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General discussion => Antique Gun Collecting => Topic started by: 120RIR on October 20, 2016, 11:22:20 PM

Title: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: 120RIR on October 20, 2016, 11:22:20 PM
Hi Folks - new kid of the block here and only recently stepping into the Longrifle world although I've had an interest for many years.  I recently took to liquidating a 30-year collection (WWI stuff) and acquiring a couple of really nice original and contemporary pieces.  One of the originals is in the "attributed" to Wolfgang Haga group.  It's a real beauty, original flint and finish, fantastic condition, etc.  However, what do we really know about Haga and exactly how is it that unsigned pieces get attributed to him?  I understand there are no known signed Haga rifles, so where does one even begin in assigning an attribution to a group of stylistically comparable pieces?
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 21, 2016, 12:55:39 AM
I tried to ask the same question in 2015:

"If I understand correctly, there is no signed Wolfgang Haga rifle. So how is it possible to attribute rifles to him? If there is no signed instance of a rifle that would identify a maker's style, how can one attribute any rifles to that maker? What elements can be used to suggest an attribution?"

The main reply was: "I believe in Wolfgang Hachen's case, other than John Screit he is the earliest documented builder in Berks County. There are quite a few extand rifles with very similar characteristics so there is an assumed perception that they must be his rifles. Without a single signature I'm not sure how attributions are made either."

The full thread is here:

I would love to hear others' thoughts about this. It still seems impossible, to me, to attribute guns to somebody if no signed gun exists against which one could compare the unsigned guns.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 21, 2016, 01:30:20 AM
No there are no signed guns (yet) to my knowledge.

The general train of thought is that he lived and worked in Reading for quite some time.  There is a signed example of John Schreit's work, which doesn't look anything like the "Haga" pieces, so all of these other pieces must be Hachen, his shop or subsequent people trained by him. 

And why must they be of the Reading area?  I was told by more than one "old timey" collector (people who have been in this game since time began….  :D ) that apparently Joe Kindig found a fairly large number of them all in the Reading area.

So there it is.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: 120RIR on October 21, 2016, 02:11:48 AM
Thanks for the link to the previous thread on this very subject.  As usual with most things in life there just isn't a simple answer is there?
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Buck on October 21, 2016, 02:29:36 AM

I've heard the same explanation that Eric gave and possibly from the same Gentleman. I would think "Haga" rifles (if they exist) are more in line with the Schreit rifle architecturally, another explanation I read / heard was Peter Gonter (Hagas Son in Law) had a typical / repetitive patch box finial that was similar in form to the "A" typical attributed Haga rifles / patch box finials. Hence the attribution, (I think Kindig explained it that way in his book if memory serves) I also have heard that Haga was a one handed individual and it would have been impossible for him to build a rifle.  The theory of shop owner - entrepreneur has also been suggested (with multiple gun makers employed by Haga), large land owner so on and so forth.

 I know that a certain individual claims to have found his grave site (along with his wife) and stated to me that all of the head stones in the cemetery were of typical Limestone fabrication, but the Haga couples were made of Granite. That in itself equates to wealth, soft Limestone is easy to shape but Granite is an entirely different animal, even these days the cost difference is significant.

120RIR welcome to the forum.



Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: T*O*F on October 21, 2016, 03:25:12 AM
If not Haga, then who?  Some unknown maker?
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: oldtravler61 on October 21, 2016, 04:39:57 AM
My thoughts are could some other builder. Copy a certain style as we do so today. Then not sign the gun. Also if the builder signed some why not the rest of his work? So how can any gun be attributed if there is nothing to go by? Could Haga be just a supplier of gun parts? Just my thoughts.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: smart dog on October 21, 2016, 02:01:59 PM
According to both Shumway and Whisker, based on tax lists, arms payments during the Rev War, period newspapers, and other records, Swiss trained gunsmith, Wolfgang Hachen (Haga) arrived in Reading and was in business as a gunsmith sometime before 1752.  His brother, Nicholas, also arrived then and set up shop as a gunsmith in Hanover by 1751.  He may have trained George Schoyer.   Nicholas's son, Christian Hawken (Hachen) may have trained with Wolfgang after his father died.  Christian was the father of Sam and Jake.  So according to Shumway, Whisker, and Kindig as well, Wolfgang Hachen (Haga) was documented to be a gunsmith and worked in the Reading area from 1752 (at the latest) to 1796.  That is a long career. He was paid by the PA Committee of Safety to make and repair guns.   Moreover, he apparently worked as a gunsmith all during that time rather than leaving the trade to farm or start some other business as so many other makers did.  Considering the number of existing guns by J. Dickert, a gunsmith with a similar duration of employment in the trade, it would be strange if no rifles made by Haga survived to this day.  Regardless, given the documentation and the tradition of gun making all through the family, right down to Sam and Jake Hawken, I think it only logical to conclude that  Wolfgang was a successful and prominent gunsmith in the Reading area. 

