the early 1800's Jake and Sam Hawken formed a family partnership as
gun-makers in St. Louis and began producing their soon to be famous "Hawken
Rifle". Jake died in 1849 and Sam continued producing these quality
rifles until the late 1850's. In the early 1860's ownership transferred to
J.P. Gemmer, who held true to tradition and maintained the "Hawken"
quality until the shop finally closed in 1915. Is this where our history
lesson ends? Thankfully, no!
tools and machinery lay unused in Gemmer's St. Louis home for fifty plus
years. Early in the 1960's at the sale of the Gemmer estate, Walter
Kennedy acquired these remnants of the "Hawken Shop" for his
close friend, Art Ressel. Mr. Ressel, a Hawken enthusiast, felt obligated
to continue the tradition passed on and reopened the "Hawken"
gun shop. Less than 300 Hawken's were produced during this period before
Mr. Ressel closed the gun shop in the early 1980's. Again the original
"Hawken" quality was unobtainable and a valued part of American
History ceased to exist.
December of 1990 a new and equally great period of the "Hawken"
story began. Mr. Ressel sold the entire shop to a small family owned
business in Washington. Greg Roberts and Claudette Greene purchased
"The Hawken Shop" to preserve this valued part of Americana.
Once again, the classic "HAWKEN" had returned! Current planning
was to wait 2 years before proceeding with the "Hawken" venture.
At that time Greg and Claudette were absorbed in the planning and
development of a traditional muzzle-loading rifle in the style of Dimmick
and Leman, and felt they could not devote additional time to "Hawken".
However, fate intervened and a foundry fire destroyed all other tools and
parts, except for the Hawken tooling. Consequently Hawken was back in
business, producing Hawken rifles once again.
this age of substitutes and clones the very idea of owning an. original is
incomprehensible. Originals are reserved for only the very wealthy and
influential. Not so with "The Hawken Shop", this quality and
originality is again available to anyone who desires to own the finest.
you rather own a genuine Hawken Rifle?"
March 18, 1992
Claudette Green & Greg Roberts
Harbour Island, WA. 98277
departure of Art Ressel's "Hawken Shop" from the St.
Louis area has proven to be a great loss to the muzzle loading
caplock rifle devotees here in the Midwest.
a direct descendent of Jacob Hawken, of the Sake and Sam Hawken
St. Louis gunsmiths, this loss is both personal and poignant.
For I have always been proud of my heritage, particularly the
fact that the Hawken Rifle is widely acclaimed for its
exceptional craftsmanship and superior quality.
I regret its loss, it's gratifying to know that you have
acquired the "Hawken Shop," moved it to the state of
Washington and have continued building the recreations of the
classic S. Hawken plains rifle. In so doing, you are continuing
the true Hawken tradition by the authenticity and dedicated
quality of your recreations.
this, I offer my congratulations and support. In addition, I
applaud you for your continuing endeavors in upholding the
reputation and tradition associated with the Hawken Rocky
March l8, 1992
Claudette Greene & Greg Roberts,
understand from Mr. Art Ressel that you folks have taken over
the old Hawken Gun Shop in St. Louis. I am so glad that there
was some one to pickup the ruins of the old Hawken tradition,
and I sincerely want to congratulate you on your interest and
wish you a lot of success in your venture. It should be an
interesting one, I am enclosing a page of my personal line of
the Hawken family, it maybe of some interest to you.
would Like to come to St. Louis sometime in the near future and
meet you folks. I understand that Mr. Ressel had some of the old
original tools that was used to build the old rifles. I'd love
to see them.
yours and best of luck
Carl S. Hawken
of the Hawken family:
Carl J. Hawken - born 1914, son of
William C. Hawken - born 1875, died 1951, son of
John Hawken - born 1839, died 1923, son of
David Hawken - born 1812, died 1891. came to Miller Co., MO.
1850's, died & buried here, son of
John Hawken - born 1784, died 1821. Rifle maker at Harpers
Ferry, VA, second son of
Christain, Hawken (Hacken) - born 1756, died 1821. Rifle maker
Hagerstown Maryland, son of
Niclaus Hacken - born 1718. died 1758. Rifle maker at Bern
records show that Niclaus & 2
brothers. Christain & Woefgang came to America from
Switzerland and lived in York County. PA. I think that Woefgang
was also a rifle maker and probably all three
of them. They came to America in 1750. The Boats name was
Sandwich. They sailed from Rotterdam.
They arrived at Philadelphia PA., November 30, 1750. The Captain
of the ship (Sandwich) was captain Hazelwood from Rotterdam,
with 200 passengers on board. It didn't say how long the trip
took. The record shows that they left a lot of relatives
in Switzerland, but I won't try to list all of them, but the
records I have go back to a Niklaust (Hacken) Hawken, born 1565
at Rueggisberg, Bern Switzerland, so the family was of Swiss
decent. My great great grandfather, John, born 1784, was an
older brother of Jake & Samuel Hawken, the St. Louis Rifle
Thunder and me - Saga of a Hawken Rifle
by Art Ressel
once I got my mind on straight
and figured where its at, I kicked the traces of the East with
just my coat and hat. I heeded Horace Greely's words, 'cause
truly they rang best and set my feet a headin' toward the
gateway to the West!
once I'd hit St. Louis town, I didn't spare a cent, to outfit
with the very best, 'cause I was sure hell bent to be the best
damn "Mountain Man" that ever bore that name, so to
the "Hawken" gun shop eventually I came.
rifles reputation was a legend all its own A gun so true and
sturdy, sure the greatest ever known. So rugged yet so
beautiful, the finest they could make; was the big bore half
stock caplock made for me by Sam & Jake.
took me barely but a week, a workin' every way to learn that
rifle in and out, 'cause sure enough some day I'd call upon her
talent in some moment of true strife and there'd have to be that
knowledge if she was to save my life!
happy voice in time of fun would "crack" a cheerful
sound but her words of fear or anger would shake the very
ground. A half an inch and then some was the measure of her bore
just to face that awesome cavern would have chilled you to the
I perceived a friend so true should surely have a name, a title
that would tell the world that she was far from tame. "0l
Thunder" sure - - that fit her fine, she'd answer to that
call Yes, "Thunder” would do very well and
"lightning" was her ball!
years were hard, but good to us.I guess we'd shared God's grace
"Cause many times I nearly saw the Ol "Grim
Reaper's" face. And more than once we cheated death or even
upped a score by some help from "The Almighty" or
"0l Thunder's" mighty roar!
now my time of hunting's past my eyes are growing weak. My voice
once clear and laughing's just a whisper when I speak. The world
no longer knows us, "0l Thunder" and her friend. And I
fear the times we once knew have come sadly to an end.
don't regret the things I've done and Lord knows that's a heap.
And I sure ain't one to ask for much, I've always earned my
keep. So please Dear God do grant me when I hear the angels song
and face the Happy Hunting Grounds - - Let "Thunder"