Isaac Wendel, Jr., Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Page 145 of the 1991 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties" by Vaughn Wisker, Sr. and James B. Whisker shows a rifle then attributed to Isaac Wendle that has the name Isaac Wendle prominently engraved on the barrel. Page 47 of James B. Whisker's 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" shows the same rifle and attributes it to Samuel Spangler, based on the name on the lock. Mr. Whisker may be 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 patchbox 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 Whisker included Isaac Wendle as a gunsmith in the biography portion of his 2017 book. Whisker's basis may be the gun barrel, the boring machine, and the woodworking tools that were sold at the vendue sale of Isaac Wendel, Jr. To me, the 16,210 board feet of chestnut, oak, and cherry lumber that were sold at the vendue sale suggest the woodworking tools may have been used in some type of construction or manufacturing, rather than gun making. 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 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 Wendle was a gunsmith. Instead, it is just a starting point for a collection of information that may eventually help to answer the question.

Research on Isaac Wendel, Jr. is complicated by his father having the same name. The following item from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania" provides a glimpse of the life of Isaac Wendel, Sr.:

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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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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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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:

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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:

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1859: Wendel genealogists (who might be copying each other) report that Isaac Wendel, Sr. died circa 1856.

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:

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

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1884: Isaac Wendel, Jr. is buried in the Friedens Lutheran Church Cemetery which is located at 40.050230, -78.995716 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. The following estate-related notice is from the March 26, 1884 "Somerset Herald":

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