Jacob Sayler, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

The Bedford County gunsmith who from public records is known as Jacob Saylor seems to have used the spelling "Sayler" when he signed documents. It seems that other people often spelled his surname as "Saylor" in public documents. Some of his descendants now use the spelling "Saylor". There is conflicting information about when Jacob Sayler was born, and where he died that this web page does not resolve.

Circa 1737 or 1748: An article in the February 1992 AOLRC newsletter indicates that Jacob Saylor was a son of Henry Saylor and was born in Berks County in 1737. The Pickaway County, Ohio tombstone that is said to be that of the Gunsmith Jacob Sayler indicates that he died in September of 1800 when he was 52 years old, which would make his birth year circa 1748. The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" says Jacob Saylor was born on January 13, 1748 in Berks County, and indicates that his father was Henry Saylor.

Volume III of the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania" has family-provided information that also states that Jacob Saylor was born in 1737. The tantalizing thing about this is the possibility that it came from a family Bible record. Here is an excerpt from page 453 that that gives the 1737 birth date, and demonstrably gets the date of arrival in Bedford County wrong:

1767: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" reports that in 1767 Jacob Saylor bought a tract of 100-acres that was located approximately four-miles north of the town of Bedford. If he was born circa 1748, he would have only been about 19 years old.

1771: The following is from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania." It indicates that Jacob Saylor was already a resident at the time Bedford County was formed in 1771.

1772: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" mistakenly puts the gunsmith Jacob Saylor near the site of present-day Meyersdale in 1772; the Jacob Saylor who lived near Meyersdale was a different individual.

1772: The following portion of the Bedford Township 1772 tax list is from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania". It shows Jacob Saylor renting a house and lot in Bedford County and paying a provincial tax as a single freeman.

1773: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts the gunsmith Jacob Saylor in the borough of Bedford in 1773.

1773: The following is from page 20 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII. It shows that Jacob Saylor was enumerated on the Bedford Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania tax list in 1773.

1775: The document below is an official 1876 copy of a 302-acre Bedford County, Pennsylvania survey, which was performed on April 23, 1775 based on a December 15, 1774 warrant for a man named Jacob Saylor. Based on the location of the survey near the Casselman River, which is now in Somerset County, THIS IS THE WRONG JACOB SAYLOR! In southern Somerset County, this other Jacob Saylor is well known as one of the area's early settlers.

1775: The following mortgage transcript is from Volume III of the 1906 book "Annals of the Carnegie Museum". With this mortgage, the gunsmith Jacob Sayler purchased property in Pittsburgh from tailor Andrew Robinson on September 11, 1775. The mortgage includes the statement, "Jacob Saylor stands bound by Recognizance for the said Andrew Robinson in the County Court of Bedford County in the Province of Pennsylvania..." The mortgage was proved "At a Court held for Augusta County at Pittsburgh January 16th 1776." This mortgage makes one wonder if Jacob Sayler was serving as a gunsmith at Fort Pitt.

1776: A February 9, 1776 letter recorded in the "Pennsylvania Archives" references a Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith. Some students of Bedford County history believe that the referenced gunsmith is Jacob Saylor, who was already enumerated in the area in 1771. It seems worth noting that Bedford County gunsmith John Fraser was deceased well before 1776.

1776: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" reports that Jacob Saylor's name is included as a private on a March 22, 1776 roster of Captain Samuel Davidson's Company of Bedford County Associators. The book reports that he also served in the Bedford County Militia, Third Battalion, as a member of the company led by Captain William McCall. These statements about Jacob Sayler's military service, and the ideas (right or wrong) that Jacob Sayler was born in 1737 and is buried in Pickaway County, Iowa are reportedly derived from a publication of the D.A.R. One such publication is the "Fifty-Ninth Report Of The National Society Of The Daughters Of The American Revolution April 1 , 1955, To April 1 , 1956" that was published by the United States Senate in 1957. The following is a composite image made from pages 296 and 297 of that Senate document.

1776: The information published by the Daughters of the American Revolution about service in Captain Samuel Davidson's Company is based on pages 50 and 51 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Series V, Volume 5, which have a transcript of the March 22, 1776 "Muster Roll of Captain Samuel Davidson's Company, in Colonel Smith's Battalion of Bedford County Associators":

The information published by the Daughters of the American Revolution about service in Captain William McCall's Company is based on page 119 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Series V, Volume 5, which has a transcript of the "Class roll of Capt. Wm. McCall's Comp'y of the 3D Battalion":

1776: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" reports that Jacob Saylor bought lot 149 in the town of Bedford in 1776, and further reports that this lot had a good spring. The book also reports that Jacob Saylor appears on the 1776 tax roll as a gunsmith who owned a cow and one lot and had a tax burden was $0.06. I am unable to reconcile this with the document below. Perhaps one was a state tax and the other a county tax; I'm just not sure.

