Owners plead for help after one-of-a-kind long-rifle stolen from Davidson County home

Piedmont Triad News

DENTON, N.C. (WGHP) — A family legacy can be anything to anyone, but for Lisa Whitaker it is a truly special piece of her history, and a truly unique work of art. 

Whitaker’s legacy is a Kentucky long rifle, built from wood that pre-dates the Civil War, and was hand-crafted by her father over the course of nearly a decade. This rifle is similar to those used during the time of the Revolutionary War.

“Truly a work of art. A functional work of art,” is how Whitaker describes the long rifle. 

Her father started the work on “Tristen” (Whitaker gave the rifle this name after a reading of the book “Legends of the Fall’) when Whitaker was 5 years old. He had a hobby of making wooden Kentucky long rifles for clients, but decided he wanted to make one for himself, with the idea to pass it down to other members of his family. 

“The stock of it is made from a floor joist from a pre-Civil War home in High Point. My dad was on the police force, and he says they were going to destroy this house and burn it, and he knew what it was. It was curly maple. You can’t get that anymore,” Whitaker said.

Over the course of 10 years, Whitaker and her father would spend time working on “Tristen” together in her father’s shed. 

When Whitaker was old enough, her father gave her the rifle. 

She would later use it for her career as an 18th century living historian and pirate reenactor. 

For the past 20-odd years, she has gone to hundreds of events with “Tristen,” where the pair were used to not just reenact history, but to teach individuals about the birth of the U.S., the struggles of hunting for food in the olden times, and as a way to help those visitors understand the bond one must have with nature. 

“I used this long gun as a teaching tool. It’s something that people can physically hold, and look at, and see. It makes it tangible, especially with children. I can explain all of this, but if they can touch it and smell the gunpower on it, that’s more of an impact.” 

That tool, however, was stolen on Thursday, June 10. 

Just minutes after Whitaker left for work, someone broke into her Denton home, hurt her dog Luke, and stole several items from her, including her rifle.

Whitaker said the rifle can’t be replicated, and can’t be remade by her and her father.

“My dad’s in his 80s now. We don’t have another 10 or so years to sit in a shop and build another gun together. And that breaks my heart. I can’t give this rifle to my grandson. He’s not going to have this as his inheritance. That bothers me the most.”  

Whitaker is offering a reward, along with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, for information that will help them find “Tristen.” 

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