John Sheets (Father)
Before 1796, John Sheets apprenticed to Simon Lauck in Winchester, Virginia. Many of the fine longrifles from the Lauck shop are endowed by the hands of John Sheets. In 1796, John advertises that he is make longrifles for sale, in his gunsmith shop, in Staunton, Virginia. (1)
In 1808, John purchased a lot and built a gunsmith shop/residence in the Newtown section of Staunton along the Parkersburg Turnpike which was the wagon road to the Ohio Country. His shop was near the Toll House for the turnpike. In 1832 John, his son Henry and their families moved to Union City, Ohio. (2)
Capt. Isaac Frame, during the War of 1812, writes to the James Barbour, Governor of Virginia: "John Sheets of Staunton, VA is as grand a genius as the world affords". (3)
John was a superb gunsmith. He is known for his excellent engraving, wire inlay, and design skills. His attention to such detail is found on the longrifles on display.
(1) (3) Research by Wallace Gusler, Williamsburg, VA
(2) Research by Gordon Barlow, Swoope, VA
Henry Sheets (son)
Henry Sheets was the son of John Sheets of Staunton, Virginia. When one compares the work of the two men there can be no doubt that Henry apprenticed to his father. (1)
In 1832, Henry moves to Union City, Ohio, where he worked as a gunsmith until his death. His father, John, accompanied him to Ohio and lived with his son in Union City, Ohio. Both John and Henry Sheets are buried in their church cemetery in Union City, Ohio. (2)
At least two half stock rifles signed, Henry Sheets, Union City, Ohio, exist.
Henry's son, Joshua, married Mary Ferree, daughter of James Farree, gunsmith in Ohio. Joshua is not known to have made longrifles. (2)
Henry, like his father John, was a superb gunsmith. He is known for his excellent engraving, wire inlay, and design skills. His attention to such detail is found on the longrifles on display.
(1) Research by Gordon Barlow, Swoope, VA
(2) Research by Richard Sheets, Dayton, Ohio
Michael Galban (right) talking with Art Riser (left)
Gary Birch Bag
Photographed at the 2012 CLA Show by Jan Riser.