Ted Loy locates and brings rare Lewis Triplett Rifle to Adair County


Columbia is a small town today, compared in size to many, and was even smaller in the mid-19th century. Lewis Triplett was born in Russell County on April 5, 1822 to John Triplett and Martha McFarland Triplett and came to Columbia at the age of 16.
Lewis learned the trade of leather work and operated a harness and saddle shop in Columbia for many years.
Lewis was married in 1844 to Frances Ann Murrell, daughter of John and Elizabeth Murrell. The young couple thrived in Columbia and reared several children, educated in the local schools. Their home was on Greensburg Street. Frances died in 1884 and Lewis followed her to the grave on March 8, 1902, with burial in the Columbia Cemetery. Mr. Triplett was a devout Presbyterian in later years and was a member of the Masonic Lodge at Columbia, No. 96.
Mr. Triplett was a saddle maker for decades and customers came from all the surrounding counties to take advantage of his talents. He was an artist with leather and developed what was known as the Triplett Saddle—one that was visually distinctive. Even into his later years he continued to repair and craft his leather goods. Other saddlers manufactured and sold the Triplett Saddle even after the death of Mr. Triplett.
His trade lent itself to the development of various other products and Mr. Triplett experimented and invented throughout his lifetime. His most notable invention was the work on what came to be known as the Triplett & Scott Carbine Rifle.

Ted Loy and Mike Watson and two Triplett rifles
Ted Loy and Mike Watson and two Triplett rifles

The Triplett & Scott Rifle was an intriguing mechanical invention. Mr. Triplett obtained a patent for the “Triplett Magazine or Self-loading Firearm,” and was granted patent number 45,361 on Dec. 6, 1864. It was a breech-loading repeating carbine with an unconventional cartridge magazine that formed a skeleton stock. The magazine was designed and constructed so that the weight of the loaded weapon would rest chiefly upon the shoulder rather than the arm of the person using the rifle.
The rifle was tested and considered for use in the field by the United States; tested at Washington Arsenal in November 1864, but there is no record of official use by the United States during the Civil War. However, the State of Kentucky purchased 5,000 of the Triplett & Scott Rifles during the latter days of the war.
Thousands of the weapons were produced and some saw service in the West during the days after the Civil War. Those that were used regularly tended to become severely damaged in the area of the stock due to a profound weakness caused by the cartridge compartment housed there. Therefore, only a limited number of this weapon still exists in working condition today.
Adair County native Ted Loy, who grew up in the southern end of the county, has had a fascination with the Triplett Rifle for years. In the past few years he has been able to track down several of them. As one who loves history and artifacts of this region, he acquired his first Triplett a few years ago. It is a near-mint specimen which he has exhibited at the Adair County Genealogy & History Research Center on at least two occasions. The most recent being just a few weeks ago when he and his wife, Valerie, came in to share its history.
Ted wants to make sure the people of his native county—and the home of Lewis Triplett—have the opportunity to see and appreciate this work of art. He is making arrangements for this piece of history to be exhibited at the Research Center in the future. Plans are underway to obtain a locally constructed, secure display case for this hard-to-find and rarely seen treasure.
Mike Watson

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