COLLECTIBLES: Thomas Smith’s Powder Horn: History and Art


Recently I was contacted by a person from the Midwest who found a powder horn in his grandmothers’ closet while cleaning out her estate. I know, I talk a lot about powder horns but each one is different,like paintings done by different artists. This one turned out to be a work of art with amazing history!

I was stunned by the quality of the carving and what it depicted. It was marked “Thomas Smith/HIS HORNE MADE AT/BROOKLINE FORT AUGUST/THE XV: MDCC:LXXV: 1775.” Below this is a man hunting deer with his dog marked “A. huntsman,” and to the left of that “The Royal Artillery” with cannon, muskets, swords, a fife, a drum with sticks, stacks of cannon balls, and a “Ship of War,” a rooster, “A sloop” with two small sailors on the deck, and three fish.

Brookline Fort, or Sewall’s Point as the land was called was a part of the Town of Brookline,Massachusetts. It was built in June/July 1775 during the Siege of Boston to protect from the British from getting boats up the Charles River and behind Provincial lines. It was a critical location and troops were brought in to defend it. Amongst those troops were men from Colonel Samuel Gerrish’s regiment.Today, the Boston University bridge and part of the BU campus sit where the original fort was. When I first saw the name Thomas Smith, I figured it was going to be tough to find the Thomas Smith asit is such a common name. As I looked through Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution, I found nine pages of them. The easiest way for me to go through them was to print them all and look at each man. So, we know the regiment that was manning the fort during the summer and fallof 1775, Colonel Gerrish as I mentioned, and there were four companies of his regiment there. As I went through and crossed off names there was only one who was at Brookline Fort/Sewall’s Point during that time. Thomas Smith of Rowley, Massachusetts.

Thomas Smith was born in Rowley on September 11, 1748. He married Elisabeth Champney on April 17, 1769. When British forces marched to Concord on April 19, 1775, Smith was a member of Captain
Thomas Mighill’s company of minute men. On April 24 he enlisted in Captain Mighill’s company again which was now a part of the newly formed Massachusetts Army.

Captain Mighill’s company became a part of Colonel Samuel Gerrish’s regiment and in July 1775 they were stationed at Brookline Fort. I was able to find the muster rolls for the company and Smith was there till the end of December 1775. Sadly, after that date I could find nothing on Smith. Like many folks he may have moved, and the rest of his history is lost. That said, I am thrilled that I was able to find what I did so that it will now go with this horn forever.


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