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 on: June 05, 2012, 08:10:08 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
Beck, Isaac – 1835-1854 – Mifflinburg - He lived in Mifflinburg and was the son-in-law of John Dreisbach the gunsmith.  Ewing notes his production of swivel breech rifles.  Gluckman noted that he made fine flintlock rifles.

(Additional history from M. Loudenslager)

Isaac L. Beck
Born:   May 5, 1811 Pennsylvania
Died:   May 21, 1856 Mifflinburg, Union County, Pennsylvania
Buried: Mifflinburg Cemetery, Mifflinburg, Union County, Pennsylvania
Isaac L. Beck was a gunsmith in the Mifflinburg area.  He was also a skilled maker of elaborate “Pennsylvania Dutch” storage chests.  Fine chests are known to be marked “Isaac Beck” and are very much sought after by antique collectors.  Isaac L. Beck was the son of Henry Beck, a farmer from Lewisburg, Union County, PA.  Isaac L. Beck married Mary Dreisbach on July 7, 1839.  Ref. C.P.I. Beers 1898, pp. 848-849.  Mary Dreisbach was the daughter of gunsmith John Dreisbach, Sr.  Isaac Beck is listed in the Union County, Pennsylvania tax records as a gunsmith in Mifflinburg in 1845, 1846 and 1848.  Isaac Beck is known to have made at least a couple nice swivel-breech rifles.  Ref. Dalas Ewing.
Henry Beck, father of gunsmith Isaac Beck, settled upon a farm in Earl Township, Berks County, where he followed farm­ing and tanning.  In the year 1813 he moved with his family to a farm adjoining (and now a part of) Lewisburg, Union Co., Penn., which place he had previously visited with a view to settlement.  Here he built a new tannery, which he carried on in connection with his farm.  The large brick house at the upper end of Second Street in Lewisburg was built by him in 1823, and was occupied by him and his family.  By his wife, Hannah, he had six children, one of whom, named Daniel, died in infancy.  The others were Samuel L. Beck, born April 6, 1802; Rebecca L., born November 30, 1807; Isaac L., born May 5, 1811, died May 20, 1856; Mary Ann, born October 19, 1815; Lydia L., born April 12, 1818. Hannah Beck died November 19, 1839, aged fifty-seven years.   Henry Beck died January 2, 1846, aged sixty-nine years. Both are buried in the cemetery at Lewisburg, Penn.  Henry Beck was a member of the Luth­eran Church at Lewisburg, while his wife, Han­nah, belonged to the German Reformed Church.  He took an active part in town affairs, and in politics was a Democrat.  Of the other children of Henry Beck, Rebecca L. married John K. Housel, and died near Free-port, Ill., in 1892; Isaac L. married Mary Dreis­bach July 7, 1839, and died at Mifflinburg, Penn., in 1856, leaving two children, Henry and Kate; Mary A. married Thomas Reber, and died at Lewisburg in 1896; Lydia L. married Daniel Zeller, and still resides at Lewisburg.
Ref. J.H. Beers & Co. Commemorative biographical record of central Pennsylvania (Volume p. 615-1231) page 50 of 131.
1850 Census, Pennsylvania, Union County, Mifflinburg
Isaac L. Beck, age 39, occupation “Gunsmith”, b. PA; Mary, age 40; Henry, age 9; Catherine, age 6; Daniel Mason, age 18 months.
Henry Beck
Born:   abt. 1834 Pennsylvania
Died:   Unknown
Henry Beck was a gunsmith in Mifflinburg, Union County ca. 1862-1863 (tax records).  He was the son of gunsmith Isaac L. Beck and Mary Dreisbach.  It appears that Henry Beck may have apprenticed under gunsmith George Dreisbach after his father died in 1856.
1850 Census, Pennsylvania, Union County, Mifflinburg
Isaac L. Beck, age 39, occupation “Gunsmith”, b. PA; Mary, age 40; Henry, age 9; Catherine, age 6; Daniel Mason, age 18 months.
1860 Federal Census, Pennsylvania, Union Co., Mifflinburg Borough, Mifflinburg P.O.
George Dreisbach, age 51, occupation “Justice of the Peace”, b. PA; Harriet, age 44; Sarah J., age 23, occupation “Teacher”; Calvin, age 18, occupation “Apprentice Plaster”; Ellen, age; Henry Beck, age 26; Catherine A. Beck, age 15.

Beck, Isaac  Gun #1 ( this gun was previously misidentified as a S. Baum)

Beck, Edward  (Laudenslager identifies Edward Beck as a gunsmith who worked in Mifflinburg.)
Beck, J.P. – flint period – Union Co. - In the book American Gunmakers by Arcadi Gluckman and L.D. Satterlee, Beck is identified as a gun maker who worked in Union Co., Pa.
Beerstecher, Frederick – ca. 1860 – Lewisburg - He worked in Lewisburg and produced heavy full-stock and half-stock rifles and shotguns. He signed some of his guns with block letters.  Some of his guns had cap boxes instead of patchboxes.  He used set triggers and coin silver for inlays.  One gun has a lock signed, “Field – Philadelphia”.
  Beerstecher, G.F. – ca. 1860 – Lewisburg – Possibly the same as Frederick Beerstecher
  Benfer, Amos – ca. 1880 – Adams Township - He was one of the last gun makers in the area and died in 1916.  At least one rifle he made was very typical of the Snyder Count School with a nice patch box and other brass inlays.  Other guns are very plain.  He was known to have used real dimes for inlays.  He lived in Adams Township near the present town of Benfer although on some guns he signed his location as “Troxelville”.  The father of Amos Benfer was Daniel Benfer and descendents of these two contend that Daniel was a gunsmith who taught the trade to his son Amos.  The family is in the possession of a rifle signed “Daniel Benfer”.  The signature on this gun is in block lettering and the barrel is obviously much older than the rest of the gun.  It is certainly possible that Amos might have restocked this older barrel late in his life.  Daniel lived west of Paxtonville near the present stone quarry. No documentation has ever been found to indicate that there was a gunsmith named Daniel, but several guns are known signed “D.B.” in script.
From Mark Loudenslager:   Amos Benfer
     Born:   April 2, 1841 Union County, PA
     Died:   June 28, 1916 Troxelville, Adams Township, Snyder County, PA
     Buried: Troxelville Cemetery, Troxelville, Snyder County, PA

