Firearms, too

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

The life that I was born into was one of second-hand goods, patch, repair, makeshift and make-do. The older children saved shoes in the summer by going barefoot. And Dad had a fretting time of it each fall when he had to buy the simplest of new clothes for the children to start school with. We always managed to eat though the diet was probably not always well balanced. I remember Mom telling about one particularly difficult time when she made water gravy out of brown flour without grease. We ate little wild meat till Victor was old enough to hunt.

Dad was quite a bird hunter in the prairie states but did little of any kind of hunting here. The guns he brought through were a double-barrel shotgun, 12 gauge, and an old Civil War percussion-cap musket, bored out into a shotgun, which he acquired as a boy and used to hunt prairie chicken and other birds for years afterwards. Which brings to mind his story, which he swore to be the truth, of hunting quail on a rainy day with the old musket. He saw two quail in a clump and fired one shot, after which he picked up 13 quail and two rabbits!

Lloyd’s family had the musket, the last I knew. Sidney carried it a Frontier Day parade. Mom shot an owl (or hawk) with it at

Grandma’s one time. Grandma had the gun but did not know it was loaded so she put a second charge on top of the first. The recoil knocked Mom on her back but she got the bird. I have read that Civil War muskets picked up on the battlefield sometimes had as many as five charges, one on top of another. An experienced person checked with the ramrod for depth.

Dad acquired a Winchester 38-40 Kings Improvement, patented in 1866, after he got out here. I have seen them mentioned in fiction but once — in a story by Ernest Haycox. He referred to it as ‘a nester’s gun’. It is not much different than the: oftmentioned 44-40 — both fired pistol ammunition. Victor killed several deer with it, and I killed one deer with it and at least three bears. It is not a legal hunting rifle today

Uncle Myron, at one time, had an old 45-70 single-shot army rifle which fired a 45 caliber slug from a long straight cartridge. In the 38-40, the forty appears to indicate size of the slug — the bullet in a .38 Smith and Wesson is much smaller. Of course, one might indicate hundredths of an inch and the other metric measure. I checked the 38-40 rifle’s muzzle and it is about 7/16 inch.

Dad also brought through a 32 pistol which he commonly carried most of his life when he was away from home. There were great number of stories he told about it.


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