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Henry Rifle Artifacts Donated to Historical Society

New features at the Boulton Historic Site's Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum include a War of 1812 exhibit and a surprising find from a Nazareth family.

The opened its doors to the public on Saturday, May 5, for the 2012 season, which runs from May to October. The historic Boulton site is the home of the John Joseph Henry House, the Nicholas Hawk Gun Shop, and the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.

The has added a couple of new features to the already-impressive collection of 19th century artifacts, the first of which was only recently rediscovered.

Gladys Butz, a Nazareth resident and owner of one of the original houses in the area that was once known as Schoeneck, donated a collection of more than 100 Henry rifle pieces to the historical society.

The collection, which consists mainly of gun lock patterns and milling tools, was found by her grandson, Robert C. Kleintop, when cleaning out Butz’s home. The donation was made in the name of Gladys Butz and her late husband, Clifford Butz.

Due to health issues, Gladys Butz and her family were not able to attend the opening day at Boulton.

The collection is currently on display in the as part of the new War of 1812 exhibit, although local historian and Jacobsburg Historical Society member Bob Newell dates the pieces in a span from 1812 to the 1860s.

The Butz collection is of particular interest to the society because of its connection to the Henry gunsmiths -- the authentic gun lock patterns were actually used to create the gun locks on the same model rifles as those on display in the Long Rifle Museum.

“This collection is amazing,” Newell said. “It was found at just the right time... If this was found in the 1940s, it would have been thrown out as scrap metal.”

Other attractions in the new exhibit include two authentic presentation swords, both on loan from a private collection. One is an officer’s sword. The silver-hilted cavalry sword’s handle is ornately shaped into a horse’s head.

Newell said that during the War of 1812, the Henry family marketed such swords that were bought from other manufacturers.

The exhibit also includes two replica uniforms, one blue and one gray, both complete with the felt Shako, or hat. Newell explained that the war began with blue uniforms, but as blue dye became scarce, the army switched to gray uniforms.

“Today, West Point cadets still wear gray dress coats in honor of this time in history,” Newell said.

Fellow historical society member and gun authority Joe Flemish added, “There isn’t a better exhibit for the War of 1812 anywhere in the country.”

Other pieces of the exhibit include cannonballs, canteens, powder horns and of course, long rifles.

Museum hours for the 2012 season:

Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum (May through October)

  • $5 suggested donation, JHS members and children under 12 free
  • Open on weekends, noon to 4 p.m.

John Joseph Henry House and Nicholas Hawk Gun Shop:

For hours, directions and the calendar of events, visit www.jacobsburg.org.

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