An American Percussion Long Rifle That Has Been In My Family for Many Generations Possibly by John Hinds

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Rambob

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Hello Everyone! My name is Bob Law and I posted the following topic to the Smoke Pole - Blackpowder Forum on Gunboards concerning a muzzleloading rifle that has been in my families possession forever it seems. A few of the forum members highly recommended I post the same article here because a lot of the muzzleloading heavy hitters resided here. The big discussion was how old the barrel is on this rifle as it is stamped J. HINDS which according to my research was a gunmaker in Boston Mass in the 1745 timeframe. Please read the thread text and look at the photos and weigh in on my rifle that I fondly call Bessy.

It is amazing how something that you took for granted for all of your adult life can well be that hidden family heirloom and treasure. When I was a very young boy, I am 65 now, my family would visit my Great Uncle Bob at his farm in Wilmington Ohio. His house was over a hundred years old, even back then and many of the family antiques and valuables had ended up there as family Patriarchs and Matriarchs in other locations had died and estates had been divided up. Even as a young boy, I was already fascinated by firearms and always admired an old muzzleloading rifle that Uncle Bob had above his fireplace mantle. Occasionally he would take the rifle down and let me handle it and admire it, while telling me stories about its use before it was delegated to the mantel. The rifle had been heavily used and showed signs of various repairs and part replacements that had been done over the many generations. An interesting addition was to the stock where on one side were 23 small notches and on the other edge were three large notches. His explanation was that the 23 notches were for the deer taken with the rifle and when I first asked about the 3 large notches, he slyly joked that they were for Indians. He left me flabbergasted for a few minutes, laughed and told me they were actually for bears taken with the rifle. My Grandfather also told me how he used this rifle to “bark” squirrels with, which entailed aiming at a branch right below where a squirrel was. When the bullet hit the tree branch it would blast bark and wood into the underside of the squirrel killing it without destroying the meat. I never fired the rifle, but when Great Uncle Bob died it was common knowledge that when “Bobby” was an adult, the rifle would be mine. After I bought my first house, which has a western style room in the basement, with a rustic fireplace, I gave the gun it’s place of honor over the fireplace, for the last 40 years.

Now fast forward to about three months ago when I stumbled onto this forum and realized that I really never took a good look at this rifle physically or mechanically. After all, I am a retired Engineer who has been collecting/tinkering with WWII weapons for almost 50 years and is very mechanically inclined with a buttload of tools at his disposal. I have a replica 1851 Navy .44 revolver I occasionally fire so I am not a novice to muzzleloading fundamentals. The lock work needed some fine tuning on the rifle and the sear notch was rounded and needed to be filed square. Also, the percussion nipple was trashed so I removed it and refitted the rifle with a brand new, stainless steel, nipple. I then gave it a thorough cleaning, especially in the barrel with a brass brush, along with the powder chamber and all internal chamber areas I could reach. Yesterday, I test fired old Bessy in my back yard into a target posted in front of a dead tree trunk and it fired beautifully. It buried the 80 grain, .375 round ball with .010 lubricated patch, about 2 inches into the tree trunk. I went easy on the old gal with 40 grains of Pyrodex, FFFg powder charge to start with.

So here is what I think are the interesting facts concerning this rifle and its history. First of all, it is a long rifle with a 36 inch rifled barrel and is in .38 caliber. There is a pair of triggers where the rear trigger sets the front trigger and the front trigger fires the gun with an amazingly small amount of finger pressure. The barrel has J. HINDS engraved on the top of it halfway between the breech and rear sight. I looked John Hinds up on the web and he was a gun maker out of Boston and a date of 1745 was associated with him. I believe that Bessy started life as a flint lock, due to when it was made by John Hinds and the fact that the side of the barrel has pits and corrosion on it around where the powder chamber is currently mounted and a frizzen would have been originally placed. I wonder if she could have been used in the Revolutionary War by one of my ancestors. The current percussion lock plate is engraved with the name Josh Golcher and his specialty was making gun locks in the mid 1800’s, so that may have been when Bessy was converted. Bessy was a work horse and even though she still has a nice wood stock, she has been lovingly used and repaired over the many years as the tool she was made to be. I am not sure when Bessy became a member of the Law family, but I am convinced she has been owned by my ancestors over many generations. Enjoy the photos and any comments, corrections or other opinions are always welcome.

