Posts By mikehelms

Louis Woodmansee’s Model 1

Partly Engraved Model 1

Personalized firearms offer a unique glimpse into the lives of the people that owned them, and this gun is no exception.

This Smith & Wesson Model 1, 2nd Issue, serial number 42,684, was engraved to "Capt. L. Woodmanse." An otherwise unremarkable Model 1 that was re-plated at some point in the past, this gun was owned by a Civil War veteran from Ohio.

Louis Woodmansee was born on November 17, 1829 in Ohio. He enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant in Company B of the Ohio 98th Infantry Regiment on August 20, 1862, and mustered out on December 23, 1863. Several years after the Civil War, Louis moved his family to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he and his father-in-law operated the Grant House hotel. Local newspapers indicate that President Ulysses Grant visited the hotel in 1869, much to the delight of Wheeling's citizens.

Louis operated the hotel until it burned down in 1876. Sadly, he committed suicide in 1887, and was buried in Saint Clairsville Union Cemetery in Belmont County, Ohio. The local newspapers reported that he used a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson to end his life, but it's possible that they confused this gun with a larger .32 caliber top hinge gun.

Over the years this gun made its way to Wasilla, Alaska, where it was located in July of 2017.

The Rollin White Arms Company – Part 1

Of the defunct gun manufacturers that collectors inevitably stumble across, one of the least understood is the Rollin White Arms Company.

Lucius Pond

The guns of Lucius Willson Pond pop up on the market from time to time, and they receive some attention because of Pond’s affiliation to Smith & Wesson (specifically, through his violation of Rollin White’s patent). Throughout my research I realized that there is no really good biography of Lucius. Here’s a summary of my research on this interesting man.

A Heavy Russian from Montgomery Ward

For most people, thinking about the venerable (and now defunct) Chicago retailer Montgomery Ward doesn’t conjure up images of guns. Over the years they sold plenty of branded guns (like this rebranded Stevens rifle), but the gun I’m writing about today is actually a Smith & Wesson .44 Double Action, First Model, that was shipped to the Chicago firm on July 15, 1892.

Mr. Gibson’s 1849 Pocket Colt

An inevitable question that every gun collector asks is, “who owned this gun?” It’s a question whose answer is usually lost to history, since the idea of keeping records about who bought what gun is, in the United States, a relatively modern phenomenon, and an incomplete one at that. But a gun occasionally tantalizes the interested historian with clues about its first owner, as this particular gun demonstrates.