Coltsville Timeline

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About the Coltsville Timeline

This guide is a timeline for the process of Coltsville petitioning to become part of the National Park Service. The major focus is on the federal legislation driving this process and the general history related to what is now called Coltsville. It is updated periodically. For histories of the Colt firearms: search our catalog; explore archives finding aids; look at the Colt Industries web site; go to the National Park site; and look at the "Further Research and Reading" and "Additional Resources" pages on this guide (updated periodically).

Public Law 113-291 includes a series of "Conditions for Establishment" that must be met before the park may be formally established. The National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of meeting the criteria.

Previously this research guide linked to most steps in the legislative process. As of April 2022, this guide will be streamlined by linking to the federal bill histories for the legislative process. Bill histories in include links to the relevant documents for a federal legislative history. Consult our research guide on federal legislative histories or  contact our reference librarians for additional information on the process. For detailed information about Coltsville becoming part of the National Park Service, please see our older archived guide:

Armory fire - Armory and equipment

Armory Fire

Connecticut State Library, State Archives, PG 460, Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, Box 3, Folder 5, Item 4

Some rights reserved

1860- 1899

1860 through 1899


September dedication of the Good Shepherd Parish House. Source 28 The Caldwell Hart Colt Memorial House formally opened on September 10, 1896. Caldwell was the only child of the Colts to reach adulthood. The design incorporated themes on Caldwell's love of the sea and of travel and a full size portrait of Caldwell Colt by Eastman Johnson. A portrait of Elizabeth Colt, by Charles Noel Flagg, was presented to her by the parishioners on the day of dedication. There are rooms specially designed for the women's societies and guilds  on one side and others for the men's guilds, as well as a classrooms for younger children's Sunday school. The library and reading room had books, newspapers, and art. The lower level was dedicated to physical exercise, with a bowling alley, weights, bath room and other accessories. The building was to support the mission of the church and also offer a quiet retreat from active homes. Source 38, which includes detailed description and Elizabeth Colt's letter to the parish and the main address of the day.


January 21, 1894 - Commodore Caldwell Hart Colt, 35, died in Punta Gorda, Florida. (Source 29, 30, 38, 40). He had been Vice-Commodore of the New York Yacht Club and Commodore of the Larchmont Club. (Source 38). At this time, Elizabeth Colt had the remains of her husband and other children transferred from Armsmear to the family plot in Cedar Hill Cemetery. (Source 46).

Several paternity suits were filed against the estate after Caldwell's death. While Elizabeth Colt worked to present Caldwell as a respectable son, it has been said that Caldwell Colt was shot by an angry husband as Colt ran from the bedroom. Source 37.


Colt Bicycle Club formed for employees. It lasted for seven years. Source 28.


General William B. Franklin retired from Colt to work at Hartford Steam. He remained director of armory until 1901. Source 28

Caldwell Colt vice-resident of Colt company for two years. Source 29.

March 11, 1888 The Great Blizzard of 1888


Colt factory began to switch to electrical power. Source 28


May 5, 1884 - COLT & Another v. COLT, Executrix. 111 U.S. 566 Supreme Court decision on Samuel Colt's will. Source 36


U.S. Circuit Court ruled on LeBaron B. Colt vs. Mrs. E. H. Colt, finding for defendants. The case contested the will of Samuel Colt. Source 35.


Caldwell Colt became a director at the company. source 28.


Children of James B. Colt filed suit to contest Samuel Colt's will. Source 35.


"A collection assembled in 1877. The forty-six Colts in this display were exhibited at Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, New York, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century." page 304, Source 37.


Colt exhibited at the Philadelphia. Elizabeth Colt attended. Source 28. 


Mark Twain lived in Hartford. Colt factory appealed to his interest in mechanics. Some say Sam Colt might have been an inspiration for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Source 37 , and others


Fire destroyed willowware factory. It was not rebuilt. Source 28.