Amos Benfer is listed in the Snyder County tax records as a “Gunsmith” in Adams Township (near Troxelville) in 1882 through 1893. Prior to 1882 Amos Benfer listed his occupation as “Carpenter” in the Adams Township tax records. Amos Benfer was the son of Daniel Benfer Jr., born October 10, 1811, died January 6, 1893. His mother was Sophia Aigler was born October 16, 1818, and died 1902. Amos Benfer, and his cousin, gunsmith Moses Benfer may have learned the gunsmith trade from their uncle, gunsmith George Haines, b. 1808. George Haines was married to Elizabeth Benfer, b. December 9, 1812, daughter of Daniel Benfer Sr., b. August 15, 1782. Daniel Benfer Sr.’s son Daniel Benfer Jr. was the father of Amos Benfer. Daniel Benfer’s son Paul Benfer, b. Sept. 1820 was the father of gunsmith Moses Benfer. Amos Benfer married Amanda Kline. Amos Benfer’s gunshop stood formerly one mile south of Troxelville and was torn down in the early 1900’s.

Amos Benfer was said to have been a great match shooter who traveled to all rifle matches near and far. He organized and ran all local shooting matches. His rifles are said to be known for their high grade quality locks and accuracy. As one old-timer said, “they were able to shoot all day long and stay in the black.” Ref. Dalas Ewing notes on Snyder County Gunsmiths.

Benfer, Amos   Gun #2    A swivel     "The Christmas Gun"   Dec 25, 1877
                                          Picture of Amos ( date unknown)

“ A Kentucky Christmas “ By Arnie Dowd   ( A story of Amos Benfer, both provided by his great grandson Charles L. Erb and researched.)

“ By the late 1870’s , the demand for muzzle loading firearms had dramatically diminished due to the technological superiority  and convenience of the self contained cartridge. However, a few clung to the old ways. One such individual was rifle maker, Amos Benfer of Snyder  County , Pennsylvania who made this rifle as a Christmas present for a member of his family.
Amos Benfer was born April 2, 1841 near Troxeville in Adams Township in Snyder Co. He was one of six brothers, three of which saw action in the Civil War and lived hid entire life in this immediate area. He married Amanda Kline and they had two children, Charles F. and Jane.
Amos Benfer is listed in the tax assessments from 1872 to 1893 as both a gunsmith and a farmer. Due to the continuing decrease in demand for muzzle loaders, he also worked as a carpenter in order to supplement his family’s income.
According to family history, he was never apprenticed officially to an experienced guns maker, but may have learned the trade by trial and error. It is assumed that he studied and was influenced by the work of other gun makers in the area such as Joe Long and the members of the Specht family, in particular Elias Specht. He produced his first rifle about 1861 and the last one in 1912 with the majority between 1875-1890. All of his rifles were percussion ignition and many were super posed double guns. He purchased his locks, usually back action, already completed as well as barrel blanks ready for boring. His choice of stock material was normally curly maple with some occasional cherry.
Bender’s original shop, which was still standing in the early 1970s, was located 3.5 miles north of Beavertown and 1.25 miles south of Troxeville. He always worked alone and priced his guns fairly- $20.00 if relatively plain and $22.00 if decorated with German silver inlays. His reputation as a great match shooter increased the demand for his products throughout the area. According to his grandson, it is said that he was able to split the ball of his first shot in a match with the ball of his second shot, but only after judging the windage variation      during this feat by tying a small piece of silk to a stake near by , and only when it was perfectly still would he fire.
He also enjoyed hunting the then common wild turkey of central Pennsylvania, once shooting a “gobbler’ which had a beard of 9 inches and dressed out over 21 pounds.
Amos Benfer die on January 28, 1916 at the age of 75 years and is buried in Troxeville Union Cemetery in Snyder County.
As evidence by the stock architecture as well as the artistic design of the German silver inlays, this rifle by Amos Benfer is a classic example of the late Sunbury School of Central Pennsylvania. The general geographic area of this school of gun making, to sometimes as the Snyder County School, also referred encompasses Snyder , Union, Northumberland, Montour and Center counties. Dated guns are often found in this school. This gun may well have been a special Xmas present, perhaps to a family member as the inlay behind the cheek piece is engraved with a single “B”.

Benfer, Arnig – ca. 1820 – Gluckman lists him as living in Beaver Township.  
Benfer, Moses – ca. 1860 – Beavertown – He was identified by James Whisker in Arms Makers of Pennsylvania.

  Betzer, Sr., George – ca. 1841 – East Buffalo Township – He was assessed as a gunsmith in 1841.  None of his guns have been identified.

Bishop ,Alexander “Elick” – 1850 – Center Township - He worked in Center Township for John Siegfried in his gun barrel mill.  He was the twin brother of Edward Bishop.  They were 17 in the 1850 census.
Bishop, Edward – 1850 – Center Township - Twin of Elick Bishop.  In the 1860 Census he was living on the property of George Boyer in Jackson Township.
Boyer, George – 1855 – Jackson Township, Snyder Co. He was listed as a gunsmith in 1855 but none of his guns have ever been identified.  There have also been suggestions that a Daniel Boyer also worked in Snyder County, but no evidence has yet been found to verify this information.

