Author Topic: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)  (Read 644 times)

Offline spgordon

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Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« on: September 14, 2021, 07:01:12 PM »
There is a beautiful longrifle by Abraham Henry in the library: https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=3114.0

Last month Jacobsburg Historical Society was given a portrait of Abraham Henry that has been in the Henry family since it was painted c. 1800--by his younger brother, Benjamin West Henry (1777-1806). This portrait has never been included in any publication.



By the way, JHS is raising funds to conserve this portrait, which is not in great shape: among other things, the painting has torn away from the tacking edge along the top, causing the canvas to sag. Please contact the folks at Jacobsburg (jacobsburg@rcn.com) if you would be interested in donating. Small or large donations welcome!


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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2021, 07:52:55 PM »
Thank you for posting it.  You just turned my world upside down.  Not at all what I expected a longrifle maker to look like.  Funny how you visualize
things one way and reality is so different.  What a treasure for their historical society.
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2021, 09:03:50 PM »
Not at all what I expected a longrifle maker to look like.  Funny how you visualize things one way and reality is so different. 

Rob, I know just what you mean. Below is a (famous) portrait of his father, William Henry (1729-1786)--who at the time of the portrait was also a gunsmith. He's is holding a rifle but, other than that, he looks like a "elite" figure much as his son is pictured as.


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 Avlrc

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2021, 09:10:24 PM »
Thank you for posting it.  You just turned my world upside down.  Not at all what I expected a longrifle maker to look like.  Funny how you visualize
things one way and reality is so different.  What a treasure for their historical society.
Maybe Benjamin tried to make his brother Abraham prettier than he really was.  The father is not so attractive, but does look very artistocrat.  What  a great  gift to the society.   

Offline spgordon

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2021, 09:17:14 PM »
Jacobsburg Hist. Soc. has a pistol signed by Abraham Henry on display--and I think it owns, too, a longrifle by him (not on display). So the portrait has definitely arrived at the right place!
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2021, 09:25:11 PM »
Not at all what I expected a longrifle maker to look like.  Funny how you visualize things one way and reality is so different. 

Rob, I know just what you mean. Below is a (famous) portrait of his father, William Henry (1729-1786)--who at the time of the portrait was also a gunsmith. He's is holding a rifle but, other than that, he looks like a "elite" figure much as his son is pictured as.



   So had the Henry's elevated their status based on their success in the important industry of gunmaking or were they wealthy businessmen before they ventured into gunmaking?  Were they still getting their hands dirty after William's time or were they figureheads of industrial operations of their time?  This makes me more curious.  Certainly, I have found that some gunsmiths had
a high status in their communities.  I wonder how many were also involved in other areas of business like the Border's in Bedford.  Any portraits of the Kuntz family out there?  I'd be curious what they looked like.  I would imagine they were like the Henry's among Philadelphia elite.  Good stuff.
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2021, 09:37:44 PM »
   So had the Henry's elevated their status based on their success in the important industry of gunmaking or were they wealthy businessmen before they ventured into gunmaking?  Were they still getting their hands dirty after William's time or were they figureheads of industrial operations of their time? 

William Henry I (1729-1786) began with nothing, worked as a gunsmith in the 1750s, and managed to escape manual labor--opened a hardware store, got wealthy, and was leisured enough by the 1770s to devote all his time as a high-level administrator for the patriot cause. He never worked as a gunsmith after 1760.

His children, though, are a different matter. Two of them (William Henry II and Abraham Henry) were working gunsmiths for their entire lives and a third (John Joseph Henry) was apprenticed to become a gunsmith, but he was injured during the Revolutionary War and became a lawyer and later a judge.

William Henry II, though he worked as a gunsmith (off and on) from the early 1770s until 1815 or so, also served as a judge in Northampton County, so being a gunsmith didn't prevent one from being asked to shoulder responsibilities as a public official. But he worked with his hands his entire life (unlike his father)--not just a figurehead of a larger operation.