Church of the Good Shepherd parish house commissioned. Elizabeth Colt commissioned Edward Tuckerman Potter to design parish house and recreation hall in Caldwell Colt's memory. It had a nautical theme in design and decoration in honor of Caldwell's love of the sea. Source 28, 38, and several others.

Church of the Good Shepherd completed at 155 Wyllys in Samuel Colt's memory. 

Church of the Good Shepherd consecrated on January 28, 1869. The west window has a memorial to Samuel Colt and their infant children: Samuel Jarvis Colt, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt, and Henrietta Selden Colt. There are memorials to other family members too. The font is also a memorial to the three children who did not survive infancy. "The vessels of Communion Service were made chiefly from articles of silver which had been gifts to the infant children." [n.p.] During the consecration, the sermon said that this church was for rich and poor to worship together. Source 38


First machine fun, the Gatling, produced

Construction completed on rebuilt armory, including a new dome.


Mrs. Colt chose Edward Tuckerman Potter as her architect for the Church of the Good Shepherd. serval sources and Source 38 - which includes a detailed description of the building.


Elizabeth Colt began to organize a new parish in the South Meadow and was planning to erect a memorial church in memory of her husband, Sam Colt.

February, plans for new armory - making it four stories and as fireproof as possible, including fire brigade in each story of existing buildings. Source 28

April - foundation laid for new armory. Source 28

Elizabeth Colt commissioned Charles Loring Elliott to paint a life size portrait of Samuel Colt and another of she and Caldwell. Source 37. Mother and son posed in 1866. Source 37.

Civil War ended. Firearms industry slowed. Colt production was reduced. Source 37.

Richard W.H. Jarvis president of Colt 1865-1901. Source 37

February 4, 1864

Fire at the Armory.

February. When the fire was first discovered in the attic, a hose was run up, but there was no water. The factory was running on two ten hour shifts and it was common that workers were locked into their departments. They were released as the top floor collapsed. Local volunteer fire companies arrived after the upper part of the old section collapsed, and pumped water from the river to the fire. Several local industries stopped production and sent employees to help fight the fire. Elizabeth Colt was present when the blue onion dome fell. The building had oil-soaked wood and gun powder to fuel the fire. The new wing was made with brick walls and was fire resistant. Production for the U.S. military contract was able to continue. But the older half of the armory, which included the office, was destroyed. Only one death was reported. There was a call to have paid fire department, which the established by October. Cause of fire was never determined. Sam Colt did not have fire insurance. After his death it had been purchased prior to the fire, but the financial loss was still great. Production immediately moved to the tobacco warehouse. Source 37. Elizabeth Colt immediately called for rebuilding exactly as Sam Colt had left the building, although it took several years. After Elisha Root's death, Elizabeth Colts brother, Richard Jarvis, became head of the company and William B. Franklin the new executive. Jarvis had previously been involved with Colt's failed land speculations and mining, and later he managed the willow ware factory. He served as president for 36 years. Franklin remained director of the armory until 1901. Source 28, 31

James B. Colt contested Samuel Colt's will. Source 35.


Samuel Caldwell Colt (nephew) married at Armsmear. Elizabeth Colt "presented the couple with a nice home across the street." p.54 source 28.

January 1862

January 10, 1862 - Samuel Colt dies in Hartford. 

Died at age 47. Buried on grounds of Armsmear, January 14, 1862. Survived by wife, Elizabeth, and son, Caldwell (3 years of age). Caldwell was the only one of their five children to survive infancy. "...a third daughter was stillborn, six months after the Colonel's death." page 154 Source 37.  Also survived by nephew, Samuel Caldwell Colt (rumored to be Sam's son). Shortly before his death, he named his brother-in-law, Richard Jarvis, to take the reins. Estate, controlled by Elizabeth Colt, was estimated at $15 million. Named beneficiaries included Elizabeth, son Caldwell, and nephew Samuel Caldwell Colt. Elisha K. Root became president of the company.  Source 28 Colt made provisions for after he died, selecting the next president. The prepaid funeral expenses were the last item in Sam's bank register. Although Source 37 does not indicate if Colt had planned all aspects of the elaborate funeral. Hundreds gathered on the grounds, as the house was filled. Employees marched to Armsmear to pay last respects, then formed and honor line from the house to the grave site. The Armory Band played and Connecticut's 12th Regiment, Company A attended. (Source 37, 45)

