World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Oliver Fisher Winchester

Article Id: WHEBN0021118654
Reproduction Date:

Title: Oliver Fisher Winchester  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of people from Connecticut, William Wirt Winchester
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Oliver Fisher Winchester

Oliver Fisher Winchester
Winchester circa 1847
Born November 30, 1810 (1810-11-30)
Boston
Died December 11, 1880 (1880-12-12) (age 70)
New Haven, Connecticut
Occupation Winchester Repeating Arms Company
Spouse(s) Jane Ellen Hope
Children Ann Rebecca Winchester (1835-1864)
William Wirt Winchester (1837-1881)
Hannah Jane Winchester
Parents Samuel Winchester
Hannah Bates

Oliver Fisher Winchester (November 30, 1810 – December 11, 1880) was an American businessman and politician.

Birth and marriage

He was the son of Samuel Winchester and Hannah Bates and was born in Boston on November 30, 1810. He married Jane Ellen Hope in Boston on February 20, 1834. Their children were:

Career

Winchester was known for manufacturing and marketing the Winchester repeating rifle, which was a much re-designed descendant of the Volcanic rifle of some years earlier. Winchester started as a clothing manufacturer in New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. During this period he discovered that a division of Smith & Wesson firearms was failing financially with one of their newly patented arms. Having an eye for opportunity, Winchester assembled venture capital together with other stockholders and acquired the S&W division, better known as the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, in 1850. By 1857, Winchester had positioned himself as the principal stockholder in the company and relocated to New Haven, changing the name to New Haven Arms Company.

Initially, the company was plagued by sluggish returns, which was in part attributed to the design and poor performance of the Volcanic cartridge: a hollow conical ball filled with black powder and sealed by a cork primer. Although the Volcanic's repeater design far outpaced the rival technology, the poor performance and reliability of the .25 and .32 caliber cartridges used in the pistol and rifle models respectively, was little match for the competitors' larger calibers.

Fortunately for Winchester, he inherited a brilliant engineer, Benjamin Tyler Henry, who would prove an invaluable asset. Henry sought to improve on the Volcanic repeating rifle, by enlarging the frame and magazine to accommodate seventeen of his newly redesigned, all-brass case, .44 caliber rimfire cartridges. This new cartridge put the new company on the map, and Henry's ingenuity was rewarded with a patent in his name October 16, 1860, for what was to become the famous Henry rifle.

The Henry Rifle was manufactured for almost six years with a total production of approximately 12,000 rifles, both iron and brass frame models. Following the success of the Henry rifle, the company was reorganized once more and renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. In 1866, employee Nelson King's new improved patent remedied flaws in the Henry rifle by incorporating a loading gate on the side of the frame and integrating a round sealed magazine which was covered by a fore stock. The first Winchester rifle was the Model 1866, the Yellow boy.

Repeating rifles were used to some extent in the American Civil War. However, the United States Army at that time did not use many repeating rifles as they represented a new, untested technology. Repeating rifles were not widely used until after the war, when they became increasingly popular with civilians. Military authorities concentrated primarily on perfecting breech-loading single shot rifles for many more years. With thousands of rifles in the hands of the average pioneer, the Winchester repeating rifles gained a reputation as "the gun that won the West".

Oliver Winchester was also active in politics, serving as a New Haven City Commissioner, Republican Presidential elector in 1864, and as Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut from 1866 - 1867.

When Winchester died on December 11, 1880, his ownership in the company passed to his son, William Wirt Winchester, who died of tuberculosis in March of the next year. William's wife Sarah believed the family was cursed by the spirits killed by the Winchester rifle, and moved to San Jose, California and began building a chaotic mansion now known as the Winchester Mystery House with her inheritance, intending to confuse the spirits seeking revenge.

External links

  • Oliver Winchester's grave
Business positions
Preceded by
Founder
President of Winchester Repeating Arms Company
1857-1880
Succeeded by
William Wirt Winchester

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.