Huntingdon & Somerset county gunsmith Abraham Megahan

Introduction: In 1876, Abraham Megahan lived the town of Somerset, Pennsylvania and appears on the tax roll as a gunsmith. Prior to that, he was a gunsmith in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania during at least the 1850 to 1873 timeframe. He was born circa 1816 in Pennsylvania. By 1885 he was a Confectioner in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he lived at the same address as three of his adult children. He died at his son Uriah's house in Philadelphia in 1900.

Circa 1816-1817: Calculating from the limited information in his obituary, Abraham Megahan was born circa 1816. Based on the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses, he was born circa 1816-1817.

Circa 1817: Based on the age given in her obituary, Sarah, wife of Abraham Megahan, was born circa 1817.

1839: The 1850 census suggests that Abraham Megahan had a daughter named Rebecca who was born circa 1839.

1840: The following excerpt is from the 1840 census of Walker Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

Circa 1841: The following excerpt from the 1930 book "McElroy's Family Memories" indicates that Louise Megahan's father was a gunsmith and he made guns, and indicates that she married George Johnson and died at 66 in September of 1907. This, and the census records included below, make Louise's birth circa 1841. The referenced Roxborough is a neighborhood in Philadelphia that is located on the northwest side of town.

Circa 1842: The 1850 and 1860 censuses suggest that Abraham Megahan had a daughter named Mary M. who was born circa 1841-1842. Mary Megahan is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery, where Abraham Megahan is buried in Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Her death certificate indicates she was born on February 22, 1852 but I think that is off by about ten years because she appears in the 1850 census.

1842: Abraham and Sarah Megahan participated in the council to organize the Huntingdon Baptist church in 1842. Click here to read the relevant excerpt from the 1883 book "History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania".

1845: The 1850 census suggests that Abraham Megahan had a daughter named Drusilla who was born circa 1845. Drusilla is buried at the Old Stone Church Cemetery in Huntingdon County, where her tombstone inscription includes the statement, "Drusilla daughter of Abraham & Sarah Megahan died March 29, 1858" and indicates she died at the age of 12.

Circa 1847: The 1870 census suggests that Abraham Megahan had a daughter named Matilda who was born circa 1847.

1849: The 1850 and 1860 censuses suggest that Abraham Megahan had a son named Uriah who was born circa 1849. According to his obituary, quoted farther below, Abraham died at Uriah's house in Philadelphia in 1900. In the 1900 census of Philadelphia, Uriah's birth is recorded as January 1849. The birth certificate of Uriah's son Abraham B. Megahan indicates that Uriah was born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Uriah Megahan is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery, where Abraham Megahan is buried, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

1850: A web page about Jacob Megahan indicates he was born May 8, 1783 in Ireland and died on May 29, 1850 in Walker Township of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The website names ten children, including Lydia who was born in 1805 and died in 1876, Abraham who was born in 1816 and died in 1900, and Benjamin who was born in 1819 and died in 1862. Lydia and Benjamin are mentioned in two items that are included farther below, and help to establish that Jacob Megahan was the father of the gunsmith Abraham Megahan. A Lydia Megahan who died in 1876 married a David Householder who died on September 15, 1869, and as Administrator of David Householder's estate Abraham Megahan had prepared a final estate account by December 13, 1871. On July 27, 1853 a newspaper notice mentions Benjamin and Abraham Megahan as Executors of the Will of the Jacob Megahan who had lived in Walker Township.

1850: In the 1850 federal census of Penn Township, Huntingdon County, Abraham Magahan is enumerated as a 34-year-old gunsmith. Also living in his household are 33-year-old Sarah A., 11 year-old Rebecca, 9-year-old Louisia, 8-year-old Mary, 5-year-old Druscilla, and 1-year-old Uriah. Kaufman briefly reports on this census entry in his 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle".

1850-1870: George Washington Megahan, who I believe is Abraham Megahan's brother, appears in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses of Berlin Borough, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. I wonder if Washington influenced Abraham's decision to move to Somerset County in the 1870s.

Circa 1851: The 1860 and 1870 censuses suggest that Abraham Megahan had a son named David who was born circa 1851. This may be the David Megahan who is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery, where Abraham Megahan is buried, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

1853: The following excerpt is from the July 27, 1853 issue of the "Huntingdon Journal" newspaper:

1854: The 1860 census suggests that Abraham Megahan had a son named John who was born circa 1855. John R. Megahan is buried in the Wyuka Cemetery in Lancaster County, Nebraska, where his tombstone indicates he was born in 1854 and died in 1922. A web page about John Reboah Megahan's wife Margaret Elizabeth Holderbaum indicates that her father and mother and ten of her siblings are buried at the Union Cemetery in Somerset, Pennsylvania. This suggests that John may have met Margaret when his father Abraham lived in Somerset in the 1870s. The same web page indicates that Margaret was a daughter of John M. and Julia C. (Imhoff) Holderbaum, which makes her the sister of James B. Holderbaum, whose hardware store advertised gunsmithing services during the 1884 to 1893 timeframe.

Circa 1856: The 1860 and 1870 censuses suggest that Abraham Megahan had a son named Milton who was born circa 1856. Milton's marriage license application indicates he was born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania and his father's name was Abraham Megahan.

1857: A notice in the October 21, 1857 issue of the "Huntington Globe" newspaper includes the following: "I will expose to Public Sale or outcry at the court House in the Borough of Huntingdon on Monday the 9th Day of November 1857, the following described real estate to wit ... one lot of ground situate in the town of Markleysburg Penn township fronting on The Road leading from Huntingdon to Bedford ... having thereon erected a two Story log Frame House Weather boarded and plastered and a Frame shop plastered ... inside. Seized and taken in execution and to be sold as the property of Abraham Megahan." The quoted text was OCR-generated, and the ellipsises identify places in the text where I wasn't sure what the words or phrases were.

