Samuel Hawken: Auraria's Legendary Gunsmith

Published: May 18, 2016

By Adam Cornett

Samuel Hawken and his brother Jacob were famous gunsmiths in St. Louis, Missouri during the first half of the nineteenth century. They developed the Hawken Plains Rifle in the 1820s which became very popular with frontiersmen for its power and accuracy. After Jacob died, Samuel, at age 67, moved from St. Louis to Auraria and opened a new shop right next door to the Pollack building at what is now 11th and Market. Hawken was immensely successful in Auraria since his shop was the only place to buy Hawken Rifles. He returned home to Missouri in the mid-1870s and died in 1884. The site of his shop is in the Auraria Athletic Field and would be very close to where the Pollack building once stood, about one block North from where Eleventh Street now terminates.

Photo of Hawkin's RifleThe Hawken Rifle, also known as the Buffalo Gun, was a very popular
frontier weapon used by trappers and fur traders. It was lauded for its
accuracy and "knock down" power while still being light enough to carry
on long trips. This is the rifle that the Hawkins brothers developed,
produced, and sold in their St. Louis gunsmith shop.