Author Topic: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith  (Read 8351 times)

Offline Shreckmeister

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Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« on: February 08, 2015, 04:57:23 PM »
   I found this most interesting posting on Ancestry.com posted by Jan Swart regarding her ancestor Caleb Baker

  of 2433 

 
 This is part two in my quest to show that my direct ancestor, Robert Baker Sr. and his son, Caleb Baker along with other sons. (See my first posting on this site dated 1-2-2012 were the first documented gunsmiths in Lancaser County, PA.Some feel a gunsmith named Martin Mylin is considered to be the first early gunsmith in the County. Right to this day you can visit his surviving gun shop. Yet, there doesn't seem to be tangible proof that he was the earliest documented gunsmith in the area. If somebody has new tangible research on Martin Mylin being the first documented gunsmith, I would love to see it!

 Generally speaking, firm documentation of gunsmiths in this early time in Chester/Lancaster County from 1719 to 1742 is somewhat difficult and challenging to find. So we need to piece things together. An example would be that the early tax lists of Chester County do not list professions of taxpayers, though they certainly show that Robert Baker and his sons were taxed there as landowners in Conestoga Township (Susquehanna River and Pequea Creek) in Chester County from 1719 forward until 1741. This part of Chester County later became part of Lancaster County in May of 1729.

 I first came across Robert Baker Sr. in the following record in the Taylor Papers (as mentioned previously):

 August 15, 1719

 Dear Brother, (meaning Isaac Taylor )

 Whereas Robert Baker a smith of this town, has bought Colonel French's land on Sesquehanna and Pequea, he tells me that being minded to "build a mill on Pequea for boring logs", that he needs an addition of two or three perches of ground on a corner of Pequea next to the "barrens" (as he describes it) which he may be obliged with by paying thee for running the line.
 by loving brother, Jacob Taylor ( Taylor Papers-Historical Society Building in Philadelphia #2930- pg 11-Landis)


 In the papers of James Logan, Penn's secretary to Issac Taylor, brother of Jacob Taylor, Surveyor, dated Feb 17, 1721, there is indications that iron ore had been found near the site of the Baker tract.

 February ye 17th 1721 - Isaac Taylor Esteemed friend,

 "These inform thee yt there is come into this Province from New England a gentleman named Jno McNeall and hath been with ine and have viewed the iron oar ore and matter yt wee laid out dug out I suppose yt he will apply to thee as I have advised him to know ye most easy way to come at ye land if we conclude to go on with ye business for if any old rights can be had I incline most to make a purchase yt way however thy opinion in yt matter is what is desired by me and a line or two from thy hand of advice till an opportunity present of conversing and consulting ye best measure further about ye same Which is all at present.
 Respect from thy true and loving friend John Cartlcdge (No 2975)

 David Landis says: This is one of the earliest references to iron ore in Conestoga of which there is any record. The Indians rumored that ore was to be found there however in 1707 See Susquehanna Indians p 192 Then too under date of May 31 1723 Paper No 2987 in a letter from John Churchman and Arthur Barrett there is mention made of valuable mines in the "barrens" END
 (From the Awakening and Early Progress of the Peaqua, Conestoga And Other Susquehanna Settlements-David Landis-Read before the Lancaster County Historical Society on 7 Jan 1921 Volumn XXV).

 In my own research I realized that my Robert Baker Sr. died suddenly in Chester County in Sept of 1728. His estate administration papers, #321 from Chester County, PA are dated 13 Sept 1728 and these papers show that his son Caleb Baker Sr. was appointed by the Orphan court as administrator of Robert's estate. When I received these papers from the Registers Office at the Court House in Chester County, Pa, there was the Administrators Bond; an Inventory, and the administrators accounts; the Bond was signed by the Administrator, Joseph Higginbotham and Tobias Hendricks, Sureties; and witnessed by Douglas Baker and Joshua Lowe. The inventory enumerates chatel's, harvest crops, smithing tools, live stock, and 450 Acres of land. The inventory was signed by Tobias Hendricks, David Jones and Joseph Higginbotham, Appraisers. Note:Tobias Hendricks and Joshua Lowe were Quakers in the area) Caleb Baker Sr. was technically not able to get some of his father's land back until 1739 since some of it had to be sold to meet estate debts.