BTW. Here are the original accessories that I inherited along with Bessy. Two beautiful powder horns and two bullet molds. FYI. I added all of the leather carry straps and stopper straps using leather shoe laces. I also added nice ebony stoppers from Track of the Wolf to them. Don't panic in that all of the additions did NOT in any way damage or modify the original powder horns and are completely removable!!

Regards,



Bob
 

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Pietro

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Welcome home ! :)

Very nice rifle, and a wonderful background story to go with it - what's not to like ?
 

Andrewmtnman

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Beautiful piece of your history!!! I love the notches in the stock. We have a Golcher cap lock .38 and the wear and pitting around the barrel by the nipple. Never considered it could have been converted from a flint. Makes sense. Thanks for sharing
 
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The Golcher lock pictured was never a flint lock. There are no screw and mounting holes for a frizzen (feather) spring. It also appears to be a replacement lock. The gaps around the lock plate indicate a replacement. The single lock bolt implies a mid 19th century stock built for a percussion lock. The lock panels don't appear to have the cut out associated with the need for the flint hammer to stop on the lock plate. The deeply crescent butt plate is also a later feature. Still it is a very nice rifle and is a significant element of your family's history.
 

Tanselman

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Your rifle appears to be an 1850s-1860s percussion rifle based on its late trigger guard shape/style and its butt height and curvature. There were two possible makers, James Hines of Prebble Co., Ohio, and J. M. Hines of Newburg, Tennessee [town name cannot be found today]. The rifle appears to be made by the Tennessee "J. Hines" based on its butt shape [no "fish belly" in lower butt stock line], the hand-engraved name in capital block letters that was more a Tennessee detail than an Ohio detail in that late period, and the flattened lower edge of the cheekpiece that was more prevalent on TN rifles.

Shelby Gallien
 
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the corrosion around the drum on the barrel could very well be just from the early corrosive caps of the era.
it is possible it at one time was a flintlock, with the lock being completely replaced by the Golcher lock, and a drum fitted.
too bad it can't talk!
without documented evidence by the generations we will never know.
i for one would be proud to own it!
 

Rambob

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Thanks again everyone for your fabulous insight into Bessy. I appreciate a lot the amount of time you all took to write them. Deerstakert, at my age, memory is a fickle thing, but I vaguely remember long ago, one of the Law generations may have mentioned Bessy was born a flintlock and even mentioned the rifle pitting as evidence. But there seems to be a lot of style and other evidence presented here, she was actually born a percussion cap rifle later in history. No matter, cause she is a forever keeper and will be passed down, to one of my Son’s in my family line, when I finally go to that big rifle range in the sky.

Bob
 
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Rambob

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Shelby, both sides of my extensive Law family, my Grandfather Pearl Law married to my Grandmother Ruth Saunders were both centered squarely in Ohio and have been here for almost three centuries. So the odds are that Bessy was made in Pebble Co. in Ohio by James Hines, but we will really never know for sure. However, soon I will be posting my percussion cap, heirloom, double barrel 12 gauge shotgun on this forum, which has the word Tennessee stamped into the butt stock. So my family and their weapons may have had more of a Tennessee connection, than I originally thought. Deerstalkert is correct about it being too bad Bessy can’t talk about her long life and answer our questions. LOL.

Bob
 
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Very interesting! I love the rifle and family history behind it - plus the expertise of our members here and their opinions from vast knowledge of these things. Fascinating!


