Sam’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather John Colt arrives in America.
Sam’s Great-Great Grandfather John Colt is born.
Sam’s Great-Great Grandfather John Colt is born in 1658. He was married to Mary Lord.
Sam’s Grandfather Benjamin Colt Jr. is born.
Sam’s Grandfather Benjamin Colt Jr. is born in Lyme, New London County in Connecticut. He married Lucretia Ely who was born on 21st November, 1738.
Sam’s father Christopher Colt is born in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Sam’s father Christopher Colt was born in 1780 and died in Hartford on 5th April, 1850.
Christopher Colt marries Sarah Caldwell.
On 4th April, Sam’s father Christopher, marries Sarah Caldwell, the daughter of Major John Caldwell. She was born in Hartford in 1792. Her father John Caldwell was born in 1755 and founded the first Hartford bank. He was also in the Legislature. He was president of the bank and also engaged in a shipping business in the West Indies. He went bankrupt in 1820.
Samuel’s sister Margaret is born.
Samuel’s sister Margaret is born.
Samuel’s sister Sarah Ann is born.
Samuel’s sister Sarah Ann is born.
Samuel’s brother John Caldwell is born.
Samuel’s brother Christopher Jr. is born.
Samuel’s brother Christopher Jr. is born.
Samuel Colt is born.
On 19th July, Samuel Colt is born to Christopher and Sarah Caldwell Colt.
Samuel’s brother James Benjamin is born.
Samuel’s brother James Benjamin is born.
Sam’s mother dies.
On 16th June Sam’s mother Sarah dies from tuberculosis.
Sam’s father remarries. Sam is sent away.
On 12th March, Sam’s father marries Olive Seargant who is from a wealthy family.
Within a year Sam is sent away from home to live with a farmer in Glastonbury, Massachusetts.
Sister Margaret dies.
Sam’s sister Margaret dies at the age of seventeen.
Sam works for his father.
Sam works in his father’s bleaching and dyeing factory in Ware Massachusetts.
Sam attends Amherst Academy, Massachusetts.
Sam leaves Amherst Academy.
During the summer Sam is caught experimenting with a firearm which is forbidden by the school rules. He decides to leave rather than be expelled.
Sam’s experiment at Ware’s Pond.
On 4th July, Sam attempts to blows a raft sky high on Ware pond. The raft moves and only mud is splattered on the spectators. One of the spectators was Elisha K. Root who was elected President of the Colt company, after Samuel Colt’s death in 1862.
Sister Sarah Ann dies.
Sam’s sister Sarah Ann aged twenty one, commits suicide by swallowing arsenic.
Sam sails to London and Calcutta.
Sam crafts from wood a mechanism for a multi-shot revolver.
On 2nd August, Sam aged 16, sails from Boston on the brig “Corlo”, as a plain seaman. He travels to London and then on to Calcutta, arriving in early 1831. He is away for one year.
It was on this journey to London and Calcutta, that Sam crafted out of a block of wood, a design for a single action self-cocking mechanism, for a multi-shot cylinder, by pulling back the hammer to interlock, with the cylinder to bring the firing chamber to lock into a direct line with the barrel.
Sam returns from his journey.
He returns to Boston. Sam works for his father’s bleaching and dyeing factory in Ware Massachusetts.
Sam makes two revolvers from his design.
Sam makes two revolvers from his design. One blows up.
Sam learns about nitrous oxide.
Sam makes his fortune as Dr Coult.
Sam learns about nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas.
He leaves Ware, Massachusetts to make his fortune as Dr Coult, Chemist, late of New-York, London & Calcutta. He travelled to many places, including on the Mississippi and Ohio river steamers, with his laughing gas show. He intoxicated, as many as twenty thousand people, using himself as a guinea-pig, up to a thousand times. He charged two shillings per person for the privilege.
Sam hires a skilled gunsmith in Baltimore.
Sam experiments with pyrotechnics.
Whilst performing in Baltimore, Sam hires a skilled gunsmith, to manufacture pistols based on his new invention.
