Introduction: Daniel B. Border is known as a gunsmith from surviving firearms he made, and from advertisements and at least one census record. The high quality of the long rifles he made makes Daniel B. Border one of the major Bedford County, Pennsylvania gun makers.
1826: Evelyn Gibson's 1978 book "Blackburn and Allied Descendants of John Blackburn., Sr. ..." indicates that the gunsmith Daniel B. Border, son of William Border and Lydia (Blackburn) Border, was born on April 29, 1826, which agrees with the birth date on his tombstone. In his book "The Bedford County Rifle and its Makers", Calvin Hetrick indicates that the gunsmith Daniel Border was a son of William Border and (incorrectly, in my opinion) indicates that Daniel B. Border was a brother of Samuel Border. I think Samuel Border was the brother of Daniel B. Border's father William Border.
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):
1833-1843: The Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" states (incorrectly, in my opinion) that Daniel Border closed his first shop, which was in Schellsburg, in 1833 and then commenced business in Davidsville in Somerset County by April of 1834, and was joined in Davidsville by Samuel in 1835. If Daniel B. Border was born on April 29, 1826 (as the 2017 book reports), then he would have just turned eight years old in April of 1833. The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Daniel Border constructed a coffin for Francis Border, one of Samuel Border's children, in July of 1842. The 1953 edition of Gluckman's "American Gun Makers" puts Daniel Border in the borough and township of Bedford in about 1843. Daniel B. Border would have only been about 16 years old in 1842 and about 17 years old in 1843.
I suspect that these publications have inadvertently included information about the carpenter son of John Border I who was named Daniel and who is described in the following excerpt from Volume III of the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania". In other words, the carpenter uncle Daniel may have been mistaken for his gunsmith nephew Daniel. Click here to see an excerpt from a 1918 book that shows a photo of the carpenter Daniel border.
The following image is from the 1860 Walker map of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It appears to show where this other Daniel Border (i.e., the carpenter) lived in Davidsville, which is in Conemaugh Township.
1843-1851: In his 1953 book "American Firearms Makers", A. Merwyn Carey indicates that Daniel Border and his brother Amos Border were gunmakers in Bedford Township of Bedford County, Pennsylvania who produced Kentucky rifles with percussion ignition in the 1843 to 1851 timeframe. I suspect that the reference to Amos Border is based on a misinterpretation of locks that are marked with the last names of John Amos and one of the Border family members John Amos was related to by marriage, such as (and probably) his nephew Daniel Border.
1849: I have seen a reference to the gunsmith Daniel Border planning and erecting a wire suspension bridge circa 1849 that remained standing until a short while before his 1891 death. The source of the reference may be an article about Daniel Border in the June 9, 1972 issue of the Bedford Inquirer newspaper that I have not yet seen. The basis for the statement in the 1972 article may be Daniel Border's obituary, which I have not seen. The wire bridge is illustrated on 1853, 1861, and 1877 maps of Bedford. On the 1877 map, it is identified as a foot bridge. From scaling the 1853 and 1861 maps, I estimate the bridge was located approximately at 40.0197545714, -78.49326047207.
1849-1854: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts Daniel B. Border in Bedford Township from 1849 to 1854, and mentions that he was living on the land of John Amos, and possibly working for John Amos as an apprentice. The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Daniel B. Border was living on the property of his gunsmith uncle John Amos in 1849. One can reasonably wonder if this indicates a gunsmithing apprenticeship, or some form of gunsmithing business relationship. A rifle exists with the marking "Amos & Border Company", and one can reasonably wonder if it was made while Daniel Border was living on or near the property of John Amos.
1850: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that Daniel Border's daughter Sarah was born in 1850. This is substantiated by the following census record.
1850: Daniel B. Border is listed as a 24-year old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith in the 1850 census of Bedford Township. The Daniel B. Border and John Amos households are listed sequentially in the following composite image, suggesting they lived near one another. Daniel B. Border was a nephew of John Amos.
1851: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Daniel Border manufactured 200 apple peelers for William Hartley in 1851, and also made a scale model of a mowing machine for William Hartley as a sales model. To me, this suggests that Daniel Border either had access to machine shop equipment, or employed the services of a machine shop. I wonder if the desire for access to machine shop equipment or the use of the services of a machine shop had any influence on moving his shop to be right across the street from Washabaugh's machine shop and foundry a few years later, in 1854 (see below).
1851-1857: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that Daniel Border's daughter Ella was born in 1851. Ellen Border is buried in the German Reformed and Lutheran Church Cemetery of Bedford, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, where her tombstone includes the statement, "Ellen, Daughter of Daniel & Amelia Border, died July 1, 1857..."
