The following photos of a signed Bedford County-style full stock percussion muzzle loading rifle were contributed by Mel Stewart Hankla.
In the following photo, the first initial of the engraved cursive signature on the upper flat of the barrel is difficult to decipher. I suppose it could be interpreted as either an old-style capital "G" or an old-style capital "J", although typically a well-formed old-style capital "J" is pointed on top. I have never heard of a rifle attributed to John George Slonaker, and suspect this rifle was made by John's father George Slonaker. One substantial attribution difficulty is that some manuscript documents clearly refer to John George Slonaker as "John G. Slonaker" while others clearly refer to him as "George Slonaker". Since both the father and the son were sometimes called "George Slonaker", I can confidently say that this is a George Slonaker rifle, even though I cannot prove which George made it! The following photo also shows the fit between the octagonal barrel and the barrel channel of the full-length gun stock.
The next picture shows the right-hand side of the buttstock of the Slonaker-made cap lock rifle, along with a bit of the lock and trigger areas. Enough of the lock plate is visible to see that it has a rounded tail, rather than the pointed-rat tail that is featured on many Bedford County rifles. The peripheral shape of the patch box, and the shape of the piercings match the patch box of a rifle signed "Geo. Slonaker" that was sold by French Creek Arms. The low comb and the belly of the stock have substantially straight lines, which is typical on Bedford County long rifles. The rifle is stocked in curly maple wood.
The next photograph features the brass four-piece patch box of the Slonaker rifle. The side plates of the patch box each have two piercings, and the Q-shaped finial has one piercing. The peripheral shape of the patch box, and the shape of the piercings match the patch box of a rifle that was signed "Geo. Slonaker" that was sold by French Creek Arms and pictured on their website with a German silver sheet metal-type wrist repair.
The next picture shows the cheekpiece side of the buttstock. The cheekpiece features an engraved elliptic-lanceolate silver inlay that depicts a spread-winged eagle. The inlay is secured to the cheekpiece by four silver nails. The cheekpiece also incorporates a decorative incised line near its bottom edge. On the right, the buttplate has a small casting flaw.
The following picture is zoomed in on the cheekpiece inlay, to better show its engraving details. Spread-wing eagle-themed cheekpiece inlays are frequently encountered on old black powder rifles from Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
The following photograph highlights the engraved brass lock bolt plate of this antique black powder rifle. The theme of the engraving is similar to the theme of the engraving on the lid of the patch box. The photograph also provides a look inside the bow of the trigger guard, which houses a double set trigger assembly. The set trigger is much heavier and much more curved than the hair trigger. The tip of the hair trigger has a subtle decorative reverse curl. The trigger adjustment screw is located between the triggers. The photograph also provides a good look at the panel of the stock where the lock bolt plate is situated. The metal cross-pin that secures the front of the trigger guard to the stock is also visible on the stock panel, below the lock bolt plate. Enough of the percussion hammer is visible to know that it is not made in the elegant high spur Bedford County style.
The next photo provides an oblique view of the brass toeplate, which is retained by five wood screws. The spacing of the wood screws is uneven, and the screwdriver slots of two of the screws are noticeably off-center.
The following image shows the brass nose cap and front sight of the Slonaker muzzle loading rifle. The front sight has a relatively low silver blade and a brass base that is dovetailed into the full octagon barrel.
The next photograph provides an oblique view of the underside of the cast brass trigger guard of this old black powder firearm, to show some of the decorative elements of the guard. Near the top of the photograph, the metal pin that secures the rear of the trigger guard to the gunstock is visible. Although the bore is out of focus, it is clearly rifled, even though the exact number of grooves cannot be determined from the photograph.
Click here for links to photos of other antique Bedford and Somerset county rifles, and biographical information about the riflesmiths who made them.
Go to the Korns family genealogy home page to access additional regional history.