Click here to continue alphabetically:

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 on: June 01, 2012, 10:21:24 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
                  Gunmakers of the Upper Susquehanna Region

Long missing from the print literature of Kentucky Rifles has been a volume focused in the makers of the Upper Susquehanna area of Pennsylvania, principally Snyder and Center Counties. This effort, unique in its format in that it will be online, will allow it to grow and be edited as more information and guns become available. To our knowledge it will be a first of a kind, particularly in regards to the study of the Kentucky Rifle, its makers, their biography and history. All are welcome to enjoy and are invited to contribute by emailing information and gun pictures to Fred Garner, M.D. ( “Hurricane”), editor.This work was begun by Richard Nornhold and a large group of fellow collector and Kentucky Rifle enthusiast/scholars/ historian whose focus was Snyder County. Collectively they documented more than 125 makers of Kentucky rifles from Snyder and surrounding counties. A few additional names have been added through research and internet findings.

The photographs have been contributed from the personal collections of many collectors and internet auctions. The owners/ contributors remain anonymous but to all we owe a great debt of thanks for their spirit and generosity.

Gunmakers are listed alphabetically. Each gun pictures are presented in full format ( right and left) when available, barrel signature, the details of patchbox, cheek and various decorative and construction features. All signed guns are present as authenticated by barrel signature or owner even if the signature is not shown. Any gun not so identified is presented as “attributed.” Finally, at the end, are several Upper Susquehanna style guns without an identified or attributed maker. Likely there are a few mistakes in this presentation which will be corrected over time as more information and debates continue.

This volume is copyrighted.

Proceed to the INTRODUCTION by clicking here:


Fred Garner, M.D
Richard Nornhold
Mark Loudenslager
Bruce Miller

Copyrighted: All rights reserved

 on: June 01, 2012, 08:12:44 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
This "living" book began as  the collaborative effort of Rich Nornhold, Jr. , Mark Laudenslager, Jeff Spots and others dedicated to the history of  longrifle making in Synder County, PA. They developed and verified the initial list and biopgraphical information about the 140 or so gunmakers. Fred Garner, M.D. ( "Hurricane") and Bruce Miller ("Nord") , both Kentucky Rifle Association (KRA) members and  Moderators of the "Virtual Museum and Library" of collected and edited the material and pictures. Many collectors ( who have chosen to remain anonymous), both KRA and ALR  members, answered our request for contributions of pictures of Upper Susquehanna style/ School guns.

We also wish to acknowledge and thank the auction houses ( listed with each contributed gun)that have allowed us to use their internet pictures.

We welcome any others who have guns from this area to add them as well. Please email pictures to

Without everyones help, it would not have been possible.

Thank you

                                      THE END

Copyrighted: All rights reserved

 on: June 01, 2012, 08:01:16 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
This digital format allows for updating and editing at any time. To assist the reader, the date and subjects updated will be outlined here so that one will not have to completely review the book to find additions, corrections and/ or edits.

June 3, 2012: The opening volume presents picture of 75 guns made by 41 makers.

Current guns pictured: 6.29.2012

Last Name  First Name    (#Guns Illustrated)
Albright,   Jacob    ( 1)
Albright,   Zachariah   (1)
Baum,   Samuel  ( 6 )
Baum,   Charles   ( 1 )
Beck,          Isaac    (1)
Benfer,   Amos    ( 2 )
Beerstecher   ,  Fredereick     (1)
Derr,   John    ( 1)
Driesbach, Jr.,   John    ( 2)
Dreisbach,   Samuel  ( 2)
Fisher, Paul G. (PGF)    ( 1)
Filman,   William ( 4)
Gabel,   H  (2)
Kiser,   A   (2)
"GK" , George Kolpitzer ( ?? there are several "GK" makers)    (1)
Laudenslager,   Samuel (5)
Laudenslager,   Wilhelm ( William)   (4)
Long,   Joseph ( 3)
Long, Josiah  ( 1)
Maize, Henry (1)
Miller, S (Simon or Samuel) ( 3)
Miller, William G   ( 3)
Morr,   Adam     (2)
Morrison, Samuel    (5)
Myer,   A  (1)
Parks, Sr.,   John   (3)
GS  ( Smith or Spangler)        (1)
SS  (1)
Schaefer,   Joseph  (2)
Seigfreid, Alescander   (1)
Smither    (1)
Specht, Elias     (1)
Specht,   Mose      (2)
St Clair,   Samuel H ( 2)
Urlich,   John G  ( 1)
JW,   ( 1)
Wetzel,   Jonathan    ( 1)
Young,   A  ( 1)
Attributed  ( 2)
Unknown   David R. Porter's Gun   (1)
Unknown   (5)

Update 6.26.2012

         "GS" added. Either George Smith or G. Spangle

         Correction: Gun attributed to Charles Baum #2, is now believed to      have be incorrectly identified. It is almost certainly William Laudenslager gun #3.( and moved to W. Laudenslager)

         Benfer, Amos   " The Christmas Gun" additional pictures added

         Correction    St Clair Location, not Juniata, but Kratzerville (Synder Co) and comments about the quality of his work.

Updated 6.29.2012

         Added guns by

         1: Alescander Seigfried
         2: "GK"     Kolpitzer, George, or perhaps another maker GK

Update 8.8.12
        Beck, Issac: A gun previously misidentified as " S. Baum" was properly identified (signed "I. B.") as Issac Beck and so moved.
        Baum, Charles Bio information added and 3rd Gun added ( #1). See "Note"

Update 8.11.12

       Unknown #5 added One of the finest examples of Upper Susquehanna characteristics exhibited.