1851: Emma V. Border, the second wife of the gunsmith Daniel Border, shares a tombstone at the Bedford Cemetery with several other individuals, including her husband Daniel. Her portion of the tombstone states, "Emma V. wife of Daniel Border born: Mar. 6, 1851 died: Jan. 14, 1902".
1853: The following excerpt is from the 1853 map of Bedford. I added a red dot to show the eventual location of Daniel Border's shop, advertised one year later as "one door west of the residence of Major Washabaugh". In 1853 the building was owned by Washabaugh, and was located nearly midway between Peter H. Shire's machine shop and Major Washabaugh's machine shop and foundry. Click here to see an 1853 drawing of Washabaugh's residence (It is still standing in 2021).
1854: The following advertisement is from the July 21, 1854 issue of the "Bedford Gazette", and identifies Daniel Border as a Bedford County gunsmith. This advertisement appeared in many issues of the "Bedford Gazette". I think the May 26, 1854 date indicates the date the advertisement commenced, and informs the typesetter when to pull the advertisement. This advertisement references the same shop location that John Border later described in his advertisements.
The preceding advertisement mentions double barrel rifles. Plate 142 of Hetrick's book "The Bedford County Rifle and its Makers" shows an exceptional 38 caliber double rifle that was made by Daniel Border, and Hetrick indicated that he was aware of four double rifles made by Daniel Border. The double barrel muzzle loader rifle in Plate 142 has 42-1/2-inch long octagonal barrels that are 3/4-inch across the flats. The rifle is 57-inches long and weighs 10-1/2 pounds. The tails of the lock plates are bent inward to allow a narrow wrist. The rifle has a Bedford County-style patchbox with a Q-shaped finial and five perforations.
1855-1891: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts Daniel B. Border in the borough of Bedford from 1855 to 1891, and accurately characterizes him as a watchmaker, silversmith, gunsmith, and jeweler. The above advertisement puts him in the borough one year earlier, in 1854.
1855: The following advertisement is from the June 22, 1855 issue of the Bedford Gazette. In addition to mentioning that Daniel Border is in the clock and watch making business, it also mentions that he remains in the gunsmithing business. I suspect that his "good and competent worker" was John Border, because John Border eventually advertises the same shop location as his own.
1857: The following article is from the August 7 1857 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer and Chronicle" newspaper. The article indicates that Daniel and John Border worked together to install the town clock in the cupola of the Bedford County courthouse.
1857: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that Daniel Border's daughter Ella (born 1851) died in 1857.
1857: The following advertisement is from the November 20, 1857 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer and Chronicle" newspaper.
1860: The following notice is from the February 3, 1860 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer", and indicates that Daniel Border is serving as the administrator of an estate.
1860: The following is from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania". It lists Daniel Border as a property owner in the borough of Bedford, Pennsylvania in 1860.
1860: The following excerpt is from the 1860 census, which identifies Daniel Border as a 34 year old watchmaker living in the borough of Bedford, Pennsylvania:
1860: The following advertisement is from the October 19, 1860 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper.
1861: The following notice is from the January 18, 1861 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It shows that Daniel Border was a resident of Bedford County in 1861.
1861: The following business directory list from the 1861 Walker map of Bedford County identifies Daniel Border as a Jeweler.
1861: The following image is from the 1861 Walker map of Bedford County. It shows the location of Major Washabaugh and a building owned by Daniel Border. Daniel Border's 1854 gunsmithing advertisement states that "he has removed his shop to the house in the east end of Bedford, one door west of the residence of Major Washabaugh". In his 1855 advertisement announcing his new business as a "Clock and Watch Maker and Dealer in Jewelry" Daniel Border stated, "He still continues in the Gunsmithing business, at his old stand, in the East end of town, where he has a good and competent workman constantly employed." John Border's 1856 gunsmithing advertisements state that he is in a "Shop at the east end of Bedford."An 1857 news item describes Daniel and John Border installing the new town clock. John Border's 1858 and 1861 gunsmithing advertisements state that he is in a "Shop at the east end of town, one door west of the residence of Major Washabaugh". After John Border's death, David Defibaugh's gunsmithing advertisements state that he is in the "Workshop same as formerly occupied by John Border, deceased." This shows that the same gunsmith shop was occupied sequentially by Daniel Border, John Border, and David Defibaugh. It also suggests that John Border may have been Daniel Border's "good and competent workman".
