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Poyas, Francis D. __Maker
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
wood –silver –gold –iron –steel
LOA: 45-1/2″ __ __ __ __ __ __about .50 cal.
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: A half-stock rifle, about .50 calibre, with octagon barrel featuring blade front sight and notch fixed rear sight. Ornately engraved silver enclosed patch box, butt plate, toe plate, trigger guard, and other mounts. Silver and gold bars on the barrel at the breach. Original percussion lock. Although the MESDA Craftsman Database has identified 93 Charleston gunsmiths, the product from their shops is exceedingly rare, making this rifle a particularly significant survival.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved “F. D. Poyas” and “Charleston” in script lettering on top of the barrel near the breach.

MAKER: Francis Deleisseline Poyas (1802–1879) was identified as a gunsmith on 23 September 1824 when the Charleston Orphan House recorded the apprenticeship indenture between Poyas and the father of nine- year-old George D. Row (see MESDA Craftsman Database record 29259). He advertised as a gunsmith throughout the late 1820s. In 1827 he became a member of the South Carolina Society (Rules of the South Carolina Society, 75). Poyas was still in Charleston in 1832 when he was mentioned in the will of Amelia M. Deliesseline (see MESDA Craftsman Database record 29259).
The 1830 US Census recorded Poyas in Charleston’s third ward with ten people in his household, including three free white males ages 15 thru 19 (likely apprentices); two free African American boys and a free African American man; and two enslaved African American men.
In the 1830s Poyas deepened his relationship with the Methodist Church. He is mentioned several times as a church leader in the 1834 An Exposition of the Late Schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston. By 1837 he seems to have followed his calling to Tuscaloosa County, Alabama where he purchased land in 1837 (Alabama Land Patents Database: Tuscaloosa County) and was identified in Anson West’s A History of Methodism in Alabama as “Rev. F. D. Poyas” and noted to preach on occasion (p. 75).
The 1850 US Census recorded the Poyas as a Episcopal Methodist clergyman living in Pickens County, Alabama. Ten years later he was still in Pickens County but this time his occupation was noted as gunsmith. He was born in South Carolina about 1802, making him around 58 years old in 1860. In 1870 his Pickens County household included his wife Martha (nee Standford Stent), son James Osgood Poyas, James’s wife and their three children. Francis Poyas’s occupation was again noted as a minister.
Francis D. Poyas died in January 1879 and was buried at Union Chapel Cemetery in Pickensville, Alabama. His grave marker is inscribed “Francis Deleisseline Poyas / Born in Charleston, S.C. / July AD 1802. / He was a Methodist Preacher / for fifty years and died at his home in Pickens county / Ala. On the night of Jan. / the 10, A.D. 1879.”
Poyas was of French Huguenot ancestry, the grandson of Jean Louis Poyas who arrived in Purrysburg, South Carolina in 1734. The gunsmith’s son, James Osgood Poyas, was a member of the French Huguenot Society of South Carolina (see findagrave memorial 89319278).

Credit Line:
James H. Willcox Jr. Silver Fund