This feature appears in the November ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
The original layout as it appeared in print. Photo by Michael Ives.
America’s history may be traced through its firearms, but sometimes determining the past of a historic gun is made easier when it remains within the same family for nearly 180 years.
Pennsylvanian Michael Ruble ordered a fine .41-caliber percussion rifle prior to his death in 1838. Ruble’s pride in his ownership was well-documented, with an inlaid silver plate bearing his name fitted neatly into the forearm of his rifle. It is believed the rifle was completed for Ruble, who then lived in Mifflin County, by Lewis Lepper of Lancaster County. A German silver inlay on the offside of the stock features an eagle grasping arrows, possibly an acknowledgement of the Ruble family’s involvement in the state militia.
This rifle traveled down through the generations, preserved by Ruble sons and daughters, until 2016, when it was donated to the collection of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Resting now inside a re-creation of a period gunsmith’s workshop, this American treasure can be seen daily in the National Firearms Museum galleries.
The NRA National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va.; the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.; and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M.; each have fine selections of historic arms on display. Admission to each is free, and donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit nramuseum.com, phone (703) 267-1600 or email [email protected].