Were Henry Rhoads (Roth), Sr. & Jr. gunsmiths?

Henry Rhoads, Sr.
In Somerset County genealogy, the names Roth and Rhoads have been used for the same family. H. Austin Cooper's 1962 book "Two Centuries of Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren 1762 - 1962" has a 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 that book does not mention Henry Roth.

Weimer's treatise in Cooper's book is not error 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.

Henry Rhoads, Jr.
The Whisker's 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, who was Henry Roth, Sr. This is not something David J. Weimer reported in H. Austin Cooper's 1962 book. Henry Rhoads, Jr. is not included in the Whisker's 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania".

Click here to read a detailed biography of the Kentucky Pioneer Henry Rhoads, Jr. from Otto A. Rothert's 1913 book "A History of Muhlenberg County".

My two cents worth
I haven't found any actual documentary evidence that either Henry Rhoades, Sr. or Henry Rhoades, Jr. were gunsmiths. If it could be proven that they were indeed blacksmiths, then (in my opinion) it would have been difficult for them to avoid performing at least some gun repairs, considering their early settlement date. I have not seen the proof that they were blacksmiths. I have, however, seen an estate abstract of a different individual with the same name who lived in Frederick County, Maryland and was identified as a blacksmith in two different deeds, as described below.

Whisker's opinion
James B. Whisker's opinion, expressed on page 4 of the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties", was that the claim that Henry Roth, Sr. was a gunsmith had not been proven. The basis for including the Henry Roth, Sr. biographical entry in that book is identified as being Cooper's book, and the entry notes that Cooper's book does not provide a reference for identifying Henry Roth, Sr. as a gunsmith.

The Rhoads family story
1739-1760: The following excerpt from the August 1962 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" provides the birth dates of Henry Rhoads, Jr. and his wife, and their marriage date:

1739-1814: According to the following item from the November 1972 issue of the "Laurel Messenger", Henry Rhoads, Jr. was born on June 5, 1739 and died in 1814.

The following genealogy information is from the May 1971 issue of the "Laurel Messenger". Be a skeptic when reading this, and double check before relying on any it. For example, I haven't found any basis for the statement that Henry Roth, Sr. died at or near the place now known as Ursina. For another example, although I don't know much about the Rhoads family, I've read enough to be somewhat suspicious of the Germantown and Maryland statements, and suspect they may be based on information connected to other individuals with the same name.

Click here to visit my web page about the referenced Samuel Rhoads of Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

1762: An individual named Henry Rhodes acquired a patent for a 50-acre tract in Frederick County called Linns Choice in 1762 (Patent Record BC and GS 16, page 666, Maryland State Archives Accession No. MSA S 1590-4057). I wonder if this may relate to the blacksmith Henry Rhodes who died in Frederick County Maryland; see the estate reference below.

1762-1765: The following 1765 Cumberland County, Pennsylvania survey (Book C-195 Page 17) on Dunnings Creek near Dunnings Mountain is based on a 1762 warrant.

The following excerpt from the 1792 Reading Howell map of Pennsylvania is included to show the location of Dunning's Creek and Dunning's Mountain relative to the town of Bedford.

1763-1765: The following 1765 Cumberland County survey (Book C-194 Page 108) on 1763 warrants is significant because it shows property of Henry Rhodes next to property of George Martin in Antrim Township. There is now an Antrim Township in Franklin County, but I have no idea how its bounds compare to the original bounds of Antrim Township of the then (in the 1760s) much larger Cumberland County.

1763-1765: Here is another 1765 Antrim Township, Cumberland County survey (Book C-130 Page 248) on a 1763 warrant:

1765: The following excerpt from page 152 of the Cumberland County warrant register shows the name being spelled as "Roth" for Survey C-180 Page 207:

1765: Here is the Book C-180 Page 207 survey, which uses the spelling Rhodes":

1767: I have read but not verified a secondary source that indicates Henry Rhodes sold the Frederick County, Maryland Linns Choice tract to Laurence Bowsom on March 19, 1767.