Update 8.13.12

       Laudenslager, William     Added gun #4

       Laudenslager, Samuel    Added gun #5

Update 8.14.12[/font]

       Beck Family History added : Issac and Henry

       Specht, Moses Gun #2  attibution added

8.15.12 Update

       Baum, Samuel #6 added

Update 8.17.12

           Baum, Jacob     Biography added

Click here to proceed to the text of the book:
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 on: June 01, 2012, 07:56:44 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
Snyder County Rifles
Richard Nornhold, Jr.,  Mark Loudenslager , and Colleagues
Editors: Fred Garner, M.D and Bruce Miller

In 1946, Ray Smith presented a program to the Snyder County Historical Society on “The Kentucky Rifle and its Snyder County Makers”.  This was one of the first attempts to make historians aware of the significant role central Pennsylvania played in the development and manufacture of this unique weapon.  In his program Smith touched only briefly on a few of the gun makers who worked in the area and implied that knowledge of their existence came not from research, but from “old timers” who remembered them and their work.  

As interest in these early rifles and their makers grew, collectors began to notice a unique style which existed on rifles found in Snyder and surrounding Pennsylvania counties.  T. J. Cooper of Juniata Co. was a dealer in early guns and he is probably the person who coined the term “Snyder County Rifle” indicating a rifle with specific features and style.  In 1953, Arcadi Gluckman and L.D. Satterlee in their book American Gun Makers repeatedly identified rifles as being “in the Snyder Co., Pa. style”.   By the early 1960’s, a small group of central Pennsylvania collectors began a serious attempt to research and study these guns and their makers.  They poured through tax records and early assessments in an effort to identify various makers, and they studied their rifles to learn their specific characteristics.  Among this group of early students on the topic were Dalas Ewing, W. Charles Stroup, and Richard Getz.  It was not uncommon in the early 1960’s to find them together on a Sunday afternoon disassembling rifles of a specific maker to discuss their techniques and the features common to their guns.  In 1965, Ewing presented a paper to the Snyder County Historical Society in which he specifically discussed rifles of that region, and presented a list of gunsmiths that had been identified as having worked in the area.  The contributions of these individuals in the study of guns of central Pa. should never be underestimated.  

The term “Snyder County Rifle” refers to a specific school of gunsmithing in which gun makers used a specific style and certain features that are common on guns found in this area.  As people moved to other areas, some of these gunsmiths moved as well and even trained new gun makers who continued to use techniques learned in Snyder County.   It would therefore not be correct to say that these features are found only on rifles produced in central Pennsylvania, but it is probably safe to say that these features are found only on guns produced there or by someone with a connection to the area.  It should also be mentioned that most of these rifles were produced long before the creation of Snyder County in 1855, but because dealers and collectors found many of these rifles in Snyder County, the name stuck.  As Ewing stated in 1965, rifles that were made in Union, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Centre, Mifflin, and Snyder Counties are referred to by numerous dealers and collectors as “Snyder County Rifles” because they are so alike in appearance.  A recent effort has been made to rename this school of gunsmithing as “The Upper Susquehanna School” in an effort to imply that this is a more correct term for where these guns were produced.  In reality, the upper Susquehanna is far north in Pennsylvania and southern New York and the guns manufactured there have little resemblance to rifles produced in Snyder and surrounding counties.  That term would therefore be even more misleading than the term which has been in use among the most advanced collectors for more than fifty years.  At least when the term “Snyder County Rifle” is used, one is near the geographical center of much of the production of these rifles.  The number of gun makers who lived in the area is important as well.  Dick Getz was fond of stating that no other county in the United States, save Lancaster, produced more gun makers than Old Union County.  While it would be difficult to prove his statement, it speaks to the volume of nearly 100 different gun makers thus far identified that called this region home.  As many rifles have been found with initials from makers as yet unidentified, this number will undoubtedly grow in the future.

One of the most perplexing questions confronting students of these rifles is, “What makes a Snyder County Rifle a Snyder County Rifle?” Other schools such as the “Lancaster”, “York”, or “Berks” County schools face similar questions, but various books in print do a thorough job of explaining and showing the characteristics common in those and other schools.  No thorough effort has ever been made to categorize or inventory those features common within the “Snyder County School”.  For many collectors it seems enough for them to say, “I know one when I see it”.  While that statement does hold a lot of truth, and advanced collectors can quickly identify a central Pennsylvania gun, it doesn’t help the uninitiated.  And since there are no publications which attempt to show the details common to these guns, the novice is at a disadvantage unless a private collector is willing to share their collection and knowledge.  

Whenever a rifle is pictured in print, it is usually only the patchbox and the barrel signature that is shown.  While these two features are very helpful in identification, they are often not enough to give a complete understanding of the maker or their connection to other makers.  Since  gun makers of the 18th and 19th Century learned their trade under the apprentice system, the techniques, patterns, and methods of production were passed from master to apprentice in a cycle that eventually created rifles of a similar appearance within a given geographic region.  It is these combined details that put a given rifle within a specific school.   It is therefore crucial to have information beyond the patchbox and initials on the barrel to identify a maker within that school.

Any student of early American arts can point to a European connection in the area of architecture, furniture styles, music, and production within numerous trades.  The American experience transformed these cultural mores into a uniquely American product which is often unique to a specific geographical area.  Regions in America then influenced products produced in other regions.  The Snyder County Rifle is a case in point.  The first settlers within central Pennsylvania came from counties to the east, especially from those counties settled by the Pennsylvania Germans.  They brought their language, foods, religions, and methods of farming and manufacturing with them as they settled in a new region.  Berks County is undoubtedly one of the counties that had a lot of influence on the development of central Pa., and the Snyder County Rifle probably shares more features with Berks Co. Rifles than with any other school.  A real need for future research is to identify where the earliest gun makers apprenticed, where they were from, and who did they teach?  The shops of Samuel Baum would be a good starting point.  Who was his master and how many apprentices and journeymen did he influence throughout his career?  The Smith (Shmidt) and Dreisbach families were also early gunsmiths from central Pa. and undoubtedly had considerable influence on the development of regional characteristics.

