Biographical information on the gunsmith Benjamin Vore

Introduction: Benjamin Vore is known as a Bedford and Somerset County gunsmith from tax records, a contemporaneous newspaper article, and surviving guns.

1785: According to the Blackburn Family Association, Benjamin Franklin Vore's father was born on June 5, 1785 and died August 24, 1862 and was also named Benjamin Vore, and his mother was Eve Blackburn who was born circa 1785 and died around the 1822 to 1826 timeframe.

1814: According to the Blackburn Family Association, Benjamin Franklin Vore was born January 14, 1814. The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker & Yantz indicates that the gunsmith Benjamin Vore was born on January 5, 1814 on his father's Napier Township, Bedford County farm. Calculating from the information in his obituary, he was born on January 13, 1814.

1830: In an article titled "Somerset County Gunmakers and Smiths" in the November 1982 issue of the "Laurel Messenger", Vaughn E. Whisker indicates that the gunsmith Benjamin Vore's parents moved to Somerset County in 1830, where he learned gunsmithing. He would have turned 16 years old in January of 1830. The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Benjamin Vore's father moved to or near Kantner, Somerset County circa 1830. Kantner is about 2,000 feet east of Stoystown. Here is the relevant excerpt from the November 1982 issue of the "Laurel Messenger":

The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" estimates Benjamin Franklin Vore's size as six foot, two inches in height and about 220 pounds in weight. According to the Blackburn Family Association, Benjamin Franklin Vore married Eliza Beaver (Born March 12, 1815, died January 2, 1897), and they had the following children:

  • George Vore, who was born and died in 1835
  • Rebecca J. Vore, who was born March 31, 1836 and died on May 29, 1892
  • Emanuel Vore, who was born and died in 1838
  • Nathaniel Vore, who was born and died in 1840
  • Savina E. Vore, who was born July 19 1841 and died January 7, 1907
  • Benjamin Franklin Vore, who was born in 1844 and died in 1857
  • John Vore, who was born and died in 1845
  • Joseph H. Vore, who was born in November 1846
  • Catherine L. Vore, who was born February 9, 1849 and died July 19, 1929
  • Ruby Elmira Vore, who was born March 1852 and died in 1929
  • Charles A. Vore, who was born 23 April 23, 1855 and died June 11, 1920
  • Martha A. Vore, who was born in 1858 and died October 20, 1882

    The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that sometime after marriage, Benjamin Vore procured a farm near New Baltimore, on the old Breastworks Road, and later moved onto a farm that was located near Oakland Maryland. Click here to see analysis of the few suitable farm sites along Breastwork Run.

    1835: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Benjamin Vore was enumerated in the 1835 Napier Township, Bedford County tax list. The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" says Benjamin "Fore" was on the 1835 tax list of Napier Township with a value of $9.00.

    1836 to 1839: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Benjamin Vore is identified as a gunsmith in the 1836, 1838, and 1839 tax rolls of Elk Lick Township, Somerset County. Here's what Vaughn E. Whisker wrote in an article titled "Co. Had 30 Gunmakers-Gunsmiths" in the November 1971 issue of the "Laurel Messenger":

    1840: In the 1840 federal census for Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, the household of Benjamin Vore has one male and one female in the 20 to 30 year age bracket and one male and one female in the under five years age bracket. This is harmonious with the family of the gunsmith Benjamin Franklin Vore. He would have been about 26 years old in 1840.

    1840-1848: The Whisker's 1983 booklet indicates that Benjamin Franklin Vore had a shop on the turnpike road between Bedford and Stoystown from 1840 to 1848. This is harmonious with living in Stonycreek Township in 1840.

    1850-1878: The Whisker's 1983 booklet indicates that Benjamin Franklin Vore was operating a stave and shook factory in Oakland, Maryland in the 1850 to 1878 timeframe. Based on the information presented below, the 1850 date seems much too early for Vore to be at Oakland. Staves are used for making barrels and casks, and shook is used for roofing.

    1852: The following obituary of Benjamin and Eliza Davis's daughter Elmira (Vore) Davis indicates she was born "at Somerset" in 1852, and indicates that she and her parents moved to Bedford County when she "was quite young". Elmira's husband was the gunsmith Casper Ealy Davis.