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 21, 2016, 04:08:02 PM
Haga definitely had an accident--but the report itself says that it was "expected" that he would recover. Many of the gunsmiths I've researched, including Andreas Albrecht and Georg Weiss, were physically injured at some point during work in the shop but all continued to work as gunsmiths--so I don't think that report indicates anything about how long he worked as a gunsmith or about how many people had to be working in his shop or with him (presumably because he couldn't work himself). Unless there is evidence, later, of him still being injured or unable to work that I'm unaware of?

I had hoped to write a biography of Haga for the German Immigrant Entrepreneur Institute similar to the ones I wrote about Jacob Dickert and Andreas Albrecht: ( [Dickert] ( [Albrecht]

But the Institute completed its project before I could get around to it. There is precious little known about Haga.

BTW: I think the PA Committee of Safety only paid Haga for "repairing" guns (in 1779). Or does another record mention him "making" guns?

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: smart dog on October 21, 2016, 06:30:35 PM
HI Scott,
I checked the reference and you are correct.  The source indicates repair.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 21, 2016, 06:37:34 PM
Scott - I had done quite a bit of research on Hachen (and in general the early gunmakers in early Reading town) several years ago.  I really should share it sometime or it will be lost.  I have been too busy at work to get anywhere writing it up, but if you are interested maybe we can chat offline about a shared effort.    

I am convinced that Hachen made guns complete, including rifles, but based on circumstantial evidence.  based on some clues he may have focused on lockmaking for at least portions of his career.

As to the "Reading" style, I have an unsigned flint era rifle that I believe was made by Abraham Angstadt in this Reading style, who I believe learned the trade just east of Reading before he moved to Schuylkill County.  Not sure but thought I read he was one of Adam's sons also?  And I have seen signed pannebacker rifles also of this style who worked in mohnton just west of Reading.  So identical rifle styles immediately east and west of town have me convinced that the style likely originate from the town of Reading.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 22, 2016, 11:38:29 PM
Just got my KRA Bulletin and, coincidentally, there's an article on the restoration of a rifle attributed to Haga. Very nice pictures.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 22, 2016, 11:40:58 PM
#@!! $#@* Dave, don't bring the Angstadts into it or this thread will go on forever, pretty much like their entirely confusing genealogy!!!!!!!   :D :D
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: smart dog on October 22, 2016, 11:48:36 PM
Hi Scott,
Was that the restoration done by Hugh Toenjes?

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: rich pierce on October 23, 2016, 12:07:27 AM
The standards for attribution are probably different now compared to when Kindig wrote his Golden Age book.  As a scientist who has always had to have solid and reproducible evidence and data to establish anything, the Haga attribution always bothered me.  I understand and agree it's likely W. Haga made some or most of the Reading unsigned rifles but that falls short of deserving "made by" him.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 23, 2016, 12:21:26 AM
I don't think most who actually study these think - any longer - that one guy made all of them, or even most of them.  It's not quite my area of extreme interest but I believe I remember talking with someone a number of years ago who had studied these fairly closely and believed that there were at least 3 or 4 different identifiable "hands" involved in the pieces all of this very similar type.  I would think Hachen would be responsible for the earliest of them - maybe the first few in the RCA book (discounting 19 which never really fit in with the string regardless of who made it) - and many of the subsequent later pieces might be apprentices, or others working to the same style, or ???

There are a couple of added rifles that fit in with the earliest which have not been published yet to my knowledge, all looking nearly the same as those in the RCA book.  Regardless of who was stocking them, there definitely was a somewhat prolific guy building rifles of this type and given that the others of which I'm aware *also* have very long associations with families in the Reading area, I think it's fairly safe to view the Reading association as accurate and very probably Hachen as it's not like there were a pile of different, documentable guys there building chunky early styled rifles of this form.  But then lacking a signature on ANY of them…...
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: eastwind on October 23, 2016, 12:35:50 AM

 I have spent considerable hours looking into Haga’s story and I started with the question of when/who started the premise that these rifles of similar characteristics were made by a Wolfgang Haga.

The best I could figure is that Joe Kindig, Jr. (Ole Joe) is guilty and was the first to come to that conclusion. The few sources available to Kindig at that time – Gardner and Van Rensselaer both published in the 1940s show Haga as a gunsmith in Reading, without showing any pictures. Earlier in 1924 Dillon does not mention a Wolfgang Haga although he shows several Reading style rifles. As far as I can tell Kindig had no previous source of research to assist in his attribution and his researchers for the “Thoughts” book were left with county records.

During my research on Kindig’s collection for the Masterpieces book I was able to study most, if not all, of the research by Henry Kauffman and Samuel Dyke for Kindig’s “Thoughts” book. This included Kindig’s own personal notes and letters. I did not find any evidence from any source that would confirm a rifle was positively made by a Wolfgang Haga. At the time of Kindig’s book he had some 12-16 rifles in his collection he attributed to Haga.

