Author Topic: Who was the most influential 18th century gunsmith for the american longrifle?  (Read 2397 times)

Offline DaveM

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Eric, I can do some digging but I think Henry Moll/Mull moved to Windsor Township in Berks County. He is noted on a deed from the 1760’s there as a blacksmith. That may be up towards the Hamburg vicinity.

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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    • Eric Kettenburg
Since you're "eyes on the ground" there Dave, how far would that be from where Johannes Moll was located right near George Angstadt in Rockland twp.?

I am almost positive - almost - those two Molls (Henry and Johannes) were connected.
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Offline DaveM

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Eric, it looks like maybe 15 miles from Windsor Township to Rockland Township.  I Don’t remember exactly where the Angstadt/Moll lands were in Rockland. Nor do we know where the Moll property was in Windsor.

In between Windsor and Rockland there is Richmond Township. The same Henry Moll, blacksmith, living in Windsor Township as of 1768, bought a property in Richmond Township in February 1768 at sheriff sale. He sold it the same year, so I guess he flipped it. The property had a forge for making bar iron, and a saw mill and grist mill. Richmond Township is next to Rockland Township. This Henry Moll had a wife named Elizabeth. It would be interesting to find the name of the wife of Lancaster’s Henry Moll to seeif it is consistent.

In the Windsor Twp tax list for 1767, Henry Moll is shown owning 300 acres.

Offline spgordon

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The 1751 deed that Eric posted indicated that Henry Mull’s wife (at that time) was Mary.
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Offline DaveM

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Yes, Iam doing a bit of digging because actually the Moll family of Windsor Township are in my family and I have some rough info for them. It appears that my ancestor Michael Moll, born in 1698 (whose children lived in Windsor Township), had a brother named Henry who was born in 1699. That brother Henry MAY be the gunsmith in Lancaster. But the Henry in Berks/Windsor on the deed (oldest son of Michael my relative) may have been born in 1733, too late to be the same man in Lancaster. I don’t have real great info for the Berks Moll side of my family so I would need to study it further. My impression also is that they are all probably the same broader family. Could Rockland Township gunsmith John Moll be a son of Lancaster gunsmith Henry (maybe born 1699)??

Offline backsplash75

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How about most influential?

And thoughts / photos welcome on any of the specific variables Rich notes?

The earliest English trade rifles were sturdy, wooden patchbox guns that had architecture and carving seemingly modeled after Lancaster rifles. Did they study and choose what was likely to be well accepted or just have an early Dickert or similar colonial rifle in hand and ran with what they had? This might point toward “most influential”, or not.

 8)

Offline backsplash75

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I keep re-reading the replies. Anyone have a clue as to the Philadelphia gunsmiths Sir William Johnson was referring to? Or is it possible that Philly was a marketing hub getting guns from Lancaster? Seems SWJ would have known of Lancaster. He was well traveled.

They are remarkable at Philadelphia for making rifled Barrell
Gunns, which throw a Ball above 300 yards, vastly well, &
much better than any other Barrells.


To play devil's advocate, Philly was also a marketing hub for imported rifles and parts.


Offline rich pierce

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I keep re-reading the replies. Anyone have a clue as to the Philadelphia gunsmiths Sir William Johnson was referring to? Or is it possible that Philly was a marketing hub getting guns from Lancaster? Seems SWJ would have known of Lancaster. He was well traveled.

They are remarkable at Philadelphia for making rifled Barrell
Gunns, which throw a Ball above 300 yards, vastly well, &
much better than any other Barrells.


True, true, but it does say “making”.  But no idea who the makers would be, as I don’t know any supposed to have been prolific makers. Antes?
To play devil's advocate, Philly was also a marketing hub for imported rifles and parts.
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Offline spgordon

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I keep re-reading the replies. Anyone have a clue as to the Philadelphia gunsmiths Sir William Johnson was referring to? Or is it possible that Philly was a marketing hub getting guns from Lancaster? Seems SWJ would have known of Lancaster. He was well traveled.

They are remarkable at Philadelphia for making rifled Barrell
Gunns, which throw a Ball above 300 yards, vastly well, &
much better than any other Barrells.


I think it's very possible that the speaker was not being precise here--that he just heard there were impressive rifles "down there in Pennsylvania" and said "Philadelphia."

These remarks were not said or written by Sir William Johnson, who was well-traveled and would have known of Lancaster.

It is from the diary of Johnson's brother, Warren Johnson. He was from Ireland and had landed in America on 10 September 1760; he wrote this entry on 24 January 1761. So who knows what he knew or what he had heard?

On the other hand, Warren Johnson did land in Philadelphia & spent a week there. His single diary entry from his visit there doesn't mention rifles. But maybe he learned about these impressive rifles when there and repeated that info a few months later. 

Warren Johnson's entire journal is printed in The Papers of William Johnson, vol. 13, pp. 180-214.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2024, 09:48:00 PM by spgordon »
Check out: The Lost Village of Christian's Spring
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And: The Earliest Moravian Work in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide
https://www.moravianhistory.org/product-page/moravian-activity-in-the-mid-atlantic-guidebook

Offline backsplash75

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I keep re-reading the replies. Anyone have a clue as to the Philadelphia gunsmiths Sir William Johnson was referring to? Or is it possible that Philly was a marketing hub getting guns from Lancaster? Seems SWJ would have known of Lancaster. He was well traveled.

