Lancaster style rifles?

Discussion in 'Rocky Mountain Fur Trade' started by Kansas Kid, Mar 25, 2019.

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  1. Mar 25, 2019 #1

    Kansas Kid

    Kansas Kid

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    So we pretty much all agree that a simple Lancaster style rifle would fit the 1800 to 1840 RMFT personna. Would this include a Issac Haines style simple 50cal flint?

    If so what would be the best time slot?
     
  2. Mar 25, 2019 #2

    Cruzatte

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    Haines is a bit too early. Think of Golden Age; makers like Jacob Dickert, Henry Albright, J.J. Henry, Henry Deringer, John Guest, Christopher Gumpf, Peter Gonter. Makers like Dickert, Deringer, and Henry, had large contracts with the Office of Indian Affairs, and also supplied the Astor company and others. See Chapter 9 in The Northwest Gun by Charles E. Hanson Jr.
     
  3. Mar 25, 2019 #3

    Kansas Kid

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    Thanks Jim. Isaac Haines was supposed to have worked into 1790 ish so I was figuring maybe a scout or hunter would have brought their older beloved rifle with them?
     
  4. Mar 25, 2019 #4

    Pete G

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    An older rifle is not a problem. I often hunt with a rifle 100 years old (antique rifle for antique hunter).
     
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  5. Mar 25, 2019 #5

    Kansas Kid

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    Thanks Pete. I use antique firearms to hunt with also. I understand where Jim is coming from as being more common for folks maybe signing on or getting equipped around the big river.
     
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  6. Mar 25, 2019 #6

    rich pierce

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    The “Isaac Haines” kits are comfortable to shoot in larger calibers.
     
  7. Mar 25, 2019 #7

    Kansas Kid

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    Yes, they are my favorite with not a lot of drop in the stock large comfortable butt plate and shorter swamped bbl.
     
  8. Mar 25, 2019 #8

    tenngun

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    For sure any man going west could have taken an old personal arm. We know FDCs and such French guns continued to be used by Canadian Indians up to the twentieth century. Daddies gun could well have been in any ‘enterpriseing young mans’ hands. However keep in mind that most Mountain Men were employees of a fur company. And had been outfitted by the companies charged against later pay. A man with an Isiac Haines would be very much of a one off. More likely a man in the west with such a gun is probably more mature ant a settler /hunter/ trader in the trans Mississippi area.
     
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  9. Apr 1, 2019 #9

    Loyalist Dave

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    An interesting point..., so would we know of the majority of the men that went west to trap beaver, or would we know mostly of the men who were part of fur companies, and thus the numbers are skewed. Of course you'd have to be a member of a fur company to get resupplied at a rondezvous hosted by that company, so how many "free trappers" do we know about? I know the "companies" frowned on competition from independents and other companies, but how do we know. The western mountains are a big place.

    LD
     
  10. Apr 1, 2019 #10

    Kansas Kid

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    Would these fur companies insist you get a gun from them even if you had a serviceable one of your own?
     
  11. Apr 2, 2019 #11

    Artificer

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    You know, that is actually a GREAT question and the answer is, no they did not. They stocked guns their customers preferred and a new employee could have bought one had he wished or get one on credit, but it wasn't required he buy one from the company.

    The reason I mean it is a great question is because it would seem better for the companies to order rifles in the same bore size and that would make supplying replacement molds easier and everyone would enjoy the benefits of a common caliber. In emergencies and if someone ran out of balls, another member who trapped with him could loan him balls that would fit.

    What actually happened was most men went West with the Rifle they already owned and often of a rather small caliber that was plenty large enough for the game back East, but not as good for larger critters out West. Calibers were already getting smaller back East at this time. Now, the fur companies carried smoothbores and rifles for trade, so they ordered them in the calibers most of their customers preferred. So if the "new guy" going to the Mountains had too small a caliber of gun, the companies carried guns that were more useful out West.

    Gus
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  12. Apr 2, 2019 #12

    tenngun

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    Thinking about this thread, there are photos from the 1870s and 80s where men posed with full stock eastern style rifles.
    Were these photographers props? Maybe. But it suggests some eastern slim style rifles were going west.
     
  13. Apr 2, 2019 #13

    Grimord

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    Many of the eastern style, small bore rifles, were "Freshen out" to a larger caliber as it was cheaper to do than to buy a new rifle.
     
  14. Apr 3, 2019 #14

    rich pierce

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    From personal experience, it is hard to freshen a barrel more than a caliber a day. That is, .38 to .39 or .42 to .43 for example. Most barrels had breechplugs not much bigger than the bore. So any significant caliber increase would require drilling out to a larger bore, re-rifling, and re-breeching. More expensive than a new barrel and possibly more expensive than a new trade rifle.
     
