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Grouseland Rifle
•The first sheriff in what became the state of Indiana, John Small, was a militia captain, tavern-keeper and territorial legislator; he was also a master artist and craftsman, particularly as a gunsmith.
•Small made the Grouseland Rifle sometime between 1803 and 1812 during the golden age of long-barreled rifles. The rifle is long (61 1/2 inches) and has elaborate pierced silver and brass inlays.
•Special features of the rifle include the round silver medallion engraved with the emblem of the United States and the angel Gabriel on the brass patch box, opposite the medallion.
•The rifle was purchased by the Grouseland Foundation in 2004 and is on display at the Harrison Mansion. Another John Small rifle, which was owned by William Clark – which may have been carried during the Lewis and Clark Expedition – is on display at the Missouri Historical Society. A third rifle made by John Small was recently sold at auction for about $200,000.
Courtesy of Grouseland Foundation
The Grouseland Rifle, crafted 200 years ago by Indiana’s first sheriff, is now the official state rifle.
General Assembly

Antique firearm named state rifle

– Add the Grouseland Rifle to the list of official state emblems such as the cardinal, peony and Wabash River.

With just a few days left in the legislative session, lawmakers on Tuesday adopted the Grouseland as the official state rifle because of its historic significance.

The House took the final vote on the legislation, which largely dealt with library matters. It passed 78-2 and now heads to Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The rifle provision was inserted into House Bill 1283 via a Senate amendment, and the public never had notice or opportunity to testify on the issue.

Indiana now becomes the third state – joining Utah and Arizona – to have an official gun, according to media reports.

The measure wasn’t a resolution, the type of action that was used to name a state pie a few years back. Instead, it adds the rifle to statutes identifying the state flower, tree, river, poem, song, bird, stone and seal.

“This rifle and its maker are both integral parts of Indiana history, and as such, the rifle is worthy of its designation as the Indiana State Rifle,” said Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn. He submitted the amendment after seeing the rifle at Grouseland in Vincennes.

Grouseland is the home of President William Henry Harrison, and the rifle was purchased by the Grouseland Foundation in 2004. It has pierced silver and brass inlays and was made between 1803 and 1812 by John Small, who later became the first sheriff in the state.

The master artist and gunsmith also was a militia captain, tavern keeper and territorial legislator. He was also commissioned by Harrison to design the seal of the Indiana Territory, which later became the state seal.

There are only six known long rifles made by Small still in existence – one of which was owned by explorer William Clark and is on display at the Missouri Historical Society.

The legislation mandates that duplication or reproduction of the Grouseland Rifle be approved by the Grouseland Foundation.

“It is the only complete John Small rifle left in Indiana that we are aware of,” said Jim Corridan, president of the Grouseland Foundation and the state archivist and director of the Indiana Commission on Public Records. “The rifle is really significant.

“There is concern they didn’t want people to start making copies of the gun and they start floating around. Grouseland had to pay some decent money for it and wanted to have some control over replicas since the state doesn’t own it.”

House members took a few minutes to poke fun at the bill, noting that the Senate used to be a stickler for rules of germaneness. In the past, the Senate often killed House amendments on subjects that didn’t match the rest of the bill.

But the rifle honor was added to a library bill without any concerns. The Senate passed it 48-2.

“It is seriously not even close,” said Rep. Craig Fry, D-Mishawaka. “They use our House bills to put their trash in.”

He voted for the bill, however.

And Rep. Matt Pierce – a Democrat from Bloomington – said he is the co-author of the bill, noting this is the first gun bill he has ever carried.

“I need your help to get this done,” he joked.

nkelly@jg.net

Source: Grouseland Foundation

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