Oliver Winchester

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Oliver Fisher Winchester (November 30, 1810 - December 11, 1880) was a famous American businessman and politician. His main claim to fame was his manufacture and marketing of the Winchester repeating rifle, which was a much re-designed descendant of the Volcanic rifle of some years earlier. Winchester was a clothing manufacturer in New York, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut, before investing his money in the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company when it was founded in 1850. By 1856, Winchester was the principal stockholder in the company and had it move to New Haven, changing the name to New Haven Arms Company. Winchester hired Benjamin Henry to improve on the Volcanic repeating rifle, with the result being the Henry repeating rifle. The Company's name was briefly changed to the New Haven Arms Company and manufactured the Henry rifle during the civil war. After the war Winchester took firm control over the company, which was reorganized and renamed Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866. The first Winchester rifle was the Model 1866, which was a thorough redesign of the basic Henry rifle, with an improved magazine system.

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Repeating rifles were used to some extent in the Civil War. However, the United States Army at that time did not use many repeating rifles as it was a new, untested technology and the army would rather spend money on proven firearms. Repeating rifles were not widely used until after the Civil War, but after the war they were increasingly popular with civilians, while the military authorities concentrated primarily on perfecting breech-loading single shot rifles for some years. With thousands of rifles in the hands of the average pioneer, the Winchester repeating rifles gained a reputation as "the gun that won the West".

Winchester was also active in politics, serving as a New Haven City Commissioner, Republican Presidential elector in 1864, and as Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut from 1866 - 1867.

When Winchester died his ownership in the company passed to his son, William Winchester, who died of tuberculosis in March of the next year. William's wife Sarah believed the family was cursed by the spirits killed by the Winchester rifle, and moved to California and began building a chaotic mansion with her inheritance, to confuse the spirts seeking revenge.pl:Oliver Winchester

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