In Cincinnati, Sam experiments with pyrotechnics (fireworks) for use in a stage play
Sam files a description of his revolving pistol with the Patent Office.
Sam files a description of his revolving pistol with the Patent Office. Sam was perfecting his mechanism for his multi-shot revolver. This was not a unique conception. He knew of the Collier flintlock revolver from many years previous. His aim was to perfect the revolver.
John Pearson makes pistols for Samuel Colt.
John Pearson makes pistols for Samuel Colt in Baltimore.
Dr Coult was dead. Long live Samuel Colt.
Dr Coult was dead. Long live Samuel Colt.
Sam sells part of his company and takes a loan.
Pearson promoted to foreman.
Sam sells one eighths of interest to Roswell Colt for $2,000 and has a $1,000 loan from Dudley Seldon, to finance his trip to London to register his Patents.
By this time John Pearson had made several guns for Sam. He was promoted to foreman at $12.50 a week.
Sam registers his Patents in Europe.
On 24th August, Sam buys his ticket and sails to London via Liverpool and Manchester. He arrives in Liverpool on 13th September and then to London via Manchester on 16th September. He registers his Patents in London on 22nd October 22 and his rifle patents on 29th and 30th October. The cost was $600. From there he went to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he reputedly fell in love with Caroline M. Henshaw, aged no more than 16 years. He is thought to have married Caroline in Scotland and then they honeymooned in Paris, France. On 25th November, Sam and Caroline, left Paris to go to Le Havre, for one week. They returned to America, aboard the “Albany” from Le Havre. The voyage took thirty four days.
Sam returns to America to register Patent 138.
The “Patent Arms Manufacturing Company” is born.
Texas becomes a Republic.
Sam is honoured by the American Institute.
Sam returns to England to update his patents.
Sam is honoured with a gold medal, for the best multi-chambered cylinder rifle. In a demonstration by Sam himself, it took under nine minutes to fire fifty balls, loading the same breech and priming with caps. This was one of many awards, that Sam received from the American Institute.
Sam returns to England, to improve his previous Patents.
Sam makes commercial sales in Florida.
Sam’s step-sister Olivia dies.
Sam became very ill, also his grand-father, Major Caldwell dies.
Sam contemplates building a factory in London.
After a favourable report from the Board of Officers of the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons, Sam goes to Florida where the Seminole Indian war was in progress. There, he sold fifty rifles for $6,250 and also sold pistols to the serving officers. On 10th April, when returning to St. Augustine his boat sank, with him losing his draft and nearly drowning. On 21st June, Congress honours the lost draft for $6,250, after originally refusing to pay out.
On 5th April, Sam’s step-sister Olivia dies.
In May, whilst in New York, Sam became very ill. His grand-father, Major Caldwell died on the 26th May.
At this time, Sam was contemplating building a factory in London.
Sam invents a waterproof cartridge
After the experience of the Seminole war in Florida, Sam decided to invent a waterproof cartridge using foil as opposed to paper.
John Colt goes into business.
Sam’s brother John Caldwell Colt forms a publishing company with offices at 14, Cortland Street in New York City.
Sam figures out how to influence business deals.
Sam realized that one way to gain orders for his firearms, was for him to give engraved pistols to influential people and wine and dine them. Dudley Seldon at Paterson disagreed with him, saying that he should abide by the rules of business.
Patent Arms Manufacturing Company closed.
Sam registers “Sammie” as Samuel Caldwell Colt
On 18th November, Sam and his brother James Benjamin, register John Caldwell and Caroline (Henshaw) Colt’s son as Samuel Caldwell Colt. Is Sam the father? Caroline was not at the christening.
Sam develops the Colt Walker with Captain Samuel H Walker
1846 – 1847
Age 32 – 33
With the failure of his Patent Arms Manufacturing Company, Samuel Colt was at his lowest ebb. He was still working on his submarine battery invention for fortifying harbours and rivers, his development of the waterproof cartridge and his telegraphic enterprise. He acknowledged that he was “as poor as a church mouse”. In desperation he tries to use his influence, to have himself nominated as a Captain, in the new regiment of Riflemen that was being formed, to enable him, to further his military inventions, within the army.
