Author Topic: Putneyville Gunsmiths (Need help with gunsmith names?)  (Read 5846 times)

Offline Shreckmeister

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Putneyville Gunsmiths (Need help with gunsmith names?)
« on: December 28, 2011, 06:50:25 PM »
I thought I would share some interesting information I ran across while researching the family history of
a friend Dave D. from Putneyville.  Dave was the grandson of Rubin Smith who owned a hotel in
Putneyville that was passed down to him.  The hotel was once owned by the Shreckengost family who
had two hotels in the town right across the street from each other.   Rubin passed down a couple Shreckengost rifles to Dave.  Levi Shreckengost (gunsmith) had lived the last few years of his life with Rubin.  Dave thought Levi was somehow related to
Rubin but he was not sure.  It turns out that Rubin and Levi were related by marriage to cousins.  In researching Rubin's ancestry, I find that he was a direct descendant of John George Smith, one of the first
gunsmiths of Westmoreland Cty, who then moved to Putneyville in the first decade of the 1800s, which is
about the same time that the Shreckengosts arrived there.  More interestingly, I find the following gunsmith
families in the Putneyville area in the  early 1800s...John George Smith (gunsmith), John Shreckengost gunsmith (father of gunsmith William Shreckengost), David Milliron, gunsmith (son of John Milliron gunmsmith of Westmoreland Cty), Isaac Doverspike (Daubenspecht) Gunsmith, George Beck, gunsmith and some of the Silvis, Truby and Rupp gunsmith families intermarried with them.
     My curiousity is peaked by knowing there were so many gunsmiths in such a small town.   Could Putneyville
have been some center of gunsmith trade during that period, if so, why.  There was also a powder mill in
Putneyville which was operated by the Fort Pitt Powder Co in later times.  I would like to find out more about when it came into operation.
   If anyone has any additional information on other gunsmiths from this area or details about any of the
gunsmiths mentioned, I would appreciate them sharing it.
   I am pasting information from the Smith History of Armstrong County below.  Very interesting reading.

Isaac D Doverspike

ISAAC D. DOVERSPIKE, deceased, was born Feb. 6, 1842, in Mahoning township, this county, son of Daniel and Margaret (Beck) Doverspike, and died Sept. 16, 1911. A man of large and varied interests, all his affairs were conducted on a liberal basis that came to be regarded as characteristic of him in time. His gift for putting through large deals and handling extensive concerns entitled him to the confidence which he held and never disappointed, and kept him in high standing in the business world.

The name Doverspike is found in early records of Armstrong county in that form and also Dauberspike. It was originally Daubenspecht, and the family is of German origin. The ancestors of the American branches in this region came with William Penn in 1682 to Philadelphia, where they owned land now included within the city limits. Some of them moved to Luzerne county, Pa. There were two Doverspikes (Daubenspikes) in the war of the Revolution, Philip and Jacob, for in Volume VI, Pennsylvania Archives, Northampton County in the Revolution, page 490, Muster Roll of Capt. William Meyer's Company, 6th Battalion, we find the name of private Philip Daubenspeck, who it appears enlisted early and served his time, and then in 1782 re-enlisted as a substitute for George Krum. In Volume VIII, Pennsylvania Archives, Northampton County in the Revolutionary War, pages 444-445, 2d Company, Capt. William Moyer, we find mention of Sergt. Jacob Doverspike, in the general class roll in 1780.

According to an old history Jacob Daubenspeck came with his wife from Luzerne county, Pa., in 1796, and settled in Parker township, Butler county, later removing to what is now Clarion county. They had five sons and two daughters, Mrs. Arner and Mrs. Geiger. The place where Jacob originally settled in Butler county passed into the possession of his sons George and Philip, of whom the latter lived and died in Butler county; his wife was named Mary, and they had a son George, born in Butler county in 1790.

George Daubenspeck, Sr., brother of Philip and son of Jacob, served as a soldier in the War of 1812. With his wife, Ann Margaret (Meals), and their family of nine children, five sons and four daughters, he came to western Pennsylvania in 1795, to a tract of land two miles west of what is now Bruin, in Butler county. He came through the woods on horseback and over lands still thickly populated by Indians, built a log cabin, and soon began to clear away the forest. For meat, they had venison, varied with fish, and for some time all "store goods" had to be brought over the mountains. In an account of the Daubenspeck reunion held in Bruin Park, in Butler county, Aug. 19, 1913, it is related that "There are at present twenty farms all adjoining each other, owned by descendants of the first Daubenspecks landing here" (Butler county). "This may not be said of another clan in Pennsylvania. These farms are all underlaid with coal, all produce oil or gas but two. These lands are elevated and picturesque, well watered, and by some said to be among the most beautiful spots in the State. As a clan they are hardworking, sober and industrious, and are found not only on farms here, but among the professions."

