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Discussion Starter #1
James Stapleton was a gunsmith in Todd Township, Huntingdon County in the mid and late 1800s. I grew up in Huntingdon Co. near Marklesburg, have many family members in the area, and I may very well be a descendent of Mr. Stapleton (my grandfather was a Stapleton). I have the Track of the Wolf book discussing gunmakers of Bedford, Fulton and Huntingdon Counties that has picutres of Mr. Stapleton's home, shop and several of his guns. I would really appreciate the opportunity to see his guns in person and hope that a historical society or other public collection might have one - has anyone seen any of his guns in western or central PA? A true dream would certainly be to own one some day, but I would even settle for a few photographs and possibly have someone build me a replica made in his style someday. I know its a longshot, but please let me know if you have run across any of his guns, or if you know anything about him.
 

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Berks County Historical Society currently has an exibit on Pa Longrifles. I think they have 50 some rifles on display, but I am not sure if they are all made in Berks county or not. Would not hurt to contact them. Also there is the Jacobsburg Historical Society they house the PA Longrifle Museum in Nazareth PA send them an email at [email protected] or 610 262-8171 they would be able to steer you in the right direction
 

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The Berks Historical Display if entirely Berks area guns. (And I am a descendent of the Angstadts (gun maker family) Over the years Muzzle Blasts has run dozens perhaps hundreds of articles about the various original gun smiths, usually with some fair quality black and white pictures. If there was such an article, perhaps the NMLRA can tell you what month and year and tell you how to get a copy. If a gun is in a private collection,folks are usually mum about the whereabouts, don't want to be robbed. when I was a kid about 10 yrs old, my dad took me to visit a guy that had at least 20 originals hanging on his walls. No idea who that was. The guy did have special display cases and I remember how he was fussy about special lighting and it was also the first time I visited a home that had airconditioning.

The Kindig collection had been in private hands in York. He probably had two of nearly every gun maker. No idea how to contact who ever had what's left of Kindig's collection. There are some better authors who put out books with pictures about various guns and styles.

There are some better premium very expensive books with special color plates of guns. It would be nice if there was a central index of all the reports and writings about the guns. I can tell you that some of these authors know who had what gun when and where they have ended up. Sort of an unwritten net work.

Of course there are still guns that haven't been catelogued and written about that surface from estates and family farms etc. Although it is getting rarer. In fact I have two rather plain original guns that I figure are from around the 1830'sor 1840's that I am going to haul up to Dixon for a consult about possible origins and makers or at least a lead on an expert to look at them.

There is a column every month in Muzzle Blasts that answers questions about makers. The authors may be able to give you leads about what books have write ups & where such a gun may be on exhibition.
 

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Ok bud you may be in luck, a quick Google indicates that Muzzle Blasts had an article about a James Stapleton gun on page 62 in November 2002

Notable Antique Guns
William and Hugh Calderwood, September 2002, p. 35.
Joseph Mills, Jr., October 2002, p. 62.
James Stapleton, November 2002, p. 62.
John Hills, December 2002, p. 62.
Melchior Fordney, Sr., February 2003, p. 58.
Andrew Figthorn, April 2003, p. 60

Call the NMLRA and ask how to get a DVD or print copy. of the article.
 

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you may also want to check out the american longrifle forums a lot of info on those boards
 

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You really need to meet up with or become a KRA (Kentucky Rifle Assoc.) member. We are the oldest longrifle collecting group in the country. Here is the web address:
http://www.kentuckyrifleassociation.org/index.html
If you want to see the best of the best PA Rifle collections then you want to join this group. I have seen two Stapelton rifles at the annual show. It is always in June and has recently moved to the Pittsburgh area.

Good luck

GBJ
 

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On 21 Feb., Huntingdon County Historical Society will be presenting a display of Huntingdon County Longrifles. Included will be my collection of Stapleton rifles

Patchbox
 

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Patchbox said:
On 21 Feb., Huntingdon County Historical Society will be presenting a display of Huntingdon County Longrifles. Included will be my collection of Stapleton rifles

Patchbox
You can't leave us hanging with that little bit of info. Pics, details, etc. Inquiring minds want to know more.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Patchbox,

Thank you so much for responding. It looks like I need to get back home to Huntingdon on the 21st. I checked the society's website and unfortunately I didn't see anything listed on the event, so I will probably call to get the details.
 

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The display is a one day affair, Sunday, 21 Feb and we estimate we will have up to 50 longrifles made in Huntingdon County. Gun makers included are James Stapleton (6-8 guns), W. S.Chilcote, Nicholas Shennefelt, Samuel Gehrett, Jacob F. Gehrett, Valentine and George Fleck, Joseph Douglass Jr. and J. S. Johnston and others. Also on display will be a collection of accoutrements including tools from the shop of James Stapleton and J. S. Johnston, powder horns from that era as well as photos of former gun shops. Information on each gun maker will be included in the display. If you have a Huntingdon County rifle that you would like to display or learn more about, bring it along! Jim Whisker, author of many books on longrifles, will be there with books for sale.

By the way, Stapleton was born in 1833 which was about the time the percussion cap system became popular so none of his guns were flintlock.

Patchbox
 

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Re person interested in seeing Stapleton rifles, I am related to Stapleton and have an extensive collection of his guns. I will be displaying them at Huntingdon County Historical Society on 21 Feb from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM and will have some genealogy info to help you determine your relationship. Will be happy to share my info with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I had to post a follow-up to thank those that directed me to various resources on Stapleton guns. The display at the Huntingdon County historical society yesterday was tremendous. I re-connected with several folks I haven't seen in years who heard about the display and wanted to see what it was about. I heard several people mention they had no idea there were that many gunsmiths in the area. I also met several new folks that were very knowledgable about the gunsmith industry in Huntingdon Co. I confirmed that my great great grandfather was James Stapleton's brother. Thanks again Patchbox!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I ran across this thread looking for something else and decided to post another follow up. Thanks again to Patchbox, this year I acquired not one, but two, original James Stapleton rifles. When I broached the subject with my wife that I found 2 Stapleton rifles for sale, and wanted to get one, my wife understood how long I had been looking and said - if your intent is to get one and keep it, why not get both of the rifles for son 1 and son 2 to have when you are gone? Hard to argue with that logic (and I'm fairly confident she meant when I'm gone a long time from now). I should firm up that last point with her and make sure she doesn't have any plans for me...Anyway, I couldn't be happer to have them. Next on the list is upgrading my T/C Renegade 50 cal. to something more authentic for Penns Woods late flint season. Anyone have an custom flint longrifle available cheap? A Lancaster, or perhaps a Bedford, in .50?
 
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