Author Topic: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr  (Read 1455 times)

Offline spgordon

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Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« on: January 19, 2022, 03:41:21 AM »
Has anybody heard of this gunsmith? Baltzar Gehr (perhaps 1740-1801)

He worked as a gunsmith at Fort Augusta in 1761 and 1762. He worked in Berks County after that.

So, a contemporary of the fabled Wolfgang Hagens (Hachen/Haga).

P. S. Another member of the family of the same name, perhaps a nephew, became famous for living a very long life (1782-1884).
« Last Edit: January 19, 2022, 04:09:24 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 Shreckmeister

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2022, 04:32:55 AM »
Ok Iím following because my ancestor gunsmith was also at Ft Augusta under Captain Moll
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 PHILADa

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2022, 11:28:50 PM »
Here you can find a rather concise Bio for Gehr. ( Balser Geehr ) 

History of Berks County Pennsylvania in the Revolution from 1774 to 1783 by Morton L. Montgomery. Haage Printer 1894.
Pages 227 - 230


 Geehr was well known at the time having moved into the Oley Valley and marrying into the also well known Hunter family.  I believe that his contribution to the Revolution is fairly well documented and he helped support the equiping of his militia men based on the reimbursement records of Robert Towers the Commissary at the time.  I can find no history of his gunsmith trade in Germantown and he may not have been a Gun Stocker or Gun Maker.
He may have been a contemporary of Haga but I would not assume that he any association with that "shop" in Reading.  He also owned a saw mill and may have traded the gunsmith activity for the miller trade.  Not unusual since Henry Knaus, gunsmith,  also moved from Phila county ( Roxbury) into the Oley Valley and purchased one of the Boone's Mills.  On the Mill deed Knaus is identified as a Gunsmith and when he sold the Mill, the deed identifies him as a "miller".  Have not seen guns signed or initialed by either.  Enclosed is a copy of "Articles of Agreement" 1774 between Geehr and  Hunter family.  He is identified as "Gunsmith on this document.

Will send copy Articles when I figure out how to copy paste or add pdf.  Sorry for now and please let me know if you have any additional documentation on his gunsmith activities

Offline spgordon

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2022, 11:47:21 PM »
Thanks so much for this! I appreciate it. I had seen this, which has some information:



But I haven't seen anything that documents his earlier (pre-Revolutionary) activities--in the 1760s, say, before he moves to Oley, when he seems to have been working in Berks County. I know he was working as the gunsmith at Fort Augusta (Shamokin) from about 1761 to 1763, where he was paid £50/year as a gunsmith (no small amount!). Who trained him and where--Philadelphia? Berks County?--would be interesting to discover. It would be interesting to know, too, how he got the "job" at Fort Augusta, since these appointments could be stepping stones to bettering oneself through the connections/networks one formed.

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: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2022, 12:46:47 AM »
I understand that he may have been a only a gun repairer--rather than a stocker or maker. But it seems that he worked as a gunsmith throughout the decade of the 1760s and, according to the articles of agreement, still in the mid-1770s. And we have no arms signed or initialed by Haga/Hagen either. So maybe some of those early-ish Berks County arms, so often attributed to Haga/Hagen, were made by Gehr?

Also, please feel free to send the "Articles" to me at spg4@lehigh.edu--and I can post. I think you need to convert it to a JPEG from PDF before trying to post.
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: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2022, 01:35:55 AM »
I'm happy to post for PHILADa this "Articles of Agreement," dated 1 December 1770, that identifies Baltzer Geehr as a "Gunsmith" in Oley Township, Berks County.


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: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2022, 02:45:50 AM »
Really fantastic research and information, especially in consideration of the many times people have said that (paraphrased) "period documents don't tell the whole story."  ::)

To my mind, that just means, "I'm too closed-minded to research what I'm writing about."

Good information!  I'm very interested in this guy, particularly given the funky name!
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline VP

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2022, 02:48:58 AM »
Where is the rest of the document. Like to see the full agreement. Where was this document found? Online?

VP

Offline spgordon

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2022, 02:50:41 AM »
Good information!  I'm very interested in this guy, particularly given the funky name!

In my mind, he is the Berks County Boba Fett.
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: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2022, 03:05:49 AM »
Where is the rest of the document. Like to see the full agreement. Where was this document found? Online?

Here is the entire agreement. PHILADa found it & asked me to post it, so he will need to answer where he found it and whether it is available online. I'd note that the microfilms of Berks County deeds are available for free here, though my very quick search did not find this agreement there:

https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/244401?availability=Family%20History%20Library












« Last Edit: January 23, 2022, 03:45:34 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 spgordon

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2022, 03:24:08 AM »
.... especially in consideration of the many times people have said that (paraphrased) "period documents don't tell the whole story."  ::)

I've wondered for a while who served as gunsmith at Fort Augusta after William Henry (who was there in 1756). Joseph Shippen's letters refer, I think, to a gunsmith or gunsmiths, but he does not name them and who these gunsmiths were had not been discovered.

I stumbled across this (see below) at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania this week, which helps answer that question. Digging further once I found this, I found quite a few records of payments to Gehr for his work at Fort Augusta between 1761 and 1763. He seems to have left there in August 1763. Other receipts identify a man named Joseph Brown as a "smith" at Fort Augusta during the same period.

These provincial assignments (armorer at Fort Augusta, say) sometimes enabled manual laborers such as Gehr to make connections with important people, which they could leverage later. Henry used his connections with the Shippens, presumably established in 1756, to escape hard labor at the forge or at the bench altogether. We don't know enough yet about Gehr to see what he did with these early connections.


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 PHILADa

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2022, 08:39:45 PM »
Where is the rest of the document. Like to see the full agreement. Where was this document found? Online?

VP
Thank you Scott for uploading the rest of the Gehr " Articles of Agreement" for me.

My Oley Valley research spans over 8 years with a data loss to some documents due to computer failure.  As I reconstruct anything I will update as requested.  The Articles document was probably downloaded from Berks County but I also photographed original docs in the Berks Court House.  Sorry for the inaccuracy. 

Offline VP

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2022, 12:04:23 AM »
Thanks Scott and Philada for providing the information. I can't but help to find these family disputes interesting. Scott, hope you continue to find these great tidbits on the early gunsmiths. Can't imagine the hours looking at old documents.

VP

Offline VP

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2022, 03:26:40 AM »
After reading the whole agreement one can say that Baltzar Gehr more then likely didn't have to work much after marrying into some real money for 1770.

VP

Offline spgordon

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2022, 09:37:33 PM »
Today came across the signed oath from when Balzer Geehr was appointed Justice of the Peace in Berks County (29 October 1776):


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 DaveM

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2022, 12:39:10 AM »
Scott, I missed this thread before.  Here is a brief summary about him from the book Berks County In The Revolutionary War.  Somewhere I have notes about him being paid during the revolution for gun repairs, and my impression was he was coordinating the effort and not really hands-on.  I believe VPísimpressio is correct, that he maynot have done much or any gun making after about 1770.
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Offline spgordon

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2022, 01:11:34 AM »
Hereís one of several payments (fall 1776) to him for arms repair (bottom entry):



« Last Edit: June 23, 2022, 01:14:40 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 rich pierce

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Re: Berks County gunsmith: Baltzar Gehr
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2022, 04:59:49 AM »
Hear hear! Iím thankful for the sharing of outstanding research here.
Andover, Vermont