This set of saddle holsters came some time ago from President Franklin Pierce Homestead, Hillsboro, New Hampshire, and made in the 1830s-1850 era.
An old envelope contained an old tag that indicated that the holsters came from the Hillsboro, New Hampshire, the hometown of President Franklin Pierce, who was a New Hampshire Militia Officer in the 1830s – 40s, becoming a General in the Mexican War era. The tag mentions that the holsters were used by President Pierce’s father Abraham, a Revolutionary War soldier, and later general in the War of 1812 era, but that is a common mistake with families identifying items incorrectly. There is also the possibility the holsters could belong to a brother, Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce, an Army officer in the U.S. Artillery.
The tag has a good deal of age, and appears to correspond the the glued tag under the flap of the earlier pair of holsters. The tag reads, “Gen. Pierces Father to President Pierce/ Used in the War of 1812.” The small tag on the holster reads, “Hillsboro NH Aug 24, 1930.” The last item with writing is the envelope, “Tag that goes with Gen. Peirce Holsters From Henniker, N.H. 1 Pr. service Holsters, 1 Pr. Parade “. There are no parade type with this lot.
Franklin Pierce was from Hillsboro, NH, and I can only assume that the mention of Henniker, NH was a mistake (the towns being in very close proximity to one another), or that after the 1930 date on the holsters, they went to a collection in the later town.
A 1930 date suggest when the holsters my have been sold off, or given away; the circumstances I am not privy to, I have only the the tags and envelope to go by. The “service” holsters are Circa 1830’s for 1836 Flintlock pistols (Johnson or Waters mfg.). They have no visible marking. Constructed of black bridle leather, with each each holster having tin loops that hold paper cartridges. Sturdy, but show age; leather surface crackled in areas, complete with flap closure straps. Stitching is very good, and will hold up to handling and display. The tag is glued to the leather body under the pouch that holds cartridge tins.
My research tells me, that these could not have belonged to President Pierce’s father Abraham, but may have been used by Franklin when an officer in the New Hampshire Militia becoming Aide de Camp to Governor Dinsmoor in 1831.
Franklin Pierce would remain in the militia until 1847, rising to the rank of colonel, and being promoted to Brigadier General during the Mexican War. After the Mexican War, General Pierce was interested in revitalizing and reforming State Militias and maintained close ties with the president of Norwich University in Vermont and other military officers who were associated with that military school.
I wish there was more concrete data to know for sure who used these holsters, but there is enough to believe that they once belonged in the Pierce family. These holsters have been in a collection for at least 20 years, and purchased by me this past year.
Reference the photos for greater detail, quality and condition.