 In the Estate Inventory are clues of a gun or iron forge business. I show this with a *

 Inventory Debts:
“A true and perfeitt Inventory of all his__the goods and chatels, rights and creditts of Robert Baker latte of Conastogoe___taken and apraised at Conastogoe the 19th of September 1728 by Tobias Hendricks, David Jones and Joseph Higginbotham, aprasors appointed for that service.”

pounds shillings pence

 Debts solvent and insolvent 12 10 7
 Wearing aparell 5 0 0
 Housegoods 2 10 0
 *Some Smiths Tooles 4 0 0
 Plantation Tooles 1 10 0
 6 cows, one bull and small ___ 14 0 0
 ten sheep 12 10 0
 3 head of horse ___ 9 0 0
 Some wheat in stacks & stack-hay 10 0 0
 Some Indian corn growing 3 0 0
 Some hogs 1 10 0
 450 acres of land and improvements 230 0 0



 Inventory Credits of Robert Baker Sr. Estate:

 The Credits (things that needed to be paid out) on the Robert Baker estate were two hardly readable pages.

 Funeral expenses -7 shillings
 Doctor__ mare and horse hire – 1 lb
 Pmt of loan @ death of dec’d -18 lbs 18 shillings
 Interest to loan office – 10 lbs
 Charge of rent to loan office – 1 lb 18 shillings
 *To put up money before office money was taken out – 20 lbs
 A bond to John Swift Esq with Interest - 9 pounds
 A bond to James Cattisou with four years interest -8 pounds
 Sam Baker -16 Shillings
 John Kerrick – 2 shillings
 Douglas Baker- 8 Shillings
 Robert Baker Jun. -6 pounds
 ****Caleb Baker manufacturing money -4 pounds 18 shillings
 Letters of Administration- 14 shillings
 New Hat for Baker Mother – 7 shillings
 Thomas Rutter -1 pound 10 shillings
 Stephen Shifon -12 shillings
 Robert Wilkinsen – 3 shillings
 Delivery of goods from Wm Cox – 12 shillings
 Caleb Baker a Book Debt- 9 shillings
 **Caleb Baker for 100 weight of new iron #
 carriage - 2 pounds
 Robert Baker Jun. – 6 shillings
 9 Bushels of wheat - 9 shillings
 Wm Cox for 2 gals of Rum - 8 shillings
 ***Francis Rowle for 116 lbs of old iron-Carriage - 7 shillings
 Elizabeth Baker - 14 shillings, 6 pence
 Elizabeth: ____15 shillings six pence
 Caleb Baker for beef -1 pound - 8 shillings
 Caleb Baker to make up his sale payment - 2 pounds
 pay for appraisors for apprasing goods - 1 pound
 Robert Middleton - 4 sh 6 pence
 John W. Daniel- 2 sh 6 pence
 Sarah removed a call note - 3 pounds
 Paid a bond to John Hays - 20? pounds
 Tobias Young packer – 7 shillings


 In looking for proof that the Bakers were a gun-making family, since Robert Baker Sr. died without a will, there is no reference to him as a gunsmith in any legal document that I could find.
 However, his son Caleb Baker Sr's grandson, Abner Baker, wrote in his Life Notes Journal in 1854 the following: "I learned that my grandfather Baker emigrated from England to America with two brothers commissioned by the King of England as artists in the gunnery business to establish a gunnery for making and suppling the colonies with firearms and settled in what is now called the State of Pennsylvania." There is probably a kernel of truth in this statement in his journal and the rest is probably a wistful family story. Yet other little tidbits present themselves. Caleb Baker Sr.'s brother, Robert Baker's widow Mary, in her will dated 9 Oct 1760 in Prince Edward County, VA, refers to her deceased husband, Robert Baker Jr. as, "Robert Baker, gunsmith".