But Wolfgang Haga was indeed a gunsmith working in Reading. Aside from the Philadelphia paper headed: “Reading June 29, 1752” indicating the Haga shop fire, the Berks County records continually show Haga as a man of community participation and wealth. All the official tax/land records of Reading/Berks County of the period 1750 until 1790 show a Wolfgang Haga as being a gunsmith. Rev.War records indicate the Northumberland County militia paid Wolfgang Hoghen to repair arms. Further, church records show Wolfgang Hagen was a deacon of the Schwartzwald Church and a Trustee and Elder of the Dutch Reform Calvinists in Reading. Various land records show Haga “gunsmith” owned land around Mohnton, south of Reading (near land owned by Shreit) and hundreds of acres around Reading, along with buildings once on South 4th Street. It appears he was financially successful and all indications are he was more likely to have a larger gunmaking operation than any other gunsmith in Reading at the time.

Interestingly, he crossed paths with Shreit and William Graff (Graef) often, which are also shown on similar county records. Both Haga and Graff are shown as Deacons in the Schwartzwald Church. I visited that church and found that all the original gravesites were moved after construction of the standing church. Haga and his wife, Dorothea’s impressive granite headstones were moved to Lancaster at that point, apparently to be near their daughter Susan married to Peter Gonter, the Lancaster Gunsmith. I mentioned this to Buck which is what I believe he is referring to here.

All of this is probably known by most of you and contributes virtually nothing to the attribution of so-called Haga made rifles. However, it is my opinion based partly on the above points that Ole Joe Kindig simply decided that the number of rifles of similar details in his collection were made by Wolfgang Haga on the basis that County records indicate Haga’s  gunmaking operations appear to be larger than any other gunsmith in Reading at the time. He could have just as easily said - William Graff or John Shreit  -  but no evidence exists that they were as likely to have an operation as large as Haga’s.

To add to the fun is the fact that many of Kindig’s Haga-like rifles have barrels made by William Pannabecker Senior, whose signature is clearly signed on the underside of the barrel. I’ve owned 4 Haga like rifles and half had Pannabecker barrels. In that regard one can safely say the guns were likely made in the Berks County area as the Pannabeckers are well recorded. Or is it we are looking at Pannabeckers and not Hagas?

No doubt this mystery will continue but I have concluded that old Joe Kindig started the flimsy Haga attribution based simply on finding a better paper trail of Haga’s activity than any other Reading gunsmith during the period. Since he had a number of rifles with very similar features he figured that would be a safe conclusion. That is my take as to how this attribution got it started – no magical rationale - just power of the printed word – one that we continue to perpetuate.

Patrick Hornberger
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Buck on October 23, 2016, 01:53:58 AM

That conversation is what I was referencing. Most people would not realize the significance of that minor detail regarding the Granite / Limestone and the significance it has. At that time only the wealthy could afford granite headstones, the process of quarrying, shaping and carving the stone was easily 4 times the cost of what it took to work with Limestone.   

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: oldtravler61 on October 23, 2016, 01:54:27 AM
Just my ending thoughts on this. Just like in our time now. We have people who are skilled gunsmiths. But Do not build complete rifles. Without serious evidence of signed guns. This I believe is the case for Haga. Imho
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 23, 2016, 03:05:46 AM
Maybe these are all by old George Angstadt!  (haha Eric). 

In downtown Reading, based on records and documents, below is kind of a brief overview of gun makers in downtown Reading early on based on my research so far:

Wolfgang Hachen - recorded to be working and living in Reading by 1752, but likely there a couple of years prior.  Records indicate he was also paid for arms work during F&I war, and later Rev war, but I'll have to find the documents.

William Graeff - we do have proof that he made rifles - was working and living in Reading by 1752 (born 1732).

John Schreit - working and living in Reading by 1756.  He is documented as having a musket contract in 1776, with the musket locks made in Reading also (see further down).  I believe that I found that Schreit was either born in Pennsylvania, or immigrated as a small child and not trained in Europe which is interesting given his training and the style of his rifle.

George Schroyer - working and living in Reading by 1764, left sometime after 1769.

William Shaner - living and working in Reading by 1769

John Reiffsnyder - again proof he made rifles, was in Reading by 1775.  He was apprenticed to William Graeff.  He died in 1793.

Anthony Bobb, by 1774 to 1781, disappears after that.

Andrew Fichthorn Sr., by 1779

Conrad Fesig, by 1779, later also made tall case clocks.

John Kerlin, during the war documented making muskets in Reading in fall of 1776.

Henry Hahn Sr., listed as an "armorer" in 1753 document.  Living and working in town by 1752

Henry Hahn Jr. - born 1754 - made musket locks for Schreit for Schreit's contract in 1776.  later made tall case clocks.

