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Old March 21, 2008, 08:24 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: January 10, 2008
Location: Springfield, IL (formerly TX)
Posts: 187
What not to do

From Black Powder Journal:

Serious Gunning Accident -- Mr. Joseph Askew, of Burlington, N.J., in company with his brother, Mr. Peter Askew, and Mr. Joseph Haines, were out shooting partridges recently. A covey was raised and Mr. A. discharged both barrels at them. While re-loading, an explosion of the contents of his powder flask took place, lacerating in a dreadful manner his right hand, destroying, it is feared, his right eye, and fracturing the bones of the nose and upper jaw. It is said that experienced sportsmen always put the powder into the hand, and thence into the barrel, but never pour direct from the flask.


The second story comes from the pages of the History of Wayne Co., Ohio printed in the 1870s. It relates to the frontier period of that area in about 1809.

A singular incident is recorded by Howe, in his "Collections," as having occurred in a small building, an appurtenance of the mill of Joseph Stibbs, built in 1809, and then owned by him. It had been erected and fitted up for a store, in which was kept a variety of goods, such as would be in requisition by the Indians and first settlers, and was managed by Michael Switzer, who was sent hither by Mr. Stibbs. Describing the incident, Mr. Howe says: "In the store was William Smith, Hugh Moore, Jesse Richards, J. H. Larwill, and five or six Indians. Switzer was in the act of weighing out some powder from an eighteen pound keg, while the Indians were quietly smoking their pipes, filled with a mixture of tobacco, sumach leaves and kinnikinnick, or yellow willow bark, when a puff of wind coming in at the window, blew a spark from one of their pipes into the powder. A terrific explosion ensued. The roof of the building was blown into four parts and carried some distance, the sides fell out, the joists came to the floor, and the floor and chimney alone were left of the structure. Switzer died in a few minutes; Smith was blown through the partition into the mill and badly injured; Richards and the Indians were also hurt and all somewhat burned. Larwill, who happened to be standing against the chimney, escaped with very little harm, except having, like the rest, his face well blackened and being knocked down by the shock.

"The Indians, fearful that they might be accused of doing it intentionally, some days after called a council of citizens for an investigation, which was held on the bottom, on Christmas Run, west of the town."

The basic safety rules involving black powder, or any black powder substitute, have not changed. Even nearly 200 years ago, people paid a high price for their careless acts.
M.D. Berk
SFC USA Ret. (NRA Life Member 21 yrs)
There's nothing like a good woman, a good pistol, and a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
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