There are probably three features that are more indicative of a rifle produced in central Pa. than any other.  First and foremost is the shape of the gun.  Sometimes it seems as though there was one pattern for the shape of the stock, and all Snyder County Rifles were cut from that single pattern.  This pattern has produced a very specific profile for Snyder County guns.  The top of the gun, above where your cheek would rest when shooting the gun, is called the “nose”.  If a line was drawn straight back from the top of the barrel to a point above the butt end of the gun, this line would not intersect the “nose” of the gun.  The distance from that line to the nose is known as the “drop”, and Snyder County rifles generally share this specific drop and stock pattern.  The second feature common to Snyder County rifles is the release button for the patchbox. Not all rifles have a patchbox, but those that do, have the patchbox release in the butt guard.  Both of these features seem to have a definite relationship to the Berks County School.  The third feature is common, but not found on all central Pennsylvania rifles.  That is the way the rear ramrod pipe was constructed.  Many area gun makers constructed this end pipe in two separate pieces and then fastened them together with a rivet.  The rivet is visible in the center of the ramrod pipe and is usually a reliable indicator of a rifle associated with Snyder County.  This technique continued to be used by the Laudenslager family in Ohio and was undoubtedly used by others after they left this area.

While many Snyder County rifles were never signed by their makers, those that were, most often were signed with initials in script.  The inability to read these script initials has often led to the wrong attribution on many rifles.  Fortunately, there were some makers who signed their entire name and some that even put the name of the town where they worked.  Other rifles have been found where the names or initials of two different gun makers have been found on the same gun.

While the Ewing presentation to the Snyder County Historical Society in 1965 will always be seen as the beginning of serious research on the gun makers of central Pennsylvania, much more has been learned in the past 40 years. Ewing identified sixty one gunsmiths or persons associated with the gun making industry in the area.  In recent years, that number has nearly doubled as additional gunsmiths associated with the area have been identified.  In addition, more information has been learned about gunsmiths that he identified.  In an attempt to bring more of this information together in one place, this compilation of gun makers associated with central Pa. is provided.  If nothing more of a gunsmith is known than was presented in Ewing's presentation, it is briefly recapped here.  Other names and information comes from tax lists in the Snyder County Courthouse, tax assessments in the Union County Courthouse, census lists, a list provided by Ronald Gabel for the Kentucky Rifle Association in the fall of 1986, from gunsmiths identified in The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle by Henry Kauffman, names found in American Gun Makers by Col. Arcadi Gluckman and L.D. Satterlee, Arms Makers of Pennsylvania by Dr. James B. Whisker, family information and research provided by Mark Loudenslager, and sometimes from a combination of these sources.  A few names come from other sources as noted.

While some of the gun makers that follow never created a gun that would fit into the “Snyder County School”, they all worked in the area, and therefore probably contributed to the rifle style that eventually developed.  This list includes gun makers who worked in Northumberland County before 1813 when Old Union (Union and Snyder today) and Old Columbia (Columbia and Montour today) Counties were separated from Northumberland County.  It must be assumed that these early gunsmiths had some influence on what would become the “Snyder County Style”.   An addendum includes gunsmiths from parts of Northumberland County after  1813 and other closely associated counties.  Since S.H. St.Clair and some of the Laudenslagers moved to Juniata Co., and several gunsmiths from western Snyder and Union Counties moved into Mifflin  and Centre Counties, some gunsmiths who worked in those areas are included in a second list of gun makers who should not be ignored when studying local rifles.

The same is true of Montour and Columbia Counties where the shop of Samuel Baum in Danville was the training ground for various gunsmiths.  As more of their guns are examined, some of these gun makers may be removed from this list as not being consistent with the “Snyder County Style”.  When dates are used immediately following the name, they indicate the time period when the gunsmith is believed to have been working.  The place following the working date is where they are known to have lived at some point.

Click here to continue alphabetically:

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 on: June 01, 2012, 07:40:17 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
Morrison,  Samuel – 1826-1843 – Milton, Pa. – Morrison was a fine maker and is known to have made some percussion rifles with a “mule ear” lock.  Several of his rifles are known to have beautiful pierced patchboxes and numerous inlays.  His earliest rifles are signed “S*M” in script while others are known that are signed in block letters “Samuel Morrison – Milton, Pa.” It is known that he also had a son Samuel, Jr. who was also a gunsmith who worked in both Milton and later in the state of Illinois.  It is possible that those rifles signed in block letters were made by Samuel, Jr.   Samuel, Sr. rifles show he was a fine maker and only as more of his rifles became available for study has his importance to the area become better known.  One of the unique features of some of his rifles are the lock bolt escutcheons he used.  Several of his early rifles show dog heads and geometric plates which don’t seem to have been used by other makers in the area.  Samuel also had a connection to Joe Long of Beaver Springs.  They may have apprenticed together or simply worked together.  It should also be noted that some of the Morrison rifles have similar characteristics to rifles made by William Filman who also worked in Milton.  What their relationship might have been is unknown.  He died in Milton on May 30, 1844.