Sam writes to Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker, who had been a Lieutenant Colonel of the Texas Rangers. He asked him about the exploits of the Texas Rangers, using his repeating firearms (Paterson pistols) and how his revolver could be adopted by the military, for the war against Mexico. Walker replied in late November, relating the incident in the summer of 1844, when Colonel J.C. Hays with fifteen men fought about eighty Comanche Indians, killing and wounding about half their number. He said “Without your Pistols we would not have had the confidence to have undertaken such daring adventures”. He then went on to say that “with improvements I think they can be rendered the most perfect weapon in the World for light mounted troops… The people throughout Texas are anxious to procure your pistols & I doubt not you would find sale for a large number at this time”.
This was music to the ears of Samuel Colt. He had been waiting to hear news like this, for a long time. On the 7th December, Walker informed Colt that the Ordnance Department had ordered one thousand of his new repeating pistols to be manufactured within three months with possible further orders if the first contract was completed on time.
On 4th January, 1847 the Colt-Walker contract between Samuel Colt and Samuel H. Walker, Captain U.S. Rifles on behalf of Secretary of War was signed. It was for one thousand or more of Colt’s Patent Repeating Pistols with accessories at an agreed price of $25 per revolver. By the 6th January 1847, the Secretary of War had approved the contract and Colt immediately contracted Eli Whitney Jr. and the Whitneyville Armoury, to adapt or manufacture new machinery and tools to produce the revolvers. Sam made it a condition of the contact, that all the tools and left-over pistols, would revert to him at the end of the contract, with promises of follow-up orders, if the contract was completed on time.
Another contract was made with William Ball of Cabotville, Massachusetts, to manufacture percussion nipples with the same proviso, that all the machinery and tools used in the said production, would revert to Colt after the contract was completed. The steel to manufacture the pistols was ordered from Naylor & Co. of Sheffield, England.
Walker was anxious to return to his command and their return to Mexico. He was also anxious for Colt to give him a pair of newly completed revolvers, off the assembly line, so that he could demonstrate their fire-power, to his military superiors and high-ranking Government representatives. In a letter dated the 30th January, 1847, Walker wrote “I want 100 pair at least to supply the wants of my intimate friends in Texas & New Orleans and will undertake to dispose of that number for you and forward you the money as soon as I receive them any place that I may be in Mexico”. He also said in his next letter dated the 6th February: “I have not the least doubt that 5000 Five Thousand of your Pistols could be sold in a very short time”. Samuel Colt was on a roll. On the 1st March, Colt wrote to President Polk with regards to “…..request permission to raise a regiment in this and other places, where my repeating arms are thoroughly understood, and to arm and equip them with rifles and pistols ….” At the same time, Samuel Walker was on his way to Mexico and anxious to get Colt’s revolvers. Colt, was also worried that the Ordnance Department did not want the revolvers to be dispatched until the war was over and suggested that he should return to Whitneyville and get the guns inspected and take them with him to Mexico by the fastest route.
By the 1st April, Walker was on board the steamer Albertros, with his new recruits and on his way to Vera Cruz. He wrote to Colt in desperation, asking him to send the first shipment of revolvers to him without inspection, saying that he would have them inspected at their destination in Mexico.
On the 7th June, 1847 Samuel Colt wrote to Captain William A. Thornton in New York saying: “I have completed & ready, 220 of my new Model Repeating Pistols ordered by the Secretary of War for the first regiment U.S. rifles”. By the 18th June, 1847, one hundred of the guns had been numbered to their respective companies A, B, C, D and E, inspected and ready to be issued to troops at the battle front.
