Author Topic: ALR Museum Gunsmith: J. Wetzel ( John or Jonathan), Snyder Co, PA  (Read 7163 times)

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Another fine example of the so called "upper Susquehanna" or Upper River "school" gunsmiths. Examples of Wetzel's work are infrequently seen.

Here is the URL:

Please post you comments here as a reply.

The Museum Committee

Offline Don Getz

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Re: ALR Museum Gunsmith: J. Wetzel ( John or Jonathan), Snyder Co, PA
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2011, 06:47:32 PM »
Fred.........where did you find this one.    Don't see many of those, this might be the first one I have looked at.     Mark
Loudenslager has a good write-up on him..........Don

Offline Loudy

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Re: ALR Museum Gunsmith: J. Wetzel ( John or Jonathan), Snyder Co, PA
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2011, 02:25:20 AM »
Below you'll find biographical information regarding farmer/gunsmith Jonathan Wetzel, the maker of this rifle, and his older brother John Henry Wetzel, a maker of gun barrels, sickles, and such.  Their father, Philip Wetzel, fought in the Revolutionary War, and was a blacksmith by trade.  Thank you for adding this interesting rifle to the Library collection. 

Mark Loudenslager

Jonathan Wetzel
Born:   March 21, 1801 probably Hereford Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania
Died:        April 22, 1881 Jackson Township, Snyder County, Pennsylvania
Buried:     New Berlin Cemetery – Old Section, New Berlin, Union County, Pennsylvania

Jonathan Wetzel worked as a gunsmith near New Berlin in Centre Township, Union County (later Snyder County), Pennsylvania ca. 1826-1845.  He is listed in the Centre Township tax records as a gunsmith in 1826, 1829, 1832, 1835, 1838, 1841, 1844, and 1845.  He later worked primarily as a farmer in Hartley, Centre, and Jackson Townships in Union and Snyder Counties.  He was the son of Philip Wetzel Sr. (1751-1826) and Anna Maria Berger (1765-1825).  Jonathan Wetzel was married to Esther “Hetty” Hoffman.  She died on February 1, 1865 at the age of 66 years, 2 months, and 14 days.  Jonathan Wetzel is listed in the 1826 tax list as a gunsmith and tenant on land owned by his father, Philip Wetzel.  In 1829 he is listed as a resident along Middle Creek in Centre Township, near Middleburg, and owning ten acres of land and two cows.  By 1855 he was a resident of Jackson Township in the newly created Snyder County.  In 1855 he listed his occupation as Farmer. 

Jonathan Wetzel lived close to New Berlin on the Snyder County side of Penns Creek.  The road where he lived is now Broadway Road.  He was the brother of Henry Wetzel and according to tradition; he made rifles from barrels produced be his brother.  His guns are hard to locate, but one rifle that was originally flintlock, shows nice incised carving but no patch box.  He signed the rifle “J. Wetzel” in script. 
Ref. “Snyder County Rifles” by Rich Nornhold

John Jacob Wetzel came to America in 1737 and settled in Berks County.  He served as a private in the Revolutionary War.  In 1794, three of his sons migrated to what is now known as Snyder County.  All three of these sons saw service in the American Revolution.  Philip (1751-1826) settled west of Middleburg, following the trade of blacksmith and is buried in the Old Hassinger Church Cemetery.  Peter (1756-1826) took up residence in what is now known as Union Township in Old Union County.  Henry (1762-1850) lived in what are known as Middle Creek and Jackson Townships.  He is buried in New Berlin.
Ref. “Story of Snyder County” by Dunkelburger, 1948, p. 166.

1850 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Union County, Hartley Township, p. 181
Jonathan Wetzel, age 48, occupation “Farmer”, p. PA; Hetty, age 52; Samuel, age 22; Elizabeth, age 18; William, age 16; Soloman, age 14; Mary Ann, age 13; Daniel, age 9; Jonathan, age 8; Daniel Wetzel, age 53.

1860 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Snyder Co., Centre Twp., Penns Creek P.O. p 365
Jonathan Wetzel, age 59, occupation “Farmer”, b. PA; Hetty, age 60; David, age 21; Jonathan, age 17; Soloman, age 24, occupation “Chairmaker”; Elizabeth, age 25; Daniel Wetzel, age 67.

