Tuesday, January 19, 2016

James & John W Rinehart Gunsmiths


James & John Rinehart were sons of Abraham  & Mary Rinehart. James Rinehart, born 1811 in Virginia, Died 1883. James Rinehart was a Gunsmith in Hampshire County WV, (VA) from at least 1835-1848. In about 1848 he left Hampshire County to go West to Ross County Ohio. While in Hampshire County James bought Zebulon Sheetz's land.  More than likely this included Zebulon's gun shop, located on Cold Stream road near Capon Bridge.  Very probable that James apprenticed to Zebulon.  James usually marked his guns, J R on barrel flat in block letters. While his brother John W Rinehart would sign his JWR or J W Rinehart in script.  One thing of note, there seems to be more surviving Rinehart Rifles  than  those of any other maker from Hampshire County.  Hampshire County makers were rather fond of the acorn patchbox & Roman nose.  These two features became popular in HC from about 1825 or a little later through the end of gun-making in Hampshire County.

                                     Click Images for Large Image

J R 

                                                                     J R

The Above Tracings Taken From Two Rinehart Rifles.

John W Rinehart born 1826 , made rifles in Hampshire County up to and into the early 1850s. While here he was a most proficient maker if the number of surviving rifles are an indicator.  He also shared the art of gun making with others.  We believe that Nathaniel Oats, Benjamin Shane & Michael Rannels learned the trade from John.  All four can be found living in the same house in the 1850 census. In 1852 John pawned some  belongings to Nathaniel Offutt, it was about this same time he left Hampshire County.   John Rinehart went West as many gunsmiths from the East had done.  We find him making rifles in Lexington Missouri in 1860. He is listed as a gunsmith in the 1860 census. In the 1880 census he is listed as merchant. The rifle pictured  below, signed J W Rinehart is one he made while in Missouri.
J W Rinehart

J W R 

John died in 1893 in Lexington Missouri.

We will add more photos of their work in the next few weeks. If you have  photos of their rifles or portraits we would greatly appreciate.

Thanks to those who worked with us on this.