1776: The following is from page 125 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII. It shows that a man named Jacob Saylor was enumerated on the Bedford Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania tax list in 1776.

1776: The following image shows Jacob Saylor on the handwritten Bedford County tax assessment list of 1776:

1778: An article in the February 1992 AOLRC newsletter indicates that Jacob Saylor's wife's name was Elizabeth, and their children were Jacob, Jr. born in 1778, John born in 1800, Henry born in 1782, Micah born in 1787, Elisabeth (Whetzel), Catherine (Herring), Mary (Lutz), and Sarah (Lutz). According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", Jacob's wife was Mary Elizabeth Steele. As something for further research, I wonder if Elizabeth was the daughter of Rev. Steele.

1779: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" states that John Fraser moved to Friend's Cove in Colerain Township circa 1768 and had a smithy there that was used for blacksmithing by George Funk (apparently meaning after Fraser's circa 1773 death) and was purchased by the Bedford County gunsmith Jacob Saylor on August 14, 1779. I am not aware the origin of this information, but it is harmonious with records below that show Jacob Saylor being taxed as a non-resident of Colerain Township, and it is harmonious with tax records from 1771 that show John Fraser being taxed in both Bedford Township and Colerain Township in 1771. Here is a link to a survey of the only property of John Fraser's that I know about that ( since it is on Cove Creek) may be located in Colerain Township.

The following composite image from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania" describes the early history of Friend's Cove, which includes an old gunsmithing tradition that could relate to John Doddridge, Jacob Saylor, William Jones, or John Fraser.

1779: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts the gunsmith Jacob Saylor in Bedford Towne in 1779 with two lots, two horses, two cows, and five sheep.

1779: The following is from page 161 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII. It shows that Jacob Saylor was enumerated on the Bedford Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania tax list in 1779.

1779: The following composite image shows Jacob Saylor identified as a gunsmith on the handwritten Bedford County tax assessment list of 1779:

1779: The following is from page 33 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume VII. It documents a payment to Jacob Saylor for repairing arms and making wipers in 1779. This is in a chapter titled "State of the Accounts of the Lieutenants and Sub- Lieutenants of Bedford County 1777-1783".

1779: The following transcript of a September 17, 1779 letter from Bedford is from Volume VII of the Pennsylvania Archives series that was printed in 1853. This is one of the sources that suggests "Sayler" is the surname spelling that Jacob used when signing his name.

Circa 1780: The following excerpt from pages 276 and 277 of Volume XXIII of the Pennsylvania Archives, Third Series identifies Jacob Saylor as one of the Rangers on the frontier in Bedford County in the general 1778 to 1783 timeframe.

Circa 1780: The following is from page 25 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume VII. It documents a 1780 payment to Jacob Saylor for "repairing arms". This is from a chapter titled "State of the Accounts of the Lieutenants and Sub-Lieutenants of Bedford County 1777-1783".

1780: The following transcripts are from Volume XI of the "Pennsylvania Archives", sixth series. Although there is no way of telling for certain which Jacob Saylor is being referenced, based on the signature spelling "Sayler" that is recorded in the transcripts, I believe this represents the gunsmith Jacob Sayler. As a further reference, family tradition and a public record shows that the gunsmith Jacob Sayler served as a Pennsylvania State Legislator, which is harmonious with the political interest that is demonstrated in the following transcripts.

1780: The following is from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania". It indicates that Jacob Saylor was a Justice of the Peace in Bedford County in 1780. This appointment is harmonious with an individual being interested in politics.

1780: The source of the Justice of the Peace information in the 1884 book is likely Volume III of the "Pennsylvania Archives" that was published in 1875. An excerpt follows.

1780: David Epsy wrote a letter that recommended Jacob Saylor as a Justice of Peace. The following transcript is from Volume VIII of the "Pennsylvania Archives" series that was published in 1853. The letter includes the statement, "Jacob Saylor, is a Man that would do no Dishonor to the Commission. He is a German and universally esteemed by the People, calm, steady, honest & sensible."

1780: The August 23, 1780 appointment of Jacob Saylor as Justice of the Peace is recorded on pages 458 and 459 of Volume XII of the 1853 book "Minutes of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania". This identifies the new Justice of the Peace as a resident of the town of Bedford.