 But the greatest example comes from a deed I received from Lancaster County Clerk of Court, the deed is that of the summer of 1741, when Robert Baker Sr.'s son, Caleb Baker Sr., sold some land in Lancaster County to Jacob Good, before the Baker family left "en masse" for Amelia County, Virginia, later Prince Edward County, where they cultivated plantations. Note that in this deed Caleb Baker Sr. is referred to as a "gunsmith".
 Deed – Caleb Baker to Jacob Good – 1741

 THIS INDENTURE made the fourth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty one. BETWEEN CALEB BAKER of CONESTOGA in the County of Lancaster, "Gunsmith" and Martha his wife of the one pt. and Jacob Good of the same place, yeoman of the other part. ....



 In The Baker Family Of Gunsmiths In Lancaster County, 1717-1754 written by Samuel Dyke of Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1972, Samuel Dyke mentions a second Baker family in early Lancaster County.

 Samuel Dyke says: "Samuel Baker and his brother Robert Baker and Robert Baker's son, Caleb, were among the first, if not the first gunsmiths in Lancaster County."

 He also says: "A second group of Bakers, not related at this writing, (NOTE they have now been proven in 2012 to be related to my Bakers by DNA on the Baker DNA site ) to the ones previously named as gunsmiths, were located near Lancaster."

 "Their names were John Baker and his son Joshua Baker. John Baker of Lancaster Borough died in 1750. His will and inventory were filled March 12, 1750. Among the items were smith's tools, forge hammer, etc. He was a gun barrel forger. His son, Joshua Baker, died on July 3, 1754. In his will he is called gunsmith. His will and inventory were proved by William Henry, Lancaster gunsmith "

 Samuel Dyke goes on to say that:
 "There is a lock on an early rifle here with the name J. Baker on the plate, but not on the barrel." END

 In the Taylor papers there is a reference:

 Aug 24 1728
 My good cousin,
 I suppose you know much better than I how far your good father proposed to accomodate John Baker the gunsmith on Conestoga and Samuel Taylor in the manner of locating land for him. Baker and Samuel complain of delays."
 Ja Taylor (#3041)

 This would be:
 John Baker(-1750) gunsmith. Between 1728 and 1750 John Baker was a gunsmith in Lancaster County, VA. His shop was located on Factory Rd., south of Lancaster, near Rockford Plantation. The estate inventory was taken on 12 March 1750 by Martin Mylin and Robert Thornburgh. It showed, cutting box,(L=Pounds) L1/12/0, Smith tools & peice of a forge [?], L4, 1 Gunn, L1/5/0, a Negro man Dick, L35: a Negro Wench Tibbe, L30. Total estate, L331/5/4

 Joshua Baker,Sr. (1754). gun barrel maker. 1754, Lancaster City.[tax]. "Inventory of the goods... of the Estate of Joshua Baker, Dec'd...taken and valued by Thomas Butler and James Bickham... 5 September 1754.( At the time of his death he was residing in Lancaster City at 12 East King St, Lot # 125). to a Quantity of Gun locks & old mounting, L2/10/0..., an old axe & cutting knife, L0/6/0
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: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2015, 09:09:31 PM »
Thank you. ALR "URL" added to ALR Library  " Gunsmithing History"

Offline MGillman

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2015, 02:29:03 AM »
Didi you run across a son named Andrew that moved to Virginia?

