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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bowman

Uncommon Inheritance: Collections and a Piece of History

Garland Richards, as a child, would hear his family say that the land they owned was historic, but didn't remember hearing why.  As he got older he would look at what was left of the stone buildings and wonder who might have lived there.  What was their story? When he inherited the ranch, that stood 50 miles outside Abilene, Texas, he decided to do some research.  In no time he found that on his family's ranch, where scattered stone walls remained, was a 150-year old U.S. Army Fort.  Garland decided immediately that he would restore the fort and make it a living museum.  It wouldn't be easy, but he was determined.

“This may be financially one of the dumbest things that I have ever done,” Richards said.

Historians kept telling him that he couldn't have a historic site that was privately owned.

"We were told that the only way to restore a historic site was to relinquish control of the Fort to a federal or state agency, who had funding and expertise to do a project like this.”

Garland didn't want to relinquish control of his family land so he made a few phone calls and started the excavation process. He enlisted the help of his good friend Roberson who was a civil engineer by trade, but a history buff and gun collector at heart.  Archeologists were called in to excavate the site and found so many artifacts that a new museum was erected to house and display the historical finds.

While progress was being made at the fort, now properly named Fort Chadbourne, Garland's friend Roberson passed away.  Roberson had a history of collecting firearms, but instead of displaying what he had or sharing his finds, he locked them away in multiple safes that he had in his home.  He would occasionally take out a couple, make a video to show off his favorites, but he didn't seem to want to share the collection that he was so proud of.  For this reason even his children had no idea what he had in his safes.

When he passed he left $150,000 to each of his children and the contents of his safes.  At the time of their Dad's death they realized they were not left the combination to the safes so they were left unopened.  Roy Roberson did what some heirs fall victim to when receiving a lump sum inheritance.  Having no money of his own prior to receiving his portion of the estate, he blew through every cent with in a year.

Time went by, life settled down, and it finally seemed like the right time to see what his Dad was hiding in those safes all of these years.  It took some dedicated time to crack the combination to the safes, but once he did, the secret that was revealed would tweak any gun enthusiast's interest.  Among his Dad's extensive collection, tightly stacked in the safes, were a collection of Winchester rifles that included every make and year they were produced.  When the word got out about this one of a kind collection the offers started rolling in.  Now in a stable place in his life, Roy decided that his Father had spent decades building his collection and it should all stay together.

The Complete Winchester Collection

The Winchester Rifle Collection is now on display in The Antique Firearm Exhibit at Fort Chadbourne, Texas.  The Winchester Rifle Collection was appraised at $500,000 in it's entirety, but would be worth more if split up.  Whether it was Roy Roberson's idea to keep the collection in tact or he was advised to do so remains to be seen, but it was the right decision financially.  If he had sold the firearms separately he could be subject to a higher capitol gains tax.

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