PS: Nobody here will complain about MORE PICS! Close-ups of other parts of the rifle when you get a chance. :)
 
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I find this post very interesting, as it is similar to the history behind an heirloom gun I inherited from my Great, Great, Great Grandfather. The gun has been passed down in my family for years, and for the last 75 years it had a honorable place above the mantle of my Grandfathers fireplace in Vermont. I got the gun as I was the only one left in the family that had any interest in old guns. I took the gun home, and to my surprise found that it was still loaded. I was told that the last time the gun was shot was towards the end of the 1800"s. I cleaned up the gun (after unloading it of course) and scrubbed the barrel to remove built up corrosion. What remained was a slightly pitted, frosty 39" barrel of .35 caliber. I have shot the gun at targets using a .345 ball in a .015 patch mink oil lubed. It will shoot 1.5" groups at 30 yards but requires the use of a 1/4" felt wad over the powder to get the ball above the area that was badly eroded due to being loaded for such a long time otherwise, patches are shredded and accuracy goes to pot. I have also taken the rifle squirrel hunting a few times. I was told that my GGG Grandfather was a coon hunter with several hounds and the rifle was used to pot coons that were treed by the dogs. The gun has a "Warranteed" percussion lock and the bottom of the barrel is stamped "Penebakr".
 

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hanshi

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That is certainly a nice older rifle and it's great you still take it out for exercise. Other than that I know little about the rifle or it's provenance.
 

Andrewmtnman

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I find this post very interesting, as it is similar to the history behind an heirloom gun I inherited from my Great, Great, Great Grandfather. The gun has been passed down in my family for years, and for the last 75 years it had a honorable place above the mantle of my Grandfathers fireplace in Vermont. I got the gun as I was the only one left in the family that had any interest in old guns. I took the gun home, and to my surprise found that it was still loaded. I was told that the last time the gun was shot was towards the end of the 1800"s. I cleaned up the gun (after unloading it of course) and scrubbed the barrel to remove built up corrosion. What remained was a slightly pitted, frosty 39" barrel of .35 caliber. I have shot the gun at targets using a .345 ball in a .015 patch mink oil lubed. It will shoot 1.5" groups at 30 yards but requires the use of a 1/4" felt wad over the powder to get the ball above the area that was badly eroded due to being loaded for such a long time otherwise, patches are shredded and accuracy goes to pot. I have also taken the rifle squirrel hunting a few times. I was told that my GGG Grandfather was a coon hunter with several hounds and the rifle was used to pot coons that were treed by the dogs. The gun has a "Warranteed" percussion lock and the bottom of the barrel is stamped "Penebakr".
Wow!! What a great story and piece to have along with the family history.
 
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Excellent story with an excellent rifle! I’m amazed how much meat is around that .375 barrel bore. Is that a heavy barrel?
 
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Hello Everyone! My name is Bob Law and I posted the following topic to the Smoke Pole - Blackpowder Forum on Gunboards concerning a muzzleloading rifle that has been in my families possession forever it seems. A few of the forum members highly recommended I post the same article here because a lot of the muzzleloading heavy hitters resided here. The big discussion was how old the barrel is on this rifle as it is stamped J. HINDS which according to my research was a gunmaker in Boston Mass in the 1745 timeframe. Please read the thread text and look at the photos and weigh in on my rifle that I fondly call Bessy.

It is amazing how something that you took for granted for all of your adult life can well be that hidden family heirloom and treasure. When I was a very young boy, I am 65 now, my family would visit my Great Uncle Bob at his farm in Wilmington Ohio. His house was over a hundred years old, even back then and many of the family antiques and valuables had ended up there as family Patriarchs and Matriarchs in other locations had died and estates had been divided up. Even as a young boy, I was already fascinated by firearms and always admired an old muzzleloading rifle that Uncle Bob had above his fireplace mantle. Occasionally he would take the rifle down and let me handle it and admire it, while telling me stories about its use before it was delegated to the mantel. The rifle had been heavily used and showed signs of various repairs and part replacements that had been done over the many generations. An interesting addition was to the stock where on one side were 23 small notches and on the other edge were three large notches. His explanation was that the 23 notches were for the deer taken with the rifle and when I first asked about the 3 large notches, he slyly joked that they were for Indians. He left me flabbergasted for a few minutes, laughed and told me they were actually for bears taken with the rifle. My Grandfather also told me how he used this rifle to “bark” squirrels with, which entailed aiming at a branch right below where a squirrel was. When the bullet hit the tree branch it would blast bark and wood into the underside of the squirrel killing it without destroying the meat. I never fired the rifle, but when Great Uncle Bob died it was common knowledge that when “Bobby” was an adult, the rifle would be mine. After I bought my first house, which has a western style room in the basement, with a rustic fireplace, I gave the gun it’s place of honor over the fireplace, for the last 40 years.

