The below Indian cent
was stamped by the Schwingel brothers, Charles and Philip, of Erie, PA. They were farm boys from nearby Kearsarge who, following the Civil War, tried their hand at gunsmithing in the big city. Following the death of their father, they returned to the family farm.
Having acquired this counterstamp about forty years ago, I've yet to see another. When I researched the Schwingel name at the Erie library, I learned that there were no others by that name in the area. Many gunsmiths stamped their work, but I've yet to find evidence of any Schwingel-stamped firearms.
My research on their coin brought to light a tragic story of death and despair. The story was big news in Jamestown, NY, some fifty miles distant from Erie. Jamestown Daily Journal
Monday Evening, October 18, 1880
"MURDER NEAR ERIE." A Man Kills his Brother During a Dispute
- The Murderer in Jail.
Mr. Charles Schwingel, a young man of good family, living upon his farm near Kearsarge, a short distance from this city, was on Friday night last shot and killed by his brother Philip. Charles, with
some of his neighbors, had spent the evening drinking hard cider and playing cards. Philip came
home from Erie late at night, very drunk. After the neighbors had left -- at the request of Charles'
wife -- the hour being late, Charles and Philip fell into a dispute. Philip spoke insultingly of his
brother's wife, and Charles resented the insult by striking Philip with a pitcher, cutting him. He
drew a revolver, and as Charles turned away from him shot him through the back. Charles died
almost immediately The aged mother of the men, hearing the disturbance, fell as she was hastening
down stairs and dislocated her hip. Philip was duly arrested and is now In jail. The inquest rendered
a verdict substantially in accordance wllh the foregoing facts.
We learn from neighbors of the Schwingels that the two men are in bad repute in the neighborhood,
being notoriously drunken aud quarrelsome. In extenuation of Philips' crime it is urged that he has
been twice badly hurt, once in a fight, and once by a fall, and in consequence has lost all control of his
temper. The Schwingel farm which was left in good shape by the boys' father at the time of his death
some years ago, is, we understand, heavily mortgaged. The murdered man was thirty-three years old.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A follow-up news story reported that, "Philip was tried, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to the Allegheny Penitentiary." It seems ironic that the Schwingel brothers, who once jointly pursued a career together as gunsmiths, saw a firearm devastate their family. It was tragic happenings like this that fueled the political temperance movement back then.