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211/213 W German St. Rickard was among the German artisans who settled here in the l8th century. The west side of this two-story brick house provided residential quarters for the family, and the east side housed Rickard’s locksmith shop. In 1795, Rickard crafted the escutcheon that has graced doors of two successive Lutheran churches. Three generations made locks at this location. The screw lock, used as switch locks by railroads, was invented here, and the handcuffs worn by John Brown at his trial in Charles Town (1859) were crafted here.


Michael Rickard was a whitesmith, someone who manufactured locks, hardware, guns, and small implements of unforged metal. Michael Rickard and his sons manufactured locks in Shepherdstown. Michael Rickard invented the screw lock, “a peculiar caliper shaped lock which can only be opened by screwing a key in place.”[1] The screw lock was used by the B&O Railroad for their switch locks. The B&O Railroad “was the first railroad in the United States to have locks made with railroad identification stamped into the metal.”[2] Most of these locks were made by Elijah Rickard. Michael Rickard also manufactured the handcuffs used by John Brown and the escutcheon of the great door at St. Peter’s Church in 1795.


[1] Lauher, Joseph. Elias Richards or Elijah Rickards. Forum on Handcuffs. September 15, 2007. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://www.network54.com/Forum/261154/thread/1189867151/Elias+Richards+or+Elijah+Rickard

[2] Civil War Era Baltimore and Ohio Iron Screw Key Lock by Rickard. rubylane.com. Accessed July 08, 2017. https://www.rubylane.com/item/27950-5628/Civil-War-Era-Baltimore-Ohio-Railroad

Lauher, Joseph. Elias Richards or Elijah Rickards. Forum on Handcuffs. September 15, 2007. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://www.network54.com/Forum/261154/thread/1189867151/Elias+Richards+or+Elijah+Rickard.

Civil War Era Baltimore and Ohio Iron Screw Key Lock by Rickard. rubylane.com. Accessed July 08, 2017. https://www.rubylane.com/item/27950-5628/Civil-War-Era-Baltimore-Ohio-Railroad.