Now fast forward to about three months ago when I stumbled onto this forum and realized that I really never took a good look at this rifle physically or mechanically. After all, I am a retired Engineer who has been collecting/tinkering with WWII weapons for almost 50 years and is very mechanically inclined with a buttload of tools at his disposal. I have a replica 1851 Navy .44 revolver I occasionally fire so I am not a novice to muzzleloading fundamentals. The lock work needed some fine tuning on the rifle and the sear notch was rounded and needed to be filed square. Also, the percussion nipple was trashed so I removed it and refitted the rifle with a brand new, stainless steel, nipple. I then gave it a thorough cleaning, especially in the barrel with a brass brush, along with the powder chamber and all internal chamber areas I could reach. Yesterday, I test fired old Bessy in my back yard into a target posted in front of a dead tree trunk and it fired beautifully. It buried the 80 grain, .375 round ball with .010 lubricated patch, about 2 inches into the tree trunk. I went easy on the old gal with 40 grains of Pyrodex, FFFg powder charge to start with.

So here is what I think are the interesting facts concerning this rifle and its history. First of all, it is a long rifle with a 36 inch rifled barrel and is in .38 caliber. There is a pair of triggers where the rear trigger sets the front trigger and the front trigger fires the gun with an amazingly small amount of finger pressure. The barrel has J. HINDS engraved on the top of it halfway between the breech and rear sight. I looked John Hinds up on the web and he was a gun maker out of Boston and a date of 1745 was associated with him. I believe that Bessy started life as a flint lock, due to when it was made by John Hinds and the fact that the side of the barrel has pits and corrosion on it around where the powder chamber is currently mounted and a frizzen would have been originally placed. I wonder if she could have been used in the Revolutionary War by one of my ancestors. The current percussion lock plate is engraved with the name Josh Golcher and his specialty was making gun locks in the mid 1800’s, so that may have been when Bessy was converted. Bessy was a work horse and even though she still has a nice wood stock, she has been lovingly used and repaired over the many years as the tool she was made to be. I am not sure when Bessy became a member of the Law family, but I am convinced she has been owned by my ancestors over many generations. Enjoy the photos and any comments, corrections or other opinions are always welcome.

BTW. Here are the original accessories that I inherited along with Bessy. Two beautiful powder horns and two bullet molds. FYI. I added all of the leather carry straps and stopper straps using leather shoe laces. I also added nice ebony stoppers from Track of the Wolf to them. Don't panic in that all of the additions did NOT in any way damage or modify the original powder horns and are completely removable!!

Regards,



Bob
That is a treasure!
 
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Hello Everyone! My name is Bob Law and I posted the following topic to the Smoke Pole - Blackpowder Forum on Gunboards concerning a muzzleloading rifle that has been in my families possession forever it seems. A few of the forum members highly recommended I post the same article here because a lot of the muzzleloading heavy hitters resided here. The big discussion was how old the barrel is on this rifle as it is stamped J. HINDS which according to my research was a gunmaker in Boston Mass in the 1745 timeframe. Please read the thread text and look at the photos and weigh in on my rifle that I fondly call Bessy.