John Gonter, son of Peter Gonter Sr is documented as living in Reading in 1776. 

Peter Gontrer Jr. of course also was assumed by others there to learn the trade but I found no hard evidence of that yet.

Charles Witz, gunsmith / locksmith was living and working in Reading by 1779.  He was from the Falckner Swamp area and identified there as a gunsmith as early as 1755.  He was in Douglass Township, eastern berks in the 1760's.

Peter Baltzly, who later moved to Carlisle and was a gunsmith - was an orphan who had my ancestor Nicholas Madary, and Wolfgang Hachen, as his guardians.  I believe that my ancestor, taxed as a stone mason, assisted Hachen making locks or other work in the down months as a mason - his father in switerland was a blacksmith.

John Eister (Oyster).  He was from Rockland Township and entered the "service" in 1776, in Reading, to serve as blacksmith and gunsmith there for a period of 6 months before his regiment left.  He noted that he made "a number of weapons, including tomahawks" while in Reading in 1776, for the war effort.

There are a bunch of other blacksmiths and locksmiths in these early days, and others listed as "artificers" during the rev war, that I have not even gotten to look into yet.  My thinking is that many of the guns from Reading are unsigned because this group worked together more as a team / consortium / or factory.

One note about the Reading church records - something that was extremely confusing but I eventually figured out is that the "Schwartzwald" church records, by RE. Boos, were compiled with other churches in the area, and the data for Hachen is actually for his congregation work at the First Reformed Church in downtown Reading.  There is no documentation that Hachen ever physically was at the Schwartzwald church in Exeter Twp.  Interestingly, both Hachen and Schreit were tied also to the Muddy Run Church in eastern Lancaster County.

Eric - you may appreciate this.  It is off topic a bit, but adds mystery to the Reading / Berks area gunmakers:  I found estate records for Johann Michael Fries, "blacksmith", in Albany Township in northern Berks County.  He was born in 1690 in Rossbach, Germany, and died in Albany Township in 1762.  He had 200 acres just outside the town of Albany near modern day Kempton.  His estate included two rifles, smith's tools, a sword, a pistol, an old gun barrel, two old gun locks, 2400 feet of boards, and lots of wood tools.  His two sons also died around that time - Henry Fries, born 1730, died 1759- the son's estate had a rifle, a gun, smith tools, 2 gun barrels, 40 lb of iron.  And another son was a blacksmith.  Not proof that they were gunsmiths but maybe, and interesting! 

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 23, 2016, 07:28:46 PM
Wow, these are great posts--full of great information. I'm grateful you've all shared here where we can all mull it over.

I wonder what old Joe K. would make of the new information. I would think that the fact that there were (as DaveM has documented) several gunsmiths in colonial Reading and (as others have argued) that the large number of "Haga" guns seem to actually indicate multiple "hands" means that any attribution of any guns to Haga on this basis is impossible. If there are a lot of Reading-area guns with only one known craftsmen there ... well, okay, I can see the attribution of these guns to Haga. But you cannot have multiple makers and multiple batches of unsigned guns and attribute any of these guns to any of these makers without some signature to limit the variable.

But: I'd think the link to Gonter would provide some valid starting point, if there are similarities between guns made by Gonter and older guns. Still speculation, but at least a place to start.

I am not sure about the notion "that County records indicate Haga’s gunmaking operations appear to be larger than any other gunsmith in Reading at the time. He could have just as easily said - William Graff or John Shreit  -  but no evidence exists that they were as likely to have an operation as large as Haga’s." The only county records I can think of that provide any hint of the size of his operations would be the account of how much Haga was paid to repair guns in 1779 (£649 in Berks County--a lot of money--only £7 in Northumberland Co.). But that's thirty years after we know him to have been a Reading gunsmith (1752). I don't know of any other information that would indicate the size of his gunmaking operations in the intervening years.

Or is it his wealth that led to this conclusion? Again, that needs some careful thought. His wealth (if he was wealthy) could as easily be taken as an indication that Haga did not need to work in the shop anymore--why continue to labor at the forge if he no longer needed to? However, land isn't a good indication of wealth at this time (depending on what that land was & how it was used). Tax lists allow us to see how he was assessed against others (where he was in a relative ranking), so would be a better indication of wealth. No documents that survive will give any hint at Haga's income: tax lists are not concerned with that (since individuals were not taxed on income). So, again, I think we need to know more to feel that Haga was wealthy; and, even if he were wealthy, this doesn't easily equal a large gunmaking operation. He could have used his wealth to diversify his activities beyond gunsmithing altogether.

