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Subject: [WHITLEY] Story of William Whitley's Rifle
Date: 23 Oct 2006 09:34:29 -0600
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I found this while researching PhilipSublette as he married Isabell Whitley.
Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Friday, November 27, 1874
An Old Indian Killer.
INTERESTING EVENTS IN THE HISTORY
OF AN ANCIENT RIFLE.
[From the Louisville Courier-Journal.]
Mr. Andrew Whitley, of St. Louis,
en route to Lexington, visited the
Courier-Journal office yesterday with a
rare relic of the earliest days of Kentucky.
It was a rifle, made by Jacob
Young, of Virginia, in 1741, and
owned by Mr. Whitley's grandfather,
Wm. Whitley, who was one of the first
white men that came to Kentucky, and
was a companion of Daniel Boone.
The Gun is as much a curiosity, on
account of its great length, as it is a
prize on account of its great age, its
history, and recent associations. It is
the old-time flintlock pattern, about
five feet five inches in length, with a
siIver plate mounting on the stock,
bearing the inscription: "W. and
E. W.," which stands for William and
The gun, in the days of its useful-
ness, was a piece of the family prop-
erty, and the wife learned as well as
the husband to coolly draw the bead
on a deer or an Indian, whenever occa-
sion required. The weapon is of large
bore, with perfect rifle, and the stock
and ferruled rammer are apparently in
perfectly sound condition.
Accompanying the gun is a large
powder-horn of beautiful shape, carry-
ing a large supply of powder, and suit-
ing the use of the hunter as well as
the ordinary small hunting flask or
horn, its shape being as well adapted
to the purpose. The horn is well
known throughout the State, and bears
on one side the following verses, carved
in the bony substance. The words
were composed, by Wm. Whitley him-
self, and will doubtless be remembered
by many readers of the Courier-Journal
familiar with the lives of the early
William Whitley, I am your horn;
The truth I love, a lie I scorn.
Fill me with, best of powder,
Ile make your rifle crack the lowder.
See how the dread terrifick ball
Makes Indians bleed and toreys fall.
You with powder Ile supply
For to defend your Liberty.
The belt to which the horn is at-
tached is heavily ornamented with
beads made of the quills of porcupines,
which are said to have been killed in
After passing through all the scenes
of terror enacted on the dark and
bloody ground, incident to the settle-
ment of the commonwealth by the
whites, the faithful old rifle was asso-
ciated with events which add great in-
terest to its history.
William Whitley was a soldier in
the war of 1812, and directed the bul-
lets of his old-time friend against the
British and Indians at the battle of
the Thames, Canada. Here he was
killed in the thick of the fight, but
the gun was preserved and returned to
his people in Kentucky.
Some time before the recent civil
war the present owner came to this
State, found the gun in the possession
of Mrs. Sallie Ann Higgins, near Crab
Orchard, and purchased it at a cost of
$150. He carried the relic to his home
in St. Louis, where he kept it until
the breaking out of the war, when he
was arrested at Camp Jackson during
the demonstration there on the llth
day of May, 1861, and was for some
time a prisoner in Federal hands. A
short time previous to this occurrence,
while contemplating entering the Con-
federate army, he placed the gun in
the keeping of a man named Bates, the
janitor of Wyman's Museum, St.
Louis. A short time afterward the
museum changed hands, and Bates
went to Canada, taking the gun with
At the close of the war Whitley re-
turned home, and immediately after-
ward commenced looking after Bates
and his gun, but all efforts to find the
man proved fruitless until about twelve
months ago, when Bates returned to
St. Louis, and was engaged in the busi-
ness of stuffing birds and animals for a
natural history depot. His name ap-
peared soon after in the public prints,
and by this means his whereabout was
revealed to Mr. Whitley. He went im-
mediately to the place, found Mr.
Bates, who readily recognized him as
the owner of the gun, and in due time
delivered to him the valuable family
relic, which he had kept in good order
for twelve years.
On returning to Kentucky on a visit
a few days ago, Mr. Whitley went
down to Crab Orchard and obtained
from Mrs. Higgins the horn and belt,
which were the only acconterments be-
longing to the highly prized piece.
Mr. Whitley has refused an offer of
$500 for the gun, and would be loth
to part with it at any price.