Author Topic: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???  (Read 19778 times)

Offline Rich N.

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Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« on: July 25, 2011, 07:02:28 PM »
Suzkat asked a question under the "Half Decorated Rifle" thread pertaining to the earliest gunsmiths in the Upper Susquehanna region,  but as it is somewhat off topic from the original question, I will give my opinion here knowing that there are a lot of collectors of Upper Susquehanna rifles that feel very strongly about this subject.  I should also stress that there is a difference between the earliest and the most influential gunsmiths.  Most scholars agree that the earliest three families of gunsmiths in the area were the Smiths (Schmidt), Dreisbachs, and the Baums. (See Linn's Annals of the Buffalo Valley and History of the West Branch Valley).  There are of course other early gunsmiths who worked before 1800 but little is known of them.  It should also be noted that various gunsmiths worked at Fort August during the French and Indian War, and later, although they may have only repaired guns and probably did not remain in the area when the war ended.  (See British Military Flintlock Rifles 1740-1840 by Bailey) J. Markley is one of the gunsmiths known to have worked at Fort Augusta.  I once owned a signed gun made by him but it had no characteristics of an Upper Susquehanna Rifle.

The family that we have the most knowledge of is that of the Widow Catherine Smith.  In 1773 her family settled along the White Deer Creek in what is today Union County but was at the time in Northumberland County.  Some sources point to the family as having moved to the area from Lancaster Co., and others from Berks Co.  Linn states she was the wife of Peter Smith that some believe was a gunsmith from Berks County.  Jacob Smith (born in Berks Co.) is believed to have been her son and he later worked in what is today Beaver Township, Snyder County.  Many other Smith gunsmiths in the area and elsewhere descended from this lady.  Dr. Whisker in Arms Makers of Pennsylvania notes that the daughter of Peter Smith, Catherine, married Adam Specht and they had three sons who were all accomplished gunsmiths.  It is obvious that this family was not only early but also influential in the development of rifles in the area.

The Dreisbach family is also mentioned by Linn, and John, Sr. first appeared as a gunsmith in the tax assessments in 1796.  The originator of this family in Northumberland County (today Union)  is believed to have been John Dreisbach, Sr. who was the son of Martin Dreisbach, a gunsmith from Berks County. Martin also probably moved to Union County.  Linn places John in the valley as early as 1789.  John and Samuel were both gunsmith sons of John, Sr. This was a large family and at least some of John, Sr.'s daughters married known gunsmiths.

Samuel Baum, Sr. is also referenced as one of the earliest gunsmiths in the area.  It is with Baum that discussions usually arise as to the earliest vs. most influential.  Baum was born in 1769, probably in Bucks County, and at some point probably lived in Cumberland County before moving to Northumberland County.  If I remember correctly, some of Northumberland County was created from part of Cumberland County, so it is possible he was in the Upper Susquehanna area earlier.  He had shops in both New Berlin (Union Co.) and the Danville area (Montour Co.) in the first quarter of the 19th Century and thus a lot of area gunsmiths got their start in his shops.  He probably wasn't active in the Upper Susquehanna area much before 1800, but I'll wait for Spotts, Loudy, or Don Getz to add their research to this discussion.

As can easily be seen when looking at an Upper Susquehanna rifle, Berks County had a lot of influence on these rifles.  Since the above mentioned gunsmiths all seem to have a connection to that older area, it is highly probable that is where they received their training.  I'll eagerly await others thoughts on the answer to Suzkats's question.

Rich
« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 08:28:02 PM by Rich N. »

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2011, 07:08:13 PM »
Rich,   Thanks for the great information.   My 5 great grandfather
Johan Schrecengost served under Capt John Moll's militia in defense
of Fort Augusta.  Johan was a gunsmith and possibly worked on rifles
as you describe.  I appreciate your sharing this information.
I am still seeking the rifle signed by Johan's grandson Benjamin.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Stan

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2011, 09:36:02 PM »
Interesting that you mention Ft.Agusta during thr F&I war. I have read all of the recorded day books of the commanders of Ft. Agusta wherein are listed the men at arms, blacksmiths, coopers, bakers, joiners & have never been able to find a gunsmith in the records. I would be really interested in learning the name of gunsmiths working at the fort.  About 1979 I found in Northumberland the ledger of Jacob Markley, this ledger was dated if my memory is correct about 1784. This ledger was numbered as No.2. I have always felt that his No. 1 ledger (unknown) was pre Northumberland. (ledger #2 is in the Pa. Museum).

