HIstory buffs delighted by Allegany County Historical Society and Daughters of American Revolution partnership
By Ronald G. Taylor with Joan Sinclair
Allegany County Historical Society (ACHS) and the Catherine Schuyler Chapter of Daughters of American Revolution jointly welcomed the return to Allegany County of the dueling pistols in front of an invited group of History Lovers!
Late afternoon Wednesday (12/13/23) was a preview of the placement of the authenticated reproduced pair of pistols which were like those used in the Hamilton/Burr duel in 1804. The invited 35 guests which included a dozen available Legislators of Allegany County and Trustees of the ACHS plus representatives of the D.A.R., saw the unveiling at the 11 East Greenwood Street Museum of the Historical Society in Andover.
A tour of the Allegany County History Center was given to the visitors and it was explained to the gathered guests that through an agreement between ACHS and the D.A.R. Chapter, the Museum in Andover is to show the pistols to the community during regular museum hours on Wednesdays through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day. Groups may make special visitations by calling the Museum at 607-478-5390 to make arrangements.
Ron Taylor, President of ACHS, welcomed the Board of Legislators present and thanked them for attending following a full day of meetings in Belmont. The Board Members of ACHS were also present to assist in tour explanation of the museum.
Ron introduced Joan Sinclair who represented the Catherine Schuyler Chapter, D.A.R. She noted that these reproductions of the originals, were commissioned by the United States Historical Society for our nation’s Bicentennial, and became available from an estate. She explained that the Chapter had decided that purchase of these replicas would be contingent upon being able to make them available to the public. An agreement was worked out with ACHS to house and display the pistols, which made the purchase feasible.
The original pistols had been purchased in London by John Barker Church, husband of Angelica Schuyler, daughter of General Philip and Catherine Schuyler, and were brought to the United States about 10 years after the close of the American Revolution. After the infamous 1804 Hamilton-Burr duel, the pistols, which Hamilton (husband of Anglica Schuyler’s sister Elizabeth/Betsey) had borrowed from his brother-in-law, were returned to him. Likely not long after John Barker Church’s demise in 1818, the pistols were passed down to his son Philip Church, who by then were settled at Belvidere Villa, located on the Genesee River, near the Village of Angelica, in Allegany County. They remained at the Villa Belvidere until 1892, at which time the property was sold. The pistols remained with the only living grandchild of Philip Church, Helen Church Gilpin, who sold them to the Chase-Manhattan Bank, in 1930, over 100 years after their arrival in Allegany County.
The originals still reside at the Chase-Manhattan Bank, unavailable to the public. The set of pistols now on display at the ACHS Museum are one of the identical working replicas that were produced in limited numbers, under a commission of the United States Historical Society, by an expert Italian gunmaker.
In order to replicate the originals exactly, the Chase-Manhattan Bank agreed to the complete dismantling of the originals, which took place at the bank. Each authentic set is accompanied by a United States Historical Society authentication. A Certificate is displayed at the Museum with the pistols, which rest in a box identical to the original. Their numbers, #265a and #265b, are stamped on each pistol, respectively.
Joan stated that the D.A.R. was very fortunate to have the opportunity to secure a set of pistols as it was indeed a wonderful opportunity to place a set identical to the originals back in Allegany County, at the Museum so people can appreciate this great historical connection to the past. She also expressed her gratitude to the Olean Chapter of the D.A.R., whose members were instrumental in connecting the estate executor with representatives of the Catherine Schuyler Chapter.
The Allegany County Historical Society now welcomes the public to come to the Museum during our regular hours during Wednesday, Thursday & Friday. The Museum closes December 23rd through January 1st.