Oliver Fisher Winchester (90)
November 30, 1810 – December 11, 1880
Winchester started as a clothing manufacturer in New York City and New Haven, Connecticut
Winchester manufactured and marketed the Winchester repeating rifle, which was a descendant of the Volcanic rifle .
Winchester aquired a division of Smith & Wesson firearms which was failing financially with one of their newly patented arms known as the Volcanic
Winchester started the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, in 1855. In 1857, Winchester relocated to New Haven, changing the name to New Haven Arms Company.
Initially, the Volcanic cartridge: a hollow conical ball filled with black powder and sealed by a cork primer, was outpaced rival technology
The poor performance and reliability of the .25 and .32 caliber cartridges used in the pistol and rifle models respectively, was little match for the competitors’ larger calibers.
The Volcanic was the 9mm of it’s time.
Benjamin Tyler Henry, a Winchester employee, improved the Volcanic repeating rifle by enlarging the frame and magazine to accommodate seventeen of his newly redesigned, all-brass cased .44 caliber rimfire cartridges.
Henry’s new .44 cartridge put the new company on the map, and Henry’s ingenuity was rewarded with a patent in his name October 16, 1860, for what became the famous Henry rifle.
The Henry rifle was manufactured for almost six years with a total production of approximately 12,000 rifles, both iron and brass frame models.
The company was renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
In 1866, employee Nelson King’s new improved patent remedied flaws in the Henry rifle by incorporating a loading gate on the side of the frame
The first Winchester rifle was the Model 1866, the Yellow Boy.
Winchester died on December 11, 1880
Ownership of the company passed to his son, William Wirt Winchester, who died in March of the next year. William’s wife Sarah believed the family was cursed by the spirits killed by the Winchester rifle, and moved to San Jose, California, where she began building a chaotic mansion now known as the Winchester Mystery House with her inheritance, intending to confuse the evil spirits