Offline spgordon

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2011, 10:12:50 PM »
When in June 1756 Captain Joseph Shippen led a company of Pennsylvanians from Lancaster to Shamokin to build Fort Augusta, he took “Wm Henry with” him “to repair” his men’s weapons: Henry was ordered “to do every Thing with regard to the Pennsylvanian arms.” A receipt survives that records payment to Henry for some of “the Work done by himself and Men at Harris's Ferry and Shamokin”--the receipt identifying him as "Mr. William Henry, of Lancaster County, Gun Smith."

If I remember correctly, if you read through Joseph Shippen's letters (1756-58) reprinted in 1914 in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography there are a few other--not many, but a few other--references to gunsmithing, though I don't think individuals are named.

Earlier, in the mid 1750s, the Moravian Daniel Kliest served as a "smith" who repaired guns at Shamokin. When an Indian from the "Big Island" arrived on April 18, 1754, Kliest wrote that the Indian "brought me some work. He was glad that he found me here. He knew me right away because 2 years ago in Bethlehem I had had also repaired a gun for him.  He also asked about Brother Albrecht who had stocked his gun 2 years ago to his complete satisfaction.  He would have liked to have talked much more with me, but could speak no English."  

« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 10:21:48 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Spotz

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 03:50:02 AM »
Since I was mentioned as someone that would post something here, I feel compelled to do so, Rich, but with that said, I may confound, as much as I help.  I think there is a bit more to add, here, about Fort Augusta.  There was a Christoph Shmidt (if I remember correctly), listed as a "smith" at Fort Augusta during the time, and this individual may have been tied to the same family that you mention as ending up in present day northern Union County.  It is likely that this family was quite important in the development of this "school" but guesses as to the first maker, cannot be substantiated with much more than additional questions.

Although the Baum and Dreisbach families are important makers, they are likely the second wave of makers that came to markets that could support customer demand as compared to repair work and restocking.  New Berlin with its wide main street was the county seat and situated as a possible capital cuty of Pennsylvania.  It supported all trades and it is believed that Baum employed a workforce to mass produce rifles during this time, but his presence before 1790 is unknown.  I suspect that Baum and Dreisbach were very familiar with one another and we continue to "guess" and research who came first and who is the "father" of this school.  The Smith family is probably the founding family, if you will, but we really can't solve the question.  I suspect the first gunsmiths will remain unknown or may be sitting in front of a researcher or in the larger collections.  Could it be that the first makers in the area are the early Berks makers, or those makers of Moravian background that came north to Sunbury?   

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 07:32:54 PM »
"Could it be that the first makers in the area are the early Berks makers, or those makers of Moravian background that came north to Sunbury?"

I think you're spot-on there.  I would speculate - based on the scant information that has thus far come to light - that the earliest *rifles* in the region were probably in the hands of natives who had purchased or traded for them via the Moravians in Bethlehem fairly early.  I would also bet that as whites began to push up into the area, most carrying rifles were carrying pieces obtained in Berks Co. or of Berks styling.  This is all just speculation base upon tidbits here or there.
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Online Loudy

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2011, 03:52:12 AM »
I just had a chance to go through my research on these gunsmiths.  Below is a listing of early gunsmiths that worked for at least a short period of time in the counties that comprise what I consider to be the so-called Upper Susquehanna school in Pennsylvania.  For purposes here, I defined "early" as born on or before 1785.  You'll see that I have listed a few of these gunsmiths in more than one county.  Many of these gunsmiths have roots in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley areas.  I hope you find the information of interest.  

