Seth Peck Millard-Lockport, N.Y. Gunmaker

By Larry B. Schuknecht

From the Wednesday, Jan 12, 1916 edition of the Brookfield Courier, a republican newspaper from Brookfield, N.Y.- "It has developed that Seth P. Millard who died in Lockport recently and supposedly poor. left $3,500. in cash and stocks in oil, copper and other securities worth $17,000. He lived in a room over a store and his bed was an old door."

Seth was born on June 14, 1839 in Low Hampton, Washington Co., N.Y. to Ashley Ramson ( or Ransome) Millard (March 17, 1798-Oct. 15, 1871) and Polly Peck (Dec. 10, 1825-Jan. 27, 1861). He had a twin brother- John J. (June 14, 1839- Jan. 30, 1917) who lived in the Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Co., N.Y. area and was listed in Census records as a Laborer. There were two older brothers- Frank (Oct. 7, 1831- ) who moved to and lived in Des Moines, Ia. and George Northrup Millard (1827-1909) who also moved to and lived in Des Moines, Ia.

The 1850 and 1860 Census records show Seth's father Ashley working as a farmer in Hampton. In the 1860 Census Seth is listed as a Machinist. Evidently the family moved to the Town of Royalton in Niagara County shortly after Polly passed away. There are several clues which hint at a connection between Elliott W. Cook of Lockport and Seth. Seth was active in gun making after the Civil War until around 1877, which was the same time that Elliott went to California for the milder climate and passed away there in Jan. of 1877. Swinney in his notes observed that there were similarities between the box frame rifle made by Seth and shown in the Muzzle Loading Cap Lock Rifle by Roberts and a box frame rifle made by Cook. Also Swinney states that M. S. Risley had some of Seth's hand tools that he made himself, and Bill Loos in oct. 2010 told me that Risley had Cook's metal lathe. With their common interest in shooting and and gun making it is more than likely that Seth and Elliott knew each other well and that Seth had some of Elliott's equipment. Seth was probably influenced by Elliott's prior experience in the trade and his products. Perhaps Seth had acquired wooden patterns from Elliott for the box frame guns or purchased the castings from the same foundry that Elliott had used. It is also possible that with the passing of his friend and mentor and fellow shooter, Seth lost interest in gun making and continued the more lucrative occupation of Clock and Watch repair as reported in the 1900 Census.

The following image is of downtown Lockport as Seth would have known it in 1887. The 1876-77 Lockport City Directory lists: Millard, Seth P., gunsmith, over N. Y. Tea Store, bds. 118 E. Main. The image is looking towards the North side of Main St. and the New York Tea Store is the second store front from the right, between LA Roche and the door for the Dentist. Elliott Cooks shop had been across Main St. on the South side.

Seth is known to have specialized in building heavy target rifles but it appears that he probably carried a line of imported percussion shotguns. The book L. D. Nimschke-Firearms Engraver by R. L. Wilson shows smoke pulls of three percussion lock plates engraved by Nimschke, the first in 1865 and the last in 1871.

The following image shows a model 1882 Maynard rifle that was re-barreled for bench rest shooting by Seth. At one time it was owned by M. S. Risley. It was sold in a Richard A. Bourne Co. Inc. Auction on May 14, 1980 which was largely made up of the gun collection of Mr. Risley

Seth's muzzle loading bench rest target rifles were heavy creations that show a high degree of his skill as a machinist. The following rifle appeared on the internet many years ago and is a fine example of his craftsmanship.

The following three images are from the Niagara County Historical Society and shows the Niagara Sportsmen's Club and is probably from 1885. The people are unknown. One of them may have been Seth P. Millard or past customers of his. The banner on the building shows President Grover Cleveland and Vice President Thomas Hendricks. Thomas Hendricks was in poor health when he became Vice President and only served about 6 months before he passed away. The exact location is unknown.