By the 6th July, Colt had completed the one thousand revolver contract, with all the improvements that Captain Walker had suggested. Alongside the military contract, Samuel manufactured another one hundred civilian revolvers to the same specifications, numbered from 1001 to 1100. These, he used for presentation purposes to influential persons in the political and military arena to promote his new product. Colt was never adverse to rewarding, bribing and influencing leading individuals to further his business.
On the 28th July, James B. Colt wrote to Captain Samuel Walker, on behalf of his brother, saying: “My D’ Sir. I send per ship Martha Washington care of the Quarter Master of Vera Cruz, a pair of my repeating pistols which I hope you will receive in due time and that they will prove substantial friends in time of need”. Walker received the guns on about the 5th October, but sadly on the 9th was killed in action at Huamantla, Peubla. Some said he was shot in the back by a sniper, others said that he was speared by the father of a Mexican, that he had slain in combat and a third version was that he was lanced in a charge by a guerrilla chieftain, whom Walker had shot with his revolver. At this time, even-though the shipment of “Walkers” were in Vera Cruz, they had not been issued to any of the companies.
Animosity had built up between Colt and Eli Whitney Jr during the manufacture of the firearms. There were arguments and disputes, with both parties instructing their respective legal teams, to sort out their differences. With the contract completed in July, it took until November, before Colt received the machinery, tools and surplus revolver parts from Eli Whitney Jr. as per the contract and agreement that they made the previous January. Samuel Colt now had the machinery, tools and equipment and the added experience to start his new factory in Hartford, Connecticut. And so, in 1847 the Colt-Walker Dragoon (so named by collectors today because of its romantic connotation with the U.S. Dragoons) named by Sam as the Army or Holster pistol had arrived on the battlefield in Mexico.
It was 1847, and Sam had money in his pocket. In this year he opened his own manufacturing factory in Pearl Street of his home town of Hartford, leasing two buildings. The large one cost him $250.00 a year and the small one $25.00 a year
The Whitneyville-Hartford Dragoon, the Fluck and the First Model Dragoon were manufactured
The Whitneyville-Hartford Dragoon, was adapted from left-over Walker parts. The Second Contract, Fluck or Pre-First Model Dragoons, were manufactured in a serial range, from 2216-2515. From 1848 through to 1849, a total of almost 7,000 Colt First Model Dragoon revolvers, were manufactured in the serial range from 1341 to 8,000.
July 18. Sam writes letter regarding engraved guns for exhibitions.
By this time, Sam had travelled to Europe several times. On 18th July, Samuel Colt whilst in Vienna, Austria, wrote a letter to the Hartford factory, requesting the manufacture of about fifty Colt revolvers to be embellished with ‘Exhibition Grade’ scroll engraving. Fifteen were to be ‘large size pistols’ now known as the Dragoon and thirty five were ‘small size pistols’ now known as the Model 1848 Pocket or Baby Dragoon. These guns were to be used to advertise and promote Colt Firearms at domestic fairs and exhibitions world-wide.
November 12. Samuel Colt becomes Colonel Colt
This was a successful year for Samuel Colt with the continuing manufacture of the First Model Dragoon and Baby Dragoon.
By the end of 1849 with his new models patented in England and on the Continent, Colt had manufactured up to eight thousand Dragoon pistols and also eight thousand, of his new model, the Baby Dragoon Model 1848 Pocket revolver. The Californian gold rush, with its western expansion, had increased the need for Colt firearms. Sam’s ambition and energy with his great marketing expertise, had kick-started the American Revolution. Sam was on a “high”. His revolvers were acknowledged as being the best in the world and he was inundated with orders. Life was good and he was having grand ideas about expanding his business empire and reaching a worldwide market.
Colt produces the Second Model Dragoon and the Model 1851 Navy.
The Colt Second Model Dragoon was manufactured circa 1850 and 1851. As many as 2700 were produced serial numbered from 8000 to 10700. Also, the manufacture of the Colt Model 1851 Navy in .36 calibre commenced at the end of 1850.
The Colt Model 1849 Pocket evolves.
Sam’s father dies.