Mark Loudenslager

Union & Snyder County
Johan “Andrew” Albright (1770-1822)
Samuel Baum, Sr. (1769-1842)
Christian Derr, Sr. (abt. 1744-1824)
Henry Dreisbach (1755-1814)
John Dreisbach, Sr. (1762-1823)
Martin Dreisbach (1717-1799)
Johannes “John” Ehrenhart, also Earnhardt (1750-1828)  
Jacob Frock (bet. 1766 & 1774- 1841)
John “George” Gaugler (1778-1830)
Johann “Nicholas” Gaugler , also Gaughler (1757-1807)
Henry Gross, Sr., also Groce (1783-1834)
John Jacob Hummel, or Hummell (1756-1832)
Joseph Kimmel, also Kimmell (1769-1843)
Catherine Smith, or Schmidt (1755-1829)
Jacob Smith (1763-1847)  
Peter Smith, Sr. (1756-1833)  
Johannes “John” Ludwig Snyder (1746-1860)
Adam Specht, Sr. (1784-1872)

Columbia & Montour Counties
E. John Achenbach (abt. 1784-Unknown)
John Brown (1746-1819)
George Miller (1777-1842)

Mifflin & Juniata Counties
Henry Gross  (1783-1834)
Abraham Kiser (abt. 1770-abt. 1850)
Jacob Jennings (abt. 1780-Unknown)
Jacob Norton (1767-Unknown)
Henry Shuler (1751-1820)
George R. Slaysman (1782-1862)

Centre & Clinton Counties
Jacob Albright, Sr. (abt. 1766-1840)
Jacob Roop or Rupp or Roup (1779-1858)
Isaac Wall or Walls (1740-1825)

Northumberland County
Johan “Andrew” Albright (1770-1822)
Philip Frederick Antes (1730-1801)
William Antes, Sr. (1731-1810)
William Antes, Jr. (1776-1841)
Isaac Hanna (1743-1816)
Samuel Harris (1740- Unknown)
Jacob Markley (1753-Unknown)
Samuel Morrison Sr. (abt. 1785-1844)
Joseph Pardoe (1778-1866)
William Pardoe (1756-1819)
Johannes “John” Stahl (1741-1809)
Johannes “John” Ludwig Snyder (1746-1860)
John Conrad Welshans (1761-1827)

Perry County
Christian Huifener (1780 – Unknown)
Frederick A. Orwan (1776- Unknown)
John Shuler, Sr. (1776-1827)







    

                  
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 06:40:22 AM by Loudy »

Online Loudy

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2011, 06:48:43 AM »
I just added a couple more names to my listing of "early" gunsmiths that worked in Northumberland County.  These are William Pardoe and his son Joseph Pardoe.  They were both born in England and immigrated to America about 1795.   

Mark Loudenslager

Offline Rich N.

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2011, 05:18:24 PM »
Mark,

As usual, you have provided some very valuable and important information.  Reading between the lines of the discussion here I think is the question of who were the gunsmiths who helped to develop what we call the Upper Susquehanna style.  As I said in an earlier post, I once owned a signed Jacob Markley rifle.  He worked at Fort Augusta around the end of the Revolutionary War and the rifle I owned did not display any of the features we normally find on a rifle of the Upper Susquehanna school.  I would be very interested in hearing from members of this list about rifles made by the gunsmiths that you have identified here.  Specifically, which makers from the list that you have identified made rifles that are "Upper Susquehanna" in style. Conversely, which gunsmiths made rifles that don't fit into the Upper Susquehanna style at all.  For example, I know of a signed Samuel Baum rifle that looks more like a rifle from the Lehigh Valley than from central Pennsylvania. His early rifles don't jump out at you as being Upper Susquehanna like his later rifles.  I have never seen rifles by many of the gunsmiths you identify, so the combined knowledge of the members of this list should prove very interesting.
The rifle below is a signed rifle by Samuel Baum that is an original flint rifle with an octagon to round barrel.  It has a stock profile somewhat different from a typical Upper Susquehanna rifle and I believe it reflects his style before the Upper Susquehanna style was fully developed.  It is different from the rifle referenced above.

Rich

« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 01:40:39 AM by Rich N. »

Online Loudy

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2011, 09:32:37 PM »
Okay, I've again added information to my list.  I've tried to add the PA county, state, or country of origin for each gunsmith.  Please understand that this information is taken from my research notes on these makers... it's a work in progress... I'm sure there are errors.  I'm hoping others out there will steer me straight where my data is suspect or bogus.  With that said, I have also indicated with asterisk * those gunsmiths that I feel made guns in a style consistent with what is generally considered to be the "Upper Susquehanna" school.  Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to see signed examples of rifles made by many of these "early" Upper Susquehanna gunsmiths.  Please feel free to disagree with me on any of this.

