A ‘Challenging’ Inventory Find

By Deb Rose Van Horn, registrar

PA ChallengeEvery once in a while we find something in the collections that we didn’t know we had but the piece will help us complete a story. We recently found one of those items while we were doing the inventory of the museum collection. Curators found the document (see photo) in a drawer in our storage area. It had no attached accession number and no computer record so they sent it down to the problem team so that we could do some research on the piece.

trophy rifleYou can’t imagine how surprised I was to see this document. First let me give you a little of the back story. As the registrar for KHS, I am responsible for managing the loans that come in from and go out to other museums. I have been working here for almost 12 years now. One loan I check on every year is a long rifle that is attached to a plaque that currently hangs on the wall above the Kentucky adjutant general’s desk. The story of this rifle is that it was the trophy in a shooting contest between Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The contest occurred yearly from 1963 to1965 in Pennsylvania and Kentucky’s longriflemen won every time. After that, the Kentucky Corps of Longriflemen began having the shooting contest yearly, during the first week in October, and invited other states to compete. This contest is still held annually near Boonesborough.

According to the history on the Kentucky Corps of Longriflemen website, Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton sent eight men on horseback from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Frankfort, Kentucky, to issue this challenge to Gov. Bert Combs. That is where the Kentucky Historical Society became involved. Combs asked then-KHS president, Col. George Chinn, to accept the challenge and Chinn told the Pennsylvanians to “notify yer next of kin.”

Now imagine my surprise when this document crossed my desk. This is the original challenge issued to Gov. Combs in 1963 from Gov. Scranton. The document states that the contest is to take place at the Daniel Boone Homestead near Reading, Pennsylvania. Scranton signed the document and it bears the Pennsylvania state seal.

The text reads:

PA ChallengeTake Notice

Whereas the revered frontiersman Daniel Boone was
born on the soil of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
and

Whereas the Frontier Weapon he helped make famous,
the often miscalled Kentucky Rifle and more properly
The Pennsylvania Rifle first was produced by Pennsylvania
gunsmiths and

Whereas there is doubt concerning the fabled reputation
of Kentuckians of marksmen, especially as compared
with Pennsylvania Marksmen,

Now Therefore, as Governor of the Great Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania, I challenge the HONORABLE BERT COMBS,
Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to send Kentucky’s
finest marksmen to vie against Pennsylvania Riflemen at
the Daniel Boone Homestead, near Reading, Pennsylvania,
subject to the following conditions:

THAT the weapon of competition be the Aforementioned
Rifle, and

THAT match rules be drawn by a joint Committee
representing each Commonwealth.

GIVEN under the HAND of William W. Scranton,
Governor of the said Commonwealth, and the
GREAT SEAL, at Harrisburg, the Third day of May,
in the year of our LORD, one thousand nine
hundred and sixty three and of the Commonwealth,
one hundred and eighty seventh.”

If you are interested in more information, you can learn more about the contest and the Kentucky Corps of Longriflemen on these websites:

Chronicle|Collections|History Burgoo|Uncategorized

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