They are remarkable at Philadelphia for making rifled Barrell
Gunns, which throw a Ball above 300 yards, vastly well, &
much better than any other Barrells.


I think it's very possible that the speaker was not being precise here--that he just heard there were impressive rifles "down there in Pennsylvania" and said "Philadelphia."

These remarks were not said or written by Sir William Johnson, who was well-traveled and would have known of Lancaster.

It is from the diary of Johnson's brother, Warren Johnson. He was from Ireland and had landed in America on 10 September 1760; he wrote this entry on 24 January 1761. So who knows what he knew or what he had heard?

On the other hand, Warren Johnson did land in Philadelphia & spent a week there. His single diary entry from his visit there doesn't mention rifles. But maybe he learned about these impressive rifles when there and repeated that info a few months later. 

Warren Johnson's entire journal is printed in The Papers of William Johnson, vol. 13, pp. 180-214.

Apologies for the imprecise copypasta!  :-[

Offline rich pierce

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That’s clarifying!
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Offline DaveM

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I have an old book about german immigrants that is includes this writeup about Breidenhart including some of his own writing.

What is interesting is that he turned up in Lancaster presumably in 1753, and in germany had been making guns in Cassel and Potsdam. Was he making guns when he got here that looked like Potsdam guns? Or was he quickly integrated with makers like Roesser and Mull making something with a longer barrel and more americanized in 1753/1754?

Or, to the point about english guns, were the guns they were making here in 1753 a bit more british in appearance?





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Offline spgordon

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I wonder if anything is known about the German gunsmiths Gross or Tanner?
Check out: The Lost Village of Christian's Spring
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Offline DaveM

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I had a chance to do a little more digging on the Molls. So far, I found that Henry Moll, possibly born about 1715, first lived in Lancaster, then by the period of 1755-1763 moved to York County. It appears he was the gunsmith who bought the lot in downtown Lancaster in 1740. He was taxed in Lancaster and then Huntington Township in York County as a gunsmith. He had a son John born in 1754 (a shoemaker, not gunsmith), a son Henry and had another another son Ludwig who I believe was older and was said to be a gunsmith but th8s is not confirmed.

However, this younger Henry born in 1715 or so as mentioned above, may have had a father named Henry, born about 1690 who may also have lived in York County. I think that Henry Sr (would have been born about 1690) may be a brother of Michael Moll (born 1698) of Windsor Township Berks County. I did not verify this Henry Sr but saw it in other genealogies info.

This may open the door to s discvering that the Moll family could yave consisted of an earlier generation of gunsmiths before John Moll. I suspect John Moll Berks County gunsmith was probably the slightly younger brother of Henry Jr above, and possibly also a son of the possible Henry Sr. He may have lived in Berks near his other Moll relatives/uncle. Or maybe the old Henry Sr lived in Berks? It is interesting that Henry Jr (born 1715) took a warrant on land in York County in 1763, the same year John the gunsmith moved north to Allentown. It is possible that their father died that year - that inheritance often would lead to moves by children but this is just hypothetical. Looks like gunsmith Henry Jr died in 1791 in York County. Whew! This is a big research endeavor.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2024, 03:47:23 AM by DaveM »

Offline DaveM

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Here is the gunsmith Henry Moll’s will from 1789, and a tax list for 1780 showing him as a gunsmith. Most of what I am seeing are secondary sources, and probably not much more than you found before Eric. Unfortunately hs will shows nothing of his occupation. I do wonder if some early records in Lancaster for “John” Moll maybe referencing Henry since his name was Johann Henry?






Offline DaveM

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Looks like Henry Moll gunsmith was in Huntington Twp York County at least by 1758 based on this baptism for his son Ludwig.

It is interesting that in the baptism records for severalof his children his wife’s name is Gertraud. But there was also a 1761 baptism in this same township where Henry and wife (named Maria) were sponsors. Was the Henry with wife Maria the father of the Henry with wife Gertaud? Or was it the same woman maybe withthe name Maria Gertaud? It is tough to say. I assume the John Moll in this record beneath He ry’s entry is Henry’s son John the shoemaker.



Offline DaveM

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I believe John Moll, in Rockland Township Berks, may be from the same family as the Molls of Windsor Twp Berks County. The location where John Moll lived in Rockland Township was only about 15 or so miles west of where Johann Michael Moll settled in Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County. I am looking for links between them. Johann Michael was born sometime before 1700 and immigrated with his wife and small son in 1731. The interesting link so far - Michael traveled with his wife and son, and Michael’s brother Christopher and family on the same ship in 1731. But on the very next ship, arriving in Philadelphia only days later, was a 15 year old Johannes Moll traveling without any other Molls. These two ships may have essentially followed each other or left within days of each other. I think this Johannes may be the gunsmith, and Eric pointed him out before. I am wondering if 15 year old Johannes gunsmith, and older Michael and Christopher on the next ship were brothers.

On the map, the place where Johannes the gunsmith lived in Rockland Township was geographically right in between the place where Michael settled in Montgomery County, and Windsor Township, Berks County, where some of Michael’s children settled.

Offline rich pierce

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If only more guns survived and could be attributed! So much great information on the gunsmiths.
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