The Village of Ripley, Ohio Restoring rare Wiard 3-inch Rifle

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and to honor the memory of the Brown County citizens who sacrificed, fought, and died for the Union cause, the Ripley Friends of the Library group is having their very rare Wiard 3-inch rifled cannon restored.The cannon has been on the lawn of the library for the past 50 years exposed to the elements. Now the cannon’s carriage is being held together by rust and paint, observers said. The cannon was purchased by the village of Ripley in 1862 to defend against possible attack from the South. This is one of two known pieces that have survived. Norman Wiard made two and perhaps four or more of these rifles. The contour approximates the U.S. 3-inch Ordnance rifle form except for the addition of an irregular trunnion band. In every known piece, the individualistic Wiard was the Northern champion of left-handed rifling, often with U-shaped grooves seen nowhere else. The Village of Ripley is well know for it’s Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War. If one visits Ripley you can tour some of the homes of people who helped in that cause. A few examples are the home of Sen. Alexander Campbell, a practicing physician, whose brick home stood at the top of the river bank with hospitable doors always open and swinging outward. He was known as the first Abolitionist in Ohio. The home of Thomas McCague, the richest man in the Virginia district who often harbored runaway slaves. On top of a high hill back of town where a beacon light burned nightly, lived Rev. John Rankin. Ripley has several historic homes, antique shops and a museum one can visit and enjoy.

This project is most interesting to Steen Cannons because the owner, Marshall Steen’s great grandfather was born in Ripley. He served in the Union Army and afterwards came back to Ripley and opened up a Dental practice there. Marshall’s grandfather was also born in Ripley, John A. Steen, and went into the funeral business and came to Ashland, KY. Marshall’s Great Grandfather is buried in the Ripley Cemetery. Steen Cannons is refurbishing the original tube and making an new all aluminum out-door gun carriage for the village.

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