Both would fit well. I have a custom type G trade gun I built for myself. The various trade guns were ubiquitous. They were the mossbergs and Stevens guns of the period.
BJ - I owe you a call. Family obligations and chaos at work have kept me from calling back. Sorry, friend. We’ll connect soon.

Clay tends to provide Type G or Carolina trade guns with stocks of maple and such which is not at all correct. If that matters to you then request walnut.
Understand. I’d only go this route if a stock could be had in walnut or beech.

I just love threads like this, for it brings home to me how diverse is your hisrory.
It is fascinating, isn’t it? I’m concentrating on a pretty specific geographic area in a fairly narrow timespan, and it’s incredibly diverse and complicated. If we stretch things in time from 1750 through the War of Independence, it’s truly a wild and intense place.
 
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If you are seriously considering an HC firelock, assembled from scrounged parts, I recall a credible one, posted on this forum (about three years ago, if memory isn't playing games again). You may find it archived.
I saved a picture, but lost that, and years of others, to a crash, or I'd dig it out and repost it for you.

I respect your concern with historical accuracy. I working up the backstory for the Fusil de Chasse I just acquired for use in reenacting. I gave in to the attraction you mentioned. I think it's a beautifully designed firelock, & it handles as well as it looks. (Of necessity, I build my personas around the weapons I have, shoehorning their )history when necessary.

If you find the topic, post it up! There are a few really good examples of these ‘composite’ guns in the literature. “Of Sorts…” and “Flintlock Fowlers” both have surviving examples. I believe there are one or two in “Colonial Frontier Guns” as well, but I’d need to check.

I plan on possibly doing a bit of living history, but even if I didn’t plan to go that route, having a specific persona in mind helps me concentrate and organize my thoughts and efforts to be HC. I could absolutely create a backstory to shoehorn a FdC into 1750s Susquehanna frontier, and I’ve actually created an extremely plausible narrative. If I already owned the gun, I’d go with it.

As it is, I’m concentrating on a Pennsylvania-born German-Swiss gent of the middle class… a persona that parallels my modern life closely enough. This has proved to be some enlightening as well as frustrating research. There seems to be good documentation and understanding of the laboring/agrarian and upper classes… but the middling sort is tougher to pin down.

With that in mind, as it relates to an appropriate firelock… I do like the idea of a colonial-made arm, but to be PC for my persona it would need to be of a better quality than one cobbled from cast off parts. Likely something stocked in maple with import barrel, lock and fittings or decent quality. I think that’s achievable for me to build with the right stock, parts set, and guidance. It’s just a matter of a rookie making a decision and gathering the needed supplies.
 

rich pierce

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Chambers Pennsylvania Fowler has been mentioned and could work well. It’s approximately 1770s I think. When one wants to get earlier than that, in a colonial smoothbore it takes some research and a kit may not be the ticket.
 
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Get in touch with Fred Miller in Mifflinburg. He's old , so don't wait too long. Over the years he supplied me with many French/ Indian musket stocks designed by the famous Kit Ravenshear , master armorer , Tower Of London Museum. Kit is passed on , but his designs are still with us. Tell Fred , Charlie sent you. If he can't help you , Fred can tell you who can. .............oldwood
 

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