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Home North Carolina Hertford County City of Murfreesboro Historical Markers Richard J. Gatling

Richard J. Gatling

US 258, Murfreesboro, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 25' 38.0856", -77° 7' 9.0408"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Inventor of the Gatling gun and of numerous agricultural implements, was born September 12, 1818, in a house which stands 400 yards north."
      Richard Jordan Gatling, inventor of the gun that bears his name, was born to Jordan Gatling and Mary Barnes Gatling in 1818 and was the middle of seven children. The Gatling family emigrated from England in 1700 and settled in the area around present day Murfreesboro, in Hertford County.

      Richard’s father purchased eighty acres near the Meherrin River and developed a plantation of over 1,200 acres with about twenty slaves. At the age of fifteen, his son Richard went to work in the law office of Lewis M. Cowper. By the age of twenty, he had started a merchant business and had invented the screw propelling wheel. To his displeasure, the invention had already been patented. He married to Jemina T. Sanders in 1854 and together they had three children, two sons and a daughter.

      Gatling’s best known invention was the first rapid firing gun, the predecessor to the modern machine gun. He came up with the idea for the gun at the start of the Civil War and spent ten years perfecting the invention. The gun contained a group of rifle barrels which were assembled around a central shaft and revolved by a hand crank. The Colt’s Armory Company in Hartford, Connecticut, made the first 100 guns. He sold the patent to Colt Company in 1870. By that time, the weapon was capable of firing 1,200 repeated rounds.

      Gatling was also an inventor of many agricultural products such as the wheat drill and steam-plow. He was accomplished as a medical practitioner, but devoted most of his time to invention, contributing greatly to the agricultural field and serving as president of the American Association of Inventors and Manufacturers from 1891 until1897. In 1900, at the age of 82, Gatling invented the motor-driven plow, this being his last invention. He died at the age of 85 in 1903.

Frank E. Stephenson, Gatling: A Photographic Remembrance (1993)
Paul Wahl and Don Toppel, The Gatling Gun(1965)
Arthur Clayton McCarty, Annals of Medical History: Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling (1940)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
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Richard J. Gatling Historical Marker Location Map, Murfreesboro, North Carolina