Wednesday, September 6, 2023


This fine rifle was featured as one of the Kentucky Rifle Association's Educational Displays from June 23-25, 2000. For a nearly identical example in the Joe Kindig, Jr. Collection, see gun 12 on page 46 of "Berks County Longrifle & Gunmaker's" by Patrick Hornberger. An included folder of provenance tells the story of this rifle well: “Francis Duchouquet (1751-1831), the man to whom tradition first links this swivel breech rifle, was a French trader among the Indian tribes of Northwest Ohio and a “noted Indian interpreter” for the United States government. Duchouquet was born “near Presque Isle.” His father is said to have been a French trader and, by some accounts, was a “half-blood.” His mother is generally believed to have been an Indian. Duchouquet himself married the daughter of a Shawnee chief and lived with the Shawnee as a member of the tribe on the site of the present-day town of Wapakoneta in Auglaize County, Ohio. But, despite his Indian blood and his ties to the Shawnee, Duchouquet was apparently thought of as a white man. Auglaize County historians consistently refer to him as a Frenchman or, more often, as “the old French trader.” He is credited with being the first white man to establish a home and business in that part of the country, and the township where Wapakoneta is located is named after him.Virtually every account written about Duchouquet includes the stories of two attempts he made to save the lives of captives taken by Indians. One of these incidents occurred in 1782 when Duchouquet reportedly tried unsuccessfully to prevent “the horrid torture and death at the stake of Colonel Crawford.” The other incident took place in 1790 when Duchouquet rescued twenty-one-year-old Charles Johnston from Virginia by paying Johnston’s captors the customary ransom of six hundred silver broaches (value, $100). These incidents, however, were evidently only two of many times Duchouquet attempted to help white captives. Johnston, who later wrote a book about his capture and rescue, said that Duchouquet “told me that he had in many instances…rescued citizens of the United States from the hands of the Indians, by paying a ransom for them,” and had seldom been repaid. At Johnston’s urging, Duchouquet applied to Congress and “drew from the public treasury the amount which he asked.” Historical accounts also emphasize Duchouquet’s activities as an interpreter. For several years, he served as official translator under agent John Johnston at the Indian agency at Piqua. In addition, he acted as interpreter for a number of significant treaty negotiations between the Indian tribes and the United States government. One Auglaize County historian claimed it was “apparent from the frequency and character of such employment that he must have possessed superior ability as a translator of the Indian tongue.” This historian noted that Duchouquet “was summoned to act as one of the interpreters during the negotiations” at Greenville in 1795, “at the rapids of the Maumee” in 1817, and at St. Mary’s in 1818. Duchouquet’s signature appears on the last two of these treaties and on at least one other treaty not mentioned by this historian—the 1815 treaty pardoning the chiefs and warriors who had fought for England in the War of 1812 and confirming the terms set by the Greenville treaty. Duchouquet “relinquished the business of a trader” about the time of the War of 1812, but he remained an interpreter until the very end of his life. In December of 1831, at the age of eighty, he left for Washington, D.C., with a small band of Shawnee chiefs to help renegotiate the unfavorable terms of the final Wapakoneta treaty, which had stripped the Shawnee of their Ohio lands. Duchouquet undoubtedly felt responsibility for the Shawnee’s plight. The day of the treaty negoriations, he had gotten drunk or, as one historian writes, been “made drunk” and “then removed by the commissioner” to be replaced with a translator “capable of interpreting the negotiations to sit the desires of the commissioner.” Duchouquet never made it to Washington. He became ill and died in Cumberland, Maryland. After Duchouquet’s death, the rifle, along with the rest of his property, fell into the hands of his son-in-law, Peter Hammel. Peter “Pierree” Hammel was also a French trader. He had come into the Wapakoneta area about 1815 and established a trading post. He married Duchouquet’s daughter in 1816 and moved in with his father-in-law, where he and his family were still living at the time of Duchouquet’s death. When Hammel