1767: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania", indicates 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. I suspect this information was gleaned from a website that contains some misleading information. By that, I mean that the website provides references for certain alleged facts, but the cited references do not always include the alleged facts. That makes me treat the alleged Roth-Pence indenture with caution. I suspect the indenture does exist because the website claims to provide a direct quote from it, but I would sure like to see an image of the original Cumberland County document for verification.

Circa 1770: The following reference to Henry Roth, Sr. & Jr, is from Morgan Edwards' book "Material Toward History of the Baptists", which seems to have been written in 1770. Little Conewago Creek is in present-day York County, Pennsylvania. The Ephrata Cloister is approximately at 40.1837748, -76.1872059 in present-day Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Beware that although it says that George Martin migrated to Stony Creek via Antietam, it does not say that Henry Rhoades did so.

The following reference to Henry Roth, Sr. & Jr. 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.)

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.

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

1771: The following excerpt about Henry Rhoads is from Volume II of the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania" and is based on material that was published in an 1800s newspaper that in turn was loosely based on Harmon Husband's journal. The August 1771 date is a correction to the newspaper article based on the known date of formation of Bedford County.

The above excerpt is based on the following text in the July 7, 1893 issue of the "Somerset Standard" Newspaper that is loosely based on Harmon Husband's journal, "This brings our pioneer settlement up to August 1770 when the season for active operations by the hunters being yet in the future, the Quaker proposed to Billy Sparks that they would make a trip to the settlement at Bedford, where he wished to obtain some information with reference to the purchase and location of lands, claims of the proprietors, and general laws and regulations of the province of Pennsylvania. Sparks agreed at once to accompany him, so a few days after they set out, the Quaker taking his horse and the hunter his rifle and equipments. Forbes road was at that time well traveled ... But roads were of little account with our travelers, who striking through the great glades on the head of the Stony Creek, calling on their neighbors the Rhoadses (hunters), crossed the Allegheny and struck the heads of the Juniata, passed through what is now called Harmon's Bottom, and named after the old Quaker Toscape. The third purchase that he made of land was from Henry Rhoads and Jacob Newmayer, who had a camp on Newmayer's creek now called Rhoads' creek.

Arriving at Bedford they learned of the organization of the new county and preparations were making to hold court. ..."

1772: The following text is from the August 11, 1893 issue of the "Somerset Standard" newspaper and is about a purchase made by Harmon Husband (AKA Toscape Death), "...we find a bill of sale dated April 3, 1772, from Henry Rhoads and Jacob Newmayer for a tract of land and improvment on Newmayer's Creek. This purchase was made in the name of Samuel Gilpin, Toscape paying the money as the assumed agent of Gilpin."

1772: 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. Did Colerain township originally include the Dunnings Creek survey included above? I have no answer.

1773-1774: The following 1774 survey (Book C-163 Page 242) on a 1773 warrant is for the property of Henry Rhoads, Jr. on the waters of Little Youghio-Geni River (i.e.; Casselman River) in Brothers Valley Township named "Elisabeths Delight":

1773-1774: The following 1774 survey (Book C-163 Page 241) for property on Quemahoning Creek is based in part on a 1773 warrant of Henry Rhoads, Sr.:

The following page is from the 1773 Brothers Valley Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

1774: The following excerpt is from the "County of Bedford--1771-1893" section in Volume XXV of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series:

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.

1774: 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.) The will was proven on April 12, 1774. A copy of Joseph's May 6, 1774 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 properties on Rhoads Creek. The Joseph Rhoads 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 October 3, 1774 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."

I added red stars to the following excerpt from a 1929 topographical map to show where the two aforementioned properties were located relative to Berlin and Brotherton, and to show terrain at and near the properties.

The following excerpt is from an article in the November 1966 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" titled "Capsule Chronicle of Garrett Boro". Because of the December 1774 date, the property acquisition would pertain to Henry Rhoades, Jr.

The following excerpt from an article in the February, 1961 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" titled "The Judy Family History..." pertains to the property described above:

The two "Laurel Messenger" excerpts above seem to relate to the following property (Book D-1 Page 144) at the mouth (39.8606036, -79.0578915) of Buffalo Lick Creek:

I added a red dot to the following excerpt from a 1921 topographic map to identify the mouth of what is now known as Buffalo Creek:

The following 1787 survey (Book C-190 Page 86) on a 1774 warrant also relates to Buffalo Lick Creek:

1774: The following excerpt is from the book "The Earliest Rhodes of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Mifflin and Somerset Counties of Pennsylvania".