George Daubenspeck, Sr., had nine children, namely: George, Jr., Philip, Lewis, John, Henry, Mary (wife of Jacob Milliron, of Armstrong county), Catherine (married Francis Hilliard and moved to Nebraska), Christene Ann (married Christian Hepler, of Clarion county) and Elizabeth (married Christian Smathers, of Clarion county). After the death of the mother Lewis, John and Henry went with their father to Armstrong and Clarion counties, where the name is now written mostly Doverspike. The other two sons, George and Philip, bought their father's land and remained in Butler county. George Daubenspeck, Sr., and the three sons mentioned are evidently referred to in the following statement found on page 80 of the history of Clarion county published in1887: "The first settlement made on Red Bank creek between 1809-1815 was by Henry Nueh, Colin McNut, Sr., and the Doverspike family." George "Doverspike," Sr., was a pioneer in that part of Armstrong county now included in Clarion county, having been a taxable of Toby township (the three original divisions of Armstrong county were Allegheny, Buffalo and Toby townships) in 1807, with his sons, John, Henry and Lewis, the latter marked as a single man. The father (George, Sr.) died in 1858 in his eighty-second year.

In 1807 also John Doverspike, son of George, Sr., and grandfather of the late Isaac D. Doverspike, was a taxable in Toby township. Mention of this John Doverspike as a resident in 1816 on land in what is now Mahoning township, Armstrong county, is found and he was a taxpayer in that township in 1817. But there is nothing regarding the date of his advent in this county or township. In Smith's history of Armstrong county we find that John Daubenspike's name appears on Tract No. 320, covered by warrant No. 3119--one of the few that appear on the map of the original tracts which were between the Mahoning and Red Bank creeks. He settled on it in 1816, and was assessed on the Plum Creek township list for the next year with 130 acres, at $130. The Holland Land Company did not obtain their patent for this tract until Nov. 3, 1827. They conveyed to him ninety-two acres and 110 perches of it June 24, 1830, then in Wayne township, for $150; and fifty-six acres and forty-six perches of it March 21, 1832, for $28.75. On page 356, same volume, we find that among the early settlers in Mahoning township was John Doverspike , and on March 12, 1840, Willink & Company conveyed to John Doverspike121 acres and 120 perches, for $303; and that Daniel Doverspike purchased land in Mahoning township and owned it until 1856.

John Daubenspike (now written Doverspike) was reared in the faith of the Lutheran Church, of which he remained a strict member, and he was one of the earnest Christians whose influence in the early settlement of this region was a powerful force for good. He followed farming so successfully that he was able to assist each of his sons to secure a good farm. He married Catherine Knight, of Clarion county, and they had a family of five children, four sons and one daughter.

Daniel Doverspike, eldest son of John, was born Jan. 9, 1818, on his father's land within one mile of Putneyville, and spent all his life in Mahoning township, where he died; he is buried in the Eddyville Union graveyard. He owned two hundred acres of valuable land and engaged in general farming. Mr. Doverspike was an official member of the Lutheran Church, and in political sentiment a Democrat. He married Margaret Beck, from Crooked Creek, this county, daughter of Daniel Beck, and granddaughter of George and Elizabeth (Holsapple) Beck, who were of German descent. George Beck settled at an early day in eastern Pennsylvania, probably in Montgomery county, but soon came to Crooked Creek, Armstrong county , where he resided until his death. He was a farmer and a gunsmith, a mechanic of genius in his line, and built and operated a gun and powder factory on the Kittanning road, not far from the county seat. In the old history previously mentioned we find that the Becks became quite well known as manufacturers of gunpowder of the finest grade, willow charcoal being used in its composition. Beck's powder had a high reputation both at home and abroad, being of uniformly good quality, and of such fine texture that it ignited quickly. It was as early as 1811 that George Beck, Sr., commenced the manufacture of powder near the mouth of Pine run, on the George Risler tract, which was continued by him and his sons until Thursday, June 29, 1826, when an explosion of about fifty pounds of powder in the mortar occurred, caused, it was supposed, by a spark from one of the pounders. John and Daniel Beck were at the time employed at the mill. The latter was thrown out of the door and so injured that he afterward died. The former was severely but not fatally injured. A part of the roof was also carried away by the explosion, but the building was saved. Large quantities of powder made by the Becks were transported to Pittsburgh in canoes. Some of the Kittanning merchants made prominent mention of it in their advertisements. George Beck was a member of the Lutheran Church. He and his wife had a family of nine children, six sons and three daughters.