Morrison,  Samuel Gun#1

Morrison,  Samuel Gun #2 "  Mule Ear" Lock  ( this Morrison, though Upper Upper Susquehanna in form, was probably made by Samuel Morrison, Jr while in Illinois)
Samuel Morrison mule-ear. It is recognizable as his work, but is considerably different than other Morrison rifles I have seen. I make no claims as to where he made it. As you know, he worked in both Pennsylvania and Illinois. The "back-action" mule ear lock, with internal mainspring, sort of sets it apart. Note that the lockplate is stepped to flow with the lines of the false lock panel. The vital statistics are:
Overall length - 50 3/4"
Barrel length - 37 1/8"
Width across flats - 7/8" at breech & muzzle with very slight swamp
Caliber - approximately .36
Rifling - 7 groove
Length of pull - 11 7/8"
Weight - 8 lbs. 7 oz.

Morrison,  Samuel Gun #3

UPDATE 11/6/09 -  Careful observation has revealed that the gun is signed "S M" in script. This in a worn area on the top flat.

No effort is being made to enhance or remove the patina in order to bring out the signature as it is felt that history is better served by leaving the gun as is.

Mule Ear Rifle is 52" in Total Length.  36" Barrel (Uncut as far as can be determined) Caliber .40+/-  Rifled. Rifle is exceptionally well made and balanced, though not a fancy rifle. Forged hammer is a Morrison hallmark as is the handcrafted lock assembly. Inlays and patchbox are typically Morrison.

Morrison,  Samuel Gun #4

Mosser, D.E. – unknown – Danville, Pa. – identified by Gluckman.
Mower – unknown – Columbia Co., Pa. – identified by Gluckman.

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 on: June 01, 2012, 07:30:47 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
1. Albright  ( attribution)                   ( Courtesy of Morphy's Auction)

2. Daniels, Andrew (Attribution) A gun shorterned by @ 10 inches

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 on: June 01, 2012, 07:28:56 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
Unknown  #1:   The barrel initials are two disimilar "Ls" ( not seen by us, just described, perhaps a typo for SL) and it is also stamped "Harry Rife" (Wonder if this is another "Laundenslager" ..."SL"...using a barrel from "Rife" as in the barrel signed "SL and Kiser."?)
                                  ( Courtesy of Morphy's Auction)

1. Unknown  #2:  Signed "David R. Porter" on Patchbox Door . David R. Porter was governor of Pennsylvanis from 1836-1840.

David R. Porter ( his portrait)

David R. Porter....his gun

6. Unknown #3      (Julia Auction 2008)

Unkown #4                  (Julia Auction 2008)

Unknown Maker #5

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 on: June 01, 2012, 07:17:57 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
St.Clair, Samuel H. – 1823/49 – Union/Jackson Township, Snyder Co. / Walker Township, Juniata Co. – St.Clair was the uncle of Samuel and William Laudenslager and John George Ulrich. He was born in 1793 and died in 1849.  In 1835 and in 1838 he was assessed as a gunsmith in Union Township.  He owned 58 acres and lived along the Penn’s Creek very close to New Berlin.  He made carved and inlayed rifles of very high quality.  Ewing faults him for the fact that his work wasn’t varied, and he evidently instilled this sameness into the work of his nephews. More recent scholars daisagree with Ewing and do NOT see that "sameness" in St. Clairs work . Their work also exhibits nice carving and ornate and engraved patchboxes, but the designs are often much like St.Clair’s.  Because of his proximity to the Baums and Smiths in New Berlin, more research needs to be done on the influence either of them might have had on St.Clair.  Later in life he moved to Kratzerville            ( Synder Co). where Samuel Laudenslager and John George Ulrich are also known to have lived.  At least one rifle is known that is signed by both St.Clair and Laudenslager.

St.Clair, Samuel H. Gun #1

St.Clair, Samuel H. Gun #2
The unusual features of this gun:
a. Eagle finial patchbox
b. Signature is present in 3 places : barrel flat, cheek piece , in the carving.

Stewart – unknown – Lewistown, Pa. – noted by Gluckman.
Straub, John – 1847-1923 – Monroe Township – Gabel identifies him as having worked in the percussion period. Gluckman and Whisker noted he specialized in heavy target rifles and showed good workmanship.

John Try – ca. 1880/90 – Adams Township – He made half stock rifles that show a plainness that is typical of late period guns.
  Ulrich, John George – ca. 1860 – Juniata Co. /Monroe Township, Snyder Co. – George was born in 1820 the son of Samuel Ulrich.  His mother was a sister to the wife of S.H. St.Clair from whom he probably learned the gunsmithing trade. He is also known to have worked with his cousin Samuel Laudenslager.  In 1850, Ulrich was living in Walker Township, Juniata Co., next to Samuel Laudenslager.  By 1860 he was assessed as a gunsmith in Monroe Township, Snyder County. At least one rifle in known that is signed by Samuel Laudenslager on the top of the barrel and “J.G.U.” on the bottom of the same barrel.  Ulrich’s work looks very much like the work of Samuel Laudenslager and shows the same attention to detail with pierced patchboxes and nice brass work often going up the nose of the rifle.  He signed his guns in script “JG+U”.

Ulrich, John George Gun #1

Unagst, Isaac – ca. 1850 – West Beaver Township – Isaac was 38 in 1850 and was listed in tax records as a gunsmith.  His work has not been identified.

"J.W." Barrel signature ( Wetzel, Watt, Huh??)  (Morphys Auction)

Walkey, Samuel (Walker) – ca. 1850 – Snyder County – Gabel identifies him as a gunsmith working during the percussion period.  Gluckman noted he “made fine Snyder Co., Pa. style, inlaid percussion Kentucky rifles.”
Watt, J. - unknown-Juniata Co., PA – there were possibly several members of the Watt family that made rifles in McVeytown area in the flintlock through the percussion period.
  Weirack (Wairick), William () – 1832/40 – Center Township (Centerville) – none of his work has been identified.
Wetzel, Henry – ca. 1850 – Middlecreek Township – In 1861 he was assessed as a “sickelsmith”.  Other records called him a gun barrel maker.  Sickles and other tools, including a hoof knife, have been found in the county with his name signed on the tool.  He was 59 in 1850.

