Some Hawken History...and more
Return with us to "The Hawken Shop". Although we have moved from Missouri to the beautiful state of Washington, we continue in our dedication to preserving our American frontier heritage and traditions.
In the early 1800's Jake and Sam Hawken formed a family partnership as gun-makers in St. Louis and began producing their soon to be famous "Hawken Rifle". Jake died in 1849 and Sam continued producing these quality rifles until the late 1850's. In the early 1860's ownership transferred to J.P. Gemmer, who held true to tradition and maintained the "Hawken" quality until the shop finally closed in 1915. Is this where our history lesson ends? Thankfully, no!
The tools and machinery lay unused in Gemmer's St. Louis home for fifty plus years. Early in the 1960's at the sale of the Gemmer estate, Walter Kennedy acquired these remnants of the "Hawken Shop" for his close friend, Art Ressel. Mr. Ressel, a Hawken enthusiast, felt obligated to continue the tradition passed on and reopened the "Hawken" gun shop. Less than 300 Hawken's were produced during this period before Mr. Ressel closed the gun shop in the early 1980's. Again the original "Hawken" quality was unobtainable and a valued part of American History ceased to exist.
In December of 1990 a new and equally great period of the "Hawken" story began. Mr. Ressel sold the entire shop to a small family owned business in Washington. Greg Roberts and Claudette Greene purchased "The Hawken Shop" to preserve this valued part of Americana. Once again, the classic "HAWKEN" had returned! Current planning was to wait 2 years before proceeding with the "Hawken" venture. At that time Greg and Claudette were absorbed in the planning and development of a traditional muzzle-loading rifle in the style of Dimmick and Leman, and felt they could not devote additional time to "Hawken". However, fate intervened and a foundry fire destroyed all other tools and parts, except for the Hawken tooling. Consequently Hawken was back in business, producing Hawken rifles once again.
In this age of substitutes and clones the very idea of owning an. original is incomprehensible. Originals are reserved for only the very wealthy and influential. Not so with "The Hawken Shop", this quality and originality is again available to anyone who desires to own the finest.
Our catalog will describe in detail the many items that are currently available, with more on the way.
"Wouldn't you rather own a genuine Hawken Rifle?"
Interesting Hawken Facts:
|St. Lois Missouri
March 18, 1992
Claudette Green & Greg Roberts
Harbour Island, WA. 98277
Dear Claudette & Greg,
The departure of Art Ressel's "Hawken Shop" from the St. Louis area has proven to be a great loss to the muzzle loading caplock rifle devotees here in the Midwest.
As a direct descendent of Jacob Hawken, of the Sake and Sam Hawken St. Louis gunsmiths, this loss is both personal and poignant. For I have always been proud of my heritage, particularly the fact that the Hawken Rifle is widely acclaimed for its exceptional craftsmanship and superior quality.
While I regret its loss, it's gratifying to know that you have acquired the "Hawken Shop," moved it to the state of Washington and have continued building the recreations of the classic S. Hawken plains rifle. In so doing, you are continuing the true Hawken tradition by the authenticity and dedicated quality of your recreations.
For this, I offer my congratulations and support. In addition, I applaud you for your continuing endeavors in upholding the reputation and tradition associated with the Hawken Rocky Mountain Rifle.
John R. Hawken
March l8, 1992
Dear Claudette Greene & Greg Roberts,
I understand from Mr. Art Ressel that you folks have taken over the old Hawken Gun Shop in St. Louis. I am so glad that there was some one to pickup the ruins of the old Hawken tradition, and I sincerely want to congratulate you on your interest and wish you a lot of success in your venture. It should be an interesting one, I am enclosing a page of my personal line of the Hawken family, it maybe of some interest to you.
I would Like to come to St. Louis sometime in the near future and meet you folks. I understand that Mr. Ressel had some of the old original tools that was used to build the old rifles. I'd love to see them.
Sincerely yours and best of luck
Carl S. Hawken
Line of the Hawken family:
1. Carl J. Hawken - born 1914, son of
2. William C. Hawken - born 1875, died 1951, son of
3. John Hawken - born 1839, died 1923, son of
4. David Hawken - born 1812, died 1891. came to Miller Co., MO. 1850's, died & buried here, son of
5. John Hawken - born 1784, died 1821. Rifle maker at Harpers Ferry, VA, second son of
6. Christain, Hawken (Hacken) - born 1756, died 1821. Rifle maker Hagerstown Maryland, son of
7. Niclaus Hacken - born 1718. died 1758. Rifle maker at Bern Switzerland.
My records show that Niclaus & 2 brothers. Christain & Woefgang came to America from Switzerland and lived in York County. PA. I think that Woefgang was also a rifle maker and probably all three of them. They came to America in 1750. The Boats name was Sandwich. They sailed from Rotterdam. They arrived at Philadelphia PA., November 30, 1750. The Captain of the ship (Sandwich) was captain Hazelwood from Rotterdam, with 200 passengers on board. It didn't say how long the trip took. The record shows that they left a lot of relatives in Switzerland, but I won't try to list all of them, but the records I have go back to a Niklaust (Hacken) Hawken, born 1565 at Rueggisberg, Bern Switzerland, so the family was of Swiss decent. My great great grandfather, John, born 1784, was an older brother of Jake & Samuel Hawken, the St. Louis Rifle Makers.
Carl J. Hawken
Ol Thunder and me - Saga of a Hawken Rifle
by Art Ressel
When once I got my mind on straight and figured where its at, I kicked the traces of the East with just my coat and hat. I heeded Horace Greely's words, 'cause truly they rang best and set my feet a headin' toward the gateway to the West!
Now once I'd hit St. Louis town, I didn't spare a cent, to outfit with the very best, 'cause I was sure hell bent to be the best damn "Mountain Man" that ever bore that name, so to the "Hawken" gun shop eventually I came.
Their rifles reputation was a legend all its own A gun so true and sturdy, sure the greatest ever known. So rugged yet so beautiful, the finest they could make; was the big bore half stock caplock made for me by Sam & Jake.
It took me barely but a week, a workin' every way to learn that rifle in and out, 'cause sure enough some day I'd call upon her talent in some moment of true strife and there'd have to be that knowledge if she was to save my life!
Her happy voice in time of fun would "crack" a cheerful sound but her words of fear or anger would shake the very ground. A half an inch and then some was the measure of her bore just to face that awesome cavern would have chilled you to the core.
Now I perceived a friend so true should surely have a name, a title that would tell the world that she was far from tame. "0l Thunder" sure - - that fit her fine, she'd answer to that call Yes, "Thunder” would do very well and "lightning" was her ball!
The years were hard, but good to us.I guess we'd shared God's grace "Cause many times I nearly saw the Ol "Grim Reaper's" face. And more than once we cheated death or even upped a score by some help from "The Almighty" or "0l Thunder's" mighty roar!
And now my time of hunting's past my eyes are growing weak. My voice once clear and laughing's just a whisper when I speak. The world no longer knows us, "0l Thunder" and her friend. And I fear the times we once knew have come sadly to an end.
I don't regret the things I've done and Lord knows that's a heap. And I sure ain't one to ask for much, I've always earned my keep. So please Dear God do grant me when I hear the angels song and face the Happy Hunting Grounds - - Let "Thunder" come along!