I talk about powder horns a lot here as I’m fascinated by them. Plain or carved, as long as they have a provenance, I get pretty excited when I handle one. A few weeks I ago I had two calls about horns at work. They were both unnamed, undated and had no real value. Then I got a third call, which at first I thought was going to be like the two before it - but I was wrong!

The owner of the horn sent me some images that evening after our conversation. I was out to dinner with my wife when they arrived, and I had to ignore both my wife and dinner to spend a few minutes taking a look. As the images downloaded, I realized I had seen the name on the horn, Richard Andrus, in a drawing by artist Rufus Grider. I quickly located the drawing in the collection of the New York Historical Society collection and sure enough, it was the same horn (although for some reason Grider flipped the scenes on the horn around Andrus’s name). It’s marked “RICHARD ANDRUS his/horn Made at Roxbury October 5th: 1775” and engraved with foliate designs, deep incised areas within the designs, crude trees, and a soldier. It has a slightly convex pine plug with an iron staple, and a tapered spout. The style of carving was also instantly recognized as that of “The Simsbury Carver,” as noted historian Bill Guthman referred to the unknown artist. When Bill wrote his book on powder horns, he had seen three by the same carver. I had found and sold a fourth five or six years ago, with this one being the fifth known! The research then began.

Richard Andrus was from Simsbury, Connecticut. Using his date of death is his Revolutionary pension records, he was born about 1750. He was married in the spring of 1775, not long before he enlisted on May 4 and marched as a member of Captain Abel Pettibone’s 7th Company, 2nd Regiment, to the Siege of Boston and the fortifications at Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was at Roxbury until December 10 when their enlistments were over. He reenlisted on January 1, 1776, and served again in Captain Abel Pettibone’s Company until January 1, 1777. In March 1777, he enlisted as a teamster for three years in Captain Ozias Bingham’s Company, and in 1780 he enlisted yet again in Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Hait’s 2nd Connecticut Regiment. That’s quite a service record!

However, when Andrus tried to get a pension for his service, it was a struggle. His name on the early muster rolls had been spelled “Adams” and he couldn’t receive the monies he should have. After his death on October 24, 1826, his wife fought for his pension. Luckily these records survive in the National Archives for us to study. With the numerous petitions, it was proven that the “Adams” in the rolls should have been Andrus, and his wife Catharine received his full pension.

Kind of a sad story for a man who honorably served his country, and I’m glad his horn survived so that I (and you) could learn more about him!


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here