Oliver Fisher Winchester
Birthplace: Boston, Mass.
The man whose name is most closely associated with producing armaments actually got his start manufacturing clothing to cover men's arms. He opened a store in Baltimore making and selling shirts (1837), before moving to New York (1847) where he took on a partner. Winchester patented a new method or manufacturing men's shirts, and opened a factory in nearby New Haven, Conn. In 1850. He invested his profits from the factory into Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, becoming principal shareholder and president by 1856. Under his leadership, the company acquired rights to manufacture when he had acquired rights to manufacture pistols and rifles patented by Tyler Henry and others. The repeating rifle was in full production by 1860, and was in heavy demand during the Civil War, during which Winchester continued to improve the rifle's design by acquiring other patents. He renamed the company the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866. A political and philanthropic figure, he was lieutenant governor of Connecticut (1866–67) and made large donations to Yale.Died: 12/11/1880