Finally (and I know I am a broken record on this): I would re-check the Reading tax records. Kindig says that Haga is listed as a gunsmith in 1767, 1768, 1779, 1780, and 1781. I have found Kindig's, Dyke's, and Whisker's citations of tax records to be incorrect more often than correct. Sorry to say that, but it is my experience. More important: I'd want to know whether Haga appeared in the Reading tax records in the intervening years (if such records exist) and how his occupation was identified (if it was). If Joe Kindig's information is correct, it is entirely possible that Haga (like other gunsmiths) managed to "escape" the profession and its labor by the late 1760s and then returned to it, because of a need and the opportunity for profit, during the Revolutionary War.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 23, 2016, 09:37:15 PM
Some seriously good information here!

One thing I would suggest is that *possibly* a number of the guys Dave is referencing as gunsmiths in Reading *might* have been working during the War as opportunity permitted.  Now this has not been my particular region of interest so I'm just thinking out loud here, but a comparable thing was going on in Northampton Co. during the late 1770s, before the War theater moved in a more southerly direction.  There are many bits and pieces of information which pop up which seem to indicate guys as working on arms in some capacity during the 1770s but later on noted as cabinetmakers, carpenters or other assorted woodworking or smith trades.  Some is anecdotal evidence, some is verifiable via period property records or other documents.

Also all of this great info Dave has uncovered would further reinforce what some have speculated, i.e. that all of these so-called "Haga" or Hachen pieces are actually the products of multiple men rather than a single man or shop.  I would tend to see this as more realistic myself.  What this then would potentially indicate, given the similarities seen in many of them, is that somehow in some way a popular "style" evolved which is distinctly inherent to Reading area guns but yet is not indicative of the work of a single man.

You can see this in the guns in the RCA book, in that if you really look at them whether in photos or in person, or both, you can somewhat group them into blocks wherein you can see a recognizable hand in this group, and another recognizable hand in that group, etc.  I should add that there are quite a lot of such guns 'out there,' so given the rather extensive list noted above, it *might* be conceivable that a number or even a majority of these guys were stocking up the same general style of rifle.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Tim Crosby on October 23, 2016, 10:11:46 PM
 This is a Great thread! Thanks to All.

   Tim C.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: rich pierce on October 23, 2016, 11:47:06 PM
Many of the "Haga"- attributed rifles appear to me to be of the later 1770s to 1790s period and seem to me to be pretty far removed stylistically from RCA 20, 21, etc.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 24, 2016, 01:08:38 AM
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 24, 2016, 02:02:24 AM
You guys are thinking in the same line I had when researching - I dug out my tax record summary, where I had ranked some key makers by the tax they paid as follows prior to war years:

Hachen 12
Schreit 12
Graff 10
Schroyer 4

Hachen 7
Schreit 12
Graff 10
Schroyer 4

Hachen 6
Schreit 8
Graff 8
Schroyer 3 (starting to see why he left)

Hachen 5
Schreit 4
Graff 6
Schroyer 1

Another observation - Hachen was apparently the first in town likely when it was settled in 1750 or 1751 (was settled a couple of years prior to the 1752 first tax list).  Graff then arrive soon after but as a very young single man.  My perception is that he apprenticed with hachen. 

Another note - Hachen never "properly or legally" obtained his building lot from the Penn family.  Later, in 1796 when Hachen died, and Peter Gonter inherited the property, he had to submit a warrant and patent to properly claim the property.  This issue was not unique to hachen - around the year 1800, MANY owners in Reading were forced to pursue proper patents and warrants of "their" property.  In fact and sadly, there were some in Reading that made claim to others' properties that they were aware were not properly obtained or legal.  Fortunately for Gonter he was able to retain the property.  Hachen's shop was on the east side of South 7th street.

Based on the taxc lists and deed documents I found, Hachen was listed as a gunsmith in pretty much every spot.  There was one document, I believe from the 1750's or 1760's that did list him as a locksmith, but that was a unique finding.  It does tell me that at least for periods he seemed to focus on locks. 
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 24, 2016, 02:38:38 AM
Here is one more tax comparable.  I believe this was the earliest one for Reading where the amount paid was listed.  Earlier ones just listed the names:

Hachen 6
Schreit 7
Graff 4

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 24, 2016, 03:48:31 AM
Dave, did you find W.H. listed in the tax lists as a gunsmith between 1768 and 1779? (Your examples resemble the years that Kindig listed--and he had a gap between 1768 and 1779.)

I agree with Eric that many men were recruited into the war effort in some aspect of gun production--but quite a few names on the list Dave offered earlier were from pre-Rev War years (and post F&I War years).

Also: none of the comparisons on the tax lists that Dave provided suggest that W.H.'s wealth/value was greater than his peers: in most years Schreit's and Graff's assessments were higher. (I understand that the surviving Reading school rifles don't look like the signed Schreit.)

Remember that the assessments on tax lists don't relate to income. Different taxes assessed different things (land, sometimes some forms of property, buildings, etc.). But not income. So the tax lists allow us to measure relative wealth (but only some forms of wealth).


Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 24, 2016, 05:11:41 AM
Scott, yes he is listed as gunsmith in 1768, 1779 , 1780, 1781.  He is on all of the 1770's tax lists and those of the 80's but none of anyone's occupations were shown on those. I will check if other documents for those years list his occupation.  My sense is that he continued as a gunsmith throughout though.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 24, 2016, 12:48:40 PM
My sense is that he continued as a gunsmith throughout though.

Probably he did, yes. But what is that sense based on, if there is no documentary evidence and no signed rifles? If there is no mention on any document of his occupation from, say, 1769-1779, it is a possibility he did something else. I suggested this at first because others had said that he was "wealthy" and, frankly, why would a wealthy man in the eighteenth century continue in an occupation that involved difficult manual labor? But if he wasn't wealthy, if he was just scraping by or even making a solid living but little more, it's very likely he remained in the profession, gunsmith, in which he had been trained.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: smart dog on October 24, 2016, 02:18:21 PM
Hi Scott and Dave,
Thanks for those tax lists, Dave.  They are interesting.  I wonder if the rise and fall of taxes paid might reflect the buying and selling of land?  I would think the early tradesmen might buy land for speculation when they had earned sufficient income from their trades and then periodically sell off parcels to new residents.  It might be a lucrative strategy given the influx of new immigrants.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 24, 2016, 03:11:27 PM
Scott - I have not seen Patrick's data, but I could only find proof that he owned his property on south 7th street (this consisted of two adjoin town lots - and no actual deed was even found for that).  WH also had half ownership of a 10-acre parcel in adjoining Alsace township, of which he shared ownership of with my ancestor Nicholas Madary.  WH in 1778 had a gentlemen's agreement with a Henry Bierly for the rear portion of both of WH's lots - so WH would have received rent for that.   I did see a reference at the PA State historical society about WH pursuing / obtaining a claim for a more distant piece of land in another county, can't recall where - but that was not unusual for the average working man at the time.  So my sense at least is I have found no evidence that I would call WH wealthy.  So I assumed he was a working man.  In fact, in 1764 and again in 1769, he was taken to civil court for debts of 40 pounds and 24 pounds respectively.  Interestingly, the swiss / germans were apparently often taking each other to civil court for debts and other minor offenses.

By the way, WH was a party to a church deed in 1759 - that is where he was listed as a locksmith. 

Dave - you are correct that the buying and improving / selling of land was pursued by some - in fact my ancestor in addition to being a stone mason bought and sold a number of town lots - I believe he would buy one, build the house and stay awhile then sell and start again.  I think these guys were ambitious and did what they could - for example during the war by 1782 my ancestor also owned a grist mill and fulling mill.   I don't know if my ancestor's mills were on the same property that he jointly owned with Hachen - I wish I could find proof of that.  I can say however that WH did not appear to buy and sell land speculatively - I have found no deeds indicating his purchase or sale of other properties in or around Reading, other than those I note above.  If WH did have other land I would be very interested in that info.

I found that Schreit did own other lands - he had his residence (and I believe primary shop) on a prime lot in the market square on Penn Street in Reading.  He also owned land along the Cacoosing Creek up the Schuylkill River from Reading.  He had a mill on that property and made reference to "access by my workmen and laborers" in that deed.  He was also listed as owning property in Douglass Township, east Berks county, in 1773.  I would have to say I perceive that he was rather wealthy compared to the others. 

Graeff again gives me the perception of a working man and did not really find that he bought or sold properties.  He had the same property for over 50 years until he died.

The rears of the properties of WH, Graeff, and my ancestor NM were all rather close together in town, almost adjoining each other with back alleys - their group of properties was almost 3 city blocks from Schreit.     

I'll check my notes to see if WH was called a gunsmith in the early 70's period.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 24, 2016, 03:27:36 PM
That info in the Schreit deed about "access by my workmen and laborers" is golden: it documents that he was employing others, and it sounds like at least a few others. What year was that? Schreit could have a diversified set of financial concerns or these workmen and laborers could have been employed at the mill in something related to gun production.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 24, 2016, 05:08:55 PM
Scott - Schreit, who in the deed is mentioned as a gunsmith numerous times in deeds related to the Cumru Township property, bought the property at an orphan's court sale in 1762.  Looking at the deed, the it gives Schreit and his "servants, workmen, and labourers' access across adjoining land to the Creek in order to divert water, and build a mill race and mill dam.  Looking at it again the deed does not appear to use the word "my" in relation to the workers, but it seems to be written in third party way acknowledging his workers.

