George Rizer, Cumberland, Maryland gunsmith

Introduction: George Rizer I was a gunsmith in Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland. He is relevant to the Somerset and Bedford County gunsmith web project because one of his apprentices was Benjamin Troutman of Somerset County, Pennsylvania and another was Josiah Moss of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The earliest gunsmithing apprentice of George Rizer I that I know of was James Clark, whose apprenticeship began on June 18, 1799. From the study I have done, it appears that the gunsmith George Rizer I was active in the Lutheran Church, served in the Maryland legislature, and eventually moved to Washington County, Maryland.

Naming conventions: Books authored and co-authored by Daniel D. Hartzler have established the use of "Martin Rizer I", "Martin Rizer II", "George Rizer I", and "George Rizer II". George Rizer I and his presumed brother Martin Rizer II were gunsmiths in Cumberland, Maryland, and Martin Rizer I was their presumed father. Two 1839 quit claim deeds establish that George Rizer I had a son named George, and Hartzler's books refer to this son as George Rizer II. To minimize confusion, I have tried to use the same naming conventions when referencing Hartzler's books.

Complications: It is difficult to research the Cumberland gunsmith George Rizer I because there was more than one individual with that name. It isn't always possible to tell who was who when studying the old records.

The burial of an individual named George Rizer in the Rose Hill Cemetery at Cumberland is documented in the Allegany County section in Volume II of Scharf's 1882 book "History of Western Maryland..." as shown below. The book reports a June 30, 1867 date of death, which may be a typographical error. The death date inscribed on this tombstone is badly eroded in a 2018 photo I have seen. It appears to be June 30, 1862, and is reported that way by some. The name ("George Rizer")and age at death ("82 yrs 5 ms & 3 ds") are still legible in the 2018 photo. Regardless of whether this George Rizer died in 1862 or 1867, he complicates the study of George Rizer I immensely. By my reckoning, if he died in 1862 he was born on January 27, 1780 and reached his majority (age 21) on January 27, 1801. The listed Margaret Rizer who died at age 70 in 1858 shares a tombstone with this George Rizer, and would have been born circa 1788. Her tombstone inscription includes the words "Margaret wife of George Rizer".
A reference to a George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery at Cumberland.

The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer I had a gunsmith son born circa 1790 who the book identifies as George Rizer II. It can be appreciated that if one assumes George Rizer II was born circa 1790, then he wouldn't have reached his majority until circa 1811. If true and if considered in isolation, that would certainly make it easier to distinguish between George Rizer I and II in pre-1811 records. It does not, however, account for the significant complication associated with the George Rizer who died in 1862 or 1867 and is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery.

The 1991 book also states that George Rizer II married Margaret Hoffman, and had an October 26, 1862 will that was not probated until July 9, 1864. Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that no gunsmithing equipment is listed in the October 26, 1862 will of George Rizer II. It is hard to reconcile an October 26, 1862 will with the June 30, 1862 death of the George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery unless the October 26, 1862 date references something to do with estate administration. Click here to see what I think may be the relevant page from the will index, in case you want to dig deeper.

The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of October 28, 1799 for an individual named George Rizer. To me, it seems clear that many of the entries in the Barnes Bible records are for the children of George Rizer, Sr.; i.e., the siblings of Catherine (Rizer) Barnes. I can't make sense out of this George Rizer entry, however, because of the birth year.

Another George Rizer: There is also a tombstone at the Rose Hill cemetery for a George W. Rizer. Although some of the inscription is badly eroded in a 2018 photo I have seen, the inscription seems to be "George W. Rizer died Oct. 10, 1864 aged 37 years, 7 mos * 8..." By my reckoning, if I am reading the worn inscription correctly, this individual would have been born on March 2, 1827, and would have reached his majority on March 2, 1848. In other words, this individual was born too late to complicate the study of the gunsmith George Rizer I. This George W. Rizer is the telegraph operator described on page 85 of Volume II of the 1923 book "History of West Virginia Old and New". His October 10, 1864 death was announced in the November 28, 1864 issue of "The Telegrapher" periodical.

Chronological information:
1740: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" states that Martin Rizer I emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1740 with his wife Anna and then was indentured for a year to pay for their passage to the United States. If this is the right set of parents and the right immigration date, then Anna would have been relatively old at the birth of the gunsmith George Rizer I, if he was born in 1767. For example, if she immigrated at the age of 18 to 21, she would have been about 45 to 48 years old in 1767.

1767-1837: Genealogy web pages by Karl David Wright describe a George W. Riser who was born on April 22, 1767 and who died April 1, 1837 in Hancock, Washington, County, Maryland. George's parents are described as Martin Riser, Sr. who died October 12, 1796 in Cumberland, Maryland and Mary Magdalena Riser who died September 2, 1796 in Allegany County, Maryland. George's siblings are listed as Martin Riser, Jr; Rev. Matthias G. Rizer; Mary Gray; Henry Rizer; Philip Rizer; Jacob Riser; John Riser; Christina Riser; Joseph Riser and Catherine Riser. Although I am unable to verify this genealogical information, the described George W. Riser is the best candidate to be the Cumberland gunsmith George Rizer I that I have found on genealogical websites. I think the October 12, 1796 death date of Martin Rizer I is incorrect, because the 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" indicates that October 12, 1796 is the date the first account in the Martin Rizer I estate was filed.

The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of April 23, 1767 for George W. Rizer. The same Bible records are said to be reported in: Virginia DAR GRC Report; S2 V030: District V Bible Records Project, Part 2.

Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" indicates that the Cumberland gunsmith George Rizer I was born in 1767. The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that the Gunsmith George Rizer I was born in 1767 and died in 1837 near Hancock, Maryland. Surprisingly, the 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that the year of birth of George Rizer I is unknown, and is presumed to be circa 1755 to 1770.

Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" indicates that George Rizer I and Martin Rizer II were sons of Martin Rizer I and further indicates that Martin Rizer I was sometimes referred to as Martin Rizer, Sr., and reports that Martin Rizer II was sometimes referred to as Martin Rizer, Jr. or Martin Rizer of M. The 1977 book also indicates that George Rizer I was sometimes referenced as George Rizer of Martin or George Rizer of M, and indicates that George Rizer II was sometimes referenced as George Rizer, Jr. The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that Martin Rizer I and Anna Rizer were the parents of George Rizer I. The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker is less definitive than the 1977 and 1991 books, stating that Martin Rizer II and George Rizer I were apparently sons of Martin Rizer I, and stating that Martin Rizer I may have also had sons named Anthony Rizer and Matthias Rizer.

1782: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that Martin Rizer I was located at Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1782. The way the book reports this information implies that Martin Rizer I appears on the 1782 tax assessment list. Cumberland is about 68 miles west-northwest of Martinsburg on present-day roads.

1789: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser (1767-1837) indicates he married Margaret E. "Peggy" Ambrose (1765-1820) in Berkeley, Virginia on December 1, 1789. Martinsburg is in Berkeley County. There is an inhabited named place called Berkeley that is about 4 miles northeast of the center of Martinsburg. The 1945 book "West Virginia place names, their origin and meaning..." describes Berkeley as a train station for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and indicates it appeared in the 1933-1934 telephone directory as Berkeley Station and appeared in the 1933 "New Descriptive Atlas of West Virginia" as Berkeley.

1790: There is no George Rizer or Riser in the published transcript of the 1790 census of Maryland. This is harmonious with the idea that he did not move to Cumberland, Maryland until 1793. The Virginia returns from the 1790 census were destroyed during the War of 1812.

1790-1838: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a daughter named Anna Rizer who was born in 1790 and died in 1838. The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of October 12, 1790 for Ann or Anne Rizer. A deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 573-575 on October 3, 1839 indicates that George Rizer I had a daughter named Anna Jones who was already deceased and had an heir named Sarah Jane Jones. In the body text, and in a Rizer a family tree, the 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker mistakenly reports that Sarah Jane Jones was a daughter of the gunsmith George Rizer I.

1793: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that the gunsmith George Rizer I moved to Cumberland, Maryland with his father Martin Rizer in 1793, and reports that during the summer of 1794 George Rizer's gunsmith brother Martin Rizer II also moved to Cumberland. The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker explains the reasoning behind the 1793 moving date, stating that Martin Riser I and his (presumed) sons Martin Rizer II and George Rizer I probably moved to Cumberland, Maryland in 1793 because Martin Rizer I was paying taxes in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia in the 1783 to 1793 timeframe. Elsewhere, the 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" reports That Martin Rizer Senior and Junior (i.e., I & II) appear on pre-1793 tax records of Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).

The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer I was a gunsmith and property owner in Berkeley County, Virginia, and sold his property there before moving to Cumberland, Maryland. Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" seems to indicate that being established as a gunsmith before moving to Cumberland is implied by the 1767 birth of George Rizer I (as opposed to being established by records).

1793: In a deed recorded April 13, 1793 beginning on page 286 of Allegany County, Maryland land record book A, George Rizer of Allegany County purchased Cumberland lots 213 and 231 from Thomas Beall of Samuel. This is harmonious with the idea that George Rizer I moved to Cumberland circa 1793. The oldest George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery was too young in 1793 to be purchasing property, so it seems reasonable to attribute this 1793 property purchase to George Rizer I. As detailed farther below, when George Rizer sold lots 213 and 231 in 1812 he was identified a resident of Washington County, Maryland. Click here to see an excerpt from a copy of an 1806 map that shows where lots 213 and 231 are are located.

1794: The following excerpt from the 1878 book "History of Cumberland" by William H. Lowdermilk shows that George Rizer I was one of the founding members of the First Lutheran Church in Cumberland, Maryland. The oldest George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery was too young to have been a founding member of a church in 1794 so it seems reasonable to attribute this church involvement to George Rizer I.
George Rizer I was one of the founding members of the First Lutheran Church of Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland.

1795: The following Liber A deed abstract is from page 50 of Volume II of the 1966 book "Early Allegany County Records, 1788-1812". Click here to see the deed, which begins on page 522 of Liber A and pertains to George Rizer of Allegany County. The oldest George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery was too young to have purchased property in 1795 so it seems reasonable to attribute this purchase to George Rizer I.
A George Rizer purchased property from Thomas Beall of Samuel in 1795.

1795-1869: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a daughter named Catherine Rizer who was born in 1795 and died in 1869. Another web page about Catherine (Rizer) Barnes indicates she was born on March 17, 1795 and died on February 3, 1869. The quit claim deed to George Rizer, Jr. that is recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 621-623 on October 29, 1839 indicates that George Rizer, Sr. had a daughter named Catherine Barnes who was the wife of Rezin Barnes. The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of June 6, 1794 for Rezin Barnes and March 17, 1795 for Catherine Rizer.

