David Daniel Dunmyer, Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: David Dunmyer is known as an Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith from tax, census, and military records. He joined the Union Army as a Private on June 3, 1864 and served in Company M of the 102nd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was disabled from the severe combat wounds he suffered near Winchester on September 19, 1864. He received medical care at several hospitals prior to being mustered out on June 28, 1865, and was identified as a gunsmith on two postwar documents. Illiterate and unable to perform physical labor, he was approved for a disability pension on April 4, 1879.

The following diagram shows that David Dunmyer is a son of the gunsmith Peter Dormayer and a brother to the gunsmith Jonathan Dormayer. It also shows that Jonathan Dormayer is a brother-in-law of the gunsmith Elias Knupp and an uncle of the gunsmith Charles Monroe Knupp.

Circa 1825-1834: The year that David Dunmyer was born is difficult to determine. According to his tombstone, which uses the spelling "Dunmyer", he was born in 1825. According to a muster document and various censuses, he was born anywhere between about 1828 and 1834. These documents are summarized in the following table:

1850: In the 1850 federal census of Somerset Township, 18-year-old laborer David Dunmire and 22-year-old gunsmith Jonathan Dunmire are living in the household of their gunsmith father Peter Dunmire and their mother Barbara. Reportedly, Barbara's maiden name was Whipkey.

Donna Knupp reports via correspondence that Jonathan Dunmeyer's brother (which would be David) apprenticed with Jonathan Dunmeyer.

1851-1906: David Dunmyer shows up in early records with several different post office addresses, including Sipesville. From a book she has, Kimberly Brown reports that the Sipesville Post Office opened on April 9, 1851, closed on March 31, 1906, and reopened on July 2, 1920.

1855: According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape were married on January 18, 1855 in Westmoreland County by Rev. John Kagy.

1856: The 1860 and 1870 censuses suggest that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a son named Jonathan who was born circa 1855-1856. According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a son named Jonathan who was born May 18, 1856.

1856: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", David Dunmeyer is identified as a gunsmith on the Somerset Township tax roll in 1856.

1856-1862: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts David Dunmeyer in Somerset Township from 1856 to 1862.

1858: The 1860 and 1870 censuses suggest that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a daughter named Eliza who was born circa 1858. According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a daughter named Eliza A. who was born January 18, 1858.

1859: The 1860 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a son named William who was born in 1859.

1860: The 1870 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a son named Henry who was born circa 1860. Henry W. Dunmeyer is buried at the Sipesville Cemetery in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where his tombstone inscription indicates he was born in 1860 and died in 1898. According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a son named Henry who was born October 15, 1860.

1860: The 1860 census lists Peter Dormayer, David Dunmyer, and Josiah Meyers near one-another, which suggests they lived near one-another. Notice that their post office was Beuford's Store.

1860: The following image is from the 1860 Walker map of Somerset County. I believe the circled residences are those of the gunsmiths Peter Dormayer and David Dunmyer. The basis for this belief is (1) Peter died in 1873, (2) the P. Dunmeyer residence that is identified on the 1860 map is not present on the 1876 map that is included below, and (3) Peter and David are listed near one-another and near Josiah Meyers in the 1860 census (see above). I suspect that Josiah Meyers is the J. Meyers on the 1860 map. The distinctive turn in State Road 4015 near the residences is at 40.0821319, -79.0788220 and the nearby fork in the creek is at 40.0830485, -79.0777398.

The following excerpt from a 1915 topographic map is included to show the terrain near the Dunmeyer residences. A blue dot identifies the distinctive turn in State Road 4015 and a red dot identifies the fork in the creek. Click here to see a 1939 aerial photo of the area where Peter and David lived.

On modern roads it is about 7.4 miles from the home of David Dunmyer to the home of his brother Jonathan Dormayer. The following excerpt from the 1860 Walker map of Somerset County identifies the locations of the residences of Peter Dormayer, David Dunmyer, and Jonathan Dormayer. On the map, it appears the the cartographer misread his notes, confusing a cursive J with a cursive S.

1862: According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a son named Benjamin F. who was born February 15, 1862.

1864: The 1870 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a son named Daniel who was born circa 1863. According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a son named Daniel who was born July 3, 1964.

1864: The following muster August to December, 1864 muster roll cards for David Dunmyer show that he was drafted into the 102nd Regiment of Pennsylvania infantry on June 3, 1864 at Chambersburg, was at Camp Biddle, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1864 and was in a Philadelphia hospital in November and December, 1864. One of the cards indicates he was a 5-foot 7-1/2-inch tall gunsmith with grey eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. I presume the listed birthplace of Bradford County is transcription error, and should have been Bedford County.

