Peter White - Moses Wright percussion conversion rifle

This rifle picture is from the original of a photo of Calvin Hetrick that was published in the February 14, 1958 issue of the "Bedford County Press" newspaper. The newspaper article says that Peter White made the rifle for Moses Wright circa 1810, and it had been in Elwood Ferry's family for several generations prior to being obtained by Calvin Hetrick, who is holding the rifle. The article states that Ellwood knew of at least 40 deer taken with the rifle, and reported that it was still being used for hunting until recently. The article also states that the rifle has 29 engraved inlays made of silver, held in place by 277 silver pins. There are also various brass decorations, a complex patch box with eleven piercings, and the wood grain is splendid.

This .44 caliber rifle is featured in Plate 129 of Calvin Hetrick's book "The Bedford County Rifle and Its Makers". Hetrick reports the overall length as 57-1/2-inches, and the length of the octagon barrel as 42-1/2 inches. The lock is illustrated clearly enough in the book to identify the rifle as a percussion conversion of a flintlock. The give-away to the flintlock origin of the lock is the bulge along the lower edge of the lock plate for the screw that secures the frizzen spring. Reportedly, the rifle is also shown in a book Roy Chandler wrote about patch boxes.

Hetrick's book indicates their are 30 silver inlays, and among these he was counting the cut-out lock bolt plate, which has three perforations. One of the silver-inlays is horseshoe shaped, and surrounds the tang of the barrel. The lock has a rat tail plate, and the lock panel in the stock has a graceful pointed tail. A silver plate embedded in the barrel has the name "Moses Wright". Hetrick reports that because of a dispute between Moses Wright and Peter White, the rifle was sold to an individual named Chrisman who harvested 42 whitetails with it. Ranking it among other Bedford County rifles, Hetrick said he believed this Peter White rifle was probably the finest.

The part of the newspaper article that claims the rifle was made for Moses Wright is almost certainly wrong. Click here to understand why the dual markings probably mean that the gunsmith Moses Wright was an apprentice of Peter White. It appears that Calvin Hetrick was unaware that Moses Wright was a major gunsmith in Ohio, having moved there in his mid-20s.

This is a decent quality 1958 photo of a high end percussion conversion Bedford County-style long rifle that carries dual markings for Peter White and Moses Wright.

This Somerset and Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith project is intended to be a collaborative effort with gun collectors, historians, genealogists, etc. who may have information or photos to share.

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