By this time the transition from the Baby Dragoon to the Colt Model 1849 Pocket was taking place.
Sam’s father, Christopher Colt dies in Hartford on 5th April, 1850.
Production of the Colt Third Model Dragoon is started.
Manufacture of the Colt Third Model Dragoon, started in 1851 and continued through to 1860. More than 10,000 were produced, serial numbered from 10700 through to the 20000 serial range.
Colt sails to London. The Great Exhibiton of 1851 opens.
Sam sails to England to exhibit at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in London.
Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, organised the largest exhibition in the world, to showcase the new technology, that was rapidly developing in Great Britain. By the mid 1800’s, with an improving road, canal and railway system, the Industrial Revolution was in full flow.
The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London was the venue for the Great Exhibiton of the Works of Industry of all Nations. It was held from the 1st May, to the 15th October, 1851 and was the first international exhibition of manufactured products, showing the development of many aspects of society, which included art and design, education, international trade and relations and tourism. The glass and cast-iron structured building, which housed more than 14,000 exhibitors, from around the world, was designed by Joseph Paxton. Within the vast complex there was 990,000 square feet of exhibition space.
This was Samuel Colt’s greatest opportunity, to expand his name and business world-wide. He displayed more than five hundred repeating firearms. This awesome display of engraved and deluxe arms, alongside his standard production, was to pre-empt the opening of his London factory ,which would produce thousands of firearms, to sell throughout the British Empire and beyond. London was to be his gateway to the world.
Sam returns to the US.
Sam returns to America in February.
Colt’s new factory in London opens on 1st January.
Colt’s London Factory is established on 1st January, at Thames Bank near Vauxhall Bridge with his sales office located at 1, Spring Garden, Cockspur Street, London.
Europe is boiling over and war is brewing.
The production of the London Dragoon, London Pocket and London Navy begins.
The 700 Colt Hartford-London Dragoon percussion revolvers were assembled in London from parts manufactured in Hartford. They were numbered from s/n 1 to s/n 700. The manufacture of the Colt Model 1849 London Pocket and Colt Model 1851 London Navy begins at the London factory.
The Crimean War begins.
Sam makes first visit to Russia.
In the Autumn, Sam makes his first trip to Russia, where he had talks with the War Department. On 11th November, he presented several gold inlaid engraved revolvers, to Czar Nicholas 1, Emperor of all the Russias, at Gatchina near Petersburg. He also had confidential talks, with view to supply machinery to the National Armoury at Tula, to manufacture firearms. He stayed in Russia until at least 21st November.
New factory in Hartford is built.
Colt trades from No14, Pall Mall, London.
Illegal shipment of arms to Russia confiscated.
The new Colt Armory with employee housing, is completed on a tract of land beside the Connecticut River in Hartford. Sam builds “Armsmear” as his family home.
From 31st March, Colt trades from No14, Pall Mall, London opposite the Reform Club.
In August an illegal shipment of 3,480 revolvers with flasks, moulds and caps were confiscated on their way to St. Petersburg via Antwerp at Aix-la-Chapelle. Colt was fined $100,000 by the British Government to cover up the scandal.
The Colt Model 1855 Root revolvers and long-arms go into production.
The Colt Model 1855 Root percussion revolvers and long-arms, which were developed by Elisha K. Root and Sam, went into production at the end of the year.
The Crimea war ends.
Sam builds his new home
Sam builds his new home, Armsmear at 80 Wethersfield Avenue, Hartford.
Sam marries Elizabeth
Sam and Elizabeth go on honeymoon for six months.
On their honeymoon, they travelled to Liverpool, on the steamer “Baltic”. They spent July in London and then travelled to Belgium, Berlin and Prussia. They sailed up the Danube river to the Tyrolean Alps and then embarked at St. Petersburg where they represented the United States at the Coronation of Czar Alexander II of Russia. After six months of touring they returned to the US in November.
The London Manufactory closes.
By the end of 1856, Samuel Colt closes the London Manufactory, with all his sales being transferred to his existing outlet at 14, Pall Mall..