1864-1865: Excerpts from a muster roll of Company M of the 102nd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers follow, and indicate that David Dunmyer entered the service at age 34 on June 3, 1864 and was mustered out on June 28, 1865.

The following excerpt from Samuel Bates' book " History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5" is easier to read than the photocopy of the original muster roll:

A website reports that a "Muster & Descriptive Roll of a Detachment of Drafted Men & Substitutes" that is dated August 27, 1864 at Camp Briddle, Pennsylvania lists 34-year old David Doremire as a member of Company D of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, and lists his occupation as gunsmith. According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", David Dunmeyer is described in his military records as being five feet 7.5 inches tall, with gray eyes and a dark complexion.

David Dunmyer was severely wounded from rifle and cannon fire on near Winchester, Virginia, as described in the following pension-related 1882 general affidavit (note Feb. 16, 1882 stamp). At the September 19, 1864 battle of Winchester, he suffered a gunshot wound of the right hip and a gunshot wound on the forehead that caused fits of epilepsy. During the continuation of the Winchester battle at or near Fisher's Hill he was struck by a shell on the left shoulder, injuring his shoulder, breast, and left side. The 1882 pension affidavit is signed with an X.

David and his brother Jonathan were both serving with Sheridan in the fall of 1864. One month after David received his disabling wounds near Winchester, Jonathan received wounds at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864 that resulted in the amputation of his left leg. The following excerpt from the 102nd Regiment PVI section of Volume III of Bates' "History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5" summarizes Sheridan's engagements in the September 19, 1864 to October 19, 1864 time period. Click here to read more about the military history of that fateful one month period.

A website reports that David Dunmeyer's service records indicate that he was treated in several hospitals between September 19, 1864 and his June 25, 1865 discharge from the Union Army.

Circa 1865: The 1870 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a son named Frank who was born circa 1865.

Circa 1867: The 1870 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a son named Harvey who was born circa 1867.

1867: According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a son named Herman who was born May 5, 1867.

1869: The 1870 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a second son named William who was born near the end of 1869 or early in 1870. The inscription on a tombstone in the Husband Cemetery in Somerset County, Pennsylvania includes the following: "William H. Dunmyer 1869-1943". A website indicates this is Daniel Dunmeyer's son William Harrison Dunmeyer. According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a son named William H. who was born July 3, 1869.

1870: A July 15, 1870 census record shows David's gunsmith father Peter was 77-years-old and was living with David's gunsmith brother Jonathan. This means that Peter was no longer living near David. If there was ever any gunsmithing collaboration between Peter and David, distance would have made that collaboration more difficult after Peter moved.

1870: David Dunmaier appears in an August 1, 1870 Somerset Township census record as a 37-year-old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith with real estate valued at $400.00 and personal property valued at $100.00. Also appearing in his household are 30-year-old Nancy Dunmaier who was keeping house, 15-year-old Jonathan Dunmaier, 12-year-old Eliza Dunmaier, 10-year-old Henry Dunmaier, 7-year-old Daniel Dunmaier, 5-year-old Frank Dunmaier, 3-year-old Harvey, and 8-month old (September-born) William Dunmaier, all born in Pennsylvania.

1872: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", David Dunmeyer is identified as a gunsmith on the Somerset Township tax roll in 1872. This suggests that despite his handicaps David could perform gunsmithing work on his own, independent of his father Peter.

1872: The 1910 census suggests that David and Nancy Dunmyer had a daughter named Susan who was born circa 1874. The death certificate of David Dunmeyers's daughter Susan (Dunmeyer) Dupont indicates she was born on June 14, 1870 in Westmoreland County. That birth date seems to conflict with the birth of infant William who appears in an August 1, 1870 census as being eight months old. Furthermore, if Susan was born on June 14, 1870 she should appear in the August 1, 1870 census record. According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a daughter named Susan who was born January 17, 1872.

1873: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" reports that Peter Dunmyer's death occurred in 1873. To point out the obvious, when Peter died any gunsmithing collaboration that may have taken place between Peter and his sons David and Jonathan was over.

1874: According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a daughter Sarah who was born March 23, 1874.

1876: According to a July 4, 1888 pension-related questionnaire included farther below, David Dunmyer and Nancy Ann Lape had a daughter named Clara J. who was born May 7, 1876.

1875-1876: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts David Dunmeyer in Sipesville (Somerset County) in 1875 and 1876. That makes it sound like they lived in town, but it may simply mean that they had a Sipesville address because they were served by the Sipesville post office. The following image is from the 1876 Atlas, and shows the residence of D. Dunmeyer near Sipesville, a little north of the distinctive turn on State Road 4015.