Further reading!: https://www.dropbox.com/s/eaybapwaq2ct5ra/Ambitions%20of%20William%20Henry%202012.pdf?dl=0

« Last Edit: September 14, 2021, 09:41:35 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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2021, 09:41:25 PM »
Thanks Scott.  Do you know what battle JJ was injured in?
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2021, 09:43:09 PM »
Can I share these images elsewhere?
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2021, 10:18:03 PM »
John Joseph Henry was on the "march to Quebec" in winter 1775, was taken prisoner (with many others), & arrived back in Lancaster in fall 1776 with an ailment that soon crippled him.

Further reading!: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ve9q9kartyre32r/Trials%20of%20John%20Joseph%20Henry%202018.pdf?dl=0
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2021, 10:19:04 PM »
Can I share these images elsewhere?

Sure. Jacobsburg owns the image of Abraham Henry--another institution owns the image of William Henry I but for a variety of reasons I think, at present, it is fine to share that one, too.
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 Clark Badgett

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2021, 12:57:45 AM »
Is this the same Henry family that later made all the trade rifles?
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Offline spgordon

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2021, 01:43:45 AM »
Is this the same Henry family that later made all the trade rifles?

Yes.
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 WESTbury

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2021, 02:30:06 AM »
Scott has authored two outstanding papers on the Henry's, both of which I have read.

The Henry Family in the American Revolution and The Ambitions of William Henry.

Both are great reads. Perhaps Scott will provide some links to them.
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Offline spgordon

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2021, 03:11:48 AM »
The link to "Ambitions of William Henry" is above but I'll copy it here, too:


The "Henrys in the American Revolution" article can be found here (scroll down a bit once the Newsletter opens):


You can read more about John Joseph Henry, who was on the march to Quebec, here:


If that doesn't exhaust your interest in the Henrys, try this piece on William Henry II, who worked at Christian's Spring, Nazareth, and Jacobsburg (scroll down a bit when the newsletter opens):


Or, for real masochists, this one on William Henry II and Henry Albright/Albrecht:

« Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 11:34:06 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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2021, 03:08:36 PM »
Thank you
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2021, 09:29:50 PM »
You know, that Abraham rifle in the archive (linked above) is a bit interesting.  The guard profile looks very similar to the guards William Antes was using which basically dictated the design of the slightly later Bucks Co. guards.  I can't see a bottom view, but that does not look like a Lancaster guard.  Also, while the 'daisy' box almost automatically requires that it be placed in the Lancaster camp, there are a number of extant rifles that were clearly made in the Easton area that also used a daisy finial box.  Some were more symmetrical in the finial, but there are a few that appear to have been made in eastern NH Co. that utilized boxes copying the Lancaster-attributed form.  Wonder where this rifle was actually made?
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Offline blienemann

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2021, 11:26:00 PM »
Eric, Scott, others and I have wondered about this fine rifle. It is so similar to several rifles by Wm Antes - stock pattern or profile, mounts and carving behind the cheekpiece. It is easy to wonder where it was made and by whom. Richard on that link mentioned Nazareth vs. Lancaster and ca 1790. It is fun to speculate.

Abraham Henry was sent from Lancaster to Nazareth to learn the gunstocking trade with his brother Wm, Jr. Wm, Jr also traveled back and forth to Lancaster to visit and care for family members, so Lancaster style and perhaps mounts would have been familiar to both. We only have a signed pair of pistols to illustrate Wm, Jr.'s work - perhaps he was stocking in the Lancaster style. Henry Albright later came to Wm, Jr at Nazareth (to learn either gunstocking or the joiner trade), so connections to Lancaster abounded. Later Abraham was party to contracts for large numbers of arms, probably subcontracted some work, and may have supplied barrels with his name to satisfy terms of contracts. Wm Antes apparently developed his gunstocking skills in the area north of Philadelphia with the early Bucks County gunmakers. Antes later moved with family to Westmoreland County, and may have had connections to Lancaster.