Sam & Elizabeth move into their new home.
In 1857 Sam’s estate valued at $793,400.
Samuel Colt Junior is born, but dies after seven months.
Sam & Elizabeth move into their new home named Armsmear.
Sam’s estate in 1857 was valued at $793,400 with 20 dwelling houses, 274 acres of land, 4 stores and $500,000 to include the factory and machinery.
Samuel Colt Jr. is born on 24th February and dies on 24th September, aged seven months.
Caldwell Hart Colt is born.
Caldwell Hart was born on 24th November. He was the only child of Samuel and Elizabeth Colt’s family, to survive for more than eight months.
Sam makes his third trip to Russia.
Sam makes his third trip to Russia to discuss contracts for firearms and manufacturing equipment.
Present from the Czar.
Sam receives a gold and diamond decorated snuffbox from Czar Alexander II
Elizabeth is born, but dies eight months later.
The Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver begins production.
Elizabeth is born on 22nd February and dies on 17th October, aged eight months.
The Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver begins production, in time for the on-coming Civil War
The American Civil War begins.
Sam is commissioned a Colonel.
When an attempt was made to re-supply Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, the southern forces opened fire beginning the Civil War on the 12th April.
On the 16th April Sam is commissioned a Colonel, by the State of Connecticut. He is to form, the 1st Regiment Colts Revolving Rifles of Connecticut. All the soldiers were to be armed with the Colt revolving rifle. The unit was discharged on the 20th June.
Daughter Henrietta Colt is born.
Henrietta is born on 23rd May and dies on 20th January, 1862 aged eight months.
Sam returns from Cuba
Samuel Colt returns from Cuba with an illness diagnosed as gout and inflammatory rheumatism.
The Colt Model 1861 Navy and Colt Model 1862 Police are born.
Towards the end of the year the Colt Model 1861 round-barrelled Navy and the Colt 1862 percussion revolver went into production.
Samuel Colt dies.
Samuel Colt dies at the age of only forty seven years on 10th January, at his beloved home, Armsmear. The funeral service takes place on 14th January. His body was later moved to the family plot at Cedar Hill Cemetery. His estate at that time, was estimated to be worth $15,000,000. He left $2,000,000 to his “Nephew” or “Son”, Samuel Caldwell Colt.
Henrietta: Born 23rd May, died on 20th January, 1862 aged eight months. She dies only a few days after her father died.
Sam’s unnamed daughter is stillborn.
Sam’s unnamed infant daughter, is stillborn on 25th July.
Elisha K. Root elected President of the Colt company
Elisha K. Root is elected President of the Colt company to succeed Samuel Colt.
Fire at the Hartford Armoury.
On 4th February, the major part of the Hartford Armoury is destroyed by fire
Richard Jarvis suceeds Elisha K. Root.
Richard W.H. Jarvis (Colt’s brother-in-law) becomes President of the Colt company suceeding Elisha K. Root.
“Armsmear” is published.
Elizabeth Colt publishes “Armsmear” in commemoration of her husband.
The new Armory is completed.
The Gatling machine gun is unveiled.
Colt moves to 26, Glasshouse Street address.
Von Oppen moves the sales room and depot from 14 Pall Mall to 26, Glasshouse Street, Piccadilly.
Caldwell Colt dies.
Sam’s sole surviving son Caldwell, dies in mysterious circumstances on 21st January, aged 35 years.
The London Agency moves to 15A Pall Mall.
London agent, James Goodbody (successer to Von Oppen), moves the sales office back to 15A Pall Mall, next door to its previous address, at 14 Pall Mall.
Elizabeth Colt dies.
The end of an era. Elizabeth Colt dies on 21st August, 1905.
The London Armoury Company Ltd becomes Colt’s agent in London..
The London Armoury Company Ltd, 31 Bury Street, St. James, London S.W. is appointed sole distributors for Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in the United Kingdom.
The London Agency closes.
The London Agency was closed on 1st July, 1913.