Mark Loudenslager 

Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths…

Union & Snyder County:
Johan “Andrew” Albright (1770-1822), Northampton/Lehigh Co.
*Samuel Baum, Sr. (1769-1842), Bucks Co.
*Christian Derr, Sr. (abt. 1744-1824), Berks Co.
*Henry Dreisbach (1755-1814), Lancaster Co.
*John Dreisbach, Sr. (1762-1823), Berks Co.
*Martin Dreisbach (1717-1799), Berks Co.
*Johannes “John” Ehrenhart, also Earnhardt (1750-1828), Lehigh Co.
*Jacob Frock (bet. 1766 & 1774- 1841), Unknown
John “George” Gaugler (1778-1830), Montgomery Co.
Johann “Nicholas” Gaugler , also Gaughler (1757-1807), Montgomery Co.
*Henry Gross, Sr., also Groce (1783-1834), Northumberland/Union Co.
John Jacob Hummel, or Hummell (1756-1832), Berks Co.
Joseph Kimmel, also Kimmell (1769-1843), Lancaster Co.
Catherine Smith, or Schmidt (1755-1829), probably Lancaster Co.
Jacob Smith (1763-1847), probably Lancaster Co.   
Peter Smith, Sr. (1756-1833), Unknown 
Johannes “John” Ludwig Snyder (1746-1860), Bucks Co.
*Adam Specht, Sr. (1784-1872), Montgomery Co.

Columbia & Montour Counties:
E. John Achenbach (abt. 1784-Unknown), Unknown
John Brown (1746-1819), Warren Co., NJ
*George Miller (1777-1842), Lancaster Co.

Mifflin & Juniata Counties:
*Henry Gross  (1783-1834), Northumberland/Union Co.
*Abraham Kiser (abt. 1770-abt. 1850), Unknown
Jacob Jennings (abt. 1780-Unknown), New Jersey
Jacob Norton (1767-Unknown), Holland / Lancaster Co.
Henry Shuler (1751-1820), Bucks Co.
*George R. Slaysman (1782-1862), Northampton Co.

Centre & Clinton Counties:
Jacob Albright, Sr. (abt. 1766-1840), Northampton/Lehigh Co.
Jacob Roop or Rupp or Roup (1779-1858), Lancaster Co.
Isaac Wall or Walls (1740-1825), Unknown

Northumberland County:
Johan “Andrew” Albright (1770-1822), Northampton/Lehigh Co.
Philip Frederick Antes (1730-1801), Montgomery Co.
William Antes, Sr. (1731-1810), Montgomery Co.
William Antes, Jr. (1776-1841), Montgomery Co.
Isaac Hanna (1743-1816), Lancaster Co.
Samuel Harris (1740- Unknown), Dauphin Co.
Jacob Markley (1753-Unknown), Montgomery Co.
*Samuel Morrison Sr. (abt. 1785-1844), maybe New York or Vermont
Joseph Pardoe (1778-1866), England
William Pardoe (1756-1819), England
Johannes “John” Stahl (1741-1809), Northampton/Lehigh Co.
Johannes “John” Ludwig Snyder (1746-1860), Germany / Bucks Co.
John Conrad Welshans (1761-1827), York / Dauphin Co.

Perry County:
Christian Huifener (1780 – Unknown), Unknown
Frederick A. Orwan (1776- Unknown), Unknown
John Shuler, Sr. (1776-1827), Bucks Co.

Offline Stan

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2011, 09:01:20 PM »
Just returned from Dixons  so I can catch up. Gordon I was specifically referring to the fort while occupied. Gunsmiths in the 18cent. were generally identified as such (Wm Henry) However there were no occupations listed as gunsmiths in the Fort day books, and since the inspections list many arms not fit for use it stands to reason that there was not a gunsmith on site.

As to Jacob Markley he only lists about 8 guns (rifles & guns) that he made which stands to reason as Northumberland was the frontier and immigrants would have brought arms with them. Yes there is the entry to "work started by Wm. Antis completed by me". Another interesting entry about 1790 was for a rifle & "a tomahawk to kill indians & to do".

Offline JTR

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2011, 09:21:40 PM »
Mark,
Thanks for compiling and posting the list!