He sold the property in 1777 - and the interesting thing is in the 1777 deed the mill is referred to as a paper mill.  So either this was an unrelated paper mill business that he created, or he was hiding the fact that it was a gun boring mill because of the war. 
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 24, 2016, 05:17:17 PM
Very interesting! I wonder if "servants" meant "enslaved" person. Jacob Dickert owned an enslaved worker during the Rev. War (and operated a barrel mill). Other Lancaster gunsmiths did as well. Could mean indentured servant, of course. Tax lists sometimes include a category for "slaves" ... but, if not, would be very hard to learn more.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: spgordon on October 25, 2016, 02:32:56 AM
So here's a weird coincidence: Dave, you mentioned that Schreit had some interest in a paper mill. It turns out the Hagi (Haga?) family--not Wolfgang H. himself, but others with the same/similar last name--seems to have made considerable money through a paper mill or mills. I just learned about this today and should have followed up--and can if it would be of interest.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 25, 2016, 03:16:59 AM
Scott, thanks and sure any clues may lead to something!  Schreit sold the property to a guy with the last name Haak / Hawk - also an interesting similar name.  I don't have alot of spare time for research these day so any digging up clues is appreciated.  Would you or anyone know any resources about 18th century mills in berks county?
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: 120RIR on October 25, 2016, 05:26:21 AM
Just to further stoke the are some photos of my first two acquisitions in my new collecting venture.  I'm sure y'all will recognize the "Haga" rifle.  The other is attributed to Jacob George although I understand it has a number of early characteristics pre-dating his time as a gun smith.  Hopefully the link below works.  Let me know if it doesn't.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: 120RIR on October 25, 2016, 05:27:45 AM
That figures ???...let's just try this then:
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 26, 2016, 09:57:01 PM
The George piece has definitely been worked over as time has gone by but it's a cool rifle.  They're both nice!  I like the "curvy" northern Berks stuff a lot more than the Haga-type work (and in light of all that has been involved in this GREAT thread, I think 'Haga-type" is a lot more accurate than simply plastering his name on it, if we can even go that far…).  I don't see anything in the Georg-ish rifle that would preclude Jacob George being the maker but there definitely were others working in the same style.  I would not put it too early.  Those guys up there along the Blue Mtn. hung on to things a bit longer than some others.  Short of a signature, more elaborate carving or a really, really close look at the box engraving, I can't really definitely say whether or not Jacob George made the rifle.  But honestly I don;t think it matters, it's just interesting anyway.  Both of them are.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 27, 2016, 03:24:59 AM
So, going out on a limb here - maybe what Patrick said in this thread hits the nail on the head -  I saw online photos of a rifle in a James Julia auction signed "J. Pannabecker" (not sure if exact spelling).  To me, it looks very much like the rifle photo posted and others like it from the "Reading" or "HAGA" school, especially stock form, butt plate profile, trigger guard profile etc.   What if Patrick is correct and these are all pannabecker rifles? Perhaps Abraham Angstadt (b. 1784, in Berks County, moved to Orwigsburg in 1810), who made a similar style, was sent to apprentice with the pannabeckers and adopted more their style than his brothers?   That may help explain his similar style and use of Mohnton area barrels. 

If we were just starting to write these books today, knowing the examples that are signed that have shown up, would they not be attributed to the pannabecker family, much like the characteristic Angstat guns are all similar?

I would be interested in others' thoughts on why they think it would not be pannabecker given signed examples?  I read that John Pannabecker was born in 1733, and lived in Brecknock Township until he died in 1805.  This could be his (unsigned) early on then his son(s) later on?  Would be interested if anyone did any detailed research on this family. 
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: rich pierce on October 27, 2016, 05:47:42 AM
Hard to tell if somebody is reading the Pannabecker stamp on a barrel indicating it was made in the Pannabecker mill, and assuming that is who built the rifle, not made the barrel. 
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Buck on October 28, 2016, 02:47:37 AM




Here's a couple photos of the Samuel Pannabecker that I have. Though slightly later than the afore pictured rifles they still carried the style well into the 1820's. This rifle is original flint "in the black".

DaveM I don't think your going out on a limb, I've pondered this theory several times. I can see that a few of the guy's here have toiled over hours of research, and I appreciate what the guy's have posted / researched. But maybe the answer is stamped on the bottom of the barrel>

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: DaveM on October 28, 2016, 05:16:20 PM
Buck - thanks for the photos - does yours have a barrel maker name under the barrel also?  Curious - if it does not that may mean pannebecker made both your gun / barrel.

120RIR - thanks for the photos but not sure where your photos went - can you confirm if there is a barrel maker mark / name underneath your barrel?  I assume yours is not marked on the top barrel flat?

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: rich pierce on October 28, 2016, 05:52:07 PM
Buck, what a wonderful rifle!  Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: sqrldog on October 28, 2016, 06:13:16 PM
2x what Rich said. Thanks for you generousity in sharing photos. Tim
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Buck on October 29, 2016, 03:35:59 AM
DaveM / Rich / Tim,

My pleasure, your welcome . Dave to answer your question I have not removed the barrel. As you can see from the pictures the wrist has a period repair, there isn't a drop of glue between the 2 pieces at the wrist. It's stable, but I handle it with care. Samuel (the maker) had a stake in the barrel mill after the passing of his father, I think it's a safe to assume it's a "complete" Pannabecker Rifle.

