LEHI -- Slightly more than a week ago, outfitter Jeff Davis discovered that Cabela’s had purchased a shotgun that told its own tale -- a model 1912 Winchester 20-gauge.
The store's Gun Library displays and sells preowned guns.
“I get lots of stories from the public about the rifles, but that is what most of them are, just stories,” said Cory Cannon, the Gun Library manager.
“We don’t have any guns of historical significance; we have guns from the Civil War era, but I don’t have any guns that we can attribute to some famous person."
A customer recently walked in and wanted to sell his shotgun. As per law, the serial number was sent to the state to make sure it was a clean gun.
When Davis, a Cabela’s Gun Library outfitter, started to get the shotgun ready for display, he said he noticed the butt plate was on backward, so he took it off to put on correctly.
“When I opened it up, there was a little borehole there and a note wrapped up tight in there,” he said.
That’s when he noticed the paper was marked with the Freemason seal.
Removing the old paper caused it to tear, but the message was complete. The document was a record of trade dated 1925 and had the letterhead of the Provo Freemasons, the oldest established Freemasons in Utah, Story Lodge No. 4.
“I think that it’s pretty cool,” Davis said.
He contacted the Freemasons' Grand Lodge offices in Salt Lake City and received an answer.
“If I was asked to guess as to why a transaction of a gun would appear on a Lodge’s stationary, I would have to say it was the only convenient piece of paper close at hand,” said William C. Hall, in an email response to Davis.
The note reads, “Received this gun from Hewitt Strong, a trade for a 16-gauge Winchester model 1897” and is signed by H. F. Cannon, who was the Worshipful Master of the Provo Lodge Freemasons.
Hall said there was a discrepancy in the date on the transaction and the date that Cannon served as Worshipful Master.
“The date that H.F. Cannon was Worshipful Master was in 1929, so your date of 1925 is not correct as the letterhead would not have been printed until 1928 at the earliest,” Hall said.
Davis said he thinks the previous owner wasn’t aware of the note.
Once it is cleared by the state on Feb. 14, the Winchester legally could be put on sale. Instead, the shotgun will be on display in the Cabela’s Gun Library through the month of March.
“I don’t know of any other discoveries like this,” said Melissa Overson, Cabela’s spokeswoman. “I think it’s really cool; it’s interesting to see a piece of history."