Eli C. ‘‘Rimfire’’ Hamrick (March 28, 1868-April 1, 1945) was the Mountain State’s prototypical mountaineer. Born in Bergoo, Webster County, Hamrick was one of the best woodsmen of his time and was friend and guide to the coal and lumber barons who used the mountains for hunting expeditions. Originally thought to be the model for the ‘‘Mountaineer’’ statue on the grounds of the state capitol, he later revealed that his younger brother, Ellis, had also posed.
In 1907, Hamrick was employed by the Webster Springs Hotel as a guide and handyman. One of his jobs was to kill and dress chickens for the hotel kitchen. According to legend, Rimfire came by his nickname when asked how he killed the chickens; he replied, ‘‘With a rimfire rifle, by God.’’
About 1910, Hamrick opened a jewelry, watch repair, and gunsmith shop in Webster Springs. In 1912, he was appointed county game and fish warden. Three years later he was appointed fire warden, eventually taking charge of the fire tower on Turkey Mountain, which he supervised for several years. In 1932, he ran for the legislature as a Republican in the 10th Senatorial District but lost to Albert G. Mathews.
Like many West Virginians, Rimfire Hamrick was never a man with only one trade. He worked at many things, but his greatest passion was hunting and roaming the woods. He died in his native Bergoo.
This Article was written by Jacqueline G. Goodwin
Last Revised on November 29, 2012
Comstock, Jim, ed. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia vol. 10. Richwood: Jim Comstock, 1976.
Sturm, Harry P. & H. G. Rhawn. Rimfire: West Virginia's Typical Mountaineer. Parsons: McClain, 1967.
Nephew of Hamrick Brothers Says Ellis was Subject for Sculptor. Charleston Daily Mail, 7/14/1946.