Proctor / Hazel Creek Profiles of Mountain People

A Nice Gun Story

Today’s guest post was written by Kenneth Hoffman, longtime member of Blind Pig & The Acorn.

rifle on bed

I was just leaving the house one morning in late January of 1998, when the phone rang. The call was from my Aunt Josephine in Washington state. She was quite excited and worked up about a letter from a cousin in North Carolina by name of Duane Oliver. Although my cousin was known to me, I had never met him so I knew that something big was up. And so the story begins.

hand written name and address

Duane had received a call from another relative explaining that an acquaintance of hers had received a call from a person named J.C. Tabor concerning a rifle that he had purchased in a shop. While he was in the shop, the owner had called this rifle to his attention even though he was not a collector of such a model. He felt a sudden need to have this rifle. The owner mentioned to him that the only screw he saw had been loosened was on the butt plate. Upon inspecting the rifle, in particular the butte plate, he found a note written on October 15, 1925 by my father Lloyd Oscar Hoffman. This was his way of identifying it in case of misplacement of it.

three men shooting

Lloyd Hoffman, Raymond Welch, Lindsey Hoffman – Silers Bald Swain County NC 1923

My Dad said he could not hit the side of a barn with the pistol in the photo above so he bought the Winchester Rifle a model 1885. All of the sudden he could hit something.

When my father gave me my first rifle, he told me about this rifle of his. He had sold it to raise money to help the family move out west in about 1927. Now 73 years later it turned up.

J.C. Tabor, being a man of sentiment had called the first relative who in turn called Duane Oliver who in turn wrote to my Uncle Chester Hoffman in Washington who in turn called me because he knew how much this would mean to me. I got in touch with Mr. Tabor and he told me this story. I told him that I could not be happier having a piece of my Dad’s past since he and I had such a great relationship and I knew that he would want me to have it. We made arrangements and Mr. Tabor sent me that rifle.

The rifle is a Winchester Model 1885 22 Cal, now residing in my home.

Thanks again to J.C. Tabor and my cousins for their persistence and kindness I now have a piece of my Dad’s past that I know made him very happy and that led to an adventure of relocation for my ancestors.

—-

What a story! I hope you enjoyed Kenneth’s story as much as I did. His family were among the many who relocated to Washington state from the Smoky Mountains back in the day.

Tipper

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    tmc
    January 22, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    That was a great story, I enjoyed it very much.

  • Reply
    Charline
    January 22, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    What an amazing journey- thanks for sharing! The photo ties it all up in a bow!

  • Reply
    Mary Lou Mckillip
    January 22, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Topper what an awesome story .thanks to the writer and you topper for sharing this article

  • Reply
    Maggie Boineau
    January 22, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Enjoyed this story!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 22, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    I used to know a J C Tabor. His brother Jesse Clyde “Junior” Tabor was shot and killed by Wiff Johnson back in 1977 at the Euchella Cemetery in Swain.
    I was at my brother in law Clyde’s store when a couple with two kids from Georgia came in looking for a phone. They had found a man laying in the snow and wanted to call the sheriff. Clyde and I along with my wife and daughter went to the scene. I waited with my family at the car while my brother in law went down to him. Clyde yelled up at me “It’s Junior Tabor, go get J C!”
    I knew J C was staying with his father in law so I went there. I knocked and asked for him. When he came to the door I told him he needed to go over to the Echella Cemetery. He didn’t say a word. He knew! He turned, went back in the house and came out with a pistol. We followed him back to the cemetery. Just after we got there the sheriff pulled up with Wiff in the back seat. I told the sheriff about the pistol and he went to J C and persuaded him to surrender it. J C went on to check on his brother but he was already dead. When he came back to the road he tried to get at Wiff but was held back by another deputy who had arrived on the scene.
    I wonder if this could be the same J C Tabor that Mr. Hoffman writes about.

    The Georgia couple’s children had never seen snow so they had driven up into North Carolina just to find some. What a memory for those kids! Or is it a nightmare?

  • Reply
    Jackie
    January 22, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    I also can’t hit much of anything with a pistol when aiming it. If I just raise it and shoot like it is an extension of my hand or finger I’m pretty accurate. I have a single shot 22 rifle that is 3-4 years older than I am. My mother’s uncle pawned it to her for $5 and never redeemed it. She gave it to me when I was 13. I had been hunting with it since I was about 7 or 8. I can still hit pretty well with it. I shoot rats in a field near me. There was a time when I could hit rabbits and squirrels on the run. I haven’t tried that in many years.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Tipper,
    I’m glad to know that Mr. Hoffman’s rifle got returned. I’ve had guns stolen too. It takes from you that can never be replaced. …Ken

  • Reply
    Kenneth Hoffman
    January 22, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    thank you so much Tipper, it means so much to see the story in print. by the way it was the same Duane Oliver. blessings to all. My trip to North Carolina in 1957 makes this so great.

  • Reply
    Quinn
    January 22, 2020 at 11:24 am

    What a journey that rifle had! It’s wonderful that it has found it’s way home at last 🙂

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 22, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Mr. Tabor is a thoughtful and kind man. You can see these kinds of outreaches on the genealogy web sites to. It takes an ‘others’ sort of attitude to recognize what would delight someone else to start with and in this case someone Mr. Tabor had never met, and didn’t meet. I’d like to be that kind of person. And I am thankful for those folks who set the good example.

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    January 22, 2020 at 9:10 am

    What a story! I had relatives who moved to Washington State from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. I don’t know why, but I wished I had asked more questions but it’s too late now. There’s no one left, and I’ve lost contact with the few that are.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 22, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Tipper–As a gun aficianado this obviously interested me, but I’m curious on a different score. There was a Duane Oliver, now deceased, who wrote multiple books on Hazel Creek in Swain County. I wonder if it’s the same fellow as the one in this story.

    Also, for Marshall Reagan, any external marks in the stock or other wood portions of a gun diminish its value. Also, there’s already an identifying mark–the serial number. Anyone who owns guns should have a list of the serial numbers on them stored in a safe place.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 22, 2020 at 7:31 am

    Thank you, Kenneth, for sharing that beautiful story. It is amazing that the gun found it’s way back to your family.

  • Reply
    William P Dotson
    January 22, 2020 at 7:31 am

    WOW, love this story and glad the rifle made it’s way back home.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 22, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Great story.

  • Reply
    James Conrad Smithson
    January 22, 2020 at 7:19 am

    I bought a Swiss rifle a number of years ago and while researching it I found that many soldiers put their name and address under the butt plate. I removed it and there was the man’s name and address!

  • Reply
    marshall reagan
    January 22, 2020 at 6:31 am

    THAT IS A GREAT WAY TO IDENTIFY AN ITEM IF STOLEN IF THE THEIVES DON,T FIND IT ,BUT IF YOU ACTUALLY PUT THE IDENTIFYING MARKS IN THE WOOD OF THE GUN SO THAT IT CAN NOT BE REMOVED EASILY MIGHT BE BETTER TODAY WITH ALL OF THE THEFT HAPPENING TODAY.

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