1858: According to her tombstone, Abraham & Sarah Megahan's daughter Drusilla died on March 29, 1858 at the age of 12. She is buried in the Old Stone Church Cemetery near Marklesburg in Huntingdon County.

1860: In the 1860 federal census of Penn Township, Huntingdon County, Abraham Megahan is enumerated as a 43-year-old gunsmith with real estate valued at $300.00 and personal property valued at $100.00. Also living in his household are 42-year-old Sarah, 20-year-old Rebecca, 19-year-old Louisia, 17-year-old Mary M., 11-year-old Uriah, 9-year-old David, 5-year-old John R., and 4-year-old Milton.

1870: In the 1870 federal census of Penn Township, Huntingdon County, Abraham Megahan is enumerated as a 53-year-old gunsmith with personal property valued at $250.00 and real estate valued at $800.00. Also living in his household are 52-year-old Sarah, 23-year-old Matilda, 19-year-old David, and 14-year-old Milton.

1871: The following excerpt is from the December 13, 1871 issue of the "Huntingdon Journal" newspaper. It shows Abraham Megahan serving as the Administrator of the estate of David Householder.

The following excerpt from the 1897 book "Commemorative biographical encyclopedia of the Juniata Valley" provides biographical information on David Householder, who appears to have been Abraham Megahan's brother-in-law:

1873: The following image is from the 1873 "Atlas of Blair and Huntingdon Counties Pennsylvania", and identifies the house and gunsmith shop of A. McGahan in Marklesburg:

In the following photo, the house on the right is located on Abraham Megahan's 1873 Marklesburg lot. The gun shop is no longer there, and the house does not appear to be the one that is illustrated on the 1873 map.

The following excerpt is from the 1876 book "History of Huntingdon County". The excerpt makes it clear that the gunsmith Abraham Megahan lived in the Marklesburg house for many years, but was no longer living in there in 1876.

1876: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker and Yantz indicates that Abraham McGahan is identified as a gunsmith on the 1876 tax list of the borough of Somerset.

1876: The following image is from the Somerset Borough portion of the 1876 "County Atlas of Somerset Pennsylvania". It shows the residence of A. McGahan on Main Street, near East Street. The house would have been a few yards south of 40.008376, -79.075944.

1880: I did not find Abraham Megahan in the 1880 census of Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

1884: An article in the June 28, 1884 issue of the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette" newspaper indicates that Milton Megahan has undertaken an expensive upgrade to his property on East Fourth Street. As shown below, Abraham Megahan was living with his son Milton on East Fourth Street in 1885.

1885: In the 1885 "Boyd's Williamsport City Directory", Abraham, David C., Mary M., and Milton Megahan are all living together at 32 East Fourth Street, Abraham is working as a Confectioner at 99 Market Street, David is a Clerk at the same address, and Mary and Milton are working at 64 West Fourth Street. This Abraham Megahan cannot be Uriah Megahan's son because that Abraham Megahan was only about 11-years-old in 1885.

The following excerpt is from the Williamsport map in the 1873 atlas of Lycoming County. The red dot identifies 32 East Fourth Street, where Abraham Megahan and his children David C. Megahan, Mary M. Megahan, and Milton Megahan were living in 1885. In 2021 the lot is the site of the brick City Church building.

The following excerpt from the 1891 Sandborn Fire Insurance map of Williamsport is annotated with a red arrow to identify the building that was located at 32 East Fourth Street in 1891, six years after the Megahans are known to have lived there. The site is presently (2021) occupied by the City Church building.

1897: The following excerpt from the 1897 book "Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of the Juniata Valley..." puts Abraham Megahan in Williamsport in 1897 and describes the ancestry of his wife Sarah.

1900: The obituary of Abraham Megahan in the May 21, 1900 issue of the "Daily Gazette & Bulletin" states, "Abraham Megahan died suddenly Friday at the home of his son Uriah of Philadelphia of dropsy. The end came at 7 o'clock when he slept peacefully away. He was 84 years old and is survived by his widow, Uriah, Milton Megahan and Rebo of Lincoln Nebraska and three daughters. The funeral took place yesterday with interment in Wildwood Cemetery." The Wildwood Cemetery is located at 41.25403007, -77.03091061 in Williamsport, which is in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. The referenced son called Rebo is John Reboah Megahan, who was born in 1854.

The following excerpt from "Gopsill's Philadelphia City Directory, for 1900" shows that Uriah Megahan was living at 3213 Monument Avenue with his sons Harry K. Megahan and Raymond W. Megahan in 1900. This address is south-southeast of Roxborough.

1908: The obituary of Abraham's widow Sarah Megahan appears in the April 13, 1908 issue of the "Daily Gazette & Bulletin" newspaper, and states, "Mrs. Sarah Megahan, died at her home in Philadelphia of old age on Friday. She was the widow of Abraham, a resident of this city for many years. She was aged 91 years. The remains will be brought to this city on the Buffalo Express with burial in Wildwood Cemetery."

Work product:

  • I've seen photos of an Abraham Megahan full stock percussion rifle signed "A*M" in script on the 34 caliber 34-1/4-inch-long, 7/8-inch hex barrel, and have heard that a number of his rifles survive.
  • A December 25, 2016 article titled "Carefully culled collection up for grabs Jan. 2 in Somerset" describes an Abraham Megahan percussion rifle that was to be auctioned. It is described as having a maple stock and 29 silver inlays including perched eagle inlays and inlays that are similar to the hex symbols of the Pennsylvania "Dutch".
  • MEGAHAN, Abraham, percussion rifle

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