Rezin and Catherine (Rizer) Barnes are buried in the Boaz Cemetery in Richland County, Wisconsin. Rezin's obituary in the September 4, 1871 issue of the Richland County Republican does not mention his wife, stating: "Died-At his residence, in Boaz, on the 12th, Mr. Rezin Barnes, aged 77 years. Mr. Barnes was in vigorous health, for one of his years, and his death at this time is attributed to a fall which he received a few days previous. He was driving a pig from his garden, and accidentally fell - stunning himself quite severely, and spraining and bruising his arms. Mr. B. was one of the early settlers of this county, and leaves many warm friends to mourn his loss. James T., Benj. F., Wm. M., and George R., are his sons, and are among the most active and highly respected citizens of the county. James T. Barnes has been quite low with fever, but is recovering. He is not however, able to get about. In their many afflictions, which seem to come all at once, the family have the sympathies of their numerous friends."

1796: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that Martin Rizer I of Allegany County, Maryland, the presumed father of Martin Rizer II and George Rizer, I died in 1796. The 1998 book further reports that Martin Rizer II and George Rizer I served as the administrators of the estate of Martin Rizer I, filing their first account on October 12, 1796. This account is reportedly recorded on page 14 of Allegany County estate book A. The 1998 book also reports that the estate inventory of Martin Rizer I did not contain gunsmithing-related items. Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that the Martin Rizer I estate inventory listed blacksmithing tools with a value of $90.00.

1797-1870: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a daughter named Sophia Rizer who was born in 1793 and died in 1870, but I think 1793 is a typographical error. The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of May 8, 1797 for Sophia Rizer. The quit claim deed to George Rizer, Jr. that is recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 621-623 on October 29, 1839 indicates that George Rizer, Sr. had a daughter named Sophia Bartmess in Tippecanoe County, Indiana who was married to a Jacob Bartmess. A tombstone at the Baker Cemetery in Tippecanoe County, Indiana is inscribed "Sophia Bartmess aged 72 Yrs. 10 Mo's. 3 Days.", which fits with a 1797 birth if she died in early 1870 at the age stated on the aforementioned tombstone. Another tombstone in the same cemetery is inscribed (to the best I can make out the weathered characters) "Jacob Bartmess died March 8, 1848. Aged 54 Yrs, 9 Mos. & 20 Ds." This is presumed to be the burial of Sophia's husband. Click here to read a garbled family account from Volume III of the 1922 book "History of Oregon" that inadvertently has "Sophia Rizer, daughter of a Lutheran minister, the Rev. George Rizer..." married to a Bartmess from the wrong generation. Click here to read a more accurate account from the 1905 book "An Illustrated History of Central Oregon", which puts Jacob and Sophia Bartmess in Preble County, Ohio as early as 1819 before moving to Indiana in 1829. Click here for an excerpt from the 1888 book "Biographical Record and Portrait Album of Tippecanoe County, Indiana" stating that George Rizer, father of Sophia (Rizer) Bartmess, "represented Alleghany (sic) County in the Maryland State Legislature..." This dovetails with some of the information I have included below about a George Rizer serving in the House of Delegates.

1798: The following composite image is from the Allegany County section in Volume II of Scharf's 1882 book "History of Western Maryland..." and shows George Rizer I serving on a grand jury. (The oldest George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery was too young to serve on a grand jury in 1798, so it seems reasonable to attribute this jury service to George Rizer I.)
A George Rizer served on a grand jury in 1798.

1798: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer was assessed for property in the Cumberland Town Hundred and in the third district of Cumberland Town Hundred in 1798. In the third district he was assessed with three head of cattle, two horses, and additional property, which makes it seem as if he may have lived in the third district.

1799: Click here to see the March 25, 1799 court order making the orphan Daniel Sells an apprentice of Martin Rizer, Jr.

1799: The following apprenticeship agreement, which uses what seems to be fairly standard language, was signed by George Rizer I and James Clark on June 18, 1799: "This indenture witnesseth that I, Jacob Clark, of Allegany County and state of Maryland hath put, place and bound and by these presents hath put, place and bind out my son James Clark and he the said James Clark hath hereby put, place and bind out himself as an apprentice to George Rizer of the County and State aforesaid to learn the art and trade of a gunsmith in its various branches. The said James Clark after the manner of an apprentice to dwell with and serve the said George Rizer from the day of the date hereof until the Eleventh day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five at which time the said Apprentice will have served the said George Rizer five years and five months if he should be living during all time or term of years. The said Apprentice his master well and faithfully shall serve his secrets keep and his lawful command carry. When and at all times readily obey he shall do no damage to his said master nor willfully suffer any to be done by others and if any to his knowledge be intended he shall give timely notice to his master thereof he shall not waste his said masters goods nor lend them unlawfully to any at cards, dice or any other unlawful game he shall not play fornication he shall not commit no matrimony contract during said term taverns, ale houses or places of gaming he shall not haunt or frequent from the service of his master he shall not absent himself but in all things and at all times he shall carry and behave himself as a good and faithful apprentice ought during the which time or term aforesaid. And the said George Rizer on his part doth hereby covenant and agree to teach and instruct the said apprentice or cause him to be instructed or taught in the art and casting of a Gunsmith in its various branches by the best way and means he can and also to give the said apprentice eight months schooling in the manner following to wit three months day schooling and five months night schooling during said term aforesaid and shall well and faithfully provide for the said apprentice good and sufficient meat, drink, clothing, lodging, washing and mending, other necessaries fit and convenient for said apprentice during the term aforesaid and at the expiration thereof shall give unto the said apprentice twenty dollars in cash or in any kind of goods at the option of the boy. In Testimony whereof the said parties have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seal this eighteenth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety nine." Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" (mistakenly, I believe) reports this as a June 11, 1799 apprenticeship with a duration of five years and seven months. The June 11, 1799 apprenticeship date is also used in the 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker.