How about John Park Sr?
Seems to me that he might have been an early enough maker?
John
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Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2011, 09:31:01 PM »
You could add Johan, Conrad and Henrich Shreckengost to the Northumberland
list.  They resided there from approx 1770 to 1804.   I am still looking for
known examples of their work.  There is historical documentation indicating
they were gunsmiths, but I've yet to find a rifle.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline spgordon

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2011, 10:16:27 PM »
Stan,

Here's an excerpt from a letter (1 January 1758) that Joseph Shippen sent from Fort Augusta:

"We have had but few Working Days since your Departure, however I believe we shall have the Pallisade Bastion closed in to Day, and the Carpenters are employed about the Sentry Boxes. The Smiths have consumed all the Coals, but I hope we shall have another Kiln burnt this Week & then I intend they shall work at the Lochaber Axes in both Shops, as the Gun-Smiths are able to do little else for want of new Files."

========

So at this point, January 1758, there seem to have been multiple "Gun-Smiths" on site. It may be that these gunsmiths came and went erratically, so at other times (when they were absent) the number of arms unfit for use piled up. Or that many arms were unrepairable given the lack of proper tools?

Scott
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 10:19:17 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2011, 12:00:20 AM »
Nice bit of information.  I know that Johan Shreckengost arrived in
Philadelphia in 1764 aboard the ship Polly, and then moved to Berks
now Northumberland Cty.  He is said to have served at Fort Augusta under
John Moll.  If you have anything to add to that, I would love to hear about it.
Is that letter a part of a collection of letters that might have more info?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 12:01:28 AM by suzkat »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline spgordon

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2011, 12:40:23 AM »
That particular letter has been published, along with others that Joseph Shippen wrote from Fort Augusta from 1756-58: "Military Letters of Captain Joseph Shippen of the Provincial Service, 1756–1758,' Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 36, nos. 3–4 (1912): 367–78, 385–463.

The Shippen family papers and the Burd family papers are vast, scattered among many archives and almost entirely unpublished: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, American Philosophical Society, State Archives of Pennsylvania, and some others. I believe (Stan probably knows more about this than I) that the daybooks and many other materials related to Fort Augusta are at Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and these might contain some record of Shreckengost if he actually served there in 1763. But it sounds like Stan has been through the daybooks and has not seen any records of any named gunsmiths.

For sample descriptions of what these archives hold, see:

http://www.amphilsoc.org/mole/view?docId=ead/Mss.B.B892-ead.xml;query=;brand=default
         [since this Finding Guide offers a brief description of each item, you might search "gun"]

http://discover.hsp.org/Record/hsp.opac.v01-161780/Description#tabnav
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 12:43:04 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Online Loudy

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2011, 05:02:27 PM »
It's clear that most (maybe all) of the gunsmiths in my list represent the second wave of gunsmiths to work in the Upper Susquehanna area.  The first wave being the gunsmiths that work in and near Sunbury & Ft. Augusta.  Perhaps future research will reveal more details regarding these true early gunsmiths.  In the mean time, I believe it is a worthy exercise to try to sort out which gunsmiths were instrumental in developing the "Upper Susquehanna" school of longrifle making.  The school is a true melting pot of styles.  Berks... Lehigh... Bucks... etc. 

John,
Thanks for your comments.  John Parks Sr. may need to be on the list of second wave gunsmiths.  However, I don't have a lot of info on him.  I believe he died in 1846.  My notes on him state that he was born in Ireland.  His son John Jr. (also a gunsmith) was born in 1816.  John Sr. may indeed have been born before my arbitrary cut-off birth year of 1785.  I just don't have the date.  Their are several gunsmiths that fall into this gap.

Suzkat,
I will add the Shreckengost gunsmiths to my list.  Can you give me birth years for each of these gunsmiths?