Wetzel, Jonathan – 1826/45 – Center/Jackson Township – Wetzel lived close to New Berlin on the Snyder Co. side of the Penns Creek.  The road where he lived is today Broadway Road.  He was assessed in the 1829, 1833, and 1835 assessments as living in Center Township and was living in a log house with a barn and two cattle along the “Middlecreek”.  This might indicate that he only moved to the New Berlin area later in life.  He was the brother of Henry and according to tradition; he made his rifles from barrels produced by his brother. His guns are hard to locate, but one rifle that was originally flintlock, shows nice incised carving but no patch box.  He signed the rifle, “J. Wetzel” in script.  Other guns by him are signed “J W” and show nice patchboxes and inlays.

Wetzel, Johnathan  Gun #1

Wiker, Adam – ca. 1820 – Hartley Township, Union Co. – none of his work is known.
Worley, John G. – ca. 1848 – Beaver Township – Ewing identified him as a gun barrel maker.

  Young, A. – 1830/50 – Middleburg – one gun made by him was sold over the internet in 2004.  The rifle was signed “A Y” and was identified as being made in Snyder County.  A search of tax assessment records from 1829 to 1841 for all of Snyder County did not locate any gunsmiths named “Young”.  It is known that some of the Young gunsmiths later worked in Centre Co.  Known Young rifles all show typical Snyder County architecture.

Young, D. – c. 1840 – Middleburg – a rifle made by him is in the collection of the Snyder Co. Historical Society.  This rifle indicates that he was a fine maker.  He was mentioned in Smith’s article for the Snyder County Historical Society. He probably later worked in Centre County. The information on this rifle states: The information on the gun identifies it as: “ made by Daniel Young, Middleburg, Pa.  45” barrel, 12” stock decorated with flowers and ornaments bronze and silver inlayed fish on the barrel engraved on the firing mechanism: J&W Aston Abranter”
Young, Joe – ca. 1820 – Middleburg area? - There were several gunsmiths with the same name.  Evidently some of them also signed their guns “Joe Young”.  At least one worked in Virginia, one in eastern Pa. and one in Ohio.  It is possible that the Joe Young associated with Snyder County came from one of these other areas or possibly moved to one of these other areas later.  How the Young gunsmiths are related is unknown.

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 on: June 01, 2012, 06:03:15 PM 
Started by Fred Garner - Last post by Fred Garner
Parks, Sr.,John . – 1820-1841 – Center/Penn Township – In 1833 he was living in Center Township on land owned by Henry Ritter. He is also known to have lived briefly in Huntingdon and Clearfield Counties. Ewing indicates that he worked in the flint and percussion period and produced rifles with incised carving.  One rifle by Parks is known which shows some very unusual fake tiger maple striping.  While it has no carving, it does have a very nice patchbox and inlay work.  Two guns by Parks were apparently made as a set.  William G. Herrold had a gun made by Parks and his name was engraved on the patchbox cover.  Herrold adopted Mish Hanselman who later became a colonel during the Civil War.  He had a second rifle made to match the first with the exception of the name of Mish engraved on the patchbox. Neither of these rifles had any carving.  He signed his work   “J * P”.  A rifle made by him is in the collection of the Packwood House Museum collection in Lewisburg.

Parks Sr, John Gun#1                                                                     ( Pictures from Julia Auction )

Parks Sr. , John Gun #2

Gun#3 John Parks, Sr                          (Courtesy Morphy's Auction)

Parks, Jr,  John – 1843-1876 – Penn Township/Selinsgrove – He probably learned the trade from his father and was a very capable gunsmith. One of his rifles sold in 2011 that had over 100 silver inlays. Some of his guns were signed “J.P. Jr.”  He was 34 in 1850.

Rate, Jacob – ca. 1861 – White Deer Twp., Union Co.  Identified by Whisker.
Riling, John – unknown – Juniata Valley, Pa. - Gluckman identifies as having worked during the percussion period.
Rothrock, Jr, Edward – 1890-1930 – Middlecreek Twp. – He was the last gun maker to work in the area.  He was born in 1872 and died Jan. 1, 1934.
Rothrock, Sr., Edward – ca. 1870 – Middlecreek Twp. - He was identified in the census of 1870 and 1880 as a gunsmith.
Roup – unknown – Mifflinburg – Gluckman identifies him and a J. Roop who worked in Bellefonte, Pa. ca. 1860.

Roush, David – ca. 1826 – Freeburg – at least one of his rifles is highly inlayed and shows he was a very capable gunsmith.  His family went to the same church as the Moor family and possibly it was Roush that taught Adam Moor the gun trade.  He was born in 1799.
Row, Edward – ca. 1854 – Penn Township – None of his guns have been identified, but there may be a connection between the Row and Laudenslager family.  This is an area for future investigation.
Row, Elias – 1845-1865 – Penn Township – Ewing stated that he signed his percussion rifles either “E.R.” or “E. Row”.
Row, Jacob – 1842-1860 – Penn Township – Ewing did not indicate that he knew of any rifles by this gun maker, but did suggest that he later worked in the county as a blacksmith.

"GS"  Either George Smith or G. Spangle
Debate remains amongst collectors and owners as to who "GS" stands for.
( 6.26.12)

"SS"   ( possibly Samuel St.Clair)    (Courtesy of Morphy's Auction) If you can identify this maker with certainty, please contact us

Schaefer, Joseph (Shafer) – 1760/1800 – Snyder Co., Pa. – Gluckman identifies him as a “maker of early rifles of Snyder Co., Pa., style and fine workmanship…..”  His rifles show he was a fine maker and because he signed his guns in script, they have been at times attributed to Joe Long.

