James A. Williams of Fredonia, Texas applied for a patent for a better mousetrap. Not content with something as mild as poison or a spring trap, Williams devised a means by which a Colt 1860 revolver could be linked to a pressure trigger, thus bringing a certain — and noisy — and to the unfortunate mouse at the other end.
Also mindful of other types of pests that might be roaming the neighborhood, Williams noted that the invention could be used “in connection with a door or window, so as to kill any person or thing opening the door or window to which it is attached.”
Despite the gruesomeness of the concept, the US Patent Office approved the application and issued U.S. Patent No. 269,766 to Mr. Williams on December 26, 1882.
The record is silent as to the number of vermin — human or otherwise — faced down his invention.