Muzzleloaders' Rendezvous celebrates guns of yesteryear
Thirty-eight years ago, Dave Williams of Tunkhannock asked a gunmaker to make an early American rifle for him.
The gunmaker didn't have time, and suggested Williams do it himself.
So, he bought a book and built his own.
"That was the first one, and I've been making them ever since," Williams said.
His guns, which are crafted by hand and take about 250 hours each to make, sell for $3,000 a piece. He makes two a year, and starts out with a piece of wood that's like a log.
He was one of the early American weapon enthusiasts at the Fourth Annual Muzzleloaders' Rendezvous held Saturday and Sunday at The Oldest House in Laceyville. It also featured Native American heritage. There were 15-20 vendors on hand.
Williams was demonstrating how he makes Pennsylvania Long Flintlock Rifles, which he said were used in the 1700s by settlers for protection and hunting game. He had two finished guns on display.
"This is something like Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett would have used," he said.
Williams noted the "curley maple" wood of the guns, which features a striped pattern, and is also known as "tiger stripe." He said this wood is not common in trees, and is hard to find.
"It's rare for a tree to have that characteristic."
He said the old guns featured at the Rendezvous are a primitive weaponry, compared to today's guns, and in rain or snow, they don't go off as well.
But still, he holds an appreciation for the old-fashioned weapons.
"Personally, I think the old guns have a lot of class," he said.
Williams even made a gun for entertainer Hank Williams, Jr. Though they have the same name, they're not related. A friend had put out Dave Williams' name to the singer, who then called him.
"He said: 'I'm a black powder enthusiast, and I want you to make me a gun.'" Williams explained.
"That was cool. He invited me to hunt with him."
He noted that the singer even stopped in the middle of his concert in Hershey and talked to the audience about the gun.
Event organizer Robin Robinson said the Rendezvous was heavily attended on Saturday, which was the busiest day of the show.
With many old-fashioned sights, it evoked the time periods of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.
He said there were a lot of collectors "seeing what they could find."
Robinson noted that proceeds from the Rendezvous will go for a good cause - namely, repairs to The Oldest House. It desperately needs support sills and vertical planks. A rough estimate of the work is $60,000.
Russell Elliott of Springville, Susquehanna County, was dressed in a regimental coat worn by soldiers of the 24th Conneticut Militia. His ancestor, Joseph Elliott, was in the militia.
Other events at The Oldest House are The Fancy Fair, to be held Oct. 19-20 with a varied selection of antiques, collectibles, artwork and handcrafted gifts and a bake sale, and The Christmas Tea on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-2, which is themed to an early American Christmas.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.