One of the early Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony at the first Thanksgiving was John Alden, and a vintage rifle belonging to him has survived some 396 years.
A 20-year old barrel maker who came over on the Mayflower, Alden brought an Italian-made wheellock with him across the big pond and used it in Captain Miles Standish’s local Militia to protect the colony.
Although it was mentioned in Alden’s will, it was not recovered until 1924 when his house was being renovated– found loaded in a secret compartment near the door of the residence, still ready for use at a moment’s notice.
And Alden used the finely crafted gun extensively– research shows the rifling is well worn.
It is currently in the collection of the National Firearms Museum.
Curious on how a wheellock works? Check out the video below in between bites of turkey.