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2015, 02:47:25 AM »
I'm sorry I didn't see anything about andrew. What I pasted here is all of what the author wrote. I am curious if any of you know the author Jan Swart.
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: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2015, 02:53:37 AM »
Sam Dyke is right that Joshua Baker's will (written 7 May 1753, proved on 3 July 1754) identifies him as a "gunsmith," which clinches the matter. His article, "The Baker Family of Gunsmiths in Lancaster County, 1717-1754," was in a KRA Bulletin in 1972 and is reprinted in the big brown book of Selected KRA Bulletin Articles.

But he magnifies the connection of Baker with William Henry, who was also (then) a gunsmith, when he writes of Joshua Baker that "in his will he is called gunsmith. His will and inventory were proved by William Henry, Lancaster gunsmith."

William Henry did witness the will in 1753, along with two other men: "John Cochran" and "Peter Keefer." All three men appeared before Edward Shippen in 3 July 1754, after Baker's death, to swear that they did indeed witness the will. I don't know whether these other men had connections to the gun trade? By omitting these two other men and mentioning only Henry, Dyke skews the evidence a bit.

In addition, I don't think that William Henry was involved in the inventory of Joshua Baker's goods, despite what Dyke writes, but I will check that this week.

Interestingly enough, Joshua Baker's daughter, Mary, married the Rev. John Elder--the "inspiration" for the Paxton Boys riots.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 03:29:04 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

Offline spgordon

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2015, 12:20:22 AM »
Sam Dyke...writes of Joshua Baker that "in his will he is called gunsmith. His will and inventory were proved by William Henry, Lancaster gunsmith."

[material cut here]

I don't think that William Henry was involved in the inventory of Joshua Baker's goods, despite what Dyke writes, but I will check that this week.


I have now checked this--and indeed, contrary to Sam Dyke's statement, William Henry had nothing to do with the inventory of Joshua Baker's goods and assets. These were inventoried by Thomas Butler and James Bickham on 5 September 1754. The second item of the inventory is "a Quantity of Gunlocks & old mountings," but I don't see anything else gun-related in the inventory. Baker's 1753 will, however, identifies him as a "gunsmith," so I don't think there is any doubt about his profession.

It would be a terrific service to the community that researches gunsmiths to check and republish accurate versions of the lists that Sam Dyke compiled and that people so often rely on. They are wildly inaccurate. Almost nothing that I check confirms what he wrote. I know some members of this list will consider this "bashing" an important earlier researcher, and so I'm sorry if it comes across that way. But I would simply caution any researcher about relying on his lists. I don't think anybody should be reluctant to speak up in the name of accurate information.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2015, 01:04:34 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

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2015, 01:54:22 PM »
I would very enthusiastically second that sentiment.  While working on Northampton Co. I found a number of items which had been published in the well-known "list" books were blatantly incorrect and easily disproven without even delving very deeply into period records.  It appears to me that many later authors have simply copied "lists" and alleged research of earlier authors without ever taking the time to verify any of the information as many of the same mistakes seem to perpetuate from book to book, verbatim.  This creates a great many false leads and a great deal of wasted time.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2015, 01:55:42 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline spgordon

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2015, 08:44:00 PM »
A hard-working intern at Lancaster County Historical Society could tidy up Sam Dyke's lists in a short time: all the materials (inventories, tax lists, wills) are available there. The bigger problem, as Eric notes, is that later books, including most of Mr. Whisker's, repeated all these lists' inaccuracies because nobody checked the information. So even a new & accurate list would be competing with multiple sources that all peddle the inaccurate information.
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: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2015, 10:03:30 PM »
So even a new & accurate list would be competing with multiple sources that all peddle the inaccurate information.

