Isaac Wendel, Somerset County, Pennsylvania

This project includes individuals who may have been incorrectly identified as a gunsmith, so that the attributions can be scrutinized. Isaac Wendel belongs to this category.

Page 145 of the Whisker's 1991 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties" shows an antique flintlock rifle then attributed to Isaac Wendle that has the name Isaac Wendle prominently engraved on the barrel and has "Stoys town", a date, and a design used by Samuel Spangler on the lock bolt plate. Page 47 of James B. Whisker's 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" shows the same muzzle loading rifle and attributes it to Samuel Spangler, based on the name on the lock. To me, the lock bolt plate positively identifies the gun as one made by Samuel Spangler. I believe Mr. Whisker is correct when he asserts that Spangler put the name of the rifle's owner on the barrels of several of the guns he manufactured. For example, the 2017 book shows a mule ear rifle with a Spanger-marked lock and Ruslin engraved on the barrel. The patch box finials on the two rifles are extremely similar. Here are photos of a second rifle with "Ruslin" engraved on the barrel that is now attributed to Spangler on page 42 of Whisker's 2017 book.

This naturally brings up the question of why Mr. Whisker included Isaac Wendle senior and junior as gunsmiths in the biography portion of his 2017 book. For Isaac Wendel, Jr., Whisker's basis may be the gun barrel, the boring machine, and the woodworking tools that were sold at Wendel's vendue sale. To me, the 16,210 board feet of chestnut, oak, and cherry lumber at the vendue sale suggest the woodworking tools may have been used in some type of construction, manufacturing, or plank road repair, because chestnut and oak are not used in gun making. Laid end to end, 16,201 board feet of lumber would be over three miles long! All that wood could also be explained if Wendle had a sawmill or a lumber business. The boring machine is, however, interesting. If it were a gun barrel boring machine, it might help to explain the gun barrel sold at the vendue sale, and it might offer an alternate explanation for the rifle with the name Isaac Wendle engraved on the barrel. Given the vast amount of lumber, however, I strongly suspect that the boring machine was for drilling peg holes in beams for timber frame building construction, such as barn beams; i.e.; a hand boring machine. Alternately, it might have been a hand-cranked drill press, similar to the one my grandfather had hanging from the wall of his workshop. I have read that they became popular in the mid-1800s.

This web page does not pretend to prove or disprove that Isaac Wendel Jr. or Sr. was a gunsmith. Instead, it is intended as a starting point for a collection of information that may eventually help to answer the question.

The following item from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania" provides a glimpse of the life of Isaac Wendel, Sr.:

1756: Based on the age given in the 1850 census, Isaac Wendel, Sr. was born circa 1756.

1803: Whisker's 2017 book mentions a May 28, 1803 deed to Isaac Wendle for a 120-acres in Stoney Creek Township.

1805: The following item is from the 1805 book "Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" (Volume 16) and obviously pertains to Isaac Wendle, Sr.

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1807: Whisker's 2017 book indicates that a 1807 tax document records Isaac Wendle as a tavern operator.

Circa 1808: According to what I think the month is on his tombstone, Isaac Wendel, Jr. was born in 1808. If I am misreading the month, then he was born in 1809.

1812: The following composite image is from Volume 9 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Sixth Series, and pertains to Isaac Wendle, Sr. during the War of 1812.

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1814: Whisker's 2017 book indicates that Isaac Wendle sold the 1803 property on April 14, 1814.

1816: The following excerpt from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties" indicates that Isaac Wendel, Sr. was taxed in Shade Township, Somerset County in 1816:

Circa 1833-1841: The 1850 and 1870 censuses of Somerset Township suggest that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a daughter named Mary who was born circa 1833-1841.

Circa 1836: The 1850 census of Somerset Township suggests that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a son named Jonathan who was born circa 1836.

Circa 1839: The 1850 census of Somerset Township suggests that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a son named Josiah who was born circa 1839.

1840: The following excerpt is from the 1840 federal census of Stoneycreek Township, and seems to be the household of Isaac Wendel, Sr.:

Circa 1841-1846: The 1850, 1870, and 1880 censuses of Somerset Township suggest that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a daughter named Elizabeth who was born circa 1841-1846.

Circa 1843-1847: The 1850 and 1870 censuses of Somerset Township suggest that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a daughter named Belinda who was born circa 1843-1847.

1847: The following item from the March 30, 1847 "Somerset Herald" shows that either the father or the son was selected for jury duty that was to begin on May 3, 1847:

1850: In a transcript of the 1850 census of Stoney Creek Township, 94-year-old millwright Isaac Wendle and 64-year-old Mary Wendle are living in the household of 37-year-old farmer Michael Wendle.

1850: The following excerpt is from the 1850 census of Somerset Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and shows the household of Isaac Wendel, Jr.:

The following excerpt from Volume III of the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania" gives the ancestry of Sarah, wife of Isaac Wendel, Jr.:

Circa 1849-1850: The 1870 and 1880 censuses of Somerset Township suggest that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a daughter named Lavina who was born circa 1849-1850.

Circa 1852: The 1870 census of Somerset Township suggests that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a son named Samuel who was born circa 1852.

Circa 1853-1854: The 1870 and 1880 censuses of Somerset Township suggest that Isaac Wendel, Jr. had a daughter named Amanda who was born circa 1853-1854.

1859: Wendel genealogists (who might be copying each other) report that Isaac Wendel, Sr. died circa 1859.

1860: The following image is from the Somerset Township portion of the 1860 Walker map of Somerset County, Pennsylvania:

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1860: The following item from the April 2, 1891 "Somerset Herald" indicates that Isaac Wendel, Jr. served as a Constable during a sensational murder case in 1860:

1870: The following excerpt is from the 1870 federal census:

1876: The following excerpt from the Somerset Township portion of the 1876 Beers atlas shows Isaac Wendel living near the gunsmith Jonathan Dormayer.

1878: The following item is from the November 6, 1878 issue of the "Somerset Herald" newspaper:

1880: In the 1880 census, the Isaac Wendel household is listed near the Jonathan Dormayer household:

1884: Isaac Wendel, Jr. is buried in the Friedens Lutheran Church Cemetery which is located at 40.05021720, -78.99575114 in Friedens, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. His tombstone appears to indicate that he died on March 1, 1884 at the age of 75 years, five months and 19 days. The year is very clear, but the month is badly weather beaten. Whisker's 2017 book indicates that Isaac Wendle's estate inventory is No. 28 in the 1884 county records. The following estate-related notice is from the March 26, 1884 "Somerset Herald":

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