2018-02-08 / Front Page

W-W gunsmiths and their handiwork shown in Athens museum this month


Descendents of gunsmith William T. Fluker visiting the Georgia Museum of Art’s gunsmithing exhibit are (l-r) Louisa Fluker Hickman; Terri, David, and Miki Fluker; Leah Marwitz, Joe Harris, and Andy, Maggy and Rebecca Seal-Soileau. They visited from California, Minnesota, Virginia, and Georgia. Descendents of gunsmith William T. Fluker visiting the Georgia Museum of Art’s gunsmithing exhibit are (l-r) Louisa Fluker Hickman; Terri, David, and Miki Fluker; Leah Marwitz, Joe Harris, and Andy, Maggy and Rebecca Seal-Soileau. They visited from California, Minnesota, Virginia, and Georgia. “Artful Instruments: Georgia’s Gunsmiths and Their Crafts,” an exhibit including several articles from historic Washington-Wilkes, will be open at the Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA) in Athens until February 25.

Rifles of the 19th century were highly prized with stocks of fine wood often inlaid with meticulously carved metal engravings, truly works of art. Linda Chesnut of the GMOA Board of Directors researched local gunsmithing history and assisted in the collection of rifles, a powder horn, a miniature cannon, and other items on display.

Locally, rifles were produced by William T. Fluker (1845-1911) and his father-in-law Henning D. Murden of this period. Some items on display were provided to the museum by Henry Harris of Washington. Mr. and Mrs. James D. Fluker of Atlanta provided the cannon and a Murden longrifle, a second one of which was on loan from the A. H. Stephens State Park.


This toy cannon was made in Washington in 1877 by W. T. Fluker probably in his gunsmith shop on the south side of The Square. This toy cannon was made in Washington in 1877 by W. T. Fluker probably in his gunsmith shop on the south side of The Square. Longrifles were uncommon, being recently described as “made as far South as Charlotte, North Carolina, having originally been produced in Pennsylvania. Although preferred for greater accuracy, they were heavier, yet highly prized. Thus, they were among the most highly and skillfully decorated, and gunsmiths were also silversmiths and skilled in wood carving and finishing.

William T. (Billy) Fluker, a veteran of the Civil War, built his house on Spring Street in the 1880s and moved in about June, 1891. Earlier, the family had lived on Water Street and Fluker had a gunsmith shop on Robert Toombs Avenue on the south side of The Square. His Taliaferro County father-inlaw, Henning Murden, helped him build the shop since he had manufactured muskets used by Civil War Company D, 15th Georgia Infantry Regiment.


Nineteenth century longrifles made by Henning Murden, gunsmith, and father in-law of Washington’s W.T. Fluker, show meticulous metal and wood carving prized in such rifles. Nineteenth century longrifles made by Henning Murden, gunsmith, and father in-law of Washington’s W.T. Fluker, show meticulous metal and wood carving prized in such rifles. A street sign identifying the shop is included in the exhibit and is on loan from Henry Harris, Fluker’s great-great grandson.

Fluker’s miniature cannon was given to his twin sons Robert and Richard but for many years was fired only by his oldest son, William Henry Fluker, a McDuffie County gold mining engineer. This firing was a great event during family gatherings and holidays. It seems that the last firing was during a family reunion on August 14, 1971, at the Fluker home on Spring Street. The August 19 News-Reporter carried a report about it.

The Georgia Museum of Art, located at 90 Carlton Street near River Road in Athens, is open from 10-5 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; Thursdays 10-9 and 1-5 on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.

Return to top