Monday, January 5, 2009

Featured Manuscript Collection: January/February

Charles H. Elias Papers
MSS 97-16

Finding Aid

Charles H. Elias (pictured right, ca. 1974) was born to Ruth and Edward D. Elias on August 14, 1918 in Okolona, Mississippi. His father worked in the mercantile business until the Great Depression years, then served as city clerk for about ten years. Charles graduated in the late 1930s from Mississippi State College with a degree in geology. The Elias family moved to Little Rock in 1940.

Charles served for four years with the Army Air Corps in World War II. He returned to Little Rock and joined his father and brother in founding the Tri-States Construction Company, which was responsible for building several major projects in the state, most notbaly the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. Charles served as construction foreman and did some of the work on his own, such as the finishing carpentry work. In 1959, Charles left the family business to oversee building projects for the Little Rock architect firm of Eichenbaum, Rauh and Blass. When Elias retired in the mid 1970s, he devoted much of his free time to his avocation of collecting antique guns and cartridges. Elias became an authority in the field and wrote many articles and several books on the collectibles. Charles H. Elias passed away in Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 22, 1999.

Image to Left: Research on William Dabbs, an Arkansas gunsmith. Location in Collection: Box 7, File 4.

This collection of papers is mostly devoted to Elias’s work in the field of early American firearms and cartridges. Much of the materials consist of research materials and many of the finished articles that he wrote for newsletters, magazines, and journals on the topics of 19th century guns and cartridges.
Raw materials for Project Census 77, the listings of all the major cartridge collectors’ holdings as of 1977, are included, as are records of Elias’s work on De Soto’s Arkansas Expedition and the Little Big Horn Project. In addition, the collection contains historical information on American gun manufacturers of the period. As Elias was especially intrigued with the work of early Arkansas gunsmiths, biographical materials of these men are found in this collection.

Image to Right: A.E. (August Edward) Linzel, Purchase Order, 1890 (Little Rock, AR). Location in Collection: Box 7, File 9.

This information taken from the finding aid.


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