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   They will then be again subjected to trials for accuracy, and the best of the ten selected and marked ‘One of a thousand,’ the price of which will be $80.00 to $100.00. The other nine will
be marked ‘one of a hundred,’ and the price will be from $60.00 to $75.00 each. Sportsmen will readily see that this severe process of gleaning will be a slow and expensive one, and the result be but a limited number of choice Guns, and that orders should be given in advance of their wants, or patience exercised with the necessary delay of filling them.” A regular Model 1873 for comparison cost $50 when the rifles were first debuted.
Period documentation on this rifle begins even before it left the factory and includes a copy of the letter from Granville Stuart to Winchester explicitly laying out what he wanted for his and Thomas’ 1 of 1,000s. He had previously rejected two prior rifles because they did not meet his specifications and expectations based on Winchester’s advertisement. . After receiving the first rifles that he rejected, he wrote to Winchester on May 20th, 1875, stating “The two 1 of 1000 rifles order by me arrived in good order but I am disappointed in them because you did not send such as I ordered, nor do you give any explanation why you did not follow the terms of the order.” After repeating the above order, he notes that Winchester had initially said they could not send
a One of One Thousand meeting his specification for some months but could send “a very fine gun, finished in accordance with my instructions.” He wrote back tell them he wanted nothing but One of One Thousand Rifles and repeated that he wanted “’two of your very finest finished (not plated) one of a thousand rifles.’ Now with the exception of the wood in the Model 1873, I
do not see that the guns are any better finished you’re your common ones, there is not a single line of engraving on them, and you did not send a hunting front sight nor a Beach front sight, nor did you send the leather cases, and although you state the sights are adjusted to 1000 yards, yet
I find upon [inspection] that their greatest range is only 850 yards.” He notes that he has “some cause to be dissatisfied with” Winchester’s handling of his order but did note that his rifle “shoots remarkably well.” He also noted in a letter on June 14, 1875, that the new rifles should come with both hunting sights and globe and peep sights and the latter graduated out to 1,000 yards and “on some appropriate place on this latter engrave in fancy text surrounded by a wreath of flowers my name and date this, ‘Granville Stuart 1875; and on the other ‘Thomas Stuart 1875’ in same styles. The guns of course to be ‘one of a thousand,’ engraved and finished in your best style. I also want the words ‘One of a Thousand in fancy letters and surrounded by a wreath or other appropriate border for the figures on those guns you sent before, ‘1 of 1000’ are neither neat nor of a handsome appearance.” In this statement, you can credit Granville Stuart with generating
the distinctive Third Style inscription on his rifle and his brother Thomas’ and the Fourth Style that followed. He also specified a casehardened finish. Some of these letters are also in part transcribed in the pages in the books above.
His original order from October 22, 1874, had requested: “Two of your ‘One in a Thousand Rifles, 24 inch, Octagon barrels, set triggers, & finely engraved, in fact the finest guns made by you, but not plated, Model of 1873, (center fire) fitted with hunting sights, and also peep rear sight, with Beach front sight. Also wiping rod and all appurtenances & leather case for each, full length of the gun.” He added, “If these guns are as accurate as they should be . . .and as well finished as described I think many can be sold in this territory.” On November 15, 1874, he noted that his goal was to get rifles “in superior finish” and desired the rifles be “as nearly absolutely accurate as you can make them” since they intended to use them in shooting matches. A ledger from May 1875 lists “for ‘One of a thousand’ Winchester rifle 122.50.” among other expenditures including ammunition, candy, and other regular expenditures.