The proximity of the gun shop to the foundry and machine shops makes one wonder if the gunsmiths in Dan Border's shop utilized the foundry and machine shop for gun part castings and machining. The 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "About the year 1840, Daniel Washabaugh (an active business man in his day, a brewer, distiller, likewise a noted militia officer) erected the foundry buildings, but they remained unoccupied some two years, when a firm composed of Daniel Washabaugh, William Howser and Michael Bannan began work as founders and machinists..." One may also wonder to what extent this and other foundries and machine shops in the county influenced the uniformity seen in the Bedford County school of gunsmithing.
The following photo shows the structure sitting on the gun shop lot in 2021.
1864: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that Daniel Border owned two log houses in the town of Bedford in the 1864 to 1873 timeframe.
1865: The following notice is from the June 9, 1865 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It indicates that Daniel Border is running for the Bedford County office of Treasurer.
1865: The following advertisements are from the October 27, 1865 issue of the Bedford Gazette. One advertisement is for Daniel Border's jewelry store, and the other is for David Defibaugh's gunsmithing services in the shop "formerly occupied by John Border, deceased."
1866: The following item from the June 1, 1866 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper documents Lawrence Defibaugh, David Defibaugh, and Daniel Border performing mechanical work for the Bedford Borough. Daniel Border wound the town clock and kept it in repair, and all three did repair work on hydrants.
1866: The following excerpt is from the April 27, 1866 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper:
1867: The following notice is from the April 12, 1867 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer", and shows that Daniel Border was engaged in a lawsuit against Jacob Reed.
1867: The following advertisement is from the August 30, 1867 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper.
1869: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that Daniel Border's son William was born in 1867. According to his tombstone William R. Border was born on July 18, 1869.
1870: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that Daniel B. Border had two log houses in 1870 and his property was valued at $1,900.00.
1870: The following listing for the Daniel Border household is from the Bedford Borough portion of the 1870 census of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Daniel is listed as a watchmaker.
1870: The following excerpt from the 1871 book "the Miscellaneous Documents" shows that Daniel Border voted in Bedford County, Pennsylvania on October 11, 1870.
1871: Here is a photo of a neatly printed paper label Daniel Border glued inside a clock that he cleaned in 1871.
1872-1873: In 2019 Morphy Auctions sold a unique lot of items made by Daniel Border for $12,000. One item was a business book that covers the period from January 1, 1872 to August 1873. It identifies the work that was done, the cost, and who the work was done for. The types of work included watch repairs, watch cleaning, watch making, engraving, and jewelry-related transactions. Another item was a brass key-type lock that is inscribed with Daniel Border's name and "Bedford PA. U.S.A." Another item was an engraved silver plaque of George Washington that is signed "Engraved by D. Border". The last item in the lot was a 40-caliber percussion rifle with a 43-1/4" long octagon barrel inscribed "D Border. Bedford. Pa" on the top flat. The front sight is silver and the rear sight is iron, mounted in a brass engraved sight block that is dovetailed to the barrel. The Bedford County style percussion lock plate is inscribed "DB" and has a classic Bedford County style hammer. The rifle has double set triggers, a four-piece patch box, a full-length curly maple stock, and a three screw brass lock bolt plate.
1873: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that Daniel B. Border's first wife was Amelia Grove and his second wife was Emma Little. A web page about Daniel Border indicates that his first wife Amelia (Grove) Border died in 1873. A web page about Amelia Grove indicates she was born in 1829, died on February 5, 1873, and is buried in the Bedford Cemetery in the town of Bedford, Pennsylvania.
1874: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that Daniel Border's son John was born in 1874. This John Border is buried in the Bedford Cemetery at Bedford, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, where he shares a tombstone with others, including his father Daniel Border. John's portion of the tombstone states, "John Border born Mar. 12, 1874 died Jan. 1 1901". The short length of time between the death of his first wife and the birth of his son John suggests that Daniel Border had an aptitude for courtship, in addition to his excellent mechanical skill-set. The obituary of this John Border follows.
1877-1878: Daniel Border applied for a patent on a lock mechanism on October 18, 1877 that issued on January 18, 1878. This helps to explain the lock that Morphy Auctions sold in 2019. Click here to read the patent.
The following snippet from the March 2, 1878 issue of the "Scientific American" summarizes the patent:
1877: The following image from the Bedford portion of the 1877 book "County Atlas of Bedford Pennsylvania" shows the location of Daniel Border's jewelry shop two doors west of the Bedford Hotel. That building appears to be one of the buildings that is illustrated on the lot that is marked "H. Nicodemus Watch & Clock Maker" on the 1853 map of the town of Bedford. (In 1853 the lot was wider and had more than one building.)
1878: The following advertisement is from the 1878-1879 edition of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania". It identifies Daniel Border as a jeweler and watchmaker.