At the time of his death, Samuel was survived by his pregnant wife, Elizabeth, son Caldwell (3 years old) and infant daughter Henrietta, who died a few months later. (Source 45)

The will was contested and case went to US Supreme Court according to several articles in the Hartford Courant.

The factory was running extended shifts. Colt anticipated civil war and ramped up production several years prior. Source 37.

January 20, 1862 - Daughter, Henrietta Selden Colt, dies.

July 25, 1862 - Infant daughter born and died. (Ancestry database - could have been stillborn).


Frederick von Oppen left Liege to replace Dennet as Colt's London agent. John Jarvis, brother-in-law, also came to work in London. (Source 40).

May 26, 1861 - Daughter, Henrietta Selden Colt, born. Died January 20, 1862.


Around this time Colt had skilled workers from Potsdam, Germany come to Hartford in order to work in the willowware factory. The Swiss chalet-style Potsdam houses were built for these workers. 

February - Sam Colt was in Havana. He wrote to the factory to ramp up production so that there was a surplus of firearms, to make hay while the sun shines. The armory ran two ten-hour shifts. (p.111 Source 37).

February 22, 1860 - Elizabeth Jarvis Colt, daughter born. Died October 17, 1860. (various sources). Samuel grieved Baby Lizzie, holding a portrait of her in his room. (Source 46).


1850 through 1859


Samuel Colt presented inscribed sets of firearms to Czar Alexander II of Russia and two of his brothers. Source 37

November 25 1858 - Caldwell Hart Colt born in Hartford. Source 38.

March 2, 1858 - Colt offers Frederick von Oppen, husband of Julia Leicester (nee Caroline Hanshaw), a position as his agent in Liege. (Source 40).


Armsmear was built as Colt family residence. Style of Armsmear described as an Italianate villa. Colt had the grounds landscaped, and enjoyed having the work continued and expanded each year.  Several Sources. Armsmear "the meadow of arms" [n.p.] Source 38 

London factory closed. (Source 28, Source 40) Crimean War ended in 1856.

Summer - James Colt sued his brother, Sam, claiming he was owed over $400,000 for his share of London Armory profits. He did not receive that. Each party was ordered to pay the other in damages, with James paying about double what he received. (Source 40)

February 24, 1857 - Son, Samuel Jarvis Colt born. Died December 24, 1857


June 5, 1856 Colt married Elizabeth Jarvis in Middletown. Colt chartered a steamboat to travel to Middletown. The service was conducted by Connecticut's Episcopal bishop. They toured Europe for six months, during which time they attended the coronation of Czar Alexander II. (Source 28, Source 37, Source 40, 46). Also in attendance was U.S. Minister to Russia, former Gov. Thomas Seymour. Samuel Colt had met the Czar's father, Nicholas I, in 1854. (Source 46).

Sam and Elizabeth Colt became known for their paternalistic support of employees: good wages, homes near the factories, social hall, church, recreation areas, band, and so on. Various sources ; Source 37

May - Charter Oak Hall was dedicated. Colt built this as a place where his workers could gather for social events. With all the technical training within the factory, Colt had hoped to develop his own technical school. Source 28, Source 37

Colt Armory Band formed with Sam Colt's patronage. Instruments were engraved with a revolver and inscription according to a Connecticut Courant article of March 1856. Source 37  The band played at events (such as funerals), concerts, dances, and parades.

Crimean War ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, March 30, 1856. 


