Inventor and industrialist, Samuel Colt was the founder of Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company. He is recognized for the improvement and mass production of the revolver.

Early Life

Colt was born to a modest farming family. He spent his youth working on farms and in a textile mill. His father then sent him to sea to learn a trade. It is supposedly on the ship Corvo that Colt conceived of the concept of the revolving-cylinder by observing the ship’s wheel.

Early Firearms

Colt applied for a U.S. patent for his revolving cylinder design in 1836. He built his first factory in Paterson, New Jersey. Although the guns were popular with soldiers fighting the Seminole War, poor sales and business communication caused the factory to close in 1842. Colt moved on by marketing other inventions, remote-controlled underwater detonators and underwater telegraph cables.

In 1847, Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers contacted Colt about ordering revolvers and muskets to be used in the Mexican-American War. Walker had been one of the original soldiers who used Colt’s firearms during the Seminole War. He credited the firearms with helping to win battles. With no factory at the time, Colt hired Eli Whitney Jr., the son of the famous cotton gin inventor, to assist him with completing the order.

Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company

With this and other developments, Colt got back into the firearms business. He eventually built his own factory on the banks of the Connecticut River in Hartford. The factory was incorporated as the Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in 1855. It was designed to support assembly work and outfitted with state-of-the-art machinery. Colt continued to improve his firearms designs and developed a reputation for quality workmanship.

In 1856, Colt married Elizabeth Hart Jarvis, the daughter of Rev. William Jarvis and Elizabeth Hart. As a wedding gift to his new wife, Colt built their home Armsmear on Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford.

Samuel Colt died on January 10, 1862. He was originally interred at a private burial lot on Armsmear’s grounds. Elizabeth moved him and four of their children to Cedar Hill Cemetery in 1894 when their only child to survive to adulthood, Caldwell, died.

Section 2, Lot 2


Hosley, William. Colt: The Making of an American Legend. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996.

Houze, Herbert G. Samuel Colt: Arms, Art, and Invention. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.

Photo Credit:

Samuel Colt, Public Domain