Double barrel rifle by Edgar and John Altfather

The following 2017 images are from the newsletter of the Berlin Area Historical Society, and are included here with the permission of Jim Suder. They show Edgar Altfather's double barrel muzzle loading percussion rifle. A 2017 issue of the newsletter of the Berlin Area Historical Society reports the belief that the gun was made by Edgar Altfather and his father John Altfather. In 2017 the gun was owned by Elmer C. Altfather, who received it from his grandfather John Calvin Altfather shortly before his grandfather died. As shown by his death certificate, John Calvin Altfather was the son of John and Catherine (Hay) Altfather, and was born in 1867 and died in 1950. In my opinion, we can trust that John Calvin Altfather would have known that the gun had once belonged to his younger brother Edgar when he gifted the gun to his grandson Elmer C. Altfather. Elmer has since given the gun to another family member.

When I spoke to Elmer by telephone in mid-August, 2021 he was 88 years old, sharp-witted, and articulate. Unfortunately, he did not recall when he heard who made the gun, or when he heard that John Altfather was a gunsmith. Elmer reports that each barrel of the double-barreled gun has its own set of sights, and the gun has an adjustable double set trigger mechanism. Barrel selection is accomplished by cocking the hammer on the side you want to fire. Elmer fired the gun back in the 1960s. He reports that both barrels are rifled. He also reports that the barrels are not the same caliber, but are around 38 caliber. Elmer reports that he was raised on the Altfather farm where the Hillside Lodge is now located, and never knew his great grandfather John Altfather.

The photos of Edgar Altfather's gun are blurry, but it is clear that the gun has a full-length stock, two triggers, what seems to be a very basic trigger guard, back action locks, a buttstock with a slight comb, a patch box (not a cap box), a typical 1800s brass butt plate, and a ramrod secured by two brass ferrules. The firearm is displayed in a glass case, along with a possibles bag, a powder horn, two bullet molds, and some family-related documents. Elmer made the glass case.

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