My great grandfather had guns that belonged to Wild Bill Hickok and to Buffalo Bill Cody (as well as a hundred others). Elmer McArdle would perform shows until he died in a fire in 1951. Elmer would ride in the Westville Illinois parade every year and my mother has stories about her childhood visiting him.
My uncles would tell stories about him trying to teach them to sharp shoot. He would set up a bell with iron rings in front of it. My grandfather and uncles would have to shoot through the ring and hit the bell. My uncles being the pranksters they were, would set it up to hit the bell from the side making it look like they hit it – making it impossible for my grandfather. My grandfather and uncles were serious trouble makers. Stories include them breaking out of jail, stealing a billy club from a police officer, and running off from a dentist without paying…. My uncles ended up burning down a barn and one was sent to the army (Frank) while the other went to jail (Ralph). Ralph ended up dying of tuberculosis a short time later.
Stories also include my great grandfather having a collection of clocks throughout his house, my uncles and grandfather would sneak in and reset the clocks when he was out.
When Elmer passed away he was found in the ashes from the fire that destroyed his home and his gun collection. At the time he was over 80 years old and still living on his own in Hawbuck.
There is so much talk about gun violence anymore, I am brought back to the memory of sometimes a gun is just a piece of history.