Model factory built in Hartford that employed the most advanced manufacturing technology. Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company incorporated. In 1855, Samuel Colt built a model factory in Hartford that employed the most advanced manufacturing technology. He also created an industrial community surrounding the factory that included housing, a beer garden, social hall and library, and a church. Various Sources ; Source 37,  46

August 1855, dike and armory completed. (source 28)

June 9, 1855 - Samuel Colt and William Eley granted a patent (London?) for a foil version of cartridges. (Source 40).

March 31, 1855 - London sales office moved to a larger location. (Source 40).


Nicholas I receives Samuel Colt at the Winter Palace. Colt would later attend the coronation of Nicholas' son, Czar Alexander II, in 1856. (Source 46).

Summer - Construction of Armory began. (Source 37)

February 17, 1854 - His Royal Highness Prince Albert visited the London Colt Armory. Sam Colt was present as Prince Albert saw the manufacturing process as well as the good lighting and ventilation conditions. (Source 40)

Unsuccessful lobbying of Congress to extend patent (Source 46)

Colt's Armory Band (aka Colt's Band) organized. Although an article from the Hartford Courant quotes it as originally organized in 1844 by a Mr. Stratton, with help from Samuel Colt.  Samuel Colt provided the instruments providing all members were Colt Armory employees. "Ten years later the band was more fully organized by Col. Colt amd G. A. Patz was made leader." page 2 (Source 52, Stafford).


Opened branch in London, being the first American to do so. (Source 28) Opened on the Thames, near Vauxhall Bridge. (Source 37) Importing arms was prohibited, so Colt needed to manufacture in England in order to sell there. Records show that not all firearms sold in England were manufactured there, especially in the first year and a half. (Source 40) Throughout the Crimean War, Colt had profitable contracts with the British government. Like in Hartford, Colt provided his London workers with conditions not commonly found in British firearms manufacturing: baths, reading rooms, modern ventilation, and in the winter, lighting and heat. While Colt announced the opening in the London press in December 1852, and opened his books on January 1, 1853, it seemed that the armory was not at full production. Ever the salesman, Colt's advertisements said that due to high demand of his firearms he opened a London "manufactory", which was ready to accept orders. He advertised the firearms were "British Manufacture", while he still imported from the Hartford, CT armory. (page 43, Source 40) At this point, the London armory was producing parts, but not complete firearms. "On 18th January 1853 the Customs minutes recorded that Colt had been given permission to pay duty on his pistols already imported or to export them under bond as and when required." (page 44, Source 40). During the summer, Colt's brother, James, came to London to run the armory. (Source 40).

Crimean War began. Thomas Seymour, former Governor, appointed Minister to Russia, 1853-1858.

Caroline Henshaw Colt, now Miss Julia Leicester, is in Bonn, Germany. Sam Colt plans for nephew Samuel Caldwell Colt's education. (Source 41).

Colt began purchasing land in the South Meadows section of Hartford for his armory. The levee was begun.


June, London - machinery began to be moved into the London factory. (Source 41)

May - Samuel Colt elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (England). (Source 40).

1852-1853 - Letters and articles praising Colt firearms were published - signed by various members of the military. "None of those whose letters were published was found when the Army list of the period was checked, nor could they be located in any street directories. The conclusion is that the letters were deliberately fabricated, but by whom is not known." (page 36, Source 40). {Note: This may impact research of newspapers of the time.}

Elisha Root patented improvements to turret lathe. (Source 46)


December 9, 1851 - first shipment of part from Hartford factory were went to London for assembly. (Source 41)

