William R. "Billy" Border, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: Page 9 of the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" briefly references Billy Border, a son of the gunsmith Daniel B. Border. The book mentions that Vaughn Whisker once visited Billy's shop, which was in the borough of Bedford on Juliana Street, and there saw an excellent Bedford-style long rifle Billy had recently made. The book also mentions a lock plate with a rat-tail the author attributed to Billy because it was marked with the initials "BB". The book also tells the story of a time when Billy experienced financial difficulty and pawned an excellent Bedford County-style rifle to long-rifle aficionado "Judge" Davidson. Davidson eventually claimed ownership of the rifle after Billy borrowed additional money from him.

1869: According to his tombstone and an obituary, W.R. Border ("Billy") was born on July 18, 1869. Here is an outline of how I currently understand the members of the Border family who were gunsmiths in Bedford County (including Rebecca Border's husband John Amos):

1880: The following excerpt from the 1880 census shows ten-year-old Billy in the household of his father Daniel Border:

1874: According to her obituary and tombstone, Mrs. William Border was born November 19, 1874.

1897: According to an obituary (summarized below) of William Border, he and Carrie Emma Imler were married on January 21, 1897. By my calculation, he was 27 years old at the time.

1897-1900: Ruth E. Border's tombstone at the Bedford Cemetery, which she shares with her grandfather Daniel Border and others, states: "Ruth E. daughter of W.R. & C. Border Born: Nov. 7, 1897 Died: May 21, 1900". A notice in the May 25, 1900 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper states, "Ruth, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Border, died Tuesday night, of membraneous croup. Ruth was a, bright, interesting little girl and a general favorite. She was in her third year."

1900: The following excerpt is from the 1900 census, and shows Billy and his wife living in the home of Billy's mother, whose occupation is "jewelry store".

1900: The following entry is from the 1900 directory of Bedford County:

1910: The following excerpt is from the 1910 census and indicates Billy is a repairer of watches, clocks, etc.

1911: William R. Border, Jr. shares a tombstone with his wife Margorie at the Bedford Cemetery, where his part of their shared tombstone indicates he was born in July of 1911 and died on June 22, 1975.

1915: The April 23, 1915 and May 7, 1915 issues of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper contain an item that states "Billy Border wants everybody to know that he has opened a repair shop in the Fisher House Building, South Richard Street. Send Billy a postcard and he will call for your work."

The following image from the 1912 Sanborn map of Bedford shows the location of the Fisher House. North is generally toward the top of the image.

1920: The February 6, 1920 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper includes the statement, William R. Border made a business trip to Altoona on Saturday.

1926: The following image is from William R. Border's 1926 patent "Auxiliary drill chuck for braces", U.S. Patent No. 1,582,445. His son William R. Border, Jr. went on to become an inventor too; see U.S. Patent 3,377,752 and U.S. Patent 2,985,040.

1930: The following excerpt is from the 1930 census, and indicates Billy is a repairman.

According to the obituary of William R. Border, Jr. he was in the Navy for nine years. In the following item from the June 10, 1932 issue of the "Bedford Gazette", William R. Border has already been in the Navy three years, and is home visiting his parents.

1937: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" states that reportedly, in 1937, Billy Border resided in Derry, Pennsylvania. Derry is in Westmoreland County.

1937: Billy Border is buried with his wife in the Bedford Cemetery (40.02652830, -78.50118275) in the town of Bedford, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The shared tombstone states, "W. R. Border born: July 18, 1869 died: Nov. 1, 1937 C. E. Border wife of W. R. Border born: Nov. 19, 1874 died: Nov. 4, 1964".

1937: An obituary of William Border in the November 3, 1937 issue of the "Altoona Mirror" newspaper indicates that:

  • He married Carrie Emma Imler on January 21, 1897, and was survived by her.
  • He was a member of the P.O.S. Of A. (Patriotic Sons of America)
  • He had unusual mechanical ability.
  • For many years he was associated with his goldsmith father Daniel Border.
  • He was survived by a daughter Ethel (registered nurse), a daughter Margarerite (Chambersburg teacher), and sons Edgar and William R. Jr. (living at home).

    Another newspaper obituary of William R. Border that is of unknown origin (but seems to be from Bedford) indicates that:

  • His death occurred around 10:00 pm on November 1 after experiencing a sharp pain following the return home from a Mummer's parade that he attended with his daughter Ethel.
  • He was one of the sons of Daniel Border and his wife, and was born on July 18, 1869 in Bedford.
  • He pursued the repair of watches, clocks, etc. like his father before him.
  • He was survived by his wife Carrie Imler, by Marguerite who was a teacher in Chambersburg, and by Ethel, Edgar, and William who were still living at home.
  • Recently he had recovered sufficiently from pleurisy to be out and about, and had been repairing a firearm earlier the same evening that he died.
  • He had many friends in Bedford.
  • He was buried in the Bedford Cemetery.

    1945: An engagement announcement in the January 12, 1945 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper indicates that Marjorie Morgart was engaged to Carrie Border's son William R. Border and indicates that William and/or Carrie lived at 102 Union Street in the town of Bedford. The announcement also mentions that William R. Border (Junior) had then been employed as a machinist at the Brown Motor Company for four years.

    1961: Click here to see U.S. Patent 2,985,040, issued to Billy's son William R. Border, Jr.

    1964: The November 5, 1964 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper carries an obituary of Mrs. Carrie Border that indicates:

  • She was the widow of the William Border who died on November 1, 1937.
  • Her parents were Levi and Elizabeth (Earnest) Imler, and she was born in Bedford County on November 19, 1874.
  • She was 88 years old when she died on November 4, 1964 at the Homewood Church Home in Carlisle.
  • Children surviving her were Mrs. Ethel Hay of Hollidaysburg; Mrs. Marguerite Cook of Chambersburg, Edgar Border Harrisburg, and William Border of Bedford.
  • She was also survived by a sister Mrs. Perry Martin of Bedford, and a sister Mrs. Charles Moore of Bedford Rural Delivery Route 1.
  • She was buried in the Bedford Cemetery.

    1975: The 1975 obituary of William R. Border, Jr. indicates that he was survived by his wife and by a sister named Marguerite Cook who resided in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He died due to a machine shop accident at Brown Motor Supply, where he had worked as a machinist since 1941.

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