Grandpa had a Thompson.....


October 4, 2005, 08:37 AM
Had an interesting conversation with my Dad this weekend about family firearms. Come to find out that his Dad was once Sheriff of Lewisburg County in Birmingham Ala. way back in either the 50's or 60's. Lets just say a few items were confiscated :rolleyes: in his career. One item he was given by the department was a Thompson SMG. Had the drum mag, and several stick mags too. Dad told me he sold it in '68 when he had to register it to keep it. I guess they still had to pay the $200 back then too? :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
One item that did survive was an old 1911 in really rough shape. Well, the frame was "questionable" so it had to go :scrutiny: So Dad gives me the parts, minus the missing frame so I can use them on my other 1911's. Little does Dad know, he's getting a Colt/Caspian 1911 for Christmas!
Also told me of all the WWII bring backs he had. A Lugar with the butt stock that attaches and is also used as a storage case, a few other 1911's etc.. Dad even had a 1911 that Granddad gave him after he got married. Well Dad was in the USAF living on base, so he left it at home. When Granddad passed away, one of my Uncles in Texas arrives to the funeral early and goes thru the house when no one is home and loads up all the guns he can find and takes them back to Texas, including Dads personal 1911.
I always wondered why Dad didn't even send flowers to his brothers funeral.
Now I know. I hope all those gun were worth it to him.

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Jim Watson
October 4, 2005, 09:34 AM
Geography? I am from Birmingham, Alabama and that is Jefferson County, not Lewisburg County. There is no Lewisburg County in Alabama, nor a town of Lewisburg big enough to put on a road map.

Mel Bailey was Sheriff of Jefferson County for many years in the 1960s and later. I got my first CCW permit from him. His predecessor was Holt McDowell. Which are you related to?

Grandpa could have registered that Thompson in the 1968 amnesty without paying the $200 transfer tax, although if he had sold it later, it would have had to be paid twice to cover his acquisition and his sale. At current live legal transferrable SMG prices that would not matter much.

For some reason, family firearms generate the most ill-will of almost any posession short of large real estate when the owner dies off and his relatives start grabbing.

October 4, 2005, 11:48 AM
You got me, it was Lewisburg road, not county. My Aunt still lives there. Granddads name was Harry Smith, think you could look it up for me and see what years he was in office?
Cannot remember the address, but the Jeff Hunt Catapillar/Bulldozer store is on some of his old property behind the house. they also built I-65 right behind his house too. I remember as a kid in the '70's when skateboards started getting the rage again, I had to ride mine laying down, down the drainage line from the Interstate to the creek below the overpass. As a kid, I remember it being a 100-200 ft. run. Probably was only 50 ft., but I remember dismounting the board after hitting a dirt clod and tumbling down the rest of the way.

October 4, 2005, 12:38 PM
Lookie what I just found!

Go down to 1939-1940. It's Grandpa! Well, I guess my years were off a little!

Here's the complete list:

Jim K
October 4, 2005, 04:39 PM
Hi, Jim Watson,

Negative on the transfer information. The 1968 amnesty allowed any and all auto weapons (and other NFA stuff) to be reigistered free of charge (no tax) and with no questions about when or how acquired, with a few exceptions. Form 4467 is the amnesty registration form.

Once registered, a transfer/sale requires only one transfer tax and one Form 4.


October 4, 2005, 05:30 PM
Your story reminded me that my dad gave me my Grandfather's guns a while back when I first started getting into firearms. One was a Ivers Johnson .38 S&W break-open "Lemonsqueezer" and the other a .32 same make/model. Also, I received my aunt's semi-auto .25 caliber Colt(!). At the time I was really into .357 Magnums and traded it all off for one Dan Wesson .357.

At the time, it seemed like a good thing to do, but now I wish I had them old guns back, just to hang on the wall. Something about a firearm with fanmily heritage...

October 4, 2005, 05:44 PM
If the Thompson had been registered to the Sheriff's office and not to grandpa personally, he could have transferred it to himself or anybody else with no transfer tax; could have been passed down through probate with no tax.

October 4, 2005, 06:23 PM
You guys are killing me with this info on the Thompson :banghead:
I was thinking Gramps was just cheap! Guess he didn't want to have to deal with the ATF anymore than the rest of us did. Of course I was only 6 when he got rid of it.

October 4, 2005, 08:09 PM
Still some cool history. My grandfather was also a sheriff--somewhere in Oklahoma. I don't have any family ties so I don't know any neat history like yours--but I think I'll dig around some now. :)

Jim Watson
October 5, 2005, 01:19 AM
Hi, Jim K.

