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Daniel M. Lefever

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. " - Sir Winston Churchill

   
Quick Facts

dan

Daniel Myron & Sarah Lefever

 
  • Born: August 27, 1835
  • Died: October 29, 1906
  • Parents: David & Grata Knapp
  • Married
  • Seven children
  • Seventh generation Ferree descendant
  • Greatest gun designer of his time.
  • Inventor of the hammerless shotgun.
  • Poor businessman.
  • Known to everyone as "Uncle Dan".

 

Inventor, pioneer in shotgun designing, manufacturer, and "colorful character" - all of these could describe Daniel Myron Lefever. Daniel was born August 27, 1835, on a farm in Hopewell, Ontario County, New York. His father, David Lefever, died soon after Daniel's birth and it is thought his mother must have died sometime in the late 1840s. The 1850 census shows Daniel and his sister, Mary, living with their uncle, Christian, in Seneca, New York. When Uncle Christian and other members of the family left New York to migrate west, Daniel remained. He began an apprenticeship in gunmaking in Canandaigua, New York, which led to a lifelong career in that trade. He became known as the greatest gun designer of his time.

Unfortunately, Daniel Lefever was not a very good businessman. Over the years he established businesses and formed partnerships which all fell on hard times.

  1857-1862
Opened gunshop in Canandaigua, NY. Made muzzle loading rifles.
 
  1862-1867 Formed Lefever & Ellis. Built long range rifles used in the Civil War.  
  1870-1873 Formed Dangerfield & Lefever in Auburn, NY. Made breechloading double shotguns.  
  1874-1876 Formed Barber & Lefever in Syracuse, NY. Made breechloading shotguns & rifles.  
  1876- Formed Nichols & Lefever. Introduced first hammerless shotgun.  
  1880-1886 Formed The Lefever Arms Co. Made the finest double barrel shotguns in America.  
  1902-1906 Formed D.M. Lefever, Sons & Co. Continued to make fine hammerless shotguns.  

In 1878 in competition with twenty one different makes of guns, foreign and American, he won two gold medals for the best gun in the world and for the best American gun. In 1880 he patented his hammerless shotgun. In 1883 he patented the first truly automatic hammerless shotgun. During the period 1872-1906 he received patents for cocking mechanisms, trigger devices, ejectors, breech loading firearms and improvements. In 1886 after losing control of his company (The Lefever Arms Company) he remained as Superintendent until 1902. Then forming a new company with his sons, Charles F., Frank, and George, they soon realized they could not compete with the larger Lefever Arms Company and moved to Ohio. They returned to Syracuse in 1906 but Daniel died before they were able to re-establish a viable company.

adThe Lefever Arms Company continued making Lefever designed shotguns in Syracuse until they were purchased by the Ithaca Gun Company in 1916. That company also produced Lefever guns under the Lefever Arms Company name until 1921. The Ithaca Gun Company used the Lefever name to market the "Lefever Nitro Special", an inexpensive gun of their own design that had nothing catalogto do with D. M. Lefever except to exploit his name.

Daniel Lefever was known as "Uncle Dan" to everyone. Occasionally, at the end of a workday, he would walk to the local tavern and leave sufficient money to buy all of his employees (about 80) a five cent beer.

Daniel married Sarah (Todd? Snead?) about 1857. They had seven children.

 
Edward
1859-1918
   
  David 1863-1864    
  Charles Fred 1870-    
  Frank 1871-    
  James 1873- Died in Infancy    
  James 1875-    
  George Myron 1880-1927    

Suffering from a stomach ulcer, Daniel Myron Lefever died October 29, 1906. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Syracuse, New York.

Sources: by George Newton Lefevre;"The Great American Double Guns" by Chuck Hawks; Mike Smoke's "Family Tree Maker's Genealogy Site: Genealogy Report: Descendants of Daniel Ferree";"The Lefever Forum: "New Notes on D.M. Lefever" by H.J. Swinney; "Shotgun World Photo Gallery", shotgunworld.com; "Wikipedia", wikipedia.org; " US Census Records" .