George Washington, packing heat from Charlotte?

“The rifle became so popular in the South that a factory for making the hunting rifle was established at Charlotte, N. C., about 1740. The founders came from Leman’s Rifle Factory at Lancaster, Pa….

” ‘General Washington’s favorite weapon was the rifle,’ says George W. Park Custer, in a…   memorandum printed… for private distribution…. ‘His was presented to him in 1787 [and] was made in Charlotte, N. C. It is four feet in length of the barrel, and the entire piece is handsomely mounted with silver. The lock is beautiful work. I have known the General to kill a deer at 150 yards with this rifle.’

“This same Charlotte rifle-making firm in 1777 presented General Washington with the finest and undoubtedly the first pair of rifle pistols ever made in America. They had twelve inch barrels carrying four ounce balls and would shoot with the accuracy of a rifle at fifty or sixty feet. They saved the General’s life at Germantown [in October 1777] but that story, though a most interesting one, does not belong here.”

— From the Washington Post, June 16, 1901 (as quoted in “Hornets’ Nest” by LeGette Blythe and Charles Raven Brockmann [1961])

A colorful and intriguing account indeed, but I’ve been unable to turn up any supporting evidence on Washington’s weaponry (or on George W. Park Custer).

This caution flag is from an online bio of Henry E. Leman (1812- ), a gunsmith in Lancaster County, Pa.:

“Claims have been made on a number of occasions that gunsmiths named Leman worked in Lancaster County in the eighteenth century…. The records of the Lancaster County Court House do not support the hypothesis of Leman production before the time of Henry E. Leman.”

Thoughts, anyone?

UPDATE: Internet findings suggest “Charlotte, N.C.” was actually  Charlottesville, Va. Alas.… And “George W. Park Custer” was almost certainly George W. Parke Custis, Washington’s step-grandson and adopted son.

For FDR, ‘the greatest tribute — utter silence’

“Franklin Roosevelt, honorably discharged from all his wars, rode slowly through Charlotte’s sorrowing thousands last night….

“Stretching the length of the railway station and packing the streets that opened out upon the tracks, the people… paid him the greatest tribute they knew — utter silence.

“As the crowd awaited the arrival of the train, they stood quietly and talked in low tones. And as it came slowly through, the only noise was that of the soldiers as they brought their rifles smartly to the salute.

“When the train had passed, and only a glimpse could be caught of the great American flag that covered the copper casket in which lay the body of the fallen chief, the crowd, still without a discordant word, turned and went away.

“As some 40 singers from the various churches… began singing ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ and ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee,’ hats went off all up and down the tracks.

“Farther down the tracks at the other end of the station, a Negro group sang spirituals. For Negroes were there, too, hundreds of them, paying their tribute to the man whom hey looked upon as the best friend they ever had in the White House.”

— From “Sorrowing Charlotte Thousands Pay Final Homage to Roosevelt” by LeGette Blythe, Charlotte Observer, April 14, 1945

Blythe, a prolific newspaperman and historian, was the grandfather of Will Blythe, author of “To Hate Like This Is to be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry” (2006).