November 25, 1851, England - Samuel Colt read part of his paper "On the Application of Machinery to the Manufacture of Rotating Chambered-Breech Fire-Arms" before the Institution of Civil Engineers (later incorporated into Colt's 1853 book). Robert Adams, a British competitor, also presented at the conference. (Source 40) Colt gave a speech to Institution of Civil Engineers, London, which was later published his own history of repeating firearms, Institution of Civil Engineers ICE), London. ICE elected Colt an associate member - and Colt had the diploma included in a later portrait. "On the Application of Machinery to the Manufacture of Rotating Chambered-breech Fire-Arms, and other Peculiarities of Those Arms" by S. Colt, in Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1852, n. 1852, v. 11. Link to online version on the "Further Research and Reading" page of this guide. ICE was particularly interested in Colt's use of machinery and mass production methods, which replaced the artisan gunsmith. (Source 37, 41, 46) William Hosley states "After baiting his hook with the proposition of a lecture on machinery, Colt focused almost exclusively on the virtues of his firearms and only under cross-examination did he explain the process the British described as the 'American system of manufacturing.' " (Source 46, page 27).

May 1851 - Crystal Palace Exhibition in London: Colt revolvers displayed at this 1851 exhibition. System of interchangeability demonstrated as a highlight of the ''American System of Manufacturing." (Several sources). Samuel Colt met with Prince Albert and presented sets of firearms to several royals and other prominent people, as well as selling many. When the exhibit closed in October, Colt received only honorable mention. (Source 37, 40, 46)

Samuel Colt buys property in South Meadows section of Hartford to build armory (completed in 1855).

Wins court case Colt vs. Massachusetts, preventing other companies from manufacturing firearms that infringe on the 1836 patent. Edward N. Dickerson was Colt's patent lawyer. Source 37 Samuel Colt vs. The Mass. Arms Company. Tried June 30, 1851, In U. S. Circuit Court, Boston, Mass. (Various sources, Source 41). 

Spring - Thomas H. Seymour, Governor of Connecticut, appointed Colt lieutenant-colonel aide-de-camp in the Connecticut State Militia. Colt dropped lieutenant, using only Colonel throughout his life. (Source 40).


Colt was a patron of artist George Catlin, known for his paintings of the frontier. Colt commissioned a series of lithographs from Catlin's paintings, which Colt used for promotional material.

"It is not generally known that Colonel Samuel Colt was himself the first Colt collector. Fully realizing the impact of his life and his firearms on the nineteenth century, he began early in the 1850s to assemble an arms collection of selected pieces of his own manufacture, plus weapons related to the evolution of the revolver. Colt's own arms group is now displayed in the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Museum of Connecticut History, both in Hartford." page 295, Source 37. Note: The Museum of Connecticut History and the Connecticut State Library cannot assist collectors in valuing or tracing firearms.

1850-1851 Winter

The factory moved to Grove Street in Hartford (source 41).


Samuel Colt backed Thomas Seymour for Connecticut Governor, who won. November 30, 1850 Seymour  named Colt his aide-de-camp and Colt had the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut State Militia. Colt dropped "lieutenant" and kept "colonel". The title helped with marketing. He was known as Colonel Colt from then on. (Source 37, 41)


1830 through 1849


The 1836 master patent was extended until February 25, 1857. Colt gave a convincing argument that he had not made a reasonable profit, and therefore needed the patent extended. Colt was able to dominate the market with exclusive rights to the designs. He also went to Europe to protect his patents. (Various sources ; Source 37, 41)

Began manufacturing arms. Worked out on Solomon Porter's Commerce Street factory complex. (Source 46).

Third trip to Europe for marketing and patent protection. (Source 37). Also traveled to the Middle East to drum up sales. (Source 46).

