David Defibaugh, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: David Defibaugh was a significant Bedford County gunsmith, and is identified as a gunsmith in census records, advertisements, newspaper business directories, a county directory, at least one tax roll, and surviving examples of his work.

1840: A list of the children of William Defibaugh from a 1936 transcript of a family Bible in Volume 2 of the "Bedford County Archives" identifies David as being born on March 19, 1840. A note after the transcript indicates that William taught gunsmithing to David. According to his tombstone, David Defibaugh was born March 18, 1840. According to page 42 of the 1963 book "Some Nycum Descendants" Sophia (Nycum) Smouse's daughter Elizabeth Smouse married William Defibaugh, and had the following children: David, Lawrence, Wesley, Milton, William, Sophia, Mary, Belle, Kate, Eliza, and Clara. The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" also indicates that David Defibaugh is a son of William Defibaugh.

The following graphic shows how I currently understand the relationships among the Defibaugh gunsmiths. Red text is used to identify individuals who were known to have been or have been said to have been gunsmiths:

1850: In the 1850 census of West Providence Township, Bedford County, 35-year-old gunsmith William Defibaugh and 34-year-old Elizabeth Defibaugh are enumerated with 10-year-old David, 8-year-old Laurence, 7-year-old Wesley, 5-year-old Mary, 3-year-old Sophia A, and 1-year-old Milton. William's property was valued at $500.00.

1860: In the 1860 federal census, David is still living in his father William's household, and is listed as a gunsmith:

1860-1864: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts David Defibaugh in Everett from 1860 to 1864, and has him in the borough of Bedford in 1864. Everett is in West Providence Township of Bedford County, and by road is 7.9 miles east of the town of Bedford.

1861: I did not find a Defibaugh residence in or near the village of Bloody Run (Everett) on the 1861 Walker map of Bedford county.

1863: The 1880 census lists David and Susan Defibaugh with a 16-year-old child Mary E. in their household. A web page about Mary Elizabeth (Defibaugh) Reighard indicates she was a daughter of David and Susan (Beltz) Defibaugh, was born on September 28, 1863, died on August 11, 1905, and is buried in the Everett Cemetery. Her tombstone states, "Mary E. Wife of Albert Reichard Sept. 28, 1863 Aug. 11, 1905."

1864: The following advertisement is from the December 2, 1864 issue of the Bedford Gazette. It indicates that John Border is deceased, and David Defibaugh has taken over his workshop. The text "July 1, 1864--1y" is apparently the starting date and duration of the advertisement.

1864: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", David Defibaugh, a son of William Defibaugh, is identified as a gunsmith on the tax roll of Bedford Township in the year 1864, and manufactured some half-stock double barreled rifles before becoming a jeweler in the village of Everett.

1865: I found a similar advertisement with an "October 20, '65" date in the October 27, 1865, December 1, 1865, December 8, 1865, January 5, 1866, January 19, 1866, January 26, 1866, February 16, 1866, February 23, 1866, March 2, 1866, March 16, 1866, March 23, 1866, April 20, 1866, and April 27, 1866 issues of the Bedford Gazette. The example below is from the October 27, 1865 issue, and was located on the front page, below an advertisement for Daniel Border's jewelry store.

1865: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet locates David Defibaugh in Bedford Township in 1865 as a gunsmith who is married. I wonder if this information is based on the Bedford County Militia Enrollment rolls for 1865.

1865-1866: The following notice is from the March 16, 1866 issue of the Bedford Gazette. It lists David Defibaugh as a gunsmith in Bedford. I have also seen this "GUNSMITHING--David Defibaugh, Bedford" listing within a business directory in the October 27, 1865 and January 5, 1866 issues of the Bedford Gazette.

1865: The 1880 census lists David and Susan Defibaugh with a 14-year-old child Annie R. in their household. Annie is buried in the Everett Cemetery, where her tombstone inscription states, Annie R. Defibaugh June 4, 1865 June 9 1880.

1866: A web page about Charles E. Defibaugh indicates he is a son of David and Susan (Beltz) Defibaugh. The tombstone he shares with Annie Defibaugh at the Everett Cemetery includes the inscription, "Charles E. Defibaugh Nov. 2. 1866 Apr. 6. 1869."

1866: The following item from the June 1, 1866 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper documents Lawrence Defibaugh, David Defibaugh, and Daniel Border doing work for the Bedford Borough. Daniel Border wound the town clock, and all three did repair work on hydrants.