Daniel Doverspike and his wife had a large family, viz.: Catherine married Jacob Long, of Red Bank township; Anthony is mentioned elsewhere in this volume; George W. married Margaret Hastings and is mentioned elsewhere; Isaac D. is mentioned below; one child died in infancy; Levina, deceased, married William Wolf; Christina married Hugh Kells, who is deceased; Mary is deceased; Leah married Chambers Rugh, of Kittanning; John M. married Emma Bittinger, of Mahoning township, this county.

Isaac D. Doverspike was educated in the public schools of his home district and at Glade Run Academy. For some time after completing his education Mr. Doverspike worked on a farm, but his ambition not being satisfied he began drilling oil wells for James E. Brown, and continued in that line for two years. Mr. Doverspike then located at Belknap, Pa., where he conducted a store for four or five years. Selling it he purchased the old Fleming farm, which through neglect had depreciated in value. Understanding reclamation work, Mr. Doverspike was able to improve the property in every respect, although he resided on the farm for only a year, as he resumed his mercantile operations at Eddyville. Besides he handled produce to a large extent, buying eggs by the carload lots, and recrating them for shipment for the market. For some years he dealt in lumber on the same extensive scale, specializing in square timber, having the legs cut and prepared in the forests and floated down in large rafts. He was perhaps the best known and most extensive lumber dealer in Armstrong county or indeed in western Pennsylvania. For more than a quarter of a century he made Eddyville his headquarters. In 1891 he moved to Wilkinsburg, and in association with Dr. Beatty engaged in the cold storage business on Penn avenue, Pittsburgh, one year later moving to Kittanning , where he put up the egg storehouse. After a year there he returned to Eddyville. In 1902 he went back to Kittanning, where he built the fine home in which he resided until his death. In the last three years of his life Mr. Doverspike branched out into a new line, that of building flatboats. For some years he was director of the Farmers' National Bank of Kittanning, was a stockholder and director in the Trust Company of New Bethlehem, Pa., and interested as well in several banks of Pittsburgh. He also held large oil interests in Venango county, Pa., near Oil City.

Fraternally Mr. Doverspike belonged to Blue Lodge No. 244, F. & A. M., of Kittanning; Chapter No. 247, R. A. M.; was a Knight Templar, belonging to Duquesne Commandery, No. 72, of Pittsburgh; and a Shriner, member of Syria Temple, Pittsburgh. For many hears he was an active and devout member of the Presbyterian Church, and was on the board of trustees; for years he took a pride in being a member of the John Orr Bible Class.

On Dec. 27, 1870, Mr. Doverspike was united in marriage with Anna Clara Fleming, daughter of Arthur and Rebecca (McNay) Fleming, the former of whom was long a justice of the peace at Eddyville and also prominent in church work there, being superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school for twenty years. He was also a county commissioner of Armstrong county. John M. Fleming, one of Mrs. Doverspike's brothers, served as a first lieutenant in the Union army during the Civil war; he became a prominent man in Armstrong county, serving as county commissioner, and was justice of the peace at Eddyville and Kittanning. James B. Fleming, another brother, was a second lieutenant in Company D, in the famous 78th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

To Mr. and Mrs. Doverspike were born nine children:

Clifton Fleming died aged nine years.

Lynus Lee died July 12, 1880

Isaac Barton died Jan. 12, 1887.

Cora Louette attended school at Dayton, Glade Run, Clarion Normal and Duff's business college, graduating from the last named institution as a stenographer. She began to teach school at the age of sixteen years and gave great satisfaction in a position where a man teacher had failed because of the pugnaciousness of the pupils.

Edna Leonore attended school at Rimersburg and Grove City College. At the age of eighteen years she took the active management of her father's store, attending to the bookkeeping and buying, and was his assistant in the post office for years. The fact that she and her father were devoted companions made the association pleasant for both. She was organist in the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church for a number of years. In 1901 she married James C. MacGregor, and at the time of their marriage they bought and took charge of the store at Eddyville. They now live at Kittanning. They have one daughter, Anna Gladine Doverspike, born in 1903, named for her grandparents.

Margaret Rebecca Clare is the wife of Dr. R. Rudolph, of Kittanning, and they have three children, Anna Rebecca, Russell Doverspike and Lovette Clare. Mrs. Rudolph is a graduate of the Clarion State Normal and has taught school seven terms.

Dayse Deane, born Jan. 17, 1881, at Eddyville, Armstrong Co., Pa., married Joseph M. Reed, M. D., Aug. 15, 1906. Dr. Reed was born in Ligonier Valley, Pa., Oct. 27, 1877. He graduated from the Medico-Chirurgical College, of Philadelphia, in 1904, and is now practicing medicine at Derry, Pa., where he is also president of the Citizens' Bank of Derry. To this union have been born two daughters: Deane Doverspike, born July 29, 1907, at Ford City, Pa., and Anna Mack, born Jan. 15, 1909, in Boise, Idaho.

