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Discussion Starter #1
Colt Camp Perry -- need help researching "Dr. R.E. Neill," possible Philippines link

I need some help in my efforts to trace the provenance of a Colt Camp Perry single-shot target pistol, serial number 1502.

I purchased this pistol about a year ago from a veteran collector, who had acquired it many years before from another collector who is now deceased. At that time of that transaction many years ago, the previous owner passed on this information: “[The pistol was originally] shipped to Governor General [of the] Philippines for his shooting team.” Unfortunately, other than this assertion, no documentation has come down with the pistol.

The pistol itself has the initials “REN” stamped into the bottom of the grip frame (see photo). The stamping is rather crude, clearly done one letter at a time. In every other respect, the pistol is pristine.

The price I paid was fair and appropriate even if the original owner was nobody special. Still, I tried to check out "the story." I applied for and obtained a Colt Archive letter, which reported that the pistol was shipped on April 16, 1928, to “Dr. R.E. Neill," which corresponds to the initials stamped into the butt frame. However, to my disappointment, for "address" the factory letter said simply "unavailable." I called and spoke to one of the Colt historians who prepare these letters. He said that the factory order records often do not show the address for orders from individuals for single guns (as opposed to orders from retail outlets or other regular customers). He again examined the pertinent page from the book of factory order records, and said that it only contained the handwritten name, and he said it was not even entirely clear whether the spelling was "Neil" or "Neill."

I would be delighted to learn anything at all about a target shooter, circa 1928 or later, named "Dr. R. E. Neill," "Neil," or even "Neal." My rudimentary research using Google and various reference books found no likely candidates.

In addition, if anyone has any information on a pistol team of that era that existed in the Philippines, especially if associated in any way with any of the governors-general of the Philippines, that would be of greatest interest. If "the story" is true, the sponsoring Governor-General would most likely have been Henry L. Stimson, who served in that capacity from December 1927 to February 1929, and who later went on to serve as Secretary of State and then Secretary of War for the U.S.A.

Thank you!
 

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The only thing I have found so far is there was a Doctor Roberta E. Neill living in Springfield Ma in 1922.
 

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There was also a R.E. Neill that was a policeman in San Antonio Texas in the 1910's. He was born about 1880.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here is part of the page, it is from the 1922 Springfield Ma. city directory. I can't post a link, it comes from a site I pay to access. If you would like the entire page send me a PM with your emails address.
Done -- thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Back to the top . . . I am looking for any documentation that might link this Dr. Roberta E. Neill of Springfield, Massachusetts (1895-1976) with this Colt Camp Perry pistol. bfog has kindly searched various databases and found no other "Doctor" listed whose initials would correspond to the name provided in the Colt letter, "Dr. R.E. Neill."
 

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There was also a R.E. Neill that was a policeman in San Antonio Texas in the 1910's. He was born about 1880.
Being from Texas and from a long line of Texas Neills, I find this whole thread interesting. Did you know that Colonel James Neill was head of the Texas artillery and originally captured the Alamo?
 

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Being from Texas and from a long line of Texas Neills, I find this whole thread interesting. Did you know that Colonel James Neill was head of the Texas artillery and originally captured the Alamo?
I didn't know that. When in Texas I've often heard phrases like, "that old boy, he's tough as Neills," so now I know what it means.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am still looking for any documentation that might link Dr. Roberta E. Neill of Springfield, Massachusetts (1895-1976) with my Colt Camp Perry pistol. A search of various databases by bfog found no other "Doctor" listed whose initials would correspond to the name provided in the Colt letter, "Dr. R.E. Neill."
 

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Don't be so quick to seize on the idea of it belonging to a female doctor - especially not at that time frame.

They were few and far between.

Nothing says it has to be an American, either - he could've been a Brit, an Aussie or a Kiwi, since all of those folks were involved in the Philippines before the War, pursuing various interests.

Your best bet is to attempt to delve deeper into the pre-war Philippine Consul staff.
 

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Hi

I'vre reviewed the American Medical Directory for 1914 & 1921. The only "RE Neill" is the aforementioned Dr Roberta Estella Hewitt Neill; she was an anesthesiologist who graduated from U Mass in 1918 & practiced in Springfield. I will try and obtain the American Medical Directories for 1927 & 1929. If she is the only RE Neill in either then she may be the person in question.

If you obtain her obituary it may make mention of her interests to including shooting sports, etc.

Of course, RE Neill could have been a veterinarian or a dentist in which case you may be out of luck.

The UK directory of physicians & surgeons from 1859-1959 came up blank.

The AMD also included Canadian physicians at the time so you would be able to rule out Canada as possibility if indeed Dr Neill was an MD or DO.

As for the Philippine connection it may just be a red herring. It is doubtful the US government would purchase a pistol and have it shipped directly to a private citizen who would then be allowed to engrave his / her initials on the butt.
 

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But it's not a 'Government Purchase' in the common sense - that of arming a force.

It's a purchase with a government connection done in a time when anyone could buy from the factory and have it show up in the mail - even at an address in a Consul's office.
 

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Sorry - it looks like our library does not have the AMA's directories going back that far; I'm afraid I cannot offer any more help.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I appreciate these efforts. I have not yet found an obituary for Dr. Roberta E. Neill, but I did find a biographical entry from the 1920s, which focused on her education and medical practice.

Some months ago I sent inquiries to both a consular source and the head of the civilian competition shooting association in the Philippines, but so far, so response.

Aside from the initials stamped into the butt, the pistol appears to be virtually unused -- possibly unfired, or close to it. It certainly does not look like a pistol that was used on any frequent basis in competition.
 
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