California Gold Rush brought an increased demand for Colt firearms (Source 41)

March 1849 - Elisha King Root left the Collins Axe Company to work for Colt. Colt offered to double Root's salary. One of the owners of the Collins Axe Company, Harris Colt, was a cousin of Sam Colt. (source 41, 46)


Europe saw revolts in several countries and Colt followed the events. (Source 41)


Began construction of his first factory in Hartford in 1847. State of the art, precise machinery were used - invented for the factory. Various sources ; Source 37

Colt opens factory in leased building on Pearl Street in Hartford. Production was increased with refinement of the system of interchangeable parts already in practice. Elisha Root hired to manage the company with Colt promoted the product. (Source.28, 41)

Government and civilian orders started coming in. Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker and Captain Jack Hays were impressed with Colt firearms after using them in Texas and Mexico. Colt sought an endorsement, Walker wanted to purchase arms. Without a factory, Colt turned to Eli Whitney, Jr. for production of the order, which was shipped during the summer. Colt learned from the Paterson factory that it was important to have both government and civilian sales. He was an expert at marketing his product. Several sources, Source 37



Collaboration with Samuel F. B. Morse, supplying Morse with waterproof batteries and cable. May Magnetic Telegraph Association was incorporated by Colt. It did not succeed. Source 28

Mexican War began, ending in 1848. Congress declared war on May 13, 1846. (Source 37, 41) Sam Colt wrote recruiting officers asking for an officer's commission and/or for an order of Colt firearms. He was turned down until Captain Samuel H. Walker accepted a commission, and began to work with Colt on a new revolver. (Source 41)

U.S. Army ordered 1,000 Colt firearms. Without a factory, Colt worked with Eli Whitney, Jr. to produce the firearms in Whitneyville (a section of Hamden, on the New Haven border). Eli Whitney, Jr. had an armory that already employed interchangeable parts in production. Whitney agreed in January 1847, using subcontractors for several steps in manufacturing. After getting additional military orders, Colt began to organize his armory. (Source 28, 41)


Congress appropriated money to purchase Colt's waterproof ammunition cartridge. source 28.


April 13, 1844 - Colt demonstrated his submarine battery for President Tyler by blowing up a boat on the Potomac River. Source 34


Submarine battery. "...the development of Colt's novel harbor defense system was supported by limited Congressional appropriations during 1841-44..." A patent application was submitted in 1844. Source 33


November 18, 1842 - John Colt scheduled to hang at 4 pm, for murdering Samuel Adams in 1841. At noon John Colt and Caroline Henshaw were married in John's prison cell, and then granted one hour alone. Several people visited, with all leaving shortly after 2 pm. Just before 4 pm a fire broke out and several prisoners were released to prevent them from perishing in the fire. Once the fire was extinguished, a sheriff found John Colt dead in his cell with a knife in his chest. It was ruled a suicide, although the coroner's jury never saw the body. No funeral arrangements were made by the Colt family. Caroline Henshaw and Samuel Caldwell Colt left for Europe. (Source 41). Caroline had been Sam's mistress and it was rumored the boy was his, not John's. At Colt's request, she changed her name to Julia Leicester. The boy retained the Colt name and became the ward of Miss Leicester. After Samuel Caldwell Colt returned to the USA, Caroline/Julia married Frederick von Oppen. (Source 40)

September 1842 - Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey closed. Contents were sold at auction. (Source 28, 37, 41, 46)

July 4, 1842 - Demonstration of submarine battery in New York Harbor. The reports in the press did not exactly match Colt's description. Colt claimed the target was moving, while others reported it was stationary. Several sources and page 26, Source 33 "In 1842 the federal government granted him the substantial sum of $50,000 for trials and tests." page 20, Source 37.

August 1842 - Demonstration of submarine battery in Washington, D.C. Source 33.

"During the winter of 1841—42, Colt was engaged in the procurement, insulation and testing of several thousand feet of rolled copper wire, whose manufacture was undertaken at the Waterbury works of Philo Brown and John P. Elton.  At this juncture Colt began consulting with his Washington Square neighbors, Professors John William Draper and Samuel F. B. Morse..." page 22, source 33


December 18, 1841 - Submarine Battery Company was formed. Source 33

John Colt, older brother of Samuel, killed Samuel Adams, with trial becoming a newspaper sensation. (Sources 28, 50). Caroline Henshaw married John on November 18,1842, the day he was to be hung. Before the execution, John was found dead with a knife in his heart. Caroline already had a son, Samuel Caldwell Colt. At Sam Colt's insistence, she changed her name to Miss Julia Leicester and took her son to live in Germany. (p.5-6 Source 28)