Mark Loudenslager

         

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2011, 06:53:52 PM »
Johann Jost Schreckengost born Wingeshausen Germany 1724
son Johann Heinrich (born July 24, 1751) Wingeshausen Germany
son Johann Rothger (changed to "Conrad" in America) (born January 9, 1761)
possibly born in Switzerland.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2011, 07:03:07 PM »
Loudy,   Here is information from Gary Schreckengosts' Schreckengost Family Folder"
"On September 19, 1764, after two months at sea, the Polly docked in Philadelphia. What happened next is unclear (as with many of the details of this story). Jost's grandchildren claim that Jost indentured George, who was 7, to a Philadelphia artisan or merchant, possibly a blacksmith/gunsmith, for "nine years" (1764-73) to pay for the passage and other necessaries. And, as we shall see later, the Schreckengasts became, whether by necessity or choice, blacksmiths/gunsmiths during the 1770s. It is also possible that Jost himself was an itinerant blacksmith/gunsmith, although there is no record of this in Berleburg. Assuming that George was indentured (i.e., rented) to a Philadelphia artisan or merchant, Jost, Elisabeth, Henry, and baby Rothger (soon-to-be called Conrad) made their way up to their next destination: Spread Eagle Manor in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania-land that had only been recently secured by the British Crown (and the Penn Family) during the last war with the French, Spanish, and their Indian allies.

What we do know is that Johann Jost Schreckengast was the first and only tenant of the Penns' "Spread Eagle Manor" in the soon to be formed Northumberland County (separated from Berks County on March 21, 1772). As such, Jost became another Hausherr of sorts, as the Penns did not want to sell the ground outright as it was too valuable. Several manors dotted the province, the Penn's securing rents from them all, if only infrequently. The Spread Eagle Manor is on the north side of the Mahantango Mountain and in a gap-the Mahantango Gap-where the Mahantango Creek cuts through the mountain. It is called "Spread Eagle Manor" because it's at the strategic "Fork of the Mahantango" where "Station 141 of the King's Highway [i.e., Weiser's Tulpehocken Path]" was located. Many of the local Germans called it the manor the "Dopple Adler" or the "Double Eagle." The word "Mahantango" is a Lenape Indian word for "place of the deer."

The Mahantango Valley is, needless to say, extremely picturesque and well-watered. The valley itself is actually a giant bowl where the Mahantango Mountain in the south converges with Line Mountain in the north to form a "V" with the Susquehanna River forming its base about 10 miles to the west. Many of the local inhabitants call it a "Kessel" or "kettle." Today, Kingerstown is located just southeast of where Jost's first homestead was located and Troutman's Butcher Shop is located on Lot 3.

As was already stated, this was Pennsylvania's northern frontier in 1764-70. The British provincial outpost of Fort Augusta was located but 50 miles north of Jost's settlement where the east and west branches of the Susquehanna converge at present-day Sunbury. All around Jost were free holders, or people who outright purchased land from the Penns, and they were almost exclusively German-speaking immigrants, many from the Rhineland near Heidelberg. In fact, there were so many of these "Palatine Boors" in the province by the 1750s and 60s, about 30% of the general population, that Ben Franklin, a leading Pennsylvanian and proud English subject, openly questioned their loyalty and utility.

To get to Spread Eagle Manor, Jost was probably met by one of Penn's agents in the spring of 1765 or 1766 who offered him the rental property. Jost obviously accepted, more than likely took a boat up the Schuylkill River up to Reading, which also had a large number of Germans in this very English-sounding town (named after Lord John Penn's home town in England), and then took the Tulpehocken Path which connected Pennsylvania with the Mohawks and Onondagas of New York and northern Pennsylvania. This path, used by Iroquois Indian agent Conrad Weiser, went right through the strategic Mahantango Gap and that's where Jost dropped anchor-right along the road.
Another theme that bound the backcountry people together was the need for local defense. Granted, the British had defeated the French, Spanish, and their Indian allies in the last war, and had basically subdued Pontiac's uprising in 1763-64, but the British government still only placed the border of British settlement just north Fort Augusta. From this line to the Mississippi, a giant Indian reservation to keep the peace and to keep the lucrative Indian trade active was created. So by this time, most, but by no means all, of the farmsteads had a firearm. Those who did not own a firearm did so not because they were against them, but because they were so expensive. Cheap Indian trade muskets could be had up at Fort Augusta, to be true, and one of them was probably Jost's first firearm. Very expensive and well-made long rifles, crafted from gunsmiths in northern Lancaster (present Lebanon) or northern Berks (present Schuylkill) Counties could also be procured, although it is unlikely that Jost had the resource to acquire such a weapon. In Thomas Metzgar and James Whisker's work (1998), Gunsmiths of Western Pennsylvania, they note that "Yock was a gunsmith by trade, although nothing is known of his work." The authors seems to have gotten their information from the careful genealogist Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer, a person who was extremely helpful in helping the author of this work find primary documents. What we do know is that Jost's sons, Conrad, Henry, and George, especially, were itinerant gunsmiths/blacksmiths in Armstrong County not only because of family oral tradition, but because county tax records (infra) list "many tools of the gunsmith trade." It is most probable that George was in fact indentured to a blacksmith/gunsmith and that he taught Jost and his brothers some of the skills necessary to be a "blacksmith/gunsmith" by necessity rather than design while on the manor. They had to learn how to fix the cheap trade guns in order to survive and may have begun to assemble their own guns-which were probably ugly as sin but worked. Their sons, grandsons, and great grandsons, steeped in this tradition, apparently took it to the next level, William and Lincoln Schreckengosts, ancestors of Conrad, being the most well known. And although there is no record that Jost was a gunsmith/blacksmith in Wittgenstein-Berleburg, it is probable that he had at least some rudimentary knowledge of the black arts. "

