Author Topic: Peter Neuhart by Bob Smalser ( Part 3)  (Read 7981 times)

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Peter Neuhart by Bob Smalser ( Part 3)
« on: November 20, 2010, 06:21:14 PM »
B]Gunmaker Peter Newhard (Newhardt) (Neihardt) (1743-1813), Part III[/B]

Note 1:  Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton was the commander of British forces on the ground, and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis wasn’t present at the Battle of Cowpens.  Cornwallis’ error was selecting Tarleton to command the brigade.  “Tarleton with a few remaining horsemen rode back into the fight, but after clashing with Washington’s men, he too retreated from the field. He was stopped by Lieutenant Colonel William Washington (George Washington’s cousin), who attacked him with his saber, calling out, "Where now is the boasting Tarleton?”.  A British officer rode up to strike Washington but was shot off his horse by Washington's black orderly. Tarleton then shot Washington's horse from under him and fled, abandoning his men and ending the battle.  The Battle of Cowpens had lasted one hour. Against an 1150-man British brigade, Morgan's brigade inflicted 110 killed and took 712 prisoners, which included 200 wounded. The forces lost constituted the cream of Cornwallis' army - an 86% casualty rate.” (Wikipedia)

Note 2:  Several references on Peter’s father Michael Newhard (1713-1793) list his (and other family members’) origin as Zweibruecken, Germany.  In fact like most of the Neuharts, he was from the village of Rumbach which was 32 miles to the southeast, but administratively part of the (then) Duchy of Zweibruecken.  Michael probably told people he was from Zweibruecken like I list Seabeck as my residence when I live much closer to Camp Union.  Seabeck is on state maps and Camp Union isn’t.

Note 3:  Many Pennsylvania Germans didn’t give up German as the household language until the First World War, one of the reasons families established here since the 1730’s still had descendants marrying freshly-immigrated Germans as late as the early1900’s.  My great grandmother Lydia’s family had been Americans for four generations, yet she married Philipp Schmalzhaf who immigrated in 1852.  In turn her sixth son, my grandfather, married Helena Betzold who had immigrated in 1886.

Note 4:  The signed, heirloom tool William Moll left to his gunsmith descendants for “cutting threads” could have been a number of tools ranging from a common screw plate (called a die today), to a large reamer, to a rifling machine.  Whatever it was, it was sufficiently large and valuable to merit initials and date of completion, a factor in favor of a more complicated device than a mere screw plate.  Of greater importance is that Mathews and Hungerford passage was taken from either direct correspondence with, or more likely, a live interview with great grandson and gunsmith William Henry Moll, who was alive at the time the book was published, undoubtedly knew exactly what the tool was and accordingly, what William Moll did for a living.  The younger Moll already had six noted gunsmiths in his lineage, neither he nor his interviewer would have motivation to fabricate another, and he clearly told his interviewer that William Moll was a gunsmith.  Further, the Mathews narrative reads like the interviewer actually saw the device but didn’t pursue with Moll a more precise description of what it was.

Note 5:  Sources conflict here.  Family member Dennis Kastens studies the archives and states the 1764 tax rolls list a married person (or widower) named Moll rather than single gunmaker John Moll I, who was first listed in 1772.  Family member Brent Wade Moll studies the archives and states the 1764 Moll was described as a gunsmith.  Some serious students don’t believe much gunmaking was occurring in the Lehigh Valley outside the Moravian enclaves in the early 1760’s, which favors Kasten’s version.  I’ve used Moll’s version because it coincides with a John Moll’s Sep 1763 sale of his Berks County land and old shop a few months before appearing in Allentown in 1764 (Berks County courthouse in the Recorder of Deeds Office for Rockland Twp). The October 1763 Indian incident mentioned in the first paragraph also supports the Moll version, because the result was an urgent request for arms and ammunition, which were described in short supply, and subsequently 24,000 pounds quickly appropriated by the Colonial Assembly for raising and equipping an 800-man local defense force.  Local gunmakers and merchants selling guns were clearly busy and well-funded commencing in 1764, albeit with workaday muskets or trade-gun types rather than the works of art most likely to survive.  Further, Joseph Mickley also mentions Abraham Rinker (1741-1820) as the Lieutenant of the existing local volunteer defense company in October 1763.  Rinker was the older brother of Lydia Rinker (1749-unk) who married John Moll I in 1772.  Moll couldn’t have married into the Rinker family without a close, longstanding relationship that probably began with Moll servicing Rinker’s defense company with weaponry in 1764.

Note 6:  The date found for John Moll I’s birth (born about 1746) is based on how he described himself in his lifetime, not on formal birth or baptismal records, and probably because he died at a young age, some contemporary accounts portray him as being considerably older than Peter Newhard (born 1743).  While much is possible in the absence of formal records, in the culture and frontier environment he was born in it is unlikely his father William Moll would have been younger than 24 or 25 at his birth, and more likely 30 or older.  Hence if he was older than he told people, it is highly unlikely it would be by more than four of five years, with ten years the extreme limit.  Peter Newhard and John Moll were clearly contemporaries.  Further, as his son John was such an important figure in gunmaking and so little exists on the father and their origins, there is speculation that William Moll never existed except as a family legend, that his son was a runaway apprentice trying to mask his identity, and other improbable tales. See Note 4 for the rationale that William existed.

Note 7:  Simon Sipple writes that the first Reformed congregation in the Allentown area was established in Egypt in 1734.  This is the church Peter Newhard’s family originally attended after they had immigrated in 1737.  The Allentown (then called Northampton Town) Mount Zion Reformed congregation was founded in 1762 and a log church constructed.  This is the church where John Moll I married Lydia Rinker in 1772.  At the time of Moll’s 1764 appearance in Allentown, the two congregations shared pastors, and undoubtedly the Egypt congregation assisted with the establishment of the Allentown church only seven miles distant.  Further, in 1780 a Peter Newhard is listed as a trustee at Mt Zion, but it’s difficult to tell whether that was gunsmith Peter (1746-1813) or his cousin, farmer Peter (1750-1836).

Note 8:  The Kettenburg Pages is the best reference for studying the “Allentown Factory”, the temporary armory established after British forces forced the evacuation of arms-making and repair facilities from Philadelphia, combining original, unedited archival records with commentary.  Existing archives mention that 16 workers accompanied the evacuated arms and equipment, and from personal experience with modern prepositioned equipment stocks, my (and Kasten’s) view is that the quantities involved were vastly too large for only 16 workers, and that every qualified gunsmith and joiner in the Allentown area were employed along with their workshops at one time or another to repair and maintain these relatively fragile flintlocks.

Note 9:  Peter Newhardt Junior (1786-1789) died young, and Michael Newhardt (1800-1853) was born too late to have been trained as a gunsmith by his father, who died in 1813 at age 69.


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