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Historical Society of Western VA to Host Speaker on Botetourt Gunsmiths

Wallace Gusler, Master Gunsmith, will speak on “Botetourt’s Gunsmiths” Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. in the theater at the Historical Society of Western Virginia on Shenandoah Avenue NE Roanoke.

Gusler, a Botetourt County native and nationally recognized gunsmith, was named Master Gunsmith at Colonial Williamsburg in 1964.

When he came to Williamsburg, Wallace could make every part of a rifle by hand, except the barrel. He soon mastered that process and became the first person in modern times to recreate all the processes of making a rifle with 18th-century technology.

In 1972, Gusler left the Gunsmith Shop to become the Curator of Mechanical Objects. Two years later he became Curator of Furniture. In January of 1985, Wallace transferred to the Department of Conservation as Chief Conservator, Furniture and Arms, and in June of 1987, he was promoted to Director of Conservation. He retired from Colonial Williamsburg after 40-plus years.

Among his books are Furniture of Williamsburg and Eastern Virginia: 1710-1790 (author), and Decorated Firearms 1840-1870 From the Collection of Clay P. Bedford and Three Centuries of Tradition about the revival of traditional arms-making (co-author). He has published many articles about firearms, furniture, and the Virginia frontier.

His lecture is part of the Kegley Lecture series. It will be held in person in the museum auditorium, but will include a Facebook Live component for those who cannot attend. Lectures will also be available through YouTube two days after the talk. The series is sponsored by a grant from Virginia Humanities and Norris Inc. The Bank of Botetourt is the major sponsor for the exhibit.

Watch Livestream on Facebook

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