1799-1853: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a son named George W. Rizer Jr. who was born in 1799 and died in 1853. Although I haven't seen anything to support a 1799 birth or an 1853 death, the deed to George Rizer, Jr. that is recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 621-623 on October 29, 1839 confirms that George Rizer, Sr. had a son named George Rizer, Jr. Furthermore, the deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 573-575 on October 3, 1839 seems to indicate that George Rizer I had a son named George.

1800: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer was assessed in the Cumberland Town Hundred in 1800.

1800: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that Matthias Rizer's son Jacob Rizer of Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia) became a gunsmithing apprentice of Matthias's brother George Rizer I on May 23, 1800. Hartzler's book also indicates that Jacob Rizer was placed into this apprenticeship by his father Matthias. Sellers' 2009 compendium "American Gunsmiths" reports on this apprenticeship using Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" as his source, but inadvertently mixes up the father and son, reporting that Hartzler indicates that Jacob Rizer's son Matthias was apprenticed to George Rizer in 1800. The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker is less definitive about relationships, stating that Matthias Rizer may have been a brother of George and Martin Rizer. The 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" and the 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" provide additional information about the life of the apprentice Jacob Rizer.

1800: In a transcript of the 1800 census of Cumberland, the George Rizer household has one male and one female in the 45 and up age group. one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group, 2 males and one female in the 10 to 16 age group, and one male and 2 females in the up to 10 age group. The The household members in the 45 and up age group would have been born during or before circa 1755. The individuals in the 26 to 45 age group would have been been born during or before circa 1774. The George Rizer who was head of the household was in one of those two age groups, and was old enough to have a gunsmithing apprentice in 1799 and 1800.

1801: If the oldest George Rizer who is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery died on June 30, 1862 as I suspect, then he reached his majority (age 21) on January 27, 1801.

1801: In a deed recorded August 1, 1801 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book C, James Kenny of Washington County sold a 68-acre Allegany County tract called "Long Meadow" to Thomas Blair and George Rizer of Allegany County for 75 pounds. Click here to see the deed, which begins on page 377 of Liber C. The property was on a tributary of Evitts Creek.

1801: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer was assessed for property in the Cumberland Town Hundred in 1801.

1801: In a deed recorded November 13, 1801 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book C, George Rizer of Allegany County sold the three acre tract that had been part of the "Walnut Bottom" survey to Thomas Blaire for 150 pounds. The deed mentions, "Mrs. Margaret Rizer wife to the George Rizer". Click here to see the deed, which begins on page 411 of Liber C.

1801: In a deed recorded November 13, 1801 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book C, Thomas Blair sold his part of the "Long Meadow" property to George Rizer of Allegany County for 150 pounds. Click here to see the deed, which begins on page 413 of Liber C. George Rizer was living in Washington County, Maryland when he sold this property in 1814, as detailed farther below.

1801 or 1802-1867: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a son named William Rizer who was born in 1801 and died in 1867. The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of February 23, 1801 or 1802 for William Rizer. The quit claim deed to George Rizer, Jr. that is recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 621-623 on October 29, 1839 confirms that George Rizer, Sr. had a son named William Rizer in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. A tombstone in the Dayton Cemetery in Tippecanoe County, Indiana is inscribed, "William Rizer born Feb. 23, 1802, died Jan. 11, 1867." Click here to see an except from the Somers Township portion of the 1881 book "History of Preble County, Ohio" that shows a Phillip Rizer and a William Rizer serving in local government. This makes me think that William Rizer came to Preble County, Ohio before moving to Indiana, just like his sister Sophia (Rizer) Bartmess did.

1802: The following excerpt is from the Allegany County section in Volume II of Scharf's 1882 book "History of Western Maryland..." and documents the nomination of George Rizer for the state legislature.
George Rizer was nominated for the Maryland state legislature in 1802.

1802: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer was assessed for property in the Cumberland Town Hundred and the fourth district of the Cumberland Town Hundred in 1802.

1803: In a deed recorded July 23, 1803 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book C, Thomas Clinton sold a 12-1/2-acre portion of the "Distillery" tract to George Rizer of Allegany County for $30.00. The 274 acre Distillery tract (Allegany County Patented Certificate 712) was surveyed December 30, 1801 for Thomas Clinton and patented to Thomas Clinton on May 13, 1803. Click here to see the deed to George Rizer, which begins on page 654 of Liber C.

1803: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer was assessed for property in the Cumberland Town Hundred and the fourth district of the Cumberland Town Hundred in 1803.

1803: The following apprenticeship for the orphan John Riley is recorded in Liber A of the Allegany County Orphan's Court records. Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" mistakenly reports that the orphan John Riley became a gunsmithing apprentice of Martin Rizer II on December 13, 1803 at the age of 16, but clearly he was apprenticed to George Rizer at the age of 15.
Gunsmithing apprenticeship for the orphan John Riley.