Pearl A., who died Jan. 18, 1912, had taught school for one term at Mahoning. Her Christian character and lovable disposition endeared her to all who came within the circle of her friendship, but it was in the home where she was best known that her sincerity and sweetness could be best appreciated, for only the intimate members of the family group knew to the full the depth and strength of her affection, and the conscientious fidelity with which she practiced the principles of her faith. Her devotion to her parents was especially strong. Her untimely death, occurring between the passing away of her father and mother, was a sore affliction to her brothers and sisters, to whom her sweet influence is a blessed memory.

Ivan D., who is engaged in the lumber busines at Kittanning, was associated with his father in business after he was old enough to assist him, and this association continued until the father's death. Ivan D. Doverspike was married to Edna C. Ashe, a daughter of E. J. and Mattie (Ross) Ashe, who were of old Armstrong county families. E. J. Ashe is a prominent and popular citizen of this county; he was chairman of the Republican county committee two years and has been county treasurer.

Though Mr. Doverspike's business operations were always conducted on a large scale, necessitating much planning and attention to detail, yet he found time to attend to his civic duties, and never turned aside from the appeal of those less fortunate than himself. Like the Doverspikes generally, he was admired and respected for his sterling good sense, generosity and fearlessness. Free from pretense, frank and honest toward those with whom he had dealings, he had the love and esteem of all who knew him, and as a Christian citizen and neighbor his memory will long be cherished by many besides those of his immediate family circle. After making bequests to his church, his Bible class, home and foreign missions, and charity, his will divided the still large remainder of his estate equally among his children.

Mr. Doverspike died Sept. 16, 1911, and his funeral services were conducted by Rev. Dr. Hutchison of the First Presbyterian Church, the Knights Templar also participating in the obsequies. The remains were interred in the Kittanning cemetery, where Mrs. Doverspike is also buried; her death occurred March 20, 1912. An exceptional example of all that is best in womanhood, her amiable temperament and nobility of character manifested itself in all the relations of home. As mother and wife she was revered by husband and children, who looked to her for guidance and ready sympathy in all their affairs. Her splendid qualities, charitable nature and earnest desire to aid any who needed her attracted friendship wherever she went and made her beloved by all. Mrs. Doverspike before her marriage taught several terms of school in Red Bank township, and all her life she continued to enjoy reading. She was fond of exercise and in her younger days a good horseback rider. Yet with all these tastes she was thoroughly domestic, an excellent housekeeper, and devoted to the comfort of her family.

Source: Pages 464-468, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 08:56:37 PM by Suzkat (Rob) »
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 Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Re: Putneyville Gunsmiths
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2011, 09:26:36 PM »
The Library Committee wishes to thank Rob Watt, author of this piece, for his continued research and contributions to the ALR Museum and Library effort to enrich our knowledge of the History of the Longrifle. This piece has been added to "The Schreckengost Collection" in the library.

The Committee
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 12:31:02 AM by Dennis Glazener »

Offline lexington1

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Re: Putneyville Gunsmiths (additional history on George Beck powder mill)
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2012, 03:25:54 AM »
Hey Suzcat, check out auction 220921821215 on Ebay. 

Is this a relative of yours? I thought you would find it interesting.  :)

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Putneyville Gunsmiths (additional history on George Beck powder mill)
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2012, 06:37:10 PM »
Lex,  I appreciate the heads up.  I have my doubts about it being the original
because I met with the owner of the rifle in that photo who is a direct descendant and he said he has the original of that photo.  It is definitely not signed by Lincoln because he wouldn't have been in the habit of spelling his last name wrong.
It says on the bottom Courtesy of Charles ?  I can't make it out, but he had a
son Charles.
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: Putneyville Gunsmiths (additional history on George Beck powder mill)
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2012, 12:14:23 AM »
I am told by a Shreckengost family member that there are also descendants
of Leonard Reedy  and the Kuntz gunsmith family intermarried with the
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: Putneyville Gunsmiths (additional history on George Beck powder mill)
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2012, 11:09:45 PM »
Just pulled the 1840 Wayne Twp (just below Putneyville), Armstrong County, PA  Census.
The list of last names reads like a who's who of gunmaking.  There is Eli, Henry and David Schreckengost,
Adam and Christopher Rupp, David Milliron, John Doverspike, George Smith Sr., Henry Reedy.  I'm really starting to wonder if there was a mass shift of these folks from Berks Cty area to Armstrong. 
   Some of the other names are
Milton Osbourn, Andrew Foreman, John Breidenburg,Wm Dill, David White, John Calhoun, Samuel Porter.
If anyone recognizes these family names as gunsmith families, please let me know.
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.