   Scott,  I wouldn't think you are suggesting that the work not be done for that reason.  I have stated this before and
it appears that it needs restated, but we all owe a huge debt of gratitude for what Dr. Whisker did right.  Also, he had
to rely on people that were bird dogging info for him because you can't go to every cemetery and courthouse in the
land due to both time and economical constraints. 
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 Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2015, 10:16:08 PM »
Publishing information without documentable verification is apparently accepted, at least in some circles, but at the same time, should not the information then be labeled as speculative and/or unverified?  I know I've tried to do that - for one, so as not to appear sloppy or deceitful if something is subsequently disproven, and second, so as to leave the door open for continued research.  It is human nature, I believe, to want desperately to wrap things up to a nicety with a tidy bow and declare the case closed, and perhaps this is possible in some instances.  I do know from first-hand experience, however, that in the case of such a mundane and typically overlooked topic as early American gunsmithing is wont to be, we (the "we" indicating pretty much anyone who is interested) will likely NEVER have ALL the answers or publish "the" definitive catalog.

Setting aside emotion can also be a nasty struggle, easily lost.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline spgordon

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Re: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2015, 10:55:17 PM »
So even a new & accurate list would be competing with multiple sources that all peddle the inaccurate information.

   Scott,  I wouldn't think you are suggesting that the work not be done for that reason.  I have stated this before and
it appears that it needs restated, but we all owe a huge debt of gratitude for what Dr. Whisker did right.  Also, he had
to rely on people that were bird dogging info for him because you can't go to every cemetery and courthouse in the
land due to both time and economical constraints.  

Maybe I'm missing something, but, yes, I would say that you should not publish inaccurate information. It is not better than publishing no information. No information is better than inaccurate information, since others will then know they need to go research something. If you publish inaccurate information, you discourage others from doing research ... since they mistakenly take the errors you've written as accurate.

I wish there were a way to "code" information in an exhaustive study such as some of Whisker's aspire to be: "these things I checked myself" versus "for these things I relied on others." And I take your excellent point that it is simply too difficult to check everything; we all rely on others (and pray that they are reliable)!

I suppose all this hints at a good, twenty-first century solution: the best way to "publish" these lists or encyclopedias are online, where they could be constantly and immediately updated as information improves. Unfortunately, we have something at present quite different: authoritative volumes that contain enormous amounts of misinformation, not just at the edges but right in the mainstream. I am sorry if this comes across as disrespect of Kauffman or Dyke or Whisker ... but it is what it is. There is no virtue in hiding inaccurate information that researchers and collectors continue to rely on. It should be corrected.

I know this makes me seem ungrateful for the hard work done by earlier generations of researchers. I am not ungrateful. I am just saying that, where errors exist, we should feel free to correct them in public so the errors don't continue to mislead.

 

« Last Edit: February 11, 2015, 10:57:56 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: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2015, 11:12:38 PM »
Yes, hopefully someone will take on the Herculean task of publishing the correct information for us to share and if
someone chooses to do this, it will likely not be motivated by compensation because you can't make enough money
doing this work unless you expect 25 cents an hour.  This is the reason I felt I had to speak out for Dr. Whisker,
whom I believe should be addressed as such rather than as Mr.  Whisker.   Anyway, my point in beginning this thread
was to share the passionate research of a family member of an early Lancaster maker.   
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: Caleb Baker early Lancaster gunsmith
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2015, 02:14:52 AM »
I know I shouldn't prolong this. I know I shouldn't.

I prefer to assess published work on (and expect my own to be assessed on the basis of) whether it is accurate or inaccurate, whether it is persuasive or not persuasive. I don't much care whether the author has a "Dr." before his name. There are quite a few "Drs." on this list, and I never see any of them addressed with that title before their names. People here (and everywhere else) routinely refer to "Dillin" or "Kauffman" or "Kindig" (rather than Captain Dillin or Mr. Kauffman or Mr. Kindig). I certainly meant no disrespect by using "Whisker." It is simply the way I refer to all authors.  

Not sure what to say about the compensation issue. It would be terrific if somebody could tackle such a task for whom research is part of their job: librarians, archivists, interns, or academics.

But most of all, I wish we could focus just on getting the information correct. If that means correcting previous authors, so be it. That's how real and reliable knowledge is produced. This forum is great testimony to that.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2015, 02:15:39 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