1805: The following excerpt is from the 1805 Allegany County Orphan's Court records (Liber A, Page 68). Click here to see the index listing. Page 81 of Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" mistakenly reports that an August 31, 1805 gunsmithing apprenticeship of 17-year-old Basil Smith, Jr. was to Martin Rizer II. The apprenticeship did occur in 1805, but it states Basil Smith, Jr. would turn 17 next August 31, and it states that Basil Smith, Jr. was apprenticed to George Rizer. Researching is easier now than it was in 1977, because a person can just take a cell phone photo of the record instead of writing down notes that may later be difficult-to-decipher.
Gunsmithing apprenticeship for Basil Smith, Jr.

1805: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker quotes a February 8, 1805 affidavit of George Rizer in his capacity as an Allegany County Justice of the Peace. The affidavit, which is recorded on page 151 Allegany County Will Book A, confirms witnessing a declaration and several oaths of George Bruce that were apparently related to George Bruce's position as the Allegany County Register of Wills.

1805: The following image from the 1805 records of the Circuit Court of Allegany County, Maryland shows that an individual named George Rizer was drawn to serve on the Grand Jury of the Circuit Court.
In 1805 an individual named George Rizer was drawn to serve on the Grand Jury of the Circuit Court.

1805-1853: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a son named Benjamin F. Rizer who was born in 1805 and died in 1853. The quit claim deed to George Rizer, Jr. that is recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 621-623 on October 29, 1839 indicates that George Rizer, Sr. had a son named Benjamin F. Rizer in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. A badly broken tombstone at the Baker Cemetery in Tippecanoe County, Indiana is inscribed "Benjamine F Rizer died Jan 6, 1853 aged 47 Yrs 11 Ms. & 5 Ds". The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of January 31, 1805 for Benjamin Rizer.

1805-1806: The following composite image is from the Allegany County section in Volume II of Scharf's 1882 book "History of Western Maryland..." The election of George Rizer to the Maryland legislature was announced in the November 7, 1805 issue of the "Maryland Gazette" newspaper.
The election of George Rizer to the Maryland state legislature was announced in the Maryland Gazette newspaper.

1805: The following excerpt is from the book "Journal of the House of Delegates, 1805".
005 excerpt  from the Journal of the House of Delegates 1805.

 006 excerpt from the 1805 Journal of the House of Delegates 1805 mentions George Rizer.

1806: If the oldest George Rizer who is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery died on June 30, 1867 as (perhaps erroneously) reported in the book "History of Western Maryland...", then he reached his majority (age 21) on January 27, 1806.

1806: The following excerpt is from the book "Journal of the House of Delegates, 1806".
Excerpt from the 1806 Journal of the House of Delegates 1805 mentions George Rizer.

1806: In a deed recorded October 13, 1806 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book E beginning on page 47, Thomas Beall of Samuel sold a tract taken from the "Walnut Bottom" tract (Prince George's County Patented Certificate 2241) to George Rizer and John Rice of Allegany County for $100.00 for use of the Lutheran Congregation. Click here to see the deed. The Walnut Bottom tract is well-known as the site of Cumberland, Maryland, and part of its boundary can be matched to the curves in the Potomac River.

1806: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker quotes from a letter at the National Archives that Tench Coxe wrote to George and Martin Rizer on April 19, 1806 soliciting quotes for 50 or 100 rifles suitable for the Indian service, the quote to be kept on hand in case the rifles are needed. The letter was a response to an inquiry about manufacturing rifles for the the United States that the Rizers had sent. The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker seems to mischaracterize this letter, stating that on April 19, 1806 a contract to manufacture rifles was actually obtained by Martin Rizer II and George Rizer I.

Page 81 of Hartzler's 1977 book implies that George Rizer I and Martin Rizer II worked in the same shop on Baltimore Street, and indicates the shop was on the northern side of the street.

1807: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that Martin Rizer II and George Rizer I filed the second account of the estate of Martin Rizer I on February 8, 1807, and indicates the account is recorded on page 98 of Allegany County estate book A. The book reports that the second account recorded disbursements to Catherine, Philip, Christena, and Mathias Rizer.

1807: The following excerpt is from the September 22, 1807 issue of Richmond's "The Enquirer" newspaper, and seems to show George Rizer serving in the capacity of Justice of the Peace.
This 1807 document references George Rizer.

1807: In 1807 Benjamin Troutman and George Rizer signed an indenture that includes the statement, "I Benjamin Troutman, have put myself voluntarily as an apprentice to the gunsmithing business to George Rizer of the Town of Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland, from November 27, 1807 to the end of one full year. " The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports the Troutman apprenticeship date as September 27, 1807. I have been unable to locate the Benjamin Troutman apprenticeship agreement with George Rizer. The 1991 book references its apprenticeship source as "Allegany County Apprenticeship Indenture Records". The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports the year of Benjamin Troutman's apprenticeship with George Rizer I as 1805.

1807-1837: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a son named Philip Rizer who was born in 1807 and died in 1837. The Bible records of Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer in the March 1995 issue of the NGS Quarterly reportedly give a birth date of October 24, 1807 for Phillip Rizer. The deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 573-575 on October 3, 1839 confirms that George Rizer had a son named Philip who was deceased in 1839 leaving a widow named Eliza who signed the deed from Preble County, Ohio. Click here to see an except from the Somers Township portion of the 1881 book "History of Preble County, Ohio" that shows a Phillip Rizer and a William Rizer serving in local government. This makes me think that Philip's brother William came to Preble County, Ohio before moving to Indiana.