The staff at the Winchester factory clearly took their time this time around to ensure the Stuart brothers were satisfied with their rifles by truly supplying some of the finest wood we’ve ever seen on a Model 1873 and tastefully embellishing and inscribing the rifles personally for the brothers. They succeeded in satisfying Granville given, on September 6, 1875, he wrote that the rifles “which arrived yesterday are perfect in every particular, they are far superior to any rifle made, except for very long range shooting, and I am not sure that I will not make even that exception for today at my first trial of my gun I made 45 out of a possible 60 at 500 yards, and
I expect to be able to reach 55 at my next trial. When I get it down to a scratch, I will send you
some of my scores.” One of his friends was so impressed by the Stuart brothers’ rifles that he had Stuart order him a One of One Thousand on May 23, 1876. Winchester surprised his friend by making it more deluxe than was ordered. On July 26, 1876, Stuart wrote to them with the $105.75 payment for that rifle stating the rifle “is a magnificent gun and exceeds any anticipations, as I had not expected any engraving or peep & combination front sights for which accept my thanks. It is indeed a beauty and the friend for whom I ordered it is in ecstasies over it and well he may be for if the Sioux should come a little further up this way it will be a mightily handy thing to have in the house. If poor Custer’s heroic band had been armed with these rifles they would have covered the earth with dead Indians for 500 yards around and it is probable a portion of them [meaning Custer’s men] would have been alive when Gibbon and Terrys forces reached the bloody field. Why the Government does not adopt your arms is beyond any comprehension.” Clearly Winchester had succeeded in pleasing Granville and establishing themselves a healthy reputation on the Montana frontier.
Granville Stuart (1834-1918) led a remarkable life that parallels the history of the American West and was a gold miner, Montana pioneer, rancher, vigilante leader of “Stuart’s Stranglers,” an author, and a statesman among other vocations. He has been called the “Father of Montana” and “Mr. Montana” and was a nationally known figure in his own time and lived the most notable years of his life as a pioneer in Montana
in the second half of the 19th century. His life story was a grand adventure with gold, shootouts, travels through dangerous conditions, conflicts with Native Americans, and even years spent in faraway lands that certainly feel like a story you might have heard or seen before in a Western.
Thomas Stuart (1839-1915) was cut from much of the same cloth as his two eldest
brothers and was also an influential pioneer in the Montana Territory, especially in Deer
Lodge. He may have been the better marksman based on his performance in the two
historic matches in 1875, the same year this rifle shipped. On October 8, 1875, the New North-West reported the scores from the match between the Deer Lodge team led by
Granville Stuart and Samuel T. Hauser’s Helena team. In the 1,000 yard match, Thomas
shot the best with a score of 28 to Granville’s 24. The best score on the Helena team was
22. In the 500 yard match for the Creedmoor rifle, Thomas was again the best marksman
with a score of 56. Granville and the best competitor on the other team each scored
51. With the Stuart brothers’ marksmanship, the Deer Lodge men brought home
both prizes from the territorial fair. In a match the following year between the two
teams, Granville bested Thomas by two points and their team again beat the Helena
marksmen, although by this time Granville is noted to have been shooting a Sharps Creedmoor Rifle while Thomas was using a Sharps sporting rifle and is noted as having two defective cartridges resulting in two zeros. Of the shots fired, if you drop those two shots, he again out shot Granville, and that becomes clear when you see the targets. Two of the Helena marksmen shot it out for the individual win and prize.
Thomas was the son of Robert and Nancy Stuart. He was born in Iowa and grew up in
Muscatine County just to the West of our Rock Island, Illinois, facility with his older brothers James (1832-1873), Granville, and Samuel (1836-1909). Robert, Granville, and James went to California in search for gold in 1852, and Thomas didn’t see Granville or James again for more than a decade. Thomas headed to the West in the early 1860s and mined in Colorado. Granville wrote to tell Thomas of his gold discoveries in the Alder Gulch which induced Thomas and his other mining friends to move to Montana leading to a gold rush in 1862. Some sources say he was met with hostile Indians during his journey which caused him to end up temporarily in Boise, Idaho. Others say he headed to Boise first intentionally to mine there and then left the following spring. The Society of Montana Pioneers indicates he then traveled across the mountains via Camas Prairie and Lava Bed trail and arrived at the Alder Gulch in May of 1864.

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