Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Precious Thing, A Precious Memory...

The reason this Muzzleloader is my most prized possession, is because of my love for the master craftsman who made it!  Today I want to share with you about this because it is the 5th anniversary of my grandfather's death.  He made this gun for ME.  His only granddaughter!  It is priceless to me, because of who HE was.  So, nope, this gun isn't for sale....ever!  Heeee, heeee.... I have already made plans to will it to my only daughter, however!

Grandpa was born in 1920.  He was a WWII veteran who flew 30 bombing missions as a waist-gunner in a B-24 Liberator.  He was married to my grandmother for 63 years.  He and my grandmother tried for many years to have children, but God had other plans for them that are part of my own beautiful story.  They graciously adopted my dad and his older brother when they were ages 3 and 5.  They gave their sons a life they couldn't have known otherwise and I am the willing, blessed granddaughter as a result!  Grandpa was a quiet man, who worked diligently with his hands (I Thes 4:11) for much of his life.  He built many homes in Ft. Stockton, TX where he and grandma raised their family.  Before they moved to Ft. Stockton, however, He was a silver-chaser for Holland Jewelry in San Angelo, TX for several years shortly after his return from WWII. He used that artistic talent later as well, when he fashioned with his hands 19 muzzle loaders, barrels and all, with some of the most beautifully hand-carved stocks EVER.  Mine is the most beautiful, but I suppose all the other folks who have the honor to have one could argue that theirs is the most beautiful! 

The gun he made for me is personalized beautifully with my initials and birthdate, but to say that doesn't do justice to the delicate attention to details and the beautiful carvings on the stock. My grandma has always told me that he spent a winter carving much of it out with a pocket-knife!  My parents brought it to the school for me when I was in the 4th grade, (yes we brought a gun to school) so that I could proudly talk about it for "show & tell." When I was a freshman in high school, my grandparents came to our house for a visit and we had him bring all of his muzzle-loading "stuff." He taught me how to load it and shoot it. We have it all on video, and I will treasure those memories always.  

It's nearly impossible to do this gun justice with my old camera and lack of photography skills, but maybe someday I'll have someone take really good pictures and replace these on this post!  It definitely is something you have to see and touch to really appreciate.  For the curious, Whitley helped me with the specs of the gun.  I, of course, just want to say, "Look at my beautiful piece of wall-art."  Whitley, however, knows more than the simple "it's beautiful!" I will try to mention particular details in the captions on the photos for those who want to know.

Recently it moved from my parents' house to ours and this is its new place of honor in our living room.

Right side of the stock:  Has my maiden initials in cursive capitals and my date of birth 1-1-1978 on the right.
This doesn't say anything of the careful attention to the beautiful setting of those details!
Curly-Maple Half-stock: dark finish.  (All in-letting, shaping, carvings, and detailed engravings were performed by-hand and many were performed using his pocket knife!)
 A couple more photos of the same side

Left side: Large brass hunter's star on the cheek inlay; 
Trigger-Guard: Brass - Classic-style of early Lancaster County.
Trigger: Unknown manufacturer but a traditional Hawken-style double-set.
Side-plate: Brass - hand-cut in the mirrored shape of silhouetted hills/mountains.
Butt plate: brass Hawken style

more carving detail: around the tang of the breech plug
Lock: percussion-style caplock 

Fore-arm Inlay: Brass - hand-cut and slotted in the Crescent-Moon style.
Nose Cap: German silver 
Rear-sight: primitive 5 inch adjustable Hawken sight
Also slightly shown here: ramrod: 5/16" wood hand-shaped and painted in the traditional 
red, white, & blue barbershop spiral. 

Gun Barrel: 32" long hand-filed to octagon-shape from solid square-stock to a 15/16" dimension across-the-flats.  
Gun Barrel Rifling: By H.E. "Judge" Resley on his hand-operated rifle-machine with a 1-turn in 66" rifling that included    8 Lands & 8 Grooves and bored to a .435 caliber.
Front Sight: Their hand-made T/C Short-Blade style
Gun Builders: Victor E. Englert, H.E. "Judge" Resley  (Gun barrel is stamped H.E. RESLEY & V.E. ENGLERT)
Also to the right of the names the barrel is stamped NO. 6

Gun Name: FORT CONCHO- Victor was raised very near Fort Concho which was established in 1867 along the banks of the Concho River in what is now San Angelo, TX.
Photo shows some of the side-plate as well.

I believe that grandpa made the gun in the winter of 1987, and that it was a gift to me in 1988.  It seems like it was a couple of years later that he made this powder horn to complement it.

Powder-horn: Hand-scrimshawed from an image found in his book: "The Art of Building the Pennsylvania Longrifle" by Chuck Dixon, Ehrig, and Miller

If I could say one thing to all of us, I suppose it would be that it is amazing what people will remember about you..... even if you are quiet. Creativity, honor, integrity and hard work.... just a few things that leave lasting impressions for us all.  -Just a few things that remind me of you, Grandpa!

Beginning our trip to Montana in 2000

From left:  Grandpa (Victor Englert), Richard Bradberry, and my dad (Jerry Englert) taking an opportunity to shoot some of the guns he made. photo by: Whitley Bradberry
Thanks for reading & love to you all,

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