SCHOOL: This rifle has a number of details highly characteristic of the large Jamestown school of gunmaking, which contained as many as twenty gunstockers and gunsmiths working in the 1830s. (The area was so well known for longrifle production that many Jamestown gunmakers received orders from as far away as the Midwest.) The use of coin silver laminated to the brass mounts, such as each end of the ramrod thimbles, the finials of the trigger guard, and the door of the patchbox, are typical of the more elaborate rifles of this school. Also typical is the “paneled” forestock molding, which is interupted by the forestock escutcheons. The use of large-headed tacks to fasten inlays is common on rifles of this area, though they are not seen elsewhere in the South. These tack are usually of German silver, but because these are of coin silver, they were apparently made by the Guilford gunmakers.
MAKER: The barrel of this rifle is engraved “IJ” for Isaac Jones (1797-1884), an orphan who was apprenticed by the Guilford County Court in 1811 to learn the gunsmithing trade from Craft Jackson. In 1816 and 1820, Isaac took his own apprentices, James Wheeler and Simpson Jones. In 1821 Isaac married Margaret Howell, a member of Deep River Monthly Meeting who was disowned for “marrying out of unity.” They appear in the 1830 Guilford County census, but left sometime after 1830 and moved to Brown County, Illinois, where they are buried.
He may be the Isaac Jones who was disowned by Springfield Monthly Meeting in 1817, and a grandson of the Isaac Jones (1736-1801) who migrated from Pennsylvania to New Garden Monthly Meeting in Guilford County in 1762. Isaac Jones and his family transferred from Center to Lost Creek Monthly Meeting in Jefferson County, Tennessee, in 1797, and the 1850 and 1870 censuses say that the gunsmith Isaac Jones was born in Tennessee; however, the 1880 census says he was born in North Carolina.