Hershel House passed

4v50 Gary

Staff member
Dec 19, 2002
Woodbury School Master Gunmaker and former marine Hershel House, 82, passed away last night. Hershel was largely self taught and studied longrifles of all makes but his favorite was the iron mounted Southern rifle. He took it to another level and added engraving, dual patchboxes and other embellishments (depending on what the customer wanted). Besides teaching his brothers Frank and John, he was a regular instructor at the NMLRA Summer Gunbuilder's Workshop hosted by Western Kentucky University at Bowling Green. His class though was taught at his home where you got your own forge and anvil to hammer out your trigger guard and buttplate. Hundreds of students learned from him and built their own rifles (or started them). Sometimes he was assisted by his brothers and sometimes he taught alone. They were always well attended and Hershel also fed his students. There was always a big get together near the end of the class for all students whether they were enrolled in his course or another workshop (typically lockmaking, relief carving, engraving, building one type of rifle or another, brass casting, quillwork taught by Lally House, horn making). That get together featured a BBQ prepared by the House family and by the ladies of the area. It was the shindig to attend.

I took Hershel's class over a decade ago and it was my first experience in forging iron mounts. He also taught me to pour a pewter nose on my rifle (later repeated at Trinidad College) and asked me to write an article about his class which I did. He enjoyed my books (sharpshooting and sniping) and once had an extensive library that was lost when his workshop burned. He rebuilt the workshop (actually two adjoining log cabins that shared a breezeway) and his library. Hershel played the role of a hillbilly but was actually sophisticated and had a huge knowledge basis to draw from. Additionally he had many antique tools that he had collected along the way. He is survived by his daughter, his brothers John and Frank and his sister-in-laws and his beloved pack o' dogs. I don't think he named his last dogs but called them by their color.
Wow!! Thanks Gary, it's a sad day indeed!! I built my first and only rifle ( in Jan 1986) using his "how to" in the #5 Foxfire book!! Always enjoyed reading about him and any videos he was in. Inspirational fellow indeed! He will definitely be missed!!
Prayers for his family . . .