Saturday, January 4, 2014

OTHO & ZEBULON SHEETZ

NOTABLE ANTIQUE GUNS                                                             BY   JIM WHISKER

                                                                      

ARTWORK BY
JEFF PRECHTEL
Click pictures for larger view


Courtesy of The
RICHARD ALAN WOOD COLLECTION

                                                                     
                                                                             
                                                                   


ZEBULON SHEETZ, BORN ABOUT 1793, WAS A GUNSMITH IN BETHEL VALLEY, BLOOMERY DISTRICT, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA.  ZEBULON WAS A SON OF HENRY SHEETZ, SR.

ZEBULON SERVED IN THE 77TH REGIMENT, VIRGINIA MILITIA, DURING THE WAR OF 1812, UNDER CAPTAIN JOHN DEAN.  HE WAS DRAFTED IN NOVEMBER 1814, AND HIS SERVICE LASTED APPROXIMATELY "FIFTY OR SIXTY DAYS".(1)

ON AUGUST 26, 1819, HE BOUGHT 59 ACRES OF LAND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE GREAT CACAPON RIVER, IN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY (2).  ON MARCH 16, 1822, HE BOUGHT 33 ACRES ON EDWARDS RUN (3).  IN JULY 1835 ZEBULON AND MARGARET SHEETZ SOLD TO JAMES RINEHART A  TRACT OF 40 1/2 ACRES ON EDWARDS RUN, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY FOR $1000 (4).

ZEBULON WAS A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, A MEMBER OF THE HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COURT (5), AND WAS ACTIVE IN LOCAL POLITICS (6).  AN UN-NAMED FOREIGN VISITOR TO AMERICA, QUOTED IN A POPULAR MAGAZINE OF THE TIME, WAS STRUCK WITH THE BEAUTY OF THE BETHEL VALLEY AND WITH ITS RURAL NATURE.  HE FOUND THAT ZEBULON SHEETZ RAN NOT ONLY A GUNSHOP, BUT ALSO WORKED AS A MILLER, A TANNER, SAW MILL OPERATOR, AND AT THE WOOL-CARDING BUSINESS (7).

ZEBULON'S NAME APPEARED ON THE CENSUSES OF HAMPSHIRE COUNTY FOR 1820 AND 1830, BUT NOT THEREAFTER.  HE MOVED TO INDIANA SOMETIME AFTER 1830. ZEBULON MADE APPLICATION FOR A WAR OF 1812 PENSION ON MAY 18, 1852, GIVING HIS AGE AS 58 AND HIS ADDRESS AS WHITE COUNTY, INDIANA.  HE DIED IN WHITE COUNTY IN NOVEMBER 1868 (8).

OTHO SHEETZ (?-1833) WAS FIRST LOCATED AS A GUNSMITH IN HAMPSHIRE [NOW MINERAL] COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA.  ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1811, FREDERICK SHEETZ SOLD TO OTHO LOT 8 IN FRANKFORD [FORT ASHBY] (9). ON MARCH 2, 1812, OTHO SHEETS BOUGHT LOT NUMBER 7 IN FRANKFORD, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, FOR $57.00 (10).  ON JANUARY 11, 1815, SUSANNA AND OTHO SHEETZ SOLD LOTS 7 AND 8 TO THOMAS CATHER (11).  THE 1820 CENSUS OF INDUSTRY SHOWED THAT OTHO EMPLOYED 3 MEN AND HAD MADE 90 FIREARMS IN THE PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS, EACH VALUED AT $18.00.

IN 1820, THOMAS SHEETZ, A GUNSMITH IN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, REPORTED THAT HE HAD MADE 90 RIFLES IN THE PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS AND EMPLOYED 3 HANDS (12).  NOTHING ELSE IS KNOWN OF THOMAS SHEETS.  WE MAY NOTE THAT THE REPORT IS IDENTICAL TO THAT GIVEN \BY OTHO SHEETZ.

ON JANUARY 27, 1820, SUSANNA AND OTHO SHEETZ SOLD THEIR REMAINING LAND IN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY (13).  IT WAS MOST LIKELY THAT AT THIS TIME OTHO MOVED TO OHIO ALTHOUGH THERE ARE NO RECORDS OF HIS LAND PURCHASES UNTIL 1824.  IT IS LIKELY THAT THE SHEETZ FAMILY REMAINED IN FLUSHING TOWNSHIP, BELMONT COUNTY, OHIO, WHERE OTHO DIED IN LATE 1832 OR EARLY 1833 (14).  THE INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE OF OTHO SHEETS WAS TAKEN ON MARCH 9, 1833, AND SHOWED:

6 GUN BARRELS, $18.00
1 SHOT GUN, $10.00
19 GUN STOCKS, $ 2.37
1 GRINDSTONE, $2.00
1 LOT OF FILES, ASSORTED SIZES, $3.50
1 LOT OF PLANES, $0.75
1 PLIERS, BEVELING VICE, $1.00
1 TUMBLER GRINDER, $0.75
1 PAIR SHEARS, OIL STONE, TRIGGERS, $1.00
1 LOT OF PATTERNS & FLASKS, $1.25
3 DRAWING RODS, FRAME & BITS, $1.00
1 LOT OF CHERRIES & PUNCHES, $1.50
1 LOT OF PATTERNS, $0.37
1 BOTTLE OF OIL ACQUA FORTIS, $0.62
1 DRILL & BOW, $0.12
14 CHISELS & 2 DRAWING KNIVES, $1.75
1 SCREW VICE, $2.50
2 SLEDGES, 2 HAMMERS & 4 TONGS, $3.50
1 LOT OF SWEDGES, $2.00
1 CRUCIBLE & BRASS, $0.18
1 ANVIL, $10.00
1 BELLOWS, $7.50
29 NEW FILES, $2.50
1 PIECE OF IVORY, $0.62
1 LOT OF SAND PAPER, $0.37
6 POUNDS OF SHEETS BRASS, 1.50


THE GUNS

TWO KNOWN GUNS ARE CO-SIGNED "O. & Z. SHEETZ," FOR OTHO AND ZEBULON.  THEY WERE ALMOST CERTAINLY MADE BEFORE OTHO LEFT HAMPSHIRE COUNTY FOR OHIO.  BOTH EXHIBIT TYPICAL HAMPSHIRE COUNTY STYLING.  THE CARVING AND ENGRAVING PATTERNS ARE WITHIN THE PATTERNS ESTABLISHED BY THE SHEETZ FAMILY WHILE THEY WORKED IN WEST VIRGINIA.

                                                                                   



THE DESIGN AND EXECUTION ARE BOTH EXCELLENT.  THE RELIEF CARVING IS IN THE BEST TRADITION OF LATER GOLDEN AGE KENTUCKY RIFLES.  ONE WHO WISHES TO RECREATE A WESTERN VIRGINIA RIFLE OF C.1815 COULD FIND NO BETTER INSPIRATION THAN THE O. & Z. SHEETZ RIFLES.

                                                                             
TOP TO BOTTOM
R P
Z SHEETZ
Z SHEETZ
Z SHEETZ
O & Z SHEETZ

THE ONLY REAL QUESTION, AS WITH ANY AND ALL CO-SIGNED RIFLES IS:  WHICH CRAFTSMAN DID WHAT PART OF THE WORK?  WHATEVER THEIR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP MAY HAVE BEEN, THEY MADE AT LEAST TWO BEAUTIFUL GUNS TOGETHER.

                                                                         

PAGE 147 GUNSMITHS OF VIRGINIA
JAMES BISER WHISKER

Zebulon Sheetz

Courtesy of The
RICHARD ALAN WOOD COLLECTION

END NOTES
1 FROM HIS APPLICATION FOR A WAR OF 1812 PENSION DATED MAY 18, 1852.
2 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 22:  13.
3 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 22:  404.
4 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 31:  92.
5 ALTHOUGH CALLED A "COURT" THESE MEN WERE IN FACT WHAT TODAY ARE KNOWN AS COMMISSIONERS.
6 H. MAXWELL AND H. L. SWISHER, HISTORY OF HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA, FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE PRESENT [1923], 277.
7 SATURDAY EVENING POST, JANUARY 25, 1840.
8 FROM FAMILY RECORDS COURTESY OF MARK SMITH TO WHOM I AM INDEBTED FOR A COPY OF THE PENSION APPLICATION.
9 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 17:  94.
10 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 17:  235.
11 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 19:  47.
12 U.S. CENSUS OF MANUFACTURES, 1820.
13 HAMPSHIRE COUNTY DEED BOOK 22:  39.
14 BELMONT COUNTY WILLS AND ESTATES.  THIS WAS FIRST  LOCATED BY THE LATE BOB MCAFEE.

ARTICLE REPRINTED FROM THE OCTOBER, 2013 ISSUE OF MUZZLE BLASTS MAGAZINE COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL MUZZLE LOADING RIFLE ASSOCIATION (WWW.NMLRA.ORG).  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

**SPECIAL THANKS TO AUTHOR JAMES B. WHISKER & THE NATIONAL MUZZLE
                                             LOADING  RIFLE ASSOCIATION**

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SHOOTING MODERN MUZZLE LOADING RIFLES, ANTIQUE LONG RIFLES , AMERICAN HISTORY & MUCH MORE. CHECK OUT   THE  NMLRA TODAY.
                                                                            http://nmlra.org/

THANKS TO THE COLLECTORS WHO ALLOWED  US PHOTOGRAPH THEIR RIFLES
                                                  PLEASE DO NOT COPY