It is amazing how something that you took for granted for all of your adult life can well be that hidden family heirloom and treasure. When I was a very young boy, I am 65 now, my family would visit my Great Uncle Bob at his farm in Wilmington Ohio. His house was over a hundred years old, even back then and many of the family antiques and valuables had ended up there as family Patriarchs and Matriarchs in other locations had died and estates had been divided up. Even as a young boy, I was already fascinated by firearms and always admired an old muzzleloading rifle that Uncle Bob had above his fireplace mantle. Occasionally he would take the rifle down and let me handle it and admire it, while telling me stories about its use before it was delegated to the mantel. The rifle had been heavily used and showed signs of various repairs and part replacements that had been done over the many generations. An interesting addition was to the stock where on one side were 23 small notches and on the other edge were three large notches. His explanation was that the 23 notches were for the deer taken with the rifle and when I first asked about the 3 large notches, he slyly joked that they were for Indians. He left me flabbergasted for a few minutes, laughed and told me they were actually for bears taken with the rifle. My Grandfather also told me how he used this rifle to “bark” squirrels with, which entailed aiming at a branch right below where a squirrel was. When the bullet hit the tree branch it would blast bark and wood into the underside of the squirrel killing it without destroying the meat. I never fired the rifle, but when Great Uncle Bob died it was common knowledge that when “Bobby” was an adult, the rifle would be mine. After I bought my first house, which has a western style room in the basement, with a rustic fireplace, I gave the gun it’s place of honor over the fireplace, for the last 40 years.

Now fast forward to about three months ago when I stumbled onto this forum and realized that I really never took a good look at this rifle physically or mechanically. After all, I am a retired Engineer who has been collecting/tinkering with WWII weapons for almost 50 years and is very mechanically inclined with a buttload of tools at his disposal. I have a replica 1851 Navy .44 revolver I occasionally fire so I am not a novice to muzzleloading fundamentals. The lock work needed some fine tuning on the rifle and the sear notch was rounded and needed to be filed square. Also, the percussion nipple was trashed so I removed it and refitted the rifle with a brand new, stainless steel, nipple. I then gave it a thorough cleaning, especially in the barrel with a brass brush, along with the powder chamber and all internal chamber areas I could reach. Yesterday, I test fired old Bessy in my back yard into a target posted in front of a dead tree trunk and it fired beautifully. It buried the 80 grain, .375 round ball with .010 lubricated patch, about 2 inches into the tree trunk. I went easy on the old gal with 40 grains of Pyrodex, FFFg powder charge to start with.

So here is what I think are the interesting facts concerning this rifle and its history. First of all, it is a long rifle with a 36 inch rifled barrel and is in .38 caliber. There is a pair of triggers where the rear trigger sets the front trigger and the front trigger fires the gun with an amazingly small amount of finger pressure. The barrel has J. HINDS engraved on the top of it halfway between the breech and rear sight. I looked John Hinds up on the web and he was a gun maker out of Boston and a date of 1745 was associated with him. I believe that Bessy started life as a flint lock, due to when it was made by John Hinds and the fact that the side of the barrel has pits and corrosion on it around where the powder chamber is currently mounted and a frizzen would have been originally placed. I wonder if she could have been used in the Revolutionary War by one of my ancestors. The current percussion lock plate is engraved with the name Josh Golcher and his specialty was making gun locks in the mid 1800’s, so that may have been when Bessy was converted. Bessy was a work horse and even though she still has a nice wood stock, she has been lovingly used and repaired over the many years as the tool she was made to be. I am not sure when Bessy became a member of the Law family, but I am convinced she has been owned by my ancestors over many generations. Enjoy the photos and any comments, corrections or other opinions are always welcome.

BTW. Here are the original accessories that I inherited along with Bessy. Two beautiful powder horns and two bullet molds. FYI. I added all of the leather carry straps and stopper straps using leather shoe laces. I also added nice ebony stoppers from Track of the Wolf to them. Don't panic in that all of the additions did NOT in any way damage or modify the original powder horns and are completely removable!!

Regards,



Bob
What an heirloom! Take good care of it, and pass it down!
 
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