1808: The following tax list abstracts are from pages 74 and 76, Volume II of the 1966 book "Early Allegany County Records, 1788-1812". As detailed farther below, George Rizer of Washington County, Maryland sold a 100-acre Allegany County tract of land called Norwood farm to George Rizer, Jr. of Washington County, Maryland in 1837.
001 George Rizer in tax list abstract.

002 George Rizer in tax list abstract.

1808: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that James Clark's brother Hiram Clark became a gunsmithing apprentice of George Rizer on March 29, 1808. Page 83 of Hartzler's book shows a signed flintlock rifle by Hiram Clark that has incised carving, a patch box, and 13 inlays of silver.

1809: As reported in Volume 2 of my 2019 book "Fort Cumberland", a document shows a payment of tobacco by George Rizer for "Complying with the acts of assembly in Keeping ordinary until April Term 1809. --" Peter Lowdermilk, Archibald Arnold, and Benjamin Tomlinson are easily recognizable to me as individuals who lived in Allegany County, Maryland. William H. Lowdermilk, author of the 1878 book "History of Cumberland" was a descendant of Peter Lowdermilk and Michael Kershner. Benjamin Tomlinson lived at or near what is now Corriganville, and Archibald Arnold lived in Arnold's Settlement above what is now Mount Savage. In other words, it is abundantly clear that this is a record from Allegany County, Maryland.

 This document shows a payment of tobacco by George Rizer for Complying with the acts of assembly in Keeping ordinary until April Term 1809.

1809: Acting in the capacity of a Justice of the Peace, George Rizer witnessed a deed that was recorded on Page 416 of Allegany County land record book E on April 17, 1809.

1809-1839: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a daughter named Hetty Ann Rizer who was born in 1809 and died in 1839. The deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 573-575 on October 3, 1839 seems to me to indicate that George Rizer had a daughter named Hetty Ann who was married to George R. Thrawls.

The 1995 book "Pottinger-Pottenger Progeny" seems to get the marriage of George R. Thralls wrong, stating that he was born circa 1810 and married Hester Ann "Hetty Ann" Pottenger on September 9, 1833 probably in Preble, Ohio, and they had a son named Fred who was born circa 1835, probably in Preble, Ohio. The statement in the 1995 book seems likely to be based on a statement on page 299 of the 1881 book "History of Preble County, Ohio". The books are secondary sources. The 1939 deed, on the other hand, is documentary evidence that Hetty Ann Thraws was the daughter of George Rizer.

1810: In a transcript of the 1810 census of Allegany County District 5, a George Rizer household has one male and one female in the 45 and up age group, one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group, three males and one female in the 16 to 26 age group, one male and two females in the 10 to 16 age group, and three males in the up to 10 age group. The household members in the 45 and up age group would have been born on or before circa 1765. If the George Rizer who was the head of the household was in that age group or the older portion of the 26 to 45 age group, he would have been old enough to have had a gunsmithing apprentice in 1799 and 1800. Based on this, the household appears to be that of the gunsmith George Rizer I. The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports this 1810 census listing, but omits the female over age 45.

1810: The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker provides a partial quote of a real esate advertisement by George Rizer that was published in the May 19, 1810 issue of the "Republican Gazette" newspaper. The advertisement lists property in Cumberland, Maryland. The first item was two log houses on Mechanic Street near the square. One house was described as being a 30' by 24' two story house having a weather-boarded front and a plastered interior. The other house was described as being 28' by 20'. The second item was a tract of about 90 acres on the road to Hancock that had 40 cleared acres, and a one and a half story house that was 24' x 18' in size.

1810: George Rizer of Allegany County received a June 12, 1810 property assignment from Valentine Hoffman, had the property surveyed on June 29, 1810, and tried and failed to have the property patented under the name Rizers Mill Waterworks (Allegany County Unpatented Certificate 728).

1810-1816: In an October 15, 1810 Washington County, Maryland deed recorded March 28, 1811 (Book W pages 454-456) George Rizer of Allegany County, Maryland purchased a tract called 'Rose Valey" from James Rose of Washington County, Maryland. The Rose Valley tract was part of the estate of George Rizer, Sr. of Washington County, Maryland in 1839, as detailed below. George Rizer received a patent for the 294-1/4-acre Rose Valley tract on December 1, 1816 (Washington County Patented Certificate 841). The patented certificate includes the assignment of James Rose to George Rizer, which states, "For a valuable consideration to me in hand paid by George Rizer of Washington County in the State of Maryland I do hereby assign transfer and make over my whole right title interest claim and demand of in and to a tract of land lying and being in the County and State aforesaid known by the name of 'Rose Valley' Resurveyed for me the 14th day of June 1798--Containing two hundred ninety four and a quarter acres of land--and request that Patent may issue in his name for the said tract of Land--Given under my hand and seal the 27th day of Aug. in the year of our Lord 1816---James Rose Witness present John Rose." These documents put an individual named George Rizer in Alleghany County, Maryland in 1810 and then puts him in Washington County, Maryland in 1816.

1810: An Allegany County, Maryland deed recorded on page 110 of Land record book F on October 25, 1810 was witnessed by George Rizer, who was evidently acting in the capacity of a Justice of the Peace.

1811: In a deed recorded on September 11, 1811 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book F beginning on page 260, Allegany County resident George Rizer of Martin purchased one half of Cumberland lot 209 from David Hoffman, Sr. Click here to see an excerpt from a copy of an 1806 map that shows where lot 209 is located. Click here to see the deed. The sale is memorialized (with a typographical error) in the following tax list abstract from page 117, Volume II of the 1966 book "Early Allegany County Records, 1788-1812". An individual named George Rizer is also listed in a tax list abstract on page 133, but the year isn't clear.
George Rizer puchases property in Cumberland.