There is at least one more "Lancaster rifle" with this same rotated carving design behind the cheekpiece. Though they did not have the internet and auction photos for comparison, they were better connected and informed of others' work than we assume. Bob

Offline heinz

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2021, 11:29:55 PM »
SPG, Thank you, that is an impressive body of work. Carefully reasoned and well documented, I am wading through without nodding off even once.

Eric, interesting observation.  I would guess that apprentices left their Master's shop with a set of patterns.  With thetrigger  guards and buttplates, they may have been given one of each to use as a casting pattern.  Unfortunately, I have never seen a reference to this. Another thought is that casting brass with sand molds and boxes is a dark art in itself and even messier and sweatier than forging. The foundry operation is often done where good sand and clay are readily available.  There may have been casting specialists who sold their wares to various gunsmiths.  That was certainly true in the 19th century.
kind regards, heinz

Offline spgordon

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2021, 11:38:56 PM »
SPG, Thank you, that is an impressive body of work. Carefully reasoned and well documented, I am wading through without nodding off even once.

 ;D ;D ;D

If you begin to nod off, tell me where!
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: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2021, 12:04:10 AM »
You know, that Abraham rifle in the archive (linked above) is a bit interesting.  The guard profile looks very similar to the guards William Antes was using which basically dictated the design of the slightly later Bucks Co. guards.  I can't see a bottom view, but that does not look like a Lancaster guard.  Also, while the 'daisy' box almost automatically requires that it be placed in the Lancaster camp, there are a number of extant rifles that were clearly made in the Easton area that also used a daisy finial box.  Some were more symmetrical in the finial, but there are a few that appear to have been made in eastern NH Co. that utilized boxes copying the Lancaster-attributed form.  Wonder where this rifle was actually made?

Maybe it's worth adding here that the statement in the library listing that Abraham Henry appeared on the "Nazareth, Northampton County 1781 tax roll" is not only wrong--repeated from one of James Whisker's books--but silly on the face of it: Abraham Henry would have been 13 in 1781. Moreover, he doesn't arrive in Lancaster until 3 November 1781, after the tax list was made. He never appears, by the way, on any Nazareth tax roll. He returns to Lancaster in 1787, soon after his father died.

The comment by Richardn (in the library) dating the rifle to the 1790s but proposing that "the location of manaufacture could very well be Nazareth" is not possible, since Abraham Henry was not in Nazareth in the 1790s.

I myself doubt this was made in Nazareth while Abraham Henry was learning the trade from his brother. 

Is there any reason to think it was made in Nazareth, if the bizarre mistake that identified him on a Nazareth tax list hadn't drawn attention that way?


« Last Edit: September 16, 2021, 12:09:36 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 Arcturus

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2021, 08:33:27 PM »
With regard to appearance in portraits for the Henrys, versus our expectations of what gunsmiths would look like, it's probable that a portrait would be painted in one's finest clothing.  Much like today, where lots of blue collar people who dress casually 99% of the time have a suit only worn for weddings and funerals... and portraits.  The Henrys may indeed have had more wealth than the average family, but I would expect most portraits to be a fancied-up version of whomever was being painted.
Jerry

Offline spgordon

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Re: Abraham Henry (1768-1811)
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2021, 10:18:53 PM »
With regard to appearance in portraits for the Henrys, versus our expectations of what gunsmiths would look like, it's probable that a portrait would be painted in one's finest clothing.  Much like today, where lots of blue collar people who dress casually 99% of the time have a suit only worn for weddings and funerals... and portraits.  The Henrys may indeed have had more wealth than the average family, but I would expect most portraits to be a fancied-up version of whomever was being painted.

Worth noting that neither William Henry (when he was painted here, 1756) or Abraham Henry had "more wealth than the average family"--they were "blue collar"--so your remarks are really on point.

I'd only add that it was a choice to depict oneself this way (fancied-up, as you say) in a portrait. One could choose to emphasize one's "blue collar" or laboring status: Paul Revere did this when John Singleton Copley painted him in his shirtsleeves and open collar in 1768. But that choice was the rare one.


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