The Rifleman
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Lucas McCain 1847
Before The Rifleman

Here is a really great story about Lucas McCain..... before the rifle..... before Margaret..... before Mark....
before North Fork!

Lucas McCain was born in 1847 in Evansville, Indiana. His parents were hard working Irish immigrants who had come to this country during the great hunger, the Irish potato famine during the years of 1845 - 1848. During this famine, the absentee land lordship foreclosed on the Irish farms rendering whole families shelter less with no source of income. Millions of peasants died of disease, or starved to death, while another million emigrated, many dying aboard the "coffin ships" provided by the English to deport them to the United States and Canada. These people had little skills to offer their new country other than farming, and most stayed in the larger cities in the east to try different occupations. Angus McCain had different ideas. He had decided to take his new bride to the farm country of Indiana and do what he did best. He knew it would be a long time before he could buy a farm of his own but he was young and strong and could work as a farm hand until that day arrived. Times were hard but work was good thanks to the generous nature of the Indiana farmers. Angus's wife, Kathleen , would then be with child in the summer of 1846. On April 10, 1847, Lucas was born.

He was a fine looking lad and very large at birth. His childhood years were much the same as any other his age although he did stand out among his friends. He was 6'0 tall at 14 and still growing. By age 16 in 1863, he shot up to 6'5". This was the same year he finished his schooling and enlisted in the
U.S. Calvary.

Originally he was issued a Sharps rifle, later replaced by an 1863 Henry. During an engagement with a charging enemy while dismounted (as was the rule), he accidentally fired his Henry rapidly at oncoming soldiers. This occurred because of two reasons; His unfamiliarity with his new issue Henry, and the size of his hands caused only three fingers to enter the lever mechanism while the index finger entered the area of the trigger guard causing his finger to trip the trigger upon return of the lever. In the heat of battle he did not realize what was happening, only that he was firing his Henry at a rapid rate. It was only after the battle when he realized he had a bruised and cut index finger. Later he modified his Henry with a ring lever to accommodate his large hands and later yet he adds the trip mechanism screw remembering how his finger activated the trigger.

After the war he used the Henry for a while and learned that the company had been bought by the Winchester Arms Co. in 1866 and introduced the Winchester Yellow Boy. In 1873 he purchased a Winchester of that model year and modifies it to the same configuration as his old Henry.
This is the rifle he uses throughout his life.

Thanks Tom!


*Evansville....."this ones for you Jeff!"
In November, 1962, Chuck Connors was the featured guest star as The Rifleman at the Hadi Shrine Circus in Evansville which ran 4 days with 8 shows. I had just turned 6 years old but I remember it like it was yesterday.
Also, Joe Higgins who played Nils, lived in Evansville in 1955-56 and was the Assistant Manager at the Hotel McCurdy in downtown Evansville.
Thanks Jeff!

Dr. Jerry P. Galloway was originally from Evansville and he also remembers when.....
 I read your site about Chuck Connors and the Shrine Circus in Evansville in 1962. I WAS THERE. I still lived in my birth city at that time and my grandfather was a high ranking official with the Shrine's Circus in Evansville at that time. So, I got to go down to the "temple" and MEET MR. CONNORS PERSONALLY before or after the show. And, I of course attended the circus at Roberts Stadium and sat with my family next to where he appeared. I was eight years old but can remember shaking his hand and looking up at him as we exchanged hello's and a comment or two.

Aside from being impressed by all that... I was always a big fan of the show. A serious and sophisticated western for the period.

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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