Reading Matters

The rare Mecklenburg longrifle

If you’re a collector, you’ll appreciate this book.

If you’re a student of local history, you’ll devour this book.

If you are an afficinado of old guns, you’ll must have this book.

It’s “The Longrifle Makers of the Mecklenburg School,” by C. Michael Briggs of Greensboro, in partnership with Kay Peninger, director of the Charlotte Museum of History, and hefty assists from crack local historians James Williams and Linda Blackwelder.

Now what exactly is a longrifle?

A longrifle is a fancy rifle, adorned with wood and engraved brass and silver. They were made in the 18th and 19th centuries -- first by the Pennsylvania settlers and later by North Carolinians as the pioneers migrated this way.

Some longrifles were made in Mecklenburg County, and those are the ones Briggs collects. He knows of only 18 existing Mecklenburg longrifles, and he owns six of them.

The Mecklenburg rifle makers included 18th century Mecklenburgers Zenas Alexander, Isaac Price (born near Steele Creek Presbyterian Church) and the Black brothers – John, Samuel and William, the latter of whom lived on McAlpine Creek.

Briggs includes extensive biographies of the longrifle makers, as well as land grants, apprenticeship papers, deeds and wills.

Because Zenas Alexander was also a silversmith, Briggs includes gorgeous color photos of Alexander’s cream pitcher and silver spoons.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, there will be a seminar at Gray Auditorium, in Winston-Salem, on “Southern Longrifles: Rifle Makers of Kentucky,” Georgia and North Carolina. Michael Briggs is one of three prominent experts in the field of Southern longrifle studies who will lecture at the seminar.

Cost is $95. To register: 336-721-7369 or email MESDAPrograms@oldsalem.og.

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