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March 28, 1868: Eli ‘‘Rimfire’’ Hamrick Born in Webster County

WV Division of Culture and History
Michael Keller

Eli ‘‘Rimfire’’ Hamrick was born at Bergoo in Webster County on March 28, 1868. Considered one of the best woodsmen of his time, he often led coal and lumber barons on hunting expeditions.

In 1907, he was hired by the Webster Springs Hotel as a guide and handyman. One of his jobs was to kill and dress chickens for the hotel kitchen.

That’s when Rimfire supposedly acquired his nickname. When asked how he killed the chickens for the hotel, he replied, ‘‘With a rimfire rifle, by God.’’

Like many West Virginians, Hamrick was a man of many talents. He operated a jewelry, watch repair, and gunsmith shop in Webster Springs; served as Webster County’s game and fish warden; and supervised a fire tower. In 1932, he ran for the legislature but lost.

He was considered by many to be the ideal stereotype of a mountaineer. He was originally believed to be the sole model for the ‘‘Mountaineer’’ statue on the state capitol grounds.

However, he later revealed that his younger brother, Ellis, had also posed for the statue.

“Rimfire” Hamrick died in Bergoo in 1945 at age 77.

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