George W. Spangler, gunsmith

Introduction: In 1844 at the age of 14, George Spangler migrated from Somerset County, Pennsylvania to Wisconsin with his gunsmith father Samuel Spangler, and became a prolific Wisconsin gun maker. I think it is reasonable to believe that he would have assisted his father in the gunsmithing business in some capacity before the move, even prior to becoming a teenager.

1827-1843: Purportedly based on tax records, the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" identifies Samuel Spangler's son George as a Stoystown gunsmith in the 1827 to 1843 timeframe. I suspect the entry was simply meant to convey that the gunsmith George Spangler lived in the environs of Stoystown from his birth until he moved to Wisconsin with his father in 1844, and I further suspect that the word "tax" was a mistake that wasn't identified and corrected during proofreading. Finding mistakes in drafts of books is more difficult than someone who has never written a book would think. For example, the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" sets out George Spangler's lifetime as 1827 to 1913, and then immediately thereafter states that he was born on December 23, 1829.

1829: According to the following excerpt from the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin", George W. Spangler was born December 23, 1829 in Pennsylvania, and was the son of the gunsmith Samuel Spangler. Based on his tombstone inscription, however, he was born in 1830. I put more weight on the birthday given in the book because he was alive at the time the biography in the book was written, and probably contributed to the biography.

1846-1914: The 1953 book "American Gun Makers" puts Samuel Spangler's son George in Monroe, Wisconsin from 1846 to 1914, and associates him with hunting rifles, target rifles, and shotguns, and reports that he made double barrel rifles including some of the over and under variety. Beginning circa 1870, according to the 1953 book, George Spangler was only a dealer. Jerald T. Teesdale's article "Gunmaking Industry in Wisconsin" in the March 1949 issue of the "Wisconsin magazine of history " mentions that George Spangler made hunting rifles (single & double barreled), target rifles, and shotguns, and then became a hardware dealer when there was a decline in the gun making business following the Civil War.

1856: Teesdale's March 1949 article mentions that the gun maker George Spangler advertised in the newspaper in 1856 in Monroe, Wisconsin, and the advertisements do not mention Samuel Spangler.

1860-1861: The following advertisement is from the January 4, 1860 issue of the "Monroe Sentinel" newspaper. The same advertisement is included in the June 26, 1861 issue of the "Monroe Sentinel". The commencement date of the advertisement appears to be "Sept. 24 '56". The advertisements put George Spangler's shop "opposite the United States Hotel", which was an old two story hotel that looked like a house. According to Volume III of the 1882 "Wisconsin State Gazetteer and Business Directory", The United States Hotel was on the public square of Monroe.

1861: George Spangler advertised in the December 25, 1861 issue of the "Monroe Sentinel" newspaper, but I haven't seen the ad.

1873: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that George Spangler served as a trustee that year:

1875: The following images show George Spangler's gunsmithing-related entries in the 1875 book "Gazetteer and Directory of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway and Branches". It shows that by 1875 he was a dealer in breechloading firearms.

1876: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that George Spangler served as a trustee that year:

1877: The following excerpt is from the "Village Directory for 1877" portion of Bingham's 1877 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin":

1880: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that George Spangler served as a trustee that year:

1882: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that George Spangler served as an alderman that year:

1883: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that George Spangler served as an alderman that year:

1884: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that George Spangler served as mayor that year:

1884: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin":

1888-1890: Teesdale's March 1949 article indicates that George Spangler was the Mayor of Monroe, Wisconsin in the 1888 to 1890 timeframe.

George Spangler's house at 1218 17th Avenue in Monroe is property 68053 of the Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.

1890: The January 14, 1890 issue of the "Monroe Independent" newspaper contains a notice that states, "Married, in this city this morning at the residence of the bride's parents, at 7:00 am, Anna M., only daughter and child of Mayor George Spangler and wife, to Robert K. Bigelow, of Litchfield, Connecticut, by Rev. M. Benson of the M.E. Church.'

1893: The August 1, 1893 issue of Monroe's "Evening Times" newspaper includes the following item, "Mrs. M. A. Raney and Mr. and Mrs. John A. Raney of Altoona, Pa., who have been visiting their sister Mrs. George Spangler and family for the past few months left this morning for Chicago where they will spend a week at the World's Fair and then return to their home in Pennsylvania."

1898: Teesdale's March 1949 article indicates that George Spangler branched off into hardware when the demand for guns dropped off after the Civil War. The following item is from Volume XLIX of "The Metal Worker" (January to June, 1898):

1911: The following excerpt is from the 1911 "Polk's Wisconsin State Gazetteer and Business Directory":

1913: George W. Spangler is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin--the same cemetery where his father Samuel is said to be buried. An inscription on one tombstone states "George Spangler died Apr. 9, 1913 aged 83 yrs." The inscription on another more recent-looking tombstone states "George W. Spangler 1830--1913". Jerald T. Teesdale's March 1949 article indicates that the obituary of George Spangler is included in the April 5, 1913 edition of Monroe's "Evening Times" newspaper.

Teesdale's March 1949 article indicates that George Spangler made Schuetzen target rifles, and single and double-barrel shotguns and hunting rifles. George Spangler is also said to have made superposed combination guns, with one rifle barrel and one shotgun barrel.

I've seen photographs of a number of George Spangler rifles. For example, one was a half stock percussion rifle with a relatively heavy octagon barrel that is pinned with a lateral brass key that passes through lanceolate brass escutcheons. The nipple has a brass flash guard, and the stock has a brass cap box. The ramrod ferrules are mounted to a typical under-rib. The double set triggers are protected by a brass trigger guard.

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