Coopersville Observer, November 10, 1939

Lamont Pioneer Was the First to Invent a "Four Cylinder" Gun

Henry Rogers

Northeastern Ottawa County residents and those from Lamont in particular were interested in a story which appeared in a recent issue of the Grand Rapids Herald, written by Alta L. Littell, concerning a pioneer resident of Lamont, Henry Rogers, who is said to have been the first to invent a "4-cylinder gun." John M. Park, Coopersville Civil War veteran, and also a former Lamont resident, called at The Observer the first of the week and states that he distinctly remembers Mr. Rogers and his son, Henry, Jr. For the benefit of the readers of the Observer, who many not have seen the Herald’s story, here it is.

"A faded parchment, yellowed with age, its quaint script faded but for the most part still legible, is a prized possession of Mrs. M. A. Edwards of 1953 Horton Ave. S.E. Its only value now is as collector’s item. It bears the signatures of President Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, then secretary of state.

"But had Mrs. Edwards’ grandfather, Henry Roger, thought as????he would today be worth millions, for it is a patent on the first revolving cylinder gun ever made in America, the Edwards family believes.

Took Out Patent in 1829

"It was on May 7, 1829, that Mr. Rogers took out his patent on what he called a ‘revolving four-barreled gun and improved percussion lock.’ This was six years before Colt patented the famous Colt revolver. Mr. Rogers, a gunsmith and Jeweler at Middleton, Butler County, O., like most inventers was not a wizard of finance and industry. He was proud of his gun, but had no idea of the money he could make if it were manufactured in quantities. One gun in three days was about his speed.

"So when he got a letter from Washington one day telling him the patent office had been burned with all copies of patents—this was in 1836—and naming a date on which all patents must be re-entered or forfeited, he didn’t think much about it. Maybe he’d send this patent in and maybe he wouldn’t. There was plenty of time.

"Time has a way of slipping away and before Rogers knew it, the time had expired. It was too late to do anything about his revolving four-engine gun.

"Meanwhile, over in Europe, one Samuel Colt had taken out letters—patent on a revolving six-barreled pistol in London and in Paris. This was in 1835, one year before the United States patent office burned down. He extended his patents to America and shortly thereafter set up the Patent Gun Company plant in Patterson, New Jersey, and began the manufacture of Colt revolvers.

"The Rogers patent, an imposing looking document, sets forth that ‘Henry Rogers, a citizen of the United States, hath alleged he has invented a new and useful improvement called a revolving four barreled gun of improved percussion lock, which improvement he states has not been known or used before his application, and hath made oath that he verily believes that he is the true inventor or discoverer of the said improvement.’

Drawings of Mechanism

"For this patent, which was to run four years, Rogers paid the government $30.00

"On a separate sheet, complete drawings of this gun and of the parts which form his improvement are shown and followed by a detailed description of the gun. The barrels revolved around a central rod. When the barrels were pushed up, a spring trigger confined them to their place. The improvement on the percussion cap consisted in having the priming cap run in a groove instead of being confined by ‘screws, pins or side pins.’ The main spring tumbler and dog were reversed from the ordinary gunlock and percussion cap.

Gunsmith at Lamont

"Time brought Henry Rogers and his family to Lamont where he, with his son Henry, Jr., continued to manufacture guns. They had a small shop where they worked patiently, concerned with quality rather than quantity of output. One gun every three days continued to be the output, a great-granddaughter, Mrs. Maud Weil, recalls. The men took the utmost pains with their guns and some of them were mounted with pearl. During the Civil War business was active and the Rogers guns were carried by many a Union veteran. After the war was ended they continued to turn them out in the little shop in Lamont until the death of the two men put an end to the Rogers Gun Company."

Henry Rogers, Sr. died in 1876 (Rodgers)

Henry Rogers died in 1902

Transcribed by Joan Van Spronsen
Created: 9 February 2010