1868: The 1880 census lists David and Susan Defibaugh with a 11-year-old child Sarah V. in their household, and the will of David Defibaugh identifies a child named Sarah Eichelberger. The obituary of Mrs. Sarah Eichelberger in the March 6, 1945 issue of the Cumberland Evening Times indicates she was a daughter of David and Susan (Belts) Deffenbaugh and died on the morning of March 6, 1945 at the age of 76, whereupon her remains were taken to a funeral home in Everett. She is buried in the Everett Cemetery in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, where her tombstone inscription states, "S. Virginia Defibaugh Eichelberger 1868-1945".

1869: Charles E. Defibaugh, the young son of David and Susan (Beltz) Defibaugh, died on April 6, 1869.

1870-1914: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet locates David Defibaugh in Everett from 1870 to 1914.

1871: The 1880 census lists David and Susan Defibaugh with a 8-year-old child William A in their household, and the will of David Defibaugh identifies a son named William A. A web page about William Albert Defibaugh indicates he is a son of David and Susan (Beltz) Defibaugh, was born on January 10, 1871, died on February 13, 1947, and is buried in the Bedford Cemetery in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. His obituary in the February 20, 1847 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper indicates he "was born and raised in Everett." His tombstone gives his name as William A. Defibaugh, and records his lifetime as 1871 to 1947.

1873: The 1880 census lists David and Susan Defibaugh with a 6-year-old child James H. in their household, which indicates a circa 1874 birth of the child. The following obituary from the February 25, 1927 issue of the Bedford Gazette" newspaper indicates that David Defibaugh had a son named James H. Defibaugh who was born on November 26, 1873. James shares a tombstone with his parents at the Everett Cemetery.

1877: This image from the Everett Section of the 1877 book "County Atlas of Bedford Pennsylvania" shows the location of David Defibaugh's lot, and his gun shop, which was located at the intersection of Water Street and Third Street in Everett at 40.014449, -78.372988.

The following photo was taken on September 20, 2021 looking generally south across east 3rd Street from Water Street. It shows the house that is currently located at the site of David Defibaugh's 1877 residence. I do not know when the house was built.

1878: The following image is from the 1878-1879 edition of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", which was "Printed at the Inquirer Office, Bedford, Pa." It lists David Defibaugh as a gunsmith on Water Street in Everitt, Bedford County.

1880: David Defibaugh is enumerated as a 40-year-old gunsmith in the 1880 federal census of the Borough of Everett. Also in his household are 36-year-old wife Susan Defibaugh, 16-year-old daughter Mary E. Defibaugh, 14-year-old daughter Annie R. Defibaugh, 11-year-old daughter Sarah V. Defibaugh, 8-year-old son William A. Defibaugh, and 6-year-old son James H. Defibaugh. Annie Defibaugh died in 1880.

1886: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that David Defibaugh is listed as a watchmaker and jeweler in the 1886 Farquar Directory. I have seen a photographs of pocket watches that have "D. DEFIBAUGH EVERETT PA" printed on the face in small letters. Here is an advertising tray indicating D. Defibaugh of Everett, Pennsylvania sold Rockford watches:

1887: The November 23, 1887 issue of the "Everett Press" includes an article titled "A Serious Accident" that states: "On Sunday morning last, Mr. David Defibaugh, wife and son James started to Waterside to pay a short visit to the daughter of the former, who resides at that place. They remained there overnight, and started to return on Monday morning. Mr. Defibaugh has considerable experience as a horseman, and although the horse he drove was a spirited one, he felt no uneasiness. He had driven successfully from Waterside until he arrived at the summit between Everett and Tatesville, where the line of the H. & B. T. R. R., runs parallel with the road. It was 12:15 o'clock, and just the time the local freight train passes this point. As he was driving along the road, the freight came along. The engine was laboring greatly, and made a roaring, hissing noise. Mr. Defibaugh decided to stop the horse and wait till the train pass. Accordingly he did so, and as the train was passing he brought the beast to a standstill. The horse was very 'tender in the mouth,' and becoming restless, was held by Mr. Defibaugh with a tight rein. Thereupon, he began to plunge and rear, and M. Defibaugh drew the conveyance into the fence corner. At this moment the horse, frightened at the engine, made a plunge which upset the carriage and precipitated all out. Mr. Defibaugh struck his shoulder against a rail of the fence and broke his collar bone, while the conveyance turned completely over and covered himself and wife, James, the son, fortunately escaped, The shafts were broken off, and the horse started with them hanging to him, for town, where he was caught by Mr. J. G. Barndollar and taken to Mr. Richard's Livery stable where he belonged. James Defibaugh finally succeeded in overturning the carriage and liberating his parents. Through the kindness of Mr. Geo. B. May the party were brought home, and Drs. E. J. Miller and W. P. S. Henry were summoned. They discovered the clavicle or collar bone badly fractured and the victim in great pain. Relief was soon brought, however, and yesterday the patient was much better. Truly, there is nothing bad, but might be worse, and it is remarkable that there was no loss of life under the circumstances. Mrs. Defibaugh and James escaped without even slight injuries. It is generally conceded that the road from here to Tatesville is a dangerous one, and numerous accidents occur along the road, which lies thus close to the railroad. For the safety of travellers a better road should be viewed and laid out."