I guess the BATF told my college classmate wrong about having to pay two transfer taxes if he sold his amnesty Maxim gun when he registered it in 1968. Maybe they were trying to discorage him from keeping it.

Bwana John
October 5, 2005, 03:02 AM
My Grandpa had a Thompson also. (
Yangtze River Patrol, China ca. ~1930

October 5, 2005, 03:17 AM
is a thompson extremely rare or something? ?/?
or is it just that- WOW - issued by the Dept? THat is pretty wild!
how annoying though that since back then $200 was so much, it wasnt worth keeping huh. ARGH.

kinda intersting-
Editor's Note: Since the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory of Northwestern University, the Director of which is Editor of the Police Science Section of this JOURNAL, came into being as a direct result of the so-called Valentine Day Massacre which occurred in Chicago on February 14, 1929, a crime noteworthy for its speed of execution and the number of victims involved, both of which were made possible through the employment of the so-called "sub-machine gun,"

the new gun was adopted by the New York Police. The first move in making, the Sub-Machine Gun internationally famous had started a move which has steadily spread until, with the start of 1932, several hundred police departments in the United States and Canada are equipped with the weapon which has made history in law enforcement.

never seen one. theyre not unbelievably heavy either.

October 5, 2005, 07:07 AM

It's not that the Thompson is a rare gun, many thousands were produced for the wars, but very few made it into the civilian market.

Thanks to all the anti-gun laws all machine guns are becoming more expensive for civilian ownership. The supply is limited; no new guns are allowed to be made for the civilian side of things. The military and police can get them fresh off the assembly line, but not us.

In addition, the Thompson does have a serious 'cool factor.' They are a piece of history, for good or bad.

Check this site for current prices on Thompsons. The first one I saw was selling for $22,900.

October 5, 2005, 11:43 AM
In addition, the Thompson does have a serious 'cool factor. :D
I can attest to that. Years ago I rented one to shoot at an indoor shooting range just say I had. Pardon the pun, but it was a BLAST!

October 5, 2005, 11:06 PM
The Berrien County (Michigan) Sheriff's Department has one of the Thompsons used in the St Valentine's Day Massacre. It was recovered after a raid on the home of a gangster who had killed a St Joseph Police Officer following a traffic stop.

October 5, 2005, 11:07 PM
Bwana John,

Do you have any other pics of your grandfather or the Yaghanze River Patrol? (You didn't write that story in SGN by any chance, did you?)


October 6, 2005, 04:01 AM
Check this site for current prices on Thompsons. The first one I saw was selling for $22,900.

you gotta be kiddign me. !!!!

holy cow that's a grip of cash.

you mean i was NOT holding a $20,000 piece of incredibly heavy steel??

Bwana John
October 6, 2005, 01:24 PM
Do you have any other pics of your grandfather or the Yaghanze River Patrol? (You didn't write that story in SGN by any chance, did you?)
Yes I have 100's of photos from the time Grandpa was on the Yangtze, and no I didnt write the SN article but I was tempted to contact the author when I saw it because I believe my pics are much better than most in the article (for the ~1930 time period).

I am trying to figure out how to afford to preserve these photos, they are in leather bound albums which are falling apart.

PS Grandma was the adventuresome type, she got to missin Grandpa and boarded a "Slow Boat to China" (~100 days at sea). She got off in Shanghi to find out Grandpa was 1000 miles up river, keeping China safe for Jesus Christ, Standard Oil, and Robert Dollar. She got to see him twice in three years, both times for less than two weeks. My Mother was born in Shanghi in 1933 as a result of one of these leaves.

October 7, 2005, 08:44 AM
The St. Paul, MN, Police Dept. had M1A1 Thompsons up until 1974, when they traded them in for M16A1's as their 'SHTF' weapons. My Dad was a good friend of the Armorer, Glenn Crosby, who invited him to come down to the range and help him shoot up all the WWII-era .45ACP they were issued with the Thompsons. I went with, and at the age of 11 got to fire my first full-auto! :evil: I only got to fire one 20 rounder, in three or four round bursts, (the last of which kept bouncing off the ceiling. :o )

pete f
October 8, 2005, 01:27 AM
i had a friend who worked for the navy as civilian contractor. he has pics of THOUSANDS of thompsons being gas axed when the navy moved up to M16's for ships armory.

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