Henry Bowsinger, early Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: Henry Bowsinger is known as an early gunsmith in Brothersvalley Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania from tax records, and from the written recollection of someone with first-hand knowledge.

1783: I suspect the Somerset County gunsmith Henry Bowsinger came to America as a Hessian soldier. The book "German Mercenary Expatriates in the United States and Canada" lists a German cannoneer named Heinrich Bauschinger who deserted from the British forces on May 13, 1783. An article titled "Descendants wanted: The SAR is seeking people with local Hessian ancestry" in the June 7, 2015 issue of the "Frederick News-Post" lists an individual named Heinrich Bauschinger as one of many German soldiers who were imprisoned at the "stone barracks" in Frederick, Maryland during the Revolutionary War. I've seen this Hessian Soldier listed variously as Heinrich Bauschinger, Heinrich Bauschinger, and Henry Bowsinger.

1784: Volumes 19-20 (1978) of the "Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin" record an October 5, 1784 marriage between a Henry Bowsinger and Barbara Schrader. In the estate papers of the Somerset County gunsmith Henry Bowsinger, his wife is identified as Barbara. This isn't proof that the Maryland Henry Bowsinger is the Somerset County gunsmith, but it is harmonious with the theory.

1790: I suspect that the Somerset County gunsmith Henry Bowsinger is the same individual who appears in the 1790 census of Frederick County, Maryland. The following Frederick County census transcript is from the 1907 book "Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790 Maryland":

1800: Henry Bowsinger does not appear in the 1800 federal census of Frederick County, Maryland. He also does not appear in the 1800 federal census of Berlin or Brothersvalley Township, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

1802-1820: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts Henry Bowshinger/Bousinger in the village of Berlin from 1802 to 1820.

1802-1823: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Henry Boushinger/Bowshinger is identified as a gunsmith on the tax rolls of Brothersvalley Township, Somerset County in the years 1805, 1806, 1808, 1810, 1812, 1813, 1820, and 1823. According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania", Henry Bowsinger appears on the Brothersvalley Township tax rolls as a gunsmith in Berlin, Pennsylvania from 1802 to 1823.

1803: On September 7, 1803, Henry Bowsinger appeared in the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas as a witness in the case of John Huber versus Robert Philson. The minutes read as follows:

"07 Sep 1803. The Court met pursuant to adjournment:

John Huber vs Robert Philson. And now a jury of the county being called, elected, tried and sworn respectively, viz: Moses Rambow, James Boyd, William Brookes, William Johnston, Henry Vulgamont, Elijah White, Philip King, Jacob Beam, John Armstrong, Jacob Loud, Samuel Wright, and Peter Schultz, who upon their oaths and affirmations do respectfully say . Testifying for the plaintiff: Alexander Ogle, Peter Kimmel, John Kennedy, George Johnston Esq, Jonathan Bayer, Henry Bowsinger, Jacob Wyant, Peter Aakeny, George Swartz, Jacob Huber, Abraham Cable Esq, John Kimmel, Samuel Selby, and John Colpenny. Testifying for the defendant: James Kline, William Dorsey, Christian Ri__ , Jonathan Rhoads, and Philip Weigerly.

Court adjourned to 3 o'clock. Court met pursuant to adjournment. Court adjourned to 9 o'clock on the morrow."

1807: According to the following item from the April 2, 1891 "Somerset Herald", Henry Bowsinger served as a juror in the Somerset County's first murder trial in 1807:

1808: According to the March 2, 1808 minutes of the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas, Henry Bowsinger served as a juror in the Trespass and Assault and Battery case of William Tipton versus William C. Dorsey, John Black & James Black.

1810: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" indicates that in the 1810 census the Henry Bowsinger household consisted of one male and two females who were all over the age of 45.

1814: The following item is from a sketch of the Ankeny family written by Charles Schultz in 1949 and expanded by Lawrence Jenkins in 1981. It shows that Henry Bowsinger was listed as a creditor in the 1814 estate papers of Frederick Wilhelm Long.

1821-1823: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts Henry Bowshinger/Bousinger in Brothersvalley Township of Somerset County from 1821 to 1823.

1823: According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania", Henry Bowsinger's December 13, 1822 will was filed on February 4, 1823, the estate Administrator was his wife Barbara, and his estate included blacksmithing and gunsmithing tools and gun stocks. I could not find a reference to his burial in the W.P.A. cemetery records of Brothersvalley Township.

Circa 1870: An article "Reminiscences by Henry J. Young, twenty-four years ago..." in the August 10, 1894 issue of the "Somerset Standard" newspaper contains the following statement regarding Berlin, Pennsylvania, "Henry Bowshmyer was a gunsmith who kept the armory of the militia; they had about 100 muskets. There were two militia companies and one rifle company. The rifle company was commanded by Robert Philson, one of the militia companies by Captain Geo. Dively, the other by Captain Valentine Keffer. The field officers were Dr. John Kimmell and Jacob Countryman senior, with George Montal, an old revolutionary soldier, for adjutant." Henry J. Young moved to the area in 1800, when he was about ten years old.

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