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Some 50+ years ago my grandfather was out plowing a field and the rod weeder plugged up with weeds so he stops the tractor and goes back and starts pulling out the weeds & grass and feels a piece of metal tangled up down under the dirt. He wiggles it around a bit and up out of the dirt somes an old rusty Colt C&B revolver. This old relic hung on the wall for a few dozen years and one day somebody noticed there was a very faint inscription scratched on the bottom of the butt. With a little magnification it appears to read: C Smith April 29 1861 Just an interesting little story I thought I'd share. I still own the gun and it still has 5 loaded chambers from 140 years ago but is rusted badly enough that the cylinder isn't capable of turning. The s/n is quite legible and I've always wondered if Colt had any records that could shed some light on its original shipping destination.

(also posted on GT and Ruger forum)
 

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Too cool! And this is in Montana? So what you likely have is a revolver from a Civil war veteran who either stayed in the service and was stationed out that way postwar, or a man who mustered out and went to seek more adventure. Wow!
The date inscribed is just after the beginning of hostlities between the North and South. Very interesting.
Unfortunately, there was a fire at the Colt factory in 1863 or 1864. A great deal of the records were destroyed. You may never know anymore than what you do now, but like Mercator said, give it a try.
Definitely let us know what you find out. Fascinating.
Do you have any way to post photos of the revolver?
 

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Just a little past its prime!



As to the inscription on the butt, who knows what significance it had to the owner. Date of purchase? Birthdate? Service date? Maybe it just happened to be a nice day so he scratched his name & date into it? How did he come to lose it? Indian ambush? Too much to drink, fell off his horse & lost it? Fell out of a pack? Saw the light, turned into an anti-gun liberal whacko and just threw it away?
Who knows?
 

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Wow! that is fantastic!!

A theory did your grampa by chance dig oh say 6 feet down where he found the gun?

might be the owner down there.

my theory is that the owner may have died in that location and someone buried him their then recorded the event and the burial on the butt of the revolver and left it as a grave site marker possibly.

to bad his name was smith or it might have been an easy task checking with the Montana Historical Society to see if they hae a death certificate for him. however since you have middle initial it's worth a shot.
 

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Hmmmm..... a gravesite is one option I hadn't thought of. Unfortunately grandpa died in '59 and my dad died in '88 and I only have a vague idea of the general area where it was found, perhaps no closer than 1/4 mile or so. A gravesite is feasable though as the city of Helena didn't exist til after 1864 when "The Four Georgians" made one of the biggest gold strikes in the northwest here. It was their last chance before heading back east and the main street of Helena is still named as such, "Last Chance Gulch". Helena was named capital of Montana territory in 1875 and became a state on November 8th, 1889. I am aware of at least one grave along the creek here beside what was once an old wagon trail between the Missouri and present day Helena and the old Colt .31 was unearthed just a few hundred feet off the old trail. Being of .31 caliber also casts some doubt on the idea of it being a soldiers sidearm I would think. (sorry, I forgot to make any mention of caliber in previous posts) Here's a shot of the diminutive .31 alongside a .36 for comparison.



[This message has been edited by Jbar4Ranch (edited 09-17-2000).]
 

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That is so cool!! Please keep us all updated on anything you find out. Are there some "really old" old-timers in the area who may have some recollection of events (that would make them really, really old) or at least verbal histories? Maybe some of them have some old letters or journals or something to provide clues? Lots of history has been discovered through old letters and diaries!

Your post got me thinking about something... My wife's family has a homestead near a small town in OK, from the Oklahoma land run (1889) (the original stake is under the house). The Dalton gang is said to have occasionally used a cave on the property, and even watered their horses at the house; they apparently never caused any trouble there, though. (Probably along the theory of "don't $hit where you eat"
) I can't wait to get back there and start sifting soil! Maybe I'll find something in the area around that cave...

Have you contacted any history professors at the universities in Montana? Maybe some eager young graduate student would help do some research for his Master's thesis or whatever...

Good luck chasing down this piece of history.

Mil-Spec

[This message has been edited by Mil-Spec (edited 09-18-2000).]
 

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WAY COOL!!!VISITED MONTANA when i was 16 yrs old.took a trip to the grand tetons in wyoming and yellowstone.thats some of the most beautiful country up there.i remember me and my buddies wearing cowboyhats and wanting to move up there.o well maybe someday.
 

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new member here. am looking for a copy of troubleshooting the colt lightnings by clifford mills, 1987 print i think. have a couple of old colt autos and one old kightning/thunderer 41 cal. need info think its the 41 a copy from mexican revolution, who knows which one. any help is appreciated. thanks books
 

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This has to be a record . 10+ year old thread resurrected .

books , recommend starting a new thread to inquire . You'll get more responses .
 
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