1870 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Snyder Co., Jackson Twp., Kratzerville P.O., p. 16
Johnathan Wetzel, age 68, occupation “Retired Farmer”, b. PA; Elizabeth, age 38; Soloman, age 35, occupation “Farm Laborer”.

1880 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Snyder Co., Jackson Twp., District 146, p. 11
Jonathan Wetzel, age 79, occupation “Retired Farmer”, b. PA; Elizabeth, age 48, daughter, b. PA; Charles W. Erdley, age 9, grandson, b. PA.

John Henry Wetzel
Born:   March 6, 1799 probably Hereford Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania
Died:   June 13, 1879 Penn Twp., Snyder County, Pennsylvania
Buried:     Row’s Lutheran Church Cemetery, Salem, Penn Twp., Snyder County

John Henry Wetzel was a gunsmith, gun-barrel maker, sicklesmith, and farmer.  He worked approximately a half mile north of the village of Kreamer along Middle Creek in Middlecreek Township, Snyder County, Pennsylvania ca. 1840 - 1870.
Ref. “History of Snyder County” 

John Henry Wetzel is listed as a “Sicklesmith” in the 1862, 1863, 1871, 1872 tax records for Middle Creek Township in Snyder County.  In 1864 his occupation is given as “Gunsmith”.  After 1872 he gave his occupation as “Farmer”.  John Henry Wetzel was married in 1824 to Elizabeth Ertley. 

JOHN WETZEL (son of John Henry Wetzel) occupies a position in the front rank among the leading agriculturists of Spring township, Centre county, where he owns and operates a good farm of sixty acres, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation and improved with excellent buildings. For many years he has made his home in Centre county, but was born in Snyder county, Penn., January 2, 1827, a son of Henry and Elizabeth (Ertly) Wetzel. His grandfather, Henry Wetzel, at an early day removed from Lebanon county to what is now Snyder county, and there died at a ripe old age. By trade he was a weaver, but throughout the greater part of his life followed the occupation of farming. He served as a soldier during the "whiskey rebellion." In his family were four children: Jacob, Mrs. Wagner, Henry, and one that died in infancy.    The father of our subject was also a native of Snyder county, and there passed away at the age of eighty-three years, while his wife, who was born in the same county, died at the age of seventy-seven. He was a mechanic, engaged in the manufacture of gun barrels and grain sickles, and he was a consistent member of the Reformed Church. 
Ref. “Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania: Including the Counties of Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson and Clarion: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Etc.” Chicago: J. H. Beers, 1898.

1850 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Union County, Middlecreek Twp., p. 15.
Henry Wetzel, occupation “Gun Barrel Maker”, age 51, b. PA; Elizabeth, age 47; Henry, age 20; Franklin, age 18; Sarah, age 16; Elizabeth, age 14; Samuel, age 12; Miles, age 9

1860 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Union Co., Middlecreek Twp., p. 15
Henry Wetzel, age 60, occupation “Sickle Maker”, b. PA; Elizabeth, age 47; Henry, age 28; Samuel, age 19; Miles, age 16

1870 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Snyder Co., Middlecreek Twp., Kreamer P.O., p.147
Henry Wetzel, age 70, occupation “Gentleman”, b. PA; Elizabeth, age 66.
Note:  Living next door to Henry A. Wetzel, age 41, occupation “Farmer”

Offline Loudy

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Re: ALR Museum Gunsmith: J. Wetzel ( John or Jonathan), Snyder Co, PA
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 05:34:35 PM »
Below is a link to an article about Lewis Wetzel, a legendary frontiersman and indian fighter.  It appears that Snyder County gunsmith Jonathan Wetzel and Lewis Wetzel were from two branches of the same family tree.

I hope some of you find this information of interest.  I also hope this isn't too far off topic. 

Mark Loudenslager

Offline Breadhead

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Re: ALR Museum Gunsmith: J. Wetzel ( John or Jonathan), Snyder Co, PA
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 12:43:22 AM »
Be sure to take a look at the pics I posted of my JW rifle, attributed to Jonathan Wetzel.