Colt continued to work on underwater battery for submarines, giving a demonstration to members of Congress. The invention did not go into production. He continued to work on waterproof cartridge. Various sources. Colt did not go through the Army Ordinance Office, but rather he went to Samuel Southard, President of the U.S. Senate and previous Secretary of the Navy. Southard expressed intertest in Colt's submarine battery, writing President Tyler. Southard maintained interest until his death in 1842. Colt proposed trials and a demonstration, funded by Congressional appropriations. Tyler administration initially declined the funding of trials. (Source 33)

"Colt now seriously considered an attractive alternative —the proposal by members of a Russian naval commission then studying naval technology in the United States that he place his inventive talents at the service of Tsar Nicholas I. The Russian ambassador, Count Alexander de Bodisco, had earlier evinced considerable interest in Colt's repeating arms." Colt let Senator Southard know that the U.S. government would have first chance at his secret technology, but Colt would go elsewhere if they declined. page 18 Source 33 "With Navy Department support formally confirmed on 25 November 1841, the inventor-entrepreneur moved rapidly to acquire additional financing from the private sector and began testing necessary elements of his galvanic mine warfare system in laboratories at the University of the City of New York..." (page 21, Source 33)


Elizabeth Hart Jarvis attended school in Hartford, where her grandmother had moved. (Source 46)


August 29, 1839 - Colt was issued another patent. source 37.


Elizabeth Hart Colt's grandmother, Elizabeth Bull Miller Hart moved to Hartford. (Source 46)


December 1837 Colonel William S. Harney ordered 100 guns. Army Ordnance Department didn't agree until summer of 1840. source 28

October 16, 1837, Tenth Annual Fair of the American Institute, awarded gold medal in Guns & Pistols for "the best specimen of many-chambered cylinder rifles" (Source 49)

Colt continued to lobby Congress for military contracts. Source 33 and others.


Samuel Colt opened first firearms factory in Patterson, NJ. It closed in September, 1842. Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey chartered in March 1836. (Several sources). Sometimes abbreviated by Colt as P.A. Mfg. Co. "Even before the first U.S. patent was officially issued, Colt embarked on a campaign to create a stock company and establish a factory." He demonstrated prototypes to get support for his project. "A sales office and showroom were established at 155 Broadway, New York City." (page 10, source 37). Colt marketed accessories for his Paterson firearms - flaks, tools, cleaning rods, etc. Towards the end of 1836, Colt now replace prototypes in his demonstrations with actual production items. (Source 37, 40). Roswell L. Colt, Samuel's cousin, was a wealthy industrialist who loved in Paterson, NJ. The Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey began in Roswell Colt's buildings. (Source 46).

February 25, 1836 - Samuel Colt received first U.S. Patent No. 138 for the first revolving cylinder pistol. Colt would be able to extend the patent up to 1857. (Several sources ; Source 37, 46) Colt brought his models to D.C. where he gave a demonstration for President Andrew Jackson. Jackson declined to order the firearms. Colt entertained D.C. society and journalists as part of his marketing plan. (Source 41).

Continued work on submarine battery and underwater mines. (Source 33 - pages 13 and 14 have images of sketches by Colt).


Sam Colt traveled to England and France to apply for patents in those countries, so his designs would not be infringed upon. His first patents were granted in Europe. (Several sources, Source 37) His first patent was granted in England, October 22, 1835. Source 40 At some point during his travels, he met Caroline Henshaw. (Source 41) She would later have a son, Samuel Caldwell Colt, and marry Sam's brother, John.