   This is a nice accounting of an early Susquehanna gunsmith family.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 07:10:53 PM by suzkat »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2011, 04:30:06 AM »
Met a lady who shared this daguerrotype of 2 Shreckengost brothers with their
fists up.  I thought it was an interesting way to be photographed for that era.
Identified as Wm H. Lincoln Shreckengost son of the gunsmith and King
Shreckengost.
 
She is the great granddaughter of
Lincoln G. Shreckengost, the gunsmith. 
« Last Edit: August 03, 2011, 06:06:41 PM by suzkat »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline spgordon

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2011, 05:44:00 AM »
« Last Edit: August 03, 2011, 01:53:33 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Online Loudy

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2011, 04:34:54 PM »
Suzkat,

I looked through my Upper Susquehanna gunsmith notes last night.  The reason the Shreckengost gunsmiths weren't included in my list is geographic.  The area in Northumberland County where the early Shreckengost pioneers resided and worked now falls within Schuylkill County, PA.  When I put the list together I limited the geography to the modern boundries of the counties listed.  The Shreckengost gunsmiths seem to have developed a fantastic style that is distinctively their own.  The signed Shreckengost rifles featured in The Library do not possess Upper Susquehanna features. 

I concede that the earliest gunsmiths in the area where the guys that worked in Ft. Augusta.  I suspect that most of those smiths were on a temporary tour of duty and didn't take up permanent residence in the Sunbury area.  However, it is possible that at least a couple of those early (members of the Schmidt or Smith family maybe?) gunsmiths did stick around.  My list is made-up of second wave gunsmiths.  For several reasons, I believe the geographic epicenter of the Upper Susquehanna School was the village of New Berlin on the banks of Penns Creek in Union County, PA.   The third & fourth wave gunsmiths of this school seem to have radiated out in all directions across the central counties of Pennsylvania from the gun-making hub of New Berlin.

Mark Loudenslager 

                 

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2011, 06:12:55 PM »
Loudy,  The Shreckengost's location was at what is currently Rebuck PA which
is still Northumberland, however I understand that it is not near the center of
the upper sus area and as such you may not want to include them.
  Since I haven't been able to locate an example of their
early work, I can't either include nor exclude their work at that time as being
associated with the upper sus school.  Still hoping to find that linking gun.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Online Loudy

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2011, 04:11:33 AM »
Suzkat,
 
Sorry if I geographically mislocated the Spread Eagle Manor, residence of the early Shreckengost clan.  I went by the "Klingerstown" proximity reference given in the biographical information put together by Gary Schreckengost.  Klingertown is in Schuylkill County.  Rebuck is indeed in Northumberland County.  If we take New Berlin as the center of the Upper Susquehanna school, Rebuck is certainly closer (as the crow flies) than where many of the other listed gunsmiths worked.  I'll put these folks back on my list.  I appreciate the information you're provided. 

Mark Loudenslager   
                 

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Earliest Upper Susquehanna Gunsmiths???
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2011, 05:24:04 AM »
Loudy,  Not so fast.  I may have been given bad information.  They were definitely
near Klingerstown because Jost is buried at Klinger's Church.   I was told that
Spread Eagle was near Rebuck, but that might be wrong.   I'll do some more research and see what I can find.  Thanks for the insight.  I can't recall where the
Rebuck info came from.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.