Doddridge County's Iconic Gunsmith: Samuel Todd Sherwood
This article was inspired by a good friend of the Heritage Guild's, Jeff Sperry. Jeff came to us a couple of months ago on a mission to find the burial place of Doddridge County’s renowned gunsmith, Samuel Todd Sherwood. We had also been trying to find Sherwood’s grave, but to no avail. Jeff was actually able to help us more than we were able to help him.
Samuel Todd Sherwood was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1828. His family moved to Doddridge County when Samuel, often called Todd, was a child. His older brother was Daniel Sherwood, who became the county surveyor. In 1853 Samuel Sherwood married a local girl named Drusilla Bland. They raised their four children on a farm near Blandville.
We know from the 1860 census that at the age of 32 Sherwood was already a gunsmith. He was one of at least three gunsmiths living in Doddridge County in the mid-1800s. The others were Isaac Stutler, who later became a well-known physician, and William H. Earnest, who later settled in Parkersburg. Sherwood’s guns were widely known for their quality and accuracy.
Sherwood died in 1900 and is buried at the Cowan Family Cemetery on private property near his home in Blandville. Some of his descendants can still be found in Doddridge County, including those with surnames Bode, Trent and Sleeth. The following statement was found in the 1913 obituary of his wife Drusilla, which focused as much on her late husband as it did on herself:
“S. T. Sherwood was for more than a quarter of a century one of the best pioneers in this section of West Virginia. Having established a reputation as a gunsmith second to none in the entire state, the marvelous skill and accuracy of his workmanship were known to our fathers over a wide area of the Western foothills.”
His own obituary described him in this way:
“He was one of the best, if not the best, gunsmith in the U.S. His make of guns has been used all over the U.S.”
Mr. Sperry also has in his possession a correspondence between Sherwood and his nephew, W.C. Sherwood. Below in an excerpt from one letter:
“I want you to make me a gun. About a $20 gun with a barrel about 3 feet and 2 or 4 or 6 inches. The kind of stalk you can suit yourself to run about 90 balls to the pound. Let me know in your letters when it will be ready. Guns sell here for $40 and $50 dollars.”
The next excerpt is again from W.C Sherwood after he received the gun he ordered:
I received your letter written March 23rd, also one a few days after Christmas of which I answered and told you large hunting tales. I have killed about 40 deer with my new gun. It can’t be beat in America, if I have anything of a fair chance I can drop them every time.”
We do not have a photograph of Samuel Todd Sherwood, who was nationally known and respected for the excellence of his gunmaking skills. His rifles are highly prized by gun collectors to this day. We ask for your help in locating a photograph of this significant figure in Doddridge County's history.
We would like to thank Jeff Sperry for the featured photo and for sharing his phenomenal research. He has done an amazing job documenting Samuel Todd Sherwood’s legacy. Please check out Jeff’s blog entry at http://hampshirecountylongrifles.blogspot.com/?spref=fb
(NOTE: This article, written by Heritage Guild member Jennifer Wilt, originally appeared in The Doddridge Independent as part of her weekly column “Our Heritage: The REAL History of Doddridge County.”)
Postcard picture of Samuel Todd Sherwood’s Gun Shop and Mrs. Drusilla Sherwood near Blandville, Doddridge County, ca. 1909.
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