1811: The following tax list abstract is from page 157, Volume II of the 1966 book "Early Allegany County Records, 1788-1812". Based on other documentary evidence linked and described herein, I believe that George Rizer I owned the Water Fall tract.
A reference to George Rizer and Rizers Mill Waterworks.

1811: An anonymously written web page about George W. Riser indicates he had a daughter named Maria Jane Rizer who was born in 1811. The deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 573-575 on October 3, 1839 seems to indicate that George Rizer had a daughter named Maria Jane who was married to Arthur A. Thralls.

1811-1812: Allegany County Unpatented Certificate 226 documents the June 8, 1811 survey of a tract of land in Allegany County called "Democratic Meadow" for a George Rizer of Washington County. The survey metes and bounds include a reference to "said George Rizers dwelling house", showing that this George Rizer, whoever he was, lived near the border between Allegany and Washington Counties. Allegany County Unpatented Certificate 227 documents a September 4, 1812 survey of a tract of land in Allegany County called "The Democratic Meadow Enlarged" for "George Rizer of Allegany County (Washington County)". The metes and bounds of this survey include the statement, "west one mile and a quarter from the said George Rizers dwelling house situate in Washington County..."

1812: In a deed recorded April 4, 1812 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book F beginning on page 393, George Rizer of Washington County, Maryland and his wife Margaret Rizer sold Cumberland lots 213 and 231 to Samuel Smith. Click here to see the deed. As noted above, George Rizer was an Allegany County resident when be purchased the lots in 1793. This 1812 sale is memorialized on page 122, Volume II of the 1966 book "Early Allegany County Records, 1788-1812" as follows:
George Rizer and his wife Margaret Rizer sold Cumberland lots to Samuel Smith.

1812: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that John Rizer's son Martin Rizer became a blacksmithing apprentice of George Rizer I on February 9, 1812 that was to last until Martin Rizer reached age 21. One page of Hartzler's book says John signed the indenture with an "X", and another page of the book says that Martin put himself in the blacksmithing apprenticeship.

1812-1837: Allegany County Patented Certificate 548 is for a tract of land in Allegany County called "Conciliation" that was finally patented to George Rizer on February 24, 1837. The survey begins with the statement, "By virtue of a Special warrant for Ten acres granted out of the land office for the western shore to Martin Rizer of Allegany County bearing date the twenty fifth day of March eighteen hundred and twelve and on the nineteenth day of December eighteen hundred and twelve assigned his whole right and title of in and to the aforesaid Warrant to George Rizer and George Cook both of the County aforesaid". The survey was performed on December 19, 1812. George Cook conveyed his interest in the property to George Rizer of Allegany County on January 25, 1837 and the property was patented to George Rizer on February 24, 1837. I do not know which George Rizer this was.

1813: The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports Martin Rizer II and George Rizer I filed the fourth account in the estate of Martin Rizer I (Described as "Martin Rizer, Senr") on October 13, 1813, and the account is recorded on page 167 of Allegany County estate book A.

1813: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" indicates that Josiah Moss of Bedford County was apprenticed to the gunsmith George Rizer by Bedford County Widow Experience Moss in 1813. Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" indicates that Bedford County, Pennsylvania orphan Josiah was 15 years old when he was bound to George Rizer by his mother on September 18, 1813 as a gunsmithing apprentice. I have been unable to locate the Josiah Moss apprenticeship with George Rizer at the Maryland State Archives.

1813: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that Adam Houser placed his son Azra Houser in a blacksmithing apprenticeship with the gunsmith George Rizer I on December 15, 1813. The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker gives this apprentice's name as Ezra Houser.

1813: The following excerpt (a composite image) is from Lowdermilk's 1878 book "History of Cumberland". It refers to George Rizer the son of Martin Rizer, and other Rizer individuals. Click here to see a description of the location of Martin Rizer's house in 1813 in the same 1878 book.
 George Rizer is listed in a transcript of an 1813 tax list.

1814: In a deed recorded on April 22, 1814 in Allegany County, Maryland land record book G beginning on page 341, George Rizer of Washington County, Maryland and his wife Margaret Rizer sold the "Long Meadow" property to Hanson Briscoe for $500.00. Click here to see the deed. As detailed above, George Rizer was an Allegany County resident when he purchased the "Long Meadow" property in 1801.

1814: The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that William Waltz was bound to the gunsmith George Rizer as a blacksmithing apprentice on October 13, 1814 by William's father John Waltz, Sr.

1815 A 1995 issue of the 'National Genealogical Society Quarterly" indicates that Rezin Barnes and Catherine Rizer were married in Allegany County, Maryland in 1815, moved to Tippecanoe County, Indiana circa 1827/1828, and in 1849 settled in the county of Richland in Wisconsin.

1815-1816: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that following the gunsmith George Rizer's brother Martin's death in 1815, Martin's January 4, 1816 estate appraisal listed blacksmithing tools.

1817: In a May 12, 1817 deed recorded May 31, 1817 beginning on page 235 of Allegany County land record book IJ, George Rizer of Allegany County, Maryland purchased a 463-acre tract of land called Bowling Green (Allegany County Patented Certificate 312) from Upton Bruce. Click here to see the deed.