  15. Apr 3, 2019 #15

    tenngun

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    I’m thinking it was in Hanson’s works (?) that Jacob Hawken principle business when he lived in Xeinia Ohio was in Gun repair and altering eastern guns to go west. I don’t still have his books and read them many years ago.
    As pointed above I don’t know how much a freshened bore could have been increased without having to replace the breech plug
     
  16. Apr 10, 2019 #16

    plmeek

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    tenngun got me to look in Hanson's books to see what was there. In The Hawken Rifle: Its Place In History, Hanson has a chapter devoted to "Repairs and Sundries". Hanson had tabulated the payments made to the Hawken brothers from all the sources he could find from 1822 to 1858. Gun stocking and repair furnished nearly one forth of the total income. The entries don't go into a lot of detail and most often just say simply "repairs to rifles", "repairing and cleaning 19 rifles & 26 shotguns", and "repairing gun".

    One bill for Bill Sublette circa 1830 has "Dresing out Rifle" for $1.00 and "Mendin Stock on Fusel [?] gun" for $.75, "Dresing out 2 pistols" for $1.00, "New tumbler" for $.75, and "Dresing out Rifle" for $1.00, "Moles & wiper" for $1.00, "new Cock on Lock" $1.00, and "percusing sillender & pees [?] on tang" for $5.00. Hanson's footnote to this bill says, "This appears to include refurbishing a flint rifle and altering it to percussion."

    They obviously freshened rifling in longarms and pistols. They also had the equipment to ream out a bore to larger calibers and re-rifle it, but that level of detail isn't normally recorded. It's apparent that a lot of the gun repair was re-stocking which shows the hard use that some of the guns were subject to. The multiple references to cleaning guns indicates that they weren't always well maintained in the field.

    The charge of a $1.00 to freshen a rifle probably supports Rich Pierce's comment "it is hard to freshen a barrel more than a caliber a day" since a day's labor was likely worth less than a $1.00. Reaming a bore to a much larger caliber and re-rifling would have likely cost several dollars.

    Hanson has another chapter on "Guns for Ashley" which has some interesting information. For example, "Ashley's first recruits for the mountains in 1822 were free trappers, according to Thomas Hempstead of the Missouri Fur Company, and probably brought their own guns (Morgan, 3-4)."

    Further,
    Apparently for the early years, it was common for a trapper to bring his own rifle--one he purchased in St. Louis or one he brought with him from back east.
     
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  17. Apr 10, 2019 #17

    Kansas Kid

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    Interesting and good information, Thanks
     
  18. Apr 10, 2019 #18

    plmeek

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    Back to your original question about an Issac Haines, I would agree with some of the responses that a late 1780s or early 1790s rifle could have made it to the mountains. It wouldn't have been common, and as time went on, even less common.

    Scott Gordon researched and wrote a piece on Jacob Dickert that one can find here. Gordon found that, "A merchant in Lexington, Kentucky, — a frontier town with 2,000 inhabitants in 1790, some 600 miles from Lancaster — advertised in 1788 that he had “four dickert rifle guns” for sale. The offhand use of “dickert” as a descriptor suggests that the merchant expected customers to recognize the name."
    [​IMG]

    This shows that Lancaster guns were being sold in quantity on the frontier west of the Alleghenies at the time that Issac Haines was an active gunsmith. I know of no evidence that Issac Haines built and sold rifles on the scale that Jacob Dickert did, but some of his rifles could have been carried to what was the frontier at that time.

    Later, as the Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee region was becoming more settled, many of these early settlers like Danial Boone moved further west to the new frontier in Missouri. Young men that were born and raised in the Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee regions also went west, especially after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. An Issac Haines rifle could have been brought west and ended up in the St. Louis area any time from 1800 on.

    For an Issac Haines rifle to have been carried by one of Ashley's men would have been extraordinary but not impossible. The caliber wouldn't have been an issue because large caliber rifles would still have been in demand on the frontier when Haines was active. The issue is that the rifle would have had to been preserved for the almost three decades from the time it was made until the mid- to late-1820s. That means, there would have been long periods when it didn't see much use. We have a few rifles that have been preserved and survived for over 200 years, so 30 years is not a big stretch. You just need a plausible story of how it hung over the door or fireplace for a couple of decades with only occasional use.

    You haven't said if you already have an Issac Haines style rifle or are planning on acquiring one or building one from the many available kits. If it is the latter, it would probably behoove you to look at RCA #80 in Shumway's book. This is a signed rifle, but it lacks the carving that's on the other known and attributed Issac Haines rifles. The patch box is a classic Lancaster daisy design with engraving, but maybe not as elaborate as other Haines rifles. This is a plausible rifle made for the frontier. If you want to add carving, then RCA #79 would be a good one to study.
     
  19. Apr 10, 2019 #19

    Kansas Kid

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    Thanks. I have two Haines style rifles, one 40 cal A weight and a 50 cal B weight. Also have a NW gun in 24ga and a 20ga Fusil De Chasse. A few cap guns in there also but always looking for the next one
     

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