The red circle on the following 1902 topographic map shows the location of the accident described above.

1892: The August 17, 1892 issue of the "Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review" identifies David Defibaugh as a jeweler in Everett, and indicates that his son "has opened a watch and jewelry repair shop in Bedford, Pa."

1897: The following testimonial-based advertisement appears in the May 8, 1897 issue of the "New York Journal and Advertiser". I am not sure that the the testimonial is by David Defibaugh. I would like to review the 1900 census to see if there was any other Defibaugh living in the environs of Everett with the first initial "D".

1900: The following excerpt is from the 1900 census of Everett Borough. David and his son James are enumerated as jewelers.

1905: Mary Elizabeth (Defibaugh) Reighard, a daughter of David and Susan (Beltz) Defibaugh, died on August 11, 1905.

1910: The following excerpt is from the 1910 census of Everett Borough:

1914: David Defibaugh is buried in the Everett Cemetery (40.01079989, -78.35849728) that is located in Everett, Bedford County. The tombstone inscription states:

"David Defibaugh
Mar. 18, 1840
Dec. 25, 1914
His wife
Susan Defibaugh
Nov. 11, 1842
July 17, 1918
James H. Defibaugh
Nov. 26, 1873
Feb. 21, 1927"

1914: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, and Somerset Counties" by Whisker & Yantz states that the will of David Defibaugh identifies James H., William A., and Sarah Eichelberger as children and directs that David's gunsmithing tools and his gun and jewelry shops go to James. The book also states that his date and time of death was sworn by his widow Rebecca. I am unable to reconcile the differences in the date of death and wife's name between what I've found and what is published in the 2001 book. The 2001 book states that the value of David Defibaugh's estate was $1,364.24.

James H. Defibaugh was 41 years old when he inherited his father's gunsmithing tools and his gun and jewelry shops.

1915: The following obituary is from the January 1, 1915 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". The December 25, 1914 date of death conflicts with the date published in the 2001 Whisker & Yantz book.

1927: As referenced in his obituary above, James H. Defibaugh died on February 21, 1927.

Click here to see photos of the rifling bench attributed to William Border, Sr. that his son Daniel Border is said to have used.

The following photo shows a framed picture of David and Milton Defibaugh, with one holding a full stock long arm and the other holding a small pistol. A cane made by Milton Defibaugh is positioned on the right side of the framed picture. The 2006 book "Bedford and its Neighbors" includes a very clear copy of the same picture, and indicates that Milton is on the left. The individual who purchased the items in August of 2013 wrote in November of 2013 that David is on the left in the picture (see below). I think David is on the left because the individual on the left looks older in the 2006 book, and David was nearly nine years older than Milton. I think the picture is printed backwards because the pistol is held in the left hand, the rifle is held backwards, and (in the 2006 book) one can see that the lock and cap lock are on the left-hand side of the rifle. Furthermore, I have seen a portion of this photo printed mirror image, with the individual in the tall hat labeled "David Defibaugh" using an adhesive note.

The 1953 edition of the book "American Gun Makers" puts David Defibaugh in the southern part of Bedford county and describes him as the son of William Defibaugh, and the brother of Milton Defibaugh.

Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" reports that David Defibaugh signed his rifles with the initials "D.D."

Work product:

  • The 1972 book "Greenfield Village" and the 1978 book "Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum" illustrate David Defibaugh's metal template set for laying out rifle decorations. The templates are part of a museum display.

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