1774: The following page is from the 1774 Brothers Valley Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..." and indicates that Henry Rhoads, Sr. is deceased:

1775: The following pages are from the 1775 Brothers Valley Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

1776: Based on its July 17, 1776 date, which was after the death of Henry Rhoads, Sr., the following survey (Book C-176 Page 109) on the south side of the Casselman River was performed for Henry Rhoads, Jr.:

1776-1778: The following excerpt from an article in the February, 1961 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" titled "State Senators and Assemblymen", and shows that Henry Rhoads, Jr. was a Pennsylvania State Legislator for Bedford County:

1776-1800: A historical marker for Capt. Henry Rhoads, Jr. in Kentucky states, "Before moving to Ky., Henry Rhoads served as a captain in Pennsylvania Militia during the Revolutionary War. He was a delegate to Pennsylvania state constitutional convention of 1776. As a member of Kentucky state legislature, he suggested that newly formed county be named for his beloved commander, Gen. John Muhlenberg. He became this county's first state legislator. (1798-1800)."

1776: The following three pages from Volume II of the 1843 book "American Archives", Fifth Series show that Henry Rhoads, Jr. participated in the convention that dissolved the existing government, created the Council of Safety, an created the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and during that convention was appointed to serve as a Justice of the Peace for Bedford County:

The following page is from the 1776 Quemahoning Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

The following page is from the 1776 Brothers Valley Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

1777: I have read, but have not verified, that Henry Rhoads sold a 398-acre tract to Benjamin Chew by indenture on March 21, 1777. The secondary source I read references the Castleman River, so I suspect this is a reference to the sale of the "Introduction" tract that is referenced above.

1777: The following excerpt is from Volume V of the Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth series:

1778: The following excerpt is from an article titled "William Tissue is buried in Jersey Chuchyard, Somerset Co." in the November 1963 issue of the "Laurel Messenger":

1779: The following excerpt is from Volume V of the Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth series:

1779: The following page is from the 1779 Turkeyfoot Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

1783: The following page is from the 1783 Milford Township non-resident supply tax section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

1783: The following page is from the 1783 Turkeyfoot Township supply tax section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

1784: The following page is from the 1784 Milford Township section of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1773 to 1784)..."

Circa 1784-1785: Various secondary sources indicate that Henry Rhoads, Jr. migrated to Kentucky in the circa 1784 to 1785 timeframe.

1792: The following excerpt is from the book "The Earliest Rhodes of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Mifflin and Somerset Counties of Pennsylvania".

1798: The following excerpt is from the 1913 book "The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society":

1806: The Maryland State Archives Equity Court Abstracts of Frederick County Liber JS-9 lists the April 14, 1806 will of a Henry Rhodes, Sr. with a widow named Catherine and quite a few children including a son named Samuel. The estate records mention a two-acre tract named "Maryland" adjacent to Samuel Prather's place on the main road to Harpers Ferry that Barton Philpott sold to the blacksmith Henry Roth/Rhode in 1783. This tract was adjacent to a two-acre tract that Samuel Prather sold to the blacksmith Henry Roth in 1782. This may cast a shadow of doubt on the popular notion that the Henry Rhoads, Sr. who resided in what is now Somerset County came there via Maryland.

1814: The biography of Henry Rhoads, Jr. in the 1913 book "A History of Muhlenberg County" has a photo of his original tombstone and reports that it states, "H. R,, B. J. 5, 1739, D. M. 6, 1814." Captain Henry Rhoads, Jr. is buried in the cemetery known as the Rhoads or Browder cemetery (37.20668808, -87.02920137) in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. A modern tombstone supplements the original, and indicates the his wife Elizabeth Stoner was born March 25, 1744 in Frederick County, Maryland and died on October 2, 1807 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. The modern tombstone also states that they were married on October 19, 1760 in Frederick County, Maryland.

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