PO Box 7358
McComb, MS 39649
601-249-3315 or 841-8797 [email protected]
CHARLIE DEMPORT GUNSMITH
Recently, I was asked if I knew Charles Demport. I wrote this for the fellow that asked me about him. It is a long read but I think it is interesting enough to post it. Mr. Charles Demport lived at Charles Avenue in Solvay, NY. He died in the early 1970's. He was 96 years old. When I was a teenager, Charlie took me
under his wing and let me work at his shop. I would disassemble and clean firearms for him, tidy up the place and help him with various chores. No pay but a lot of fun and education. The machinery in the shop ran off a center rod running at the ceiling all the way through the shop. There were heavy leather belts that ran the individual machines with a clutch on each machine. It was like a water wheel setup. Charlie was a member of the Coast Guard and served in the Spanish American War. In 1903 he won the all services revolver championship at Sea Girt, New Jersey. They had the National Matches there until 1907, when they were moved to Camp Perry, Ohio. When Charlie was 85, I was at the range. My friend had a German P38 and Charlie asked to fire it. When he gripped the pistol he was shaking. As he brought it up, the shaking went away as he concentrated on the sights. He hit the black 8 out of 8shots with one hand.
Charlie was an early member of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association. He used to shoot a .54 1841 Mississippi Rifle with his own peep sight on it. He also shot a brace of 1858 Remington .44 revolvers. I used to go to the range with him at the Elbridge Rod & Gun Club. Charlie was good friends with O.F. Zischang. Zischang was a Syracuse based gunsmith that had a friendly rivalry with Harry Pope. The two rivals made the finest BP target rifles of their time. I remember a Zischang Ballard Charlie had in .28/30-120 Stevens. It was a thing of beauty with a hooked butt-plate, ball shaped palm rest and the tools to load the rifle with the bullet seated into the rifling before the cartridge case was loaded into the rifle. The peep sight was modeled after the Swiss Martini Free Rifle sights. The front sight was a globe type with spirit level. There was a group of shooters in the USA that shot rifles like this in the manner of the old Schutzenfests they had in Germany. Presently, there is an Ohio based club that is reviving this tradition.
Charlie could make anything. A local factory had him make a 20" helical gear for a machine, that they could not find a replacement part for.