The above headstone marks the final resting place of gunsmith Charles Miller (1804-1884) interned in Miller-Halstead Cemetery, Monroe County, West Virginia. The rifle engraved near the bottom of the stone was Charles's family's tribute to his lifelong work.
I wanted to get a picture of one of Charles's rifles to post, but was unable to find anyone who currently has one. However, from information we have received, he usually signed his rifles, "C M," and put the year they were made on the barrel.
From an article by Shirley Donnelly in the February 15, 1956 Beckley Post Herald, Donnelly tells a story related to him by another, of a hunting trip that Charles took in Raleigh County. The story goes that Miller killed a couple deer, and not being a man to waste anything, made a bellows from the deer hides. The bellows were likely made for his forge in his gunsmithing.
Charles is listed as a gunsmith in the 1850 census, as well as the 1870 census. In the 1880 census he is listed as a blacksmith.
If anyone has a West Virginia rifle signed "C M," please contact us. We would greatly appreciate pictures.
As with our other posts, this is a work in progress, and we will add more information in the future.
Thanks to Becky Hawthorne for allowing the use of her photo.