Schaefer, Joseph  Gun #1

Schaefer, Joseph Gun #2

Siegfried (Sifred), John– ca. 1850 – Center Township - In 1850 he was 31 years old and was assessed as a gun barrel maker.  He probably never made any guns.  He employed Elick and Edward Bishop who were 17 in 1850.  In 1860, Edward was living on the property of gunsmith George Boyer.
Siegfred, Alescander H. – ca. 1860 – (Salem) Penn Township – Until this gun surfaced in 6.2012, none of his guns were known.

Slauffer, Franklin – ca. 1850 – New Berlin – He was identified as a gunsmith by the New Berlin Heritage Association.  None of his work has been identified.
Smith (Shmidt) ,Catherine – ca.1780 – White Deer – The Widow Catharine Smith is a well documented maker of gun barrels at her mill in White Deer Township.  Several sources identify her as having been married to Peter Smith while living in Berks County, and they had several sons who later became gunsmiths.  Peter died in 1773.  Whisker states that the Specht gunsmiths of Beavertown were descended from the Widow Smith.  The birth and baptismal certificate of Elias Specht states that his mother was a Shmidt (the German variation of Smith).  This would indicate that the Widow Catharine Shmidt came out of the German gun making tradition and some descendants continued to use the German form of Smith well into the 1820’s.  Many of the areas finest gunsmiths seem to have a connection to the White Deer area, and it may be because of the Shmidt/Smith family.  As some of this area (Gregg Twp.) was at times in Lycoming County and later in Union County, it has not always been included in research of the Union and Snyder County areas.
George Smith – 1795-1826 – New Berlin – Ewing stated that he was the finest gunsmith who worked in the area.  He signed his work “G.S.” and his guns show nice carving and nice brass work.  He was a very early maker in the area, and his work should be studied for the features common to the Snyder County School.  He probably worked for a time in Buffalo Township.
Smith, Jacob –ca. 1820 – Beaver Township – He was born in 1763 and died in 1847. Whisker suggests that he was possibly a son of Peter and Catherine Smith as he was born in Berks County.  At least one of his rifles ranks among the best ever made in the area.  
Peter Smith, Jr. – ca. 1830 - New Berlin, Union Co. /Mifflin Co., /Huntingdon Co. – He was born in 1796 and several sources identify him as a gunsmith.  He made rifles with fine carving and brass inlays. Ewing stated he made fine rifles and later moved to Centre Co., Pa.  He had a son named Peter who worked as a gunsmith in Huntingdon Co.
Smith, Sr., Peter – 1798-1833- Sunbury, Northumberland Co./Lewistown, Mifflin Co./Wayne Co., Ohio – He was born in 1756 in Berks Co. and was the son of Peter and Catherine Smith. In 1800 he was listed as a gunsmith in New Berlin.  Adam Specht was also listed as a resident of New Berlin in 1800.  Smith would have been one of the earliest gunsmiths in the area, and probably had a lot of influence on the development of rifles in the area.  Whisker states that his daughter Catherine married Adam Specht.


Smither Gun #1

Snyder, Charles – unknown – Watsontown, Northumberland Co. – While researching deeds of a farm on the edge of town, part of the records indicated that Snyder was the builder of the stone home and his occupation was a gunsmith.  None of his guns have been identified.
Snyder, Ira –Woodward, Union Co., Pa. – 1860 - Identified by Gluckman as having worked in the percussion period.  Whisker states that he later worked in Haines Twp., Centre Co.
Specht, Sr., Adam – ca. 1810 – New Berlin/Beaver Township – He was born in 1784 and died in 1872.  Whisker states that he married Catherine, the daughter of Peter Smith and granddaughter of Widow Catherine Smith.  The baptismal certificate of Elias states that his mother was the daughter of John.  Perhaps Peter’s full name was John Peter Shmidt.  Adam was both a potter and a gunsmith. At least one of his guns ranks among the best ever produced in the region.  Adam is buried in the Beavertown Cemetery.

Specht Sr., Adam – ca. 1810 – New Berlin/Beaver Township – He was born in 1784 and died in 1872.  Whisker states that he married Catherine, the daughter of Peter Smith and granddaughter of Widow Catherine Smith.  The baptismal certificate of Elias states that his mother was the daughter of John.  Perhaps Peter’s full name was John Peter Shmidt.  Adam was both a potter and a gunsmith. At least one of his guns ranks among the best ever produced in the region.  Adam is buried in the Beavertown Cemetery.
Specht, Adam – ca. 1850 – Beaver Township – He signed some of his work “A. Specht” and was a fine maker of flint and percussion rifles.  He was born in 1823 and died in1891. It is probable that some of his work has been confused with that of his father.  Whisker identifies a gunsmith named “Arthur” and it is possible that this is the same as Adam.
Specht,Elias – ca. 1860 – Beaver Township – His baptismal certificate indicates he was born March 25, 1820, the son of Adam Specht and Catharina Shmidt.  He seems to have been a prolific maker, signing his work “E.S.” or “E.Specht”.  While some of his guns are very plain, others show a lot of inlays.  Ewing noted that he also made swivel breech rifles.  He died in 1890.

  Specht, Moses – ca. 1840/50 – Beaver Township – He was born in 1818 and died in 1895.  It is assumed that Adam, Elias, and Moses were all sons of Adam and Catherine Specht.  Ewing holds Moses to be one of the areas best gunsmiths who produced highly inlayed rifles.  By 1860 he was assessed as a merchant and possibly made guns as a sideline.  Gluckman notes a “Moah” Spect in Bellville, Pa. who made over-under percussion rifles.

Specht, Moses Gun #1

Specht, Moses   Gun #2 ( Attribution)

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