died in 1840, among the items listed on his estate inventory and later sold at the estate auction were Duchouquet’s military coat, sash, and sword, and this “Riflegun.” The inventory estimate for the rifle was $12.00. It sold for $18.88. The man who bought the rifle was William Richardson (1764-1873), whose nickname was Rowdy. Born in Montgomery County, Virginia, Richardson was a “boy soldier” on the “skirmish line” during the Revolutionary War and is thought to have spent part of the war alongside his cousin, Anthony Wayne. He also fought in the border wars of Pennsylvania and western Virginia and joined Harrison’s army in 1812. But Richardson’s fighting was not limited to wars. Among other exploits, in 1813 he tracked and shot three Indians who had killed his second wife’s sister and her family. And in an 1872 interview, he described for a reporter how he had “once shot one Indian with another standing on his shoulder peeling bark for a canoe.” He said he shot “the under Indian to see the upper one fall.” Richardson came to the Auglaize County area in 1833, soon after the Shawnee had been removed. Although he was almost seventy at the time, he immediately “commenced clearing away the forest, drinking a little whiskey, [and] preaching the gospel on Sabbath.” He was also, because of his “powerful physique “ and “fearlessness,” “pressed into service…to do the public flogging at Wapakoneta.” William Richardson died at the age of 109 from injuries he got while trying to break a colt. According to his own report, he had married six times and was the father of twenty-five children. He outlived all but one of those wives and six of the children. The rifle Richardson purchased in 1840 remained in his family until around the turn of the century, when a family member sold it to Gregor L. Foos (1872-1956) of Wapakoneta. Foos, a prominent citizen of Wapakoneta, was an Indian relic collector and a member of the Wapakoneta Gun Club. He had the rifle for about fifty years. In 1948 it was sold to Hubert Wachtel (1899-1974) of Dayton, Ohio, along with Foos’ Indian relic collection. Unlike its previous owners, however, Wachtel owned the rifle for only a short time. Included is a copy of a photo of his daughter holding the rifle, dated 1948. Later in 1948, he allowed an acquaintance to take it to a Cincinnati antique show as part of a display. The acquaintance was swayed into selling the rifle. The price was $200, which was more than Wachtel had paid for it and Foos’ entire relic collection. After this sale, the rifle left the state of Ohio, but it found another long-term home. Charles Wermes (1915-1992) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was the last collector to own this swivel breech rifle, kept it until his death forty-some years after the rifle sold at the Cincinnati show.” The rifle itself features twin octagon barrels with deep rifling, one with a brass front sight and the other with a silver front sight. Notched rear sights. Single lock on right side with extended tail. Barrel fitted on each side with a pan and roller frizzen. The barrel swivels when the trigger guard is pulled back by the front of the bow. Classic early Berks County furniture, including a 4-piece patchbox with a stylized fleur-de-lis finial. There is a brass sideplate on left side that mimics the shape of the lockplate. Silver eight-point star above the cheekpiece. On one side of the wood between the barrels, there are three shaped brass inlays retained by screws that hold the two forend strips together. The opposite side is mounted with a ramrod in the center and three brass ferrules. Brass end cap on both strips of forend. Highly figured tiger maple stock of early Berks County, Pennsylvania form. Carved with relief scrolls on left side of buttstock behind the cheekpiece. Complete with what appears to be its original wooden ramrod. 

CONDITION: Barrels retain a pleasing brown patina. Lock is in its original flintlock, but spring is weak and cock position needs adjustment. Brass retains a pleasing dark mustard patina. Stock shows its original surface with areas of handling wear. Carving is strong on buttstock and heavily worked at wrist behind barrel tang. Forend strips show no signs of restoration. An important and well-documented swivel breech rifle. 

From the Louie Parker Collection.

LOT #: 2113

Minimum Bid: $15,000.00

Estimate: $30,000.00 - $60,000.00

Copy and photos from Morphy auction  here.

Firearms & Militaria

September 05 - 07, 2023 • 9:00 AM EDT

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