Henry Roth (Rhoads), Somerset County gunsmith?

H. Austin Cooper's 1962 book "Two Centuries of Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren 1762 - 1962" has a short treatise about long rifles made in Somerset County that was written by Somerset gun collector and historian David J. Weimer. David J. Weimer is one of the individuals Arcadi Gluckman and L. D. Satterlee thanked for "indirect contributions" to the 1953 edition of "American gun makers", however their book does not mention Henry Roth.

Weimer's short treatise in Cooper's book is not mistake free. For example, Weimer has Jacob Mier of Somerset making rifles as early as 1795, when all available data indicates that Jacob Mier was born in 1793 or possibly 1792.

All faults aside, Weimer's treatise states that Henry Roth, Sr. was a blacksmith who also produced rifles. Weimer appears to be writing from knowledge of local traditions, because he describes that he has been told that some of Roth's rifles went with the Kentucky migration led by Captain Henry Roth, Jr. in 1785. I am reluctant to dismiss such local traditions, after many experiences with traditions that contain kernels of truth. David J. Weimer was born in 1897, and in his day was a well-known gun collector who was considered to be Somerset's foremost historian. I can appreciate that he was several generations closer to the 1700s than we are, and therefore had access to more local traditions then than we do now. His obituary appears in the June 9, 1965 issue of the "Somerset Daily American" newspaper.

For a biography of the Kentucky Pioneer Henry Rhoads, Jr. see Otto A. Rothert's 1913 book "A History of Muhlenberg County".

In his 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania", James B. Whisker mentions that an individual named Henry Roth from Hanover Township of Cumberland County was voluntarily bound to Philip Bence in 1767 to learn blacksmithing in York County with an £28 bond. This seems rather late to be Henry Roth, Sr. who had adult children at the time of his death in 1774. To be clear, Whisker just mentions this fact, without presenting it as proof of anything. I mention it because it could conceivably relate to Henry Roth, Jr. That probably isn't the case, because there was a Henry Roth in Captain Yost Herbach's York County Company in 1776.

The following reference to Henry Roth, Sr. is from Morgan Edwards' book "Material Toward History of the Baptists", which seems to have been written in 1770:

The following reference to Henry Roth, Sr. is from Brumbaugh's 1899 book "A History of the German Baptist Brethren in Europe and America". It mentions Henry Roth, Sr. as one of the early settlers in the Stony Creek portion of Brothersvalley. (In the 1700s, the term "Brothersvalley" covered a much larger area than that of the present Brothersvalley Township.) Over time the "Roth" surname changed to variations of "Rhoads".

Stony Creek originates at the Pius Spring in Berlin, Brothersvalley Township, Pennsylvania. The Stony Creek settlement was one of the earliest settlements in what is now Somerset County. Later, a subset of the settlement became known as the Coxes Creek settlement.

Henry Rhodes, Sr. appears in the first assessment of Brothersvalley Township, Bedford County. That assessment was performed in 1772 for 1773 taxes. He is enumerated with 200 acres, 21 of which were cleared. Henry Rhodes, Jr. is enumerated with 400 acres, ten of which are cleared. In the second assessment, which was for 1774 taxes, Henry Rhodes, Sr. is identified as being deceased. Here are the family members as they appear in a manuscript version of the 1772 Brothersvalley Township tax list:

I'm not sure why, but a Henry Rhodes also appears on the following undated tax list from Colerain Township. The tax list would have to be from before 1774, because John Doddridge is on it (not shown here) and his son said he left the area in the spring of 1773. As you can see here, John Piper is also on the list.

The homestead of Henry Rhodes, Sr. was along Rhoads Creek, which is shown on the following excerpt from the 1792 Reading Howell map of Pennsylvania.

In his January 28, 1774 will, Henry Rhoads indicates that Joseph Rhoads bought the home plantation improvement, stating "... I do further will and make over to my son Joseph Rhoads one plow and all the geirs and one Bolt Horse or gelten with the colt and and the harrow and all the tacklinse there unto Belonging which the said Joseph Roads is to have and has cot to the plantation in his bargain of Beying the same..." (I have not seen a copy of the original will. The preceding "quote" is an amalgamation based on two different transcripts.) A copy of Joseph's survey (Book C-163 page 252) of the property follows, with north generally at the bottom of the image:

The following extract from the Stonycreek portion of the 1939 "Somerset County Pennsylvania Atlas of Original Survey Warrants Collected and Plotted as a W. P. A. Project" shows the location of the Rhoads plantation. The property is located at approximately 39.968349, -78.911068.

In his 1962 book, H. Austin Cooper indicates that the residence of Henry Rhoads, Sr. was on the north side of Rhoads Creek, although he indicates that the farm was on the south side of the creek. Here is a copy of the survey for the Rhoads property on the north side of the creek (Book B-3 page 163). It carries the inscription, "Conditional Line made by the Father deceased."

According to the following item from the November 1972 Laurel Messenger, a son named Henry was born to Henry Rhoads, Sr. on June 5, 1739.

The following genealogy information is from the May 1971 issue of the "Laurel Messenger".

The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" claims the Henry Roth, Jr. who went to Kentucky was a gunsmith who learned gunsmithing from his father. This isn't anything Mr. Weimer reports in Cooper's 1962 book.

The following reference to Henry Rhoads is from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania".

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