John Pearson was engaged to build prototypes of Samuel Colt's repeating firearms. He often had to write Colt for money to continue to work. (Source 45)


In order to raise funds for his inventions, Sam Colt toured as Dr. Coult, demonstrating nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in a medicine show. His skills as a showman and marketer made this a successful event. He used the title of Doctor and highlighted his travels to London and Calcutta to appeal to the crowds. Several Sources, Source 40, 41. During this time, Colt used the money to hire gunsmiths to work on his invention. (Sources 41, 45).

1832 - Sam went to Washington, D.C. to see a friend of his father's - Henry Ellsworth, U.S. Commissioner of Patents. Ellsworth recommended not apply for a patent until his invention was further refined. Various sources, Source 41. 


Elisha Root went to work at Collins Axe Company and was made superintendent in 1845. Root developed manufacturing systems and had a reputation as an expert. (Source 46)


August - At 16, Sam Colt went to sea, worked on Corvo. Went to England and India. Carved a model of his first revolver, from wood, based on observations of how the ship's wheel worked. This was the inspiration of the statue of young Sam Colt commissioned by Elizabeth Colt and displayed in Colt Park. Researchers discuss that Colt most likely had seen revolving weapons during his time at sea, while Colt claimed he had not. Colt's invention was not a copy, having different mechanisms than earlier revolving firearms. Upon return from sea, Sam Colt showed the invention to his father, Christopher Colt, and to the Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, Henry L. Ellsworth, a friend of the family. Source 28, 37, 39 December 1830, the Corvo, and Colt, arrived in India and returned via London.  Source 41.


1800 through 1829


July 4, 1829 - advertised Sam Colt would blow up a raft for holiday celebration in Ware, Massachusetts. While the raft was not blown sky-high (as the flyer claimed it would), the explosion was so big that it doused spectators. This was when he met Elisha K. Root, who would become the superintendent of the Hartford armory.  page 2, source 28 ;  page 8, source 33 ; Source 37  "The inspiration had come from Grandpa Caldwell's story of 'Bushnell's Marine Turtle' used in the Revolutionary War and the song his mother sang, 'The Battle of the Keys.' " page.6, Source 39 Colt explained to Root that he was able to pass the current underwater because he had wrapped the wire in tarred cloth. Source 41.

Colt explored the idea of underwater explosions and harbor defense while working at his father's textile business in Ware, Mass. page 8, source 33 "Samuel Colt's notion of employing electric current to fire explosive or flammable substances was by no means unique, even in the United States" page 9, source 33 William T. Smith ran the laboratory at the mill and became a friend of Sam Colt. Together they experimented with gunpowder and also nitrous oxide. Source 41.


Sam Colt enrolled in Amherst Academy (note: not the same as Amherst College). He got in trouble for breaking the school's prohibition on using firearms on the school grounds. He returned to Ware. Various sources, Source 41.


October 5, 1826 Elizabeth Hart Colt born to Rev. William Jarvis and Elizabeth Miller Hart Jarvis. (Various sources, source 47, 46) Elizabeth was raised in affluence and came from a prestigious line of decedents. Her mother, also named Elizabeth, had inherited her own fortune. (Source 46).


March 12 - Christopher Colt marries Olivia Sargent. The children are dispersed among relatives. Sam was placed with a farmer in Glastonbury, where he stayed a year before going to work in his father's Ware textile mill. Source 41


Young Samuel Colt took apart a pistol, examined it and reassembled it. Source 37

June 16 - Sarah Colt, Samuel's mother, died of tuberculosis. (Sources 39, 41, 45 and Ancestry database). 

Christopher Colt moved family to Ware, Massachusetts and sets up a silk mill.


July 19, 1814 - Samuel Colt born in Hartford, to Christopher and Sarah Caldwell Colt. He was the fifth of six children. (Various sources, including Source 41, 45). His maternal grandfather, Maj. John Caldwell, "was one of Hartford's richest and most prominent men..." and his paternal grandfather, Lt. Benjamin Colt, was a blacksmith in Massachusetts. (Source 45, page 14).