Thank you,

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: 120RIR on October 30, 2016, 08:27:08 PM
Per member's below.  Eric states the Jacob George rifle appears to have been "worked over".  Does that refer to the stock finish perhaps?  Eric...still very much learning here and any insights would be appreciated to say the least!   :)  Concerning  the Blue Mountain region gunsmiths hanging on to older styles longer than others, why would this be?  Relative physical isolation?  Political/economic reasons?  Other general cultural factors perhaps or was it just "because"?

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Sequatchie Rifle on November 06, 2016, 05:15:31 PM
What an interesting thread. Thanks for sharing all the thoughts and info. ""Buck", thanks for your photos of the awesome rifle.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: dogbest on November 08, 2016, 10:09:39 PM
There is a Wolfgang Haga rifle listed on
Auction number is 597019355.
Starting bid price is $20,000.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Buck on November 09, 2016, 02:03:09 AM

Glad you enjoyed it.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Buck on November 15, 2016, 02:26:27 AM

I just noticed but I am familiar with the "Haga" rifle you recently picked up. The prior owners attributed it to Shener, it's a great gun congratulations. HIB once owned the rifle, he might be able to give you a little more insight.

Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: Molly on November 23, 2016, 03:39:44 AM
A very interesting thread.  Having recently found a pair of original rifles made by a local maker in around 1810 I decided I must have one.  Then I discovered neither were signed yet they were offered with absolute certainty as to the maker.  Then I further discovered no "known" signed examples exist.  I know there are those with the eye of an eagle who make a living buying and selling and don't consider myself capable of such certain judgment however this is the most appropriate comment from Mr. Pierce

" As a scientist who has always had to have solid and reproducible evidence and data to establish anything, the Haga attribution always bothered me.  I understand and agree it's likely W. Haga made some or most of the Reading unsigned rifles but that falls short of deserving "made by" him."

Big money rifles demand solid documentation and "attributed" is one thing.  "Attributed" with no known signed examples is another.  BTW, the one on gunbroker has been running for a long time so either condition or doubt or both can be attributed to why its not selling.
Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: HIB on January 08, 2017, 08:35:31 AM
Ms Molly and Gentlemen, Every so often I cruise through the ALR site simply to read the interesting topics. I seldom interject my observations these days but this topic really caught my attention this evening.

I am in fact the individual Eric refers to when he mentions 3 or 4 various hands apply to these 'Boro of Reading" style rifles often called Haga types. The particular study goes back almost 40 years and involved well over 25 guns. One in the group was actually engraved 'Reading' on the patch box lid. Nice gun but I lost track of it until 5 years ago when it showed up in a famous Colt collectors collection during a visit to the cartridge collectors home. I have photos for those of you wishing to pursue the gun as it apparently is 'on the market' or soon will be as the Doctor passed away a couple of years ago. I have been told other guns I reviewed during the aforementioned visit were at Baltimore either this year or last.

The 'Boro of Reading' gun photo posted 10/30/16 was, in deed, on my wall for a long period of time. Since 120RIR is the new custodian I will gladly provide the provenance as I remember it if the new member will contact me directly at  The gun as I remember it is a beauty but slightly bulkier than other examples from the Reading area I have owned or examined.

So, to add to the impressive info provided by all, here is what I know:

1] The fact the majority of the early 'Boro of Reading' / 'Reading style'  guns attributed to Haga were found in the Reading area is true. Came right from the horses mouth; old Joe. He was referring to the 9 or 10 examples he had in the massive collection in the attic back in 1968, many of which he had owned for 30 + years.
2] A 'Boro of Reading' / 'Reading style' example exists with 'Reading' engraved on the patch box. I'll do my best to provide photos. It is out there somewhere.
3] My research indicates there were two gunsmiths named Shener; Father and son, I believe. Add this to the excellent research list provided by DaveM. Great list!! And I'll believe anything Scott writes on the subject.
4] Four distinct hands are represented in this 'Boro of Reading' / 'Reading style' group of examples I studied back when I was really into Reading area research.
5] I may be mistaken but I think a copy of Haga's estate exists. I recall the date being 1800 or close. It will take a while but I should be able to tract it down providing my memory is correct.
6] And finally: My last living collector/researcher request is for people to stop using the misnomer 'Attributed to Wolfgang Haga'.  'Reading style' is correct. 'Boro of Reading' might be to specific but either or is better than a myth.
Regards, HIB


Title: Re: Wolfgang Haga?
Post by: jdm on January 08, 2017, 04:59:30 PM
Henry,  It's good to have your expertise added to this. It's been missed here. I always thought it strange to attribute something to a persons work who we are not sure we ever saw.  I like the "Reading style "reference . I hope it sticks.
Thank you for your research . Your work on the  Womelsdorf & Reading area has been a joy to read and a great asset to the collecting community.