1817: In a May 30, 1817 deed recorded June 3, 1817 beginning on page 236 of Allegany County land record book IJ, George Rizer of Martin of Allegany County, Maryland sold his one half part of Cumberland lot 209 to John Murrell, Jr. for $3,000.00. Click here to see the deed.

1818: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" indicates that the apprenticeship training of Josiah Moss concluded in 1818. If I had to guess, this statement is probably based on a duration specified in the apprenticeship indenture.

1819: The 1991 book "Maryland Longrifles" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that Joshua Devou became a blacksmithing apprentice of George Rizer II on May 16, 1819 and reports that Charles Bennett became a blacksmithing apprentice of George Rizer II on December 15, 1819. Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that Charles Bennett's father John Bennett placed him in this apprenticeship.

1820: In a transcript of the 1820 census of the Allegany County Sixth District, a George Rizer household has one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group, one male in the 16 to 26 age group, one female in the 10 to 16 age group, and two males and two females in the up to 10 age group. Based on the male in the 26 to 45 age group, this census record appears to pertain to one of the individuals named George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery.

1825: The July 7, 1825 deed recorded July 8, 1825 in Allegany County land record book M beginning on page 702 is difficult to read and understand, but seems to be a belated indenture relating to George Rizer of Washington County having been the highest bidder in the 1807 tax sale of a 100-acre portion of the Norwood farm tract. Click here to see the deed.

1829: The following excerpt is from the Allegany County section in Volume II of Scharf's 1882 book "History of Western Maryland..." I don't know if this pertains to the gunsmith George Rizer I; it seems more likely to pertain to George Rizer II.
A George Rizer served as a judge of an Allegany County, Maryland election district.

1837: In a March 2, 1837 deed recorded May 19, 1837 on page 212 of Allegany County, Maryland land record book T, George Rizer, Jr. of Washington County purchased a 100-acre Allegany County tract of land called Norwood farm from George Rizer of Washington County, who appeared in Allegany County on March 2, 1837 and signed with his mark.

1837: As noted above, genealogy web pages by Karl David Wright indicate that a George W. Riser who was born on April 22, 1767 died in Hancock, Washington, County, Maryland on April 1, 1837.

1837: Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland" reports that after the gunsmith George Rizer died near Hancock, Maryland in 1837, his estate inventory listed gunsmithing tools, a pistol, a shotgun, and a rifle. Surprisingly, the 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that there are no estate administration records for George Rizer I, and reports that the year of his death is unknown and cannot be estimated any better than circa 1813 to 1839.

1839: In a quit claim deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 573-575 on October 3, 1839, a George Rizer of Washington County purchased various Washington County properties of a deceased individual named George Rizer from other heirs of that George Rizer. The properties conveyed in the deed were named Rose Valley, Rizer's Addition, and Water Fall. The names of the other children identified by the deed (in addition to George) are Philip Rizer, Hetty Ann Thrawls, Maria Jane Thralls, and Anna Jones, who all signed off on the deed from Preble County, Ohio. I could not locate the burials of any of the Ohio heirs or their spouses.

1839: In a quit claim deed recorded in Washington County, Maryland Land Record Book UU pages 621-623 on October 29, 1839, George Rizer, Junior of Washington County purchased various Washington County properties of a deceased individual named George Rizer, Senior from other heirs of George Rizer, Senior who all signed in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The properties were named Rose Valley, Rizer's Addishion, and Waterfall. The names of the other children identified by the deed (in addition to George) are Sophia Bartmess, Catherine Barnes, William Rizer, and Benjamin F. Rizer. As described above, George Rizer of Allegany County, Maryland purchased a tract called 'Rose Valey" in an October 15, 1810 Washington County, Maryland deed recorded March 28, 1811 (Book W pages 454-456).

1850: I only found two individuals named George Rizer in the 1850 census of Allegany County, Maryland, to wit:

  • An individual named George Rizer appears in the 1850 census of Cumberland, Maryland as a 65-year-old individual with real estate valued at $30,000.00. Living in his household are 63-year-old Margaret and 23-year-old Margaret. No occupation is listed. This George Rizer would have been born circa 1785, and may be the older individual named George Rizer who is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery. This George Rizer is too young to be the gunsmith who had an apprentice in 1799.
  • An individual named George H. Rizer appears in the 1850 census of Allegany County, Maryland as a 34-year-old individual with real eatate valued at $6,000.00. In his household are 29-year-old Elizabeth, 6-year-old Sarah, and Thomas Patton, with an age that is difficult to read but probably 10. This George Rizer is far too young to be the gunsmith who had an apprentice in 1799 and may be the George Hoffman Rizer who is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick County, Maryland, where his weathered tombstone inscription states (as well as I can read it), "George Hoffman Rizer died May 14, 1894 Aged 79 yrs. & 11 mos."

    Misc:

  • The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that George Rizer I owned slaves. I don't have information to confirm or deny the statement, but do know that there is a published family tradition of a different George Rizer who supposedly was a slave holder from Hancock County, Maryland (no such county exists) who married Caroline J. Weaver and had a son Charles Rizer who was born circa 1829 in Maryland. Click here to see the story, which is from in the 1893 book "Portrait and Biographical Record of Madison and Hamilton Counties, Indiana".

    Work Product:

  • The 1998 book "Gunsmiths of Maryland" by Hartzler & Whisker reports that the author does not know of any signed guns that were made by George Rizer I. This is difficult to reconcile with Hartzler's 1977 book "Arms Makers of Maryland", which purports to show a rifle made by George Rizer I.

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