Reading Matters

Mecklenburg Longrifle tied to Charlotte’s earliest history

Local historians and gun lovers will want to hear Michael Briggs, author of “The Longrifle Makers of the Mecklenburg School,” when he joins other longrifle experts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Charlotte Museum of History.

The Mecklenburg longrifle – made between 1760 and 1830 – is so much a part of Mecklenburg’s history, you can’t hear about it without stumbling onto the names of the old families and early settlers.

For instance, there are the Blacks – John, Samuel and William – who signed the rifles they made.

Isaac Price is believed to have founded the Mecklenburg school, and he trained John Black, as well as Zenas Alexander and Abraham Henderson.

Zenas Alexander went on to train other gunmakers: Henry McBride, James McKee, James Mitchel and Elisha Smartt.

Nineteen Mecklenburg Longrifles are known to exist.

Briggs invites anyone with information, portraits, deeds, documents or related artifacts on the men who made longrifles in Mecklenburg, to bring them to the museum this Saturday to be identified, documented and photographed.

If you happen to have have an old longrifle you think may be from this area, please bring it, too.

Also on the panel will be Kenneth Orr, Bill Ivey, Robert Leath and Blake Stevenson. These men will talk about the local crafstmen who made the Mecklenburg longrifles, and they will display the 19 known rifles from the Mecklenburg School.

Admission is free. Register online at