1879: A website reports that David Dunmeyer filed for a military pension on April 4, 1879, signing with an X. This was assigned pension application No. 279854, and a pension was awarded via pension certificate No. 240345. The memorial makes statements that seem to be from the pension application, such as describing his inability to perform physical labor, although he was able to enjoy woodworking including rifle stock carving.

1884: The following item from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" indicates that David Dunmyer was a member of G.A.R. Post 225 in the borough of Somerset.

1885: David's gunsmith brother Jonathan died on Jan. 11, 1885. To point out the obvious, when Jonathan died, any gunsmithing collaboration that may have taken place between David and Jonathan was over.

1890: In a transcript of the Veterans' schedule of the 1890 census of Somerset Township, David Dunmire is listed with a Sipesville address and as having been a Private in the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry. His disability is described as "Falling fits & rupture".

1892: Based on an article in the "Somerset Daily American", correspondent Sally Hoffman reports that on December 23, 1881 the Snyder Post Office was established, with Sally's great-great-grandmother Isabella Snyder serving as the postmaster. She reports that in July of 1886 the name of the post office changed to Griffin, and by September, 1892 the name had changed to Listie. This is harmonious with correspondent Kimberly Brown's report that the Listie Post Office commenced on September 1, 1892. This information is included because David Dunmyer had a Sipesville address in the mid-1870s, and had a Listie address in a 1903 directory entry that is included below.

1893: The following photo of David Dunmyer was taken and printed by the Somerset Studio in 1893.

1898: The following questionnaire was filled out on July 4, 1898 and provides details about the family of David Dunmyer. This questionnaire is signed with a signature that seems to be written in the same hand as the rest of the document, whereas the pension-related 1882 general affidavit (see above) was signed with an X. I believe that someone else filled out and signed the questionnaire for David Dunmyer, because columns 23 and 24 of the 1910 census indicate that he could neither read nor write (see farther below).

1898: David Dunmyer's son Henry William Dunmyer died in 1898.

1903: David Dunmyer has a Listie address in the following excerpt, which is from the January 1, 1903 "Individual and Business Directory of Somerset County, Pa."

The following excerpt from a 1915 map shows where the gunsmith David Dunmyer's 1876 residence was located relative to Sipesville and Listie. His 1876 residence is so close to Sipesville that it doesn't seem reasonable to think it may have been served by the Listie post office in 1903. To me, the 1903 Listie address suggests that David Dunmyer moved sometime after he appeared with a Sipesville address in the Veterans' schedule of the 1890 census.

1905: David Daniel Dunmeyer's daughter Elizabeth A. (Dunmeyer) Putman died in 1905.

1910: The following excerpt is from the 1910 census. The ages given are questionable. Columns 23 and 24 of the 1910 census indicate that David could neither read nor write, and Nancy could read but not write.

1910: David Dunmyer's wife Nancy died in 1910. According to her death certificate, the cause of death was Bright's Disease. She is buried in the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church Cemetery (40.08068564, -79.08576498), Sipesville, Somerset County with her husband David. Her birth and death dates are given on the tombstone as 1835 -- 1910.

1913: David Dunmyer is buried in the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church Cemetery (40.08068564, -79.08576498), Sipesville, Somerset County with his wife Nancy. His birth and death dates are given on the tombstone as 1825 -- 1913. A website reports that Pennsylvania Death Certificate No. 179855 indicates that David Dunmeyer died on February 19 from Chronic Cystitus, and the informant's name was his son-in-law Jacob P. Friedline. The cemetery is about 737 yards from the fork in the creek that is shown near the Dunmeyer residences on the 1860 map that is included above.

1913: David Dunmeyer's military pension 240345 was dropped on April 23, 1913 due to his death in Listie, Pennsylvania on February 19, 1913, with the last payment of $30.00 being made to January 4, 1913.

Work product:

  • Click here to see a David Dunmyer rifle marked "DD". The patch box on this rifle shares design similarities with the patch boxes on typical rifles made by David's brother Jonathan Dormayer.
  • Page 87 of the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker and Yantz includes photos of a full stock Pennsylvania long rifle attributed to David Dunmyer. The basis of the attribution is not stated. The rifle has the buttstock profile and incised buttstock carving of a typical Jonathan Dormayer rifle. The barrel is much longer than a typical Jonathan Dormayer rifle, and the lock, lock bolt plate, patch box, and lock bolt panel are also different. The rifle is also pictured on page 32 of the Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania".

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