Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt

Although Sam Colt did not participate in a corporal capacity in fighting the Civil War, since he died at age 47 in 1862, he did have a great influence in increasing the sanguinity of every cavalry conflict. His invention, the revolving cylinder hand gun, would have been issued to almost every trooper along with a saber. After he died, his wife, Caroline, continued to operate the business.

Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut on July 19, 1814. As a boy, he attended the local school, and he also worked in his father's textile mill. He was fascinated with machinery even as a youngster, and enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. Among the mechanical devices that he tinkered with were his father's firearms, disassembling and reassembling them. When he was just 15 years old, Samuel decided he needed more adventure than the mill offered him, so he found a ship that was building a crew, and he signed on as a sailor and went to sea.
According to legend, it was while at sea that Samuel Colt developed his idea for a pistol with a revolving cylinder. The legends vary, but some say it was while on deck watching the ship's wheel that he came up with the idea. Others say that it was while observing the operation of the ship's capstan that spawned the idea. Whatever the inspiration was, Samuel Colt did invent the revolver, which transformed a firearm from a single-shot device to a multiple-shot device. In 1835, Colt obtained his first European patent on his revolver, and in 1836 he patented his invention in the United States. He established a factory to manufacture firearms in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1836. But his revolving cartridge firearm was slow to gain acceptance, and the business, Patent Arms Manufacturing, closed down in 1842.

Samuel Colt was an inventor at heart, however. When his firearms business failed, he looked around and saw other areas that needed solutions. Colt was one of those extraordinary people who could see a problem or a need and could then envision a way to make things work. He saw so much potential in the discoveries and technologies of his day, that he just had to try and put them to use. He had experience in firearms, explosives, ships, and the sea, and so he used his experience and imagination to develop a device that could set off an underwater explosive by remote control. Later he became involved in telegraph technology, and developed the first underwater telegraph cable. In 1847 Colt rekindled his firearms business when the U.S. Army contacted him to purchase a sizable quantity of his revolvers. Colt was able to fulfill the government's request and it was the boost he needed to focus on firearms again.

As Colt's firearms business began to boom, he was looking to the future again. He opened a facility in England, advancing his international reputation, and he began to purchase land along the Connecticut River to construct a new facility there. In 1855, he completed construction of his new Hartford manufacturing plant, which was the largest private arms manufacturing facility in the world. Here he implemented new ideas in manufacturing, including the use of interchangeable parts, production lines, and advanced precision machinery. The Colt name became famous worldwide as demand for his products grew. Colt firearms were known for their high quality and dependability, and Samuel Colt became a very wealthy man.

Samuel Colt died in 1862 at the age of 47 in Hartford, but his wife Elizabeth took over and the company continued to thrive. Colt weapons were widely used in the Civil War, and the Colt .45 calibre Peacemaker model became synonymous with America's West.


6th cousin 5X removed to compiler, L. Kimmel [Beach-Loomis line]

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