Jonathan Browning

Jonathan Browning

Jonathan Browning

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Jonathan Browning (October 22, 1805 – June 21, 1879) was an American inventor and gunmaker. Born in Sumner County, Tennessee, he started earning a living as a blacksmith and later switched to become a lock and gunsmith. He invented a 'sliding breech' repeating rifle also called a Harmonica gun between 1834 and 1842 while living in Quincy, Illinois. He achieved success with the Harmonica gun and he received many orders. It is estimated that each Harmonica gun took 2 weeks to make, and Browning sold the guns for twenty-four dollars.

With his local prominence in Quincy, Browning was elected the justice of the peace. He came to know a young lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln who was an overnight guest in his home on at least two occasions.

In October 1838, Governor Lilburn Boggs issued the Extermination Order that caused the Mormon followers of Joseph Smith to flee Missouri. In his capacity as a judge, Browning came into contact with many of the Mormon exiles. Curious about the new settlement of Mormons in the swampy lands of Nauvoo, Illinois, Browning paid a visit to Nauvoo. His meeting with Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith caused Browning to convert to the Mormon faith. His conversion led to him being ostracized by the community in Quincy. Browning sold his gun shop and land in Quincy.

He moved to Nauvoo, Illinois and joined the Mormon community in 1842, where he established a gun shop. Guns that Browning produced during these times were labeled "Holiness to the...
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