1878: The following item is also from the 1878-1879 edition of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania". It identifies Daniel Border as a silversmith.
1880: The following excerpt is from the 1880 census. It identifies Daniel Border as a silversmith and indicates he has rheumatism.
1880: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book indicates that William Hartley foreclosed on Daniel Border's $745.00 debt on September 10, 1880. The 2017 Whisker book indicates that William Border was a cosigner on a loan that his son Daniel B. Border had made, and both Daniel and William experienced foreclosure in connection with the debt when the business of Daniel B. Border failed. These may be references to the same event.
1886: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that Daniel B. Border is included in the 1886 Farquar Directory (Presumably for Bedford County).
1891: Gibson's 1978 book indicates that William Border's son Daniel B. Border died on June 26, 1891. Daniel Border is buried in the Bedford Cemetery, in Bedford, Pennsylvania. The cemetery is located at 40.02651719, -78.50130923. The tombstone of Daniel and Emma Border (and others) states: "Daniel Border born: Apr. 29, 1826 died: June 26, 1891 Emma V wife of Daniel Border born: Mar. 6, 1851 died: Jan. 14, 1902".
1899: The following item from the September 8, 1899 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper identifies Daniel and John Border as brothers, and identifies one of the children of John Border.
1901: The obituary of one of Daniel Border's children is published in the January 4, 1901 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper, as follows: "John Border died at the home of his mother, Mrs. Emma Border, Richard street, Bedford, Tuesday evening. The deceased was born in Bedford on March 13, 1874. He attended the public schools at this place and studied horology under his father, the late Daniel Border. About seven years ago he went to Hightstown, N. J., and worked in a jewelry store. He remained there three years and returned to Bedford last summer on account of ill health. Mr. Border was a skillful jeweler and watchmaker. He was a kind-hearted, companionable young man and a dutiful son. Two weeks before he died he joined the Lutheran church of Bedford. On Sunday the choir of that congregation, at the request of Mr. Border, went to his home and sang for him. His mother and a brother, William Border, survive him. The funeral services were held yesterday afternoon and were conducted by Rev. M. L. Culler, pastor of Trinity Lutheran church. Interment was made in the Bedford cemetery."
1902: The January 17, 1902 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" published an obituary titled "Mrs. Emma Virginia Border" that states, "Mrs. Emma Virginia Border, of Bedford, died in Baltimore, where she was visiting relatives and friends, Monday morning at half past three. The cause of death was heart failure. The deceased was born on March 6, 1851, and was a daughter of Pius Little, who lost his life in the Civil War. She lived in Bedford all of her lifetime. About 1873 she became the wife of Daniel Border, who died on June 26, 1891. She is survived by a step-son, William Border, of Bedford; a step-daughter, Mrs. Miranda Gratz, of Baltimore, and two sisters, Mrs. Lewis Baer, of Baltimore, and Mrs. A.H. Earnest, of Kansas. The body was brought to this place on Tuesday. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Baer accompanied the remains to Bedford. Funeral services were held at the late home of the decedent Wednesday afternoon and were conducted by Rev. M.L. Culler, pastor of the Lutheran church. Interment in the Bedford Cemetery."
Misc.: In his 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Kauffman rates the craftsmanship of Daniel Border as among the best in the middle of the 1800s, and lauds his rifles as some of the best examples of Bedford County rifles. Kauffman states that Daniel Border lived in Bedford and is identified as a gunsmith on the tax rolls of Bedford Borough in 1849 and 1854. Kauffman also mentions Daniel Border's work as a silversmith, and his attempts at making perpetual motion machines. Kauffman also mentions that during a visit to the Colt firearms company, Samuel Colt introduced Daniel Border as a master gunsmith. The story about Daniel Border and Samuel Colt is also included in the 1971 book "The Kernel of Greatness".
Kauffman's perpetual motion story would have come from R. Armstrong Farber, who assisted him in preparation of the material related to Bedford County, Pennsylvania. According to the 2017 Whisker book, R. Armstrong Farber told the story of children (including his father) retrieving Daniel Border's failed perpetual motion machines from the town dump to amuse themselves with.
In his book "The Bedford County Rifle and its Makers", Calvin Hetrick lavished praise on the quality, artistry, and proportions of rifles made by Daniel B. Border and describes a rifle by Daniel B. Border that has a single set trigger. Hetrick also reports that Daniel Border did not carve the stocks of the rifles he produced.
Daniel Border work product:
Follow this link to access an index to various old-time gunsmiths who worked in Bedford and/or Somerset counties, and an index to pictures of the guns they manufactured.
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