    1858: A secondary source indicates that Martha "Mattie" Vore was born in Shade Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania in 1858.

    1860: In the 1860 federal census of Shade Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania Benjamin Vore is enumerated as a saw miller with real estate valued at $600.00 and personal property valued at $250.00. In his household are 45-year-od Eliza, 19 year old Levenia, 14 year old Joseph, 11 year old Catherine, 8 year old Elmira, 5 year old Charles, 2 year old Martha, and 77 year old Abraham Beaver.

    1861: The following excerpt from the Napier Township portion of the 1861 Walker map of Bedford County, Pennsylvania shows the residence of Benjamin Vore, Sr., the father of the gunsmith Benjamin Franklin Vore. This may not be Benjamin Franklin Vore's boyhood home, because it is said that Benjamin Vore, Sr. moved to Somerset County for awhile.

    1862: The following items from the August 29, 1862 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper relate to the death of the father of the gunsmith Benjamin Franklin Vore:

    1870: Benjamin Vore is enumerated in the 1870 federal census of Allegany County, Maryland with 55 year old Eliza, 18 year old Almia, 15 year old Charles, 12 year old Martha, 4 month old Tabitha, and 88 year old Abraham Beaver. Oakland is now in Garrett County, Maryland but Garrett County wasn't formed until 1872.

    1879-1884: The Whisker's 1983 booklet puts Benjamin Franklin Vore at his daughter and his son-in-law's New Paris residence from 1879 to 1884. The 1953 edition of Gluckman's "American Gun Makers" puts Benny Vore in New Paris during the percussion era.

    1880: The following article from the September 21, 1906 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper identifies Benjamin Vore as being a New Paris gunsmith on April 23, 1880:

    After 1882: The following article in the September 21, 1906 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper indicates that Benjamin Vore served on the town council of New Paris sometime after the first election, which was in 1882.

    The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" indicates that the son-in-law that Benjamin Vore moved in with at New Paris was Casper Ealy Davis, who was also a gunsmith.

    1885: The following death notice from the August 5, 1885 issue of the "Somerset Herald" newspaper is for a Benjamin Vore who (calculating from the stated date of death) was born on January 13, 1814 and died on July 18, 1885 at New Paris.

    1885: According to the Blackburn Family Association, Benjamin Franklin Vore died July 18, 1885, is buried in the Lambertsville Cemetery. (The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Benjamin Vore died on July 3, 1886 while living with his daughter and his son-in-law at New Paris, and was interred at Lambertsville. (That death date appears to be incorrect.)

    1885: Benjamin Vore is buried in the Lambertsville Cemetery (40.07537266, -78.90890388), which is near Lambertsville, in StonyCreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. His tombstone states: "Benjamin Vore died July 18, 1885 aged 71ys. 6ms. & 5 ds."

    1889: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Benjamin Franklin Vore is identified as a gunsmith in the 1889 tax roll of New Paris, Bedford County, used typical Bedford County-style hand-made locks, and made untypically long guns. I suspect that 1889 is just a date mistake, perhaps misreading an 1880 date in some hand-written notes.

    1897: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that the gunsmith Benjamin Vore moved to New Paris after his wife died. This cannot be correct because his wife survived him by more than a decade, and died January 2, 1897. She is also buried in the Lambertsville Cemetery.

    The following photo of Benjamin Franklin Vore was provided by the Johnson family. The referenced Catherine Vore married Henry Johnson. They are buried in the Stoystown IOOF cemetery.

    The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" indicates that the earlier guns that were made by Benjamin Franklin Vore have large hand-made locks, Bedford County-style patchboxes and general lines, while the guns that he made later in his life lack patch boxes and have locks of an unusual style with the initials B.V."

    Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" reports that the gunsmith Benjamin F. Vore advertised himself as DeVore when he was in Somerset County, and identifies Whisker as the source of the information.

    Work product:

  • VORE, Benjamin, percussion rifle
  • A rifle attributed to Benjamin Vore is shown on page 355 of Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle">. The rifle has a rat tail lock with a graceful Bedford County-style hammer and a patch box with a Q-shaped finial.
  • A swivel breach percussion double rifle by Benjamin Franklin Vore is shown in the Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania". The patch box has a Q-shaped finial.

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