1782: An article in the February 1992 AOLRC newsletter indicates that Jacob Saylor appears on the 1782 tax roll of the borough of Bedford as a gunsmith with two lots, two cows, two horses, and five sheep.

1782: The following image shows Jacob Saylor on the handwritten Bedford County tax assessment list of 1782:

1782: The following is from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania". It indicates that Jacob Saylor owned a lot in the town of Bedford, Pennsylvania in 1782.

Circa 1782/83: A garbled transcript of a Bedford County Orphan's Court record indicates that Adam Ernest’s minor son Jacob Earnest chose Jacob Saylor, Esquire as his guardian on May 13, 1782 or 1783.

1783: The next two images are from pages 208 and 214 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII, and represent 1783. The first image (page 208) is for Bedford Township, and the second image (page 214) is for Colerain Township, where Jacob Saylor appears in the non-resident part of the list, evidently because he was then living in Bedford Township.

1784: The next two images are from pages 276 and 281 of the 1898 book "Returns of Taxables..." and represent 1784. The first image (page 276) is for Bedford Township, and the second image (page 281) is for Colerain Township, where Jacob Saylor appears in the non-resident part of the list, evidently because he was then living in Bedford Township.

1784: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" mentions Jacob Saylor with 200 acres in Bedford Township in 1784. I have not been able to substantiate this.

1785: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" and an article in the February 1992 AOLRC newsletter indicate that Jacob Saylor was a county auditor in 1785. This is also harmonious with an individual who had an interest in politics.

1785: The composite image below shows that Jacob Saylor, Esquire was enumerated as a gunsmith in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1785. As I interpret the tax list, he was living on a five acre lot in Bedford Township, and owned 311 or 314 acres of land in Colerain Township. If I'm reading things right, he had two horses, three cattle, and four houses on his five acre Bedford Township lot. Beware that at least one respected secondary source apparently misquotes this record, stating that Jacob Saylor is enumerated with 400 acres of land. The "Esquire" title seems to be rooted in his involvement in area politics.

1786: The following 112-acre survey along Dunning's Creek was performed for Jacob Saylor on July 26, 1786 based on a September 13, 1785 warrant. Dunning's Creek joins the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River just east of the town of Bedford, at Latitude 40.019349, Longitude -78.475953.

1786: The following item from page 5 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Sixth Series, Volume III identifies a Jacob Saylor as a Captain in the First Battalion of the Bedford County Militia on May 10, 1786. Given some of the other names on the list, I suspect this is the Jacob Saylor from what is now Bedford County, rather than the Jacob Saylor from what is now Somerset County.

1787: The following excerpt is from Orra Eugene Monnette's 1911 book the "Monnet Family Genealogy". It indicates that Micah Saylor, a son of the Jacob Sayler who died in 1800 and is buried in the Boggs Cemetery, was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania on March 20, 1787. This Bedford County birth reference goes a long way toward establishing that the individual buried in the Boggs Cemetery is indeed the gunsmith Jacob Saylor.

1787: The following excerpt is from Orra Eugene Monnette's 1911 book the "Monnet Family Genealogy". It indicates that Micah Saylor, a son of the Jacob Sayler who died in 1800 and is buried in the Boggs Cemetery, was born circa 1787.

1787: The following two images are from the book "Minutes of the First Session of the Twelfth General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania". The October 24, 1787 minutes recognize the election of Jacob Saylor as a Representative to the State Legislature from Bedford County. To see Jacob Saylor's legislative voting record on a variety of subjects, click here for a 60,717 KB pdf copy of a book about the legislature he served in, and search for "Sayl".

1787: The following extract of November 14, 1787 minutes from the book "Minutes of the First Session of the Twelfth General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" reveals that the election of Jacob Saylor to the Legislature was a close thing.

1788: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" reports that Jacob Saylor left Bedford County for Pickaway County, Ohio sometime around the year 1788, and died in that county on September 21, 1800. An article in the February 1992 AOLRC newsletter, perhaps by the same author, indicates that Jacob Saylor last appeared in the Bedford County tax list in 1788 owning 100 acres of property. The same article indicates that while living in Bedford County, Jacob Saylor did harness making and ran a grist mill and a sawmill. Based on information presented below, I do not believe that the gunsmith Jacob Saylor left Bedford County in the 1780s.

1788: The following two images are from the book "Minutes of the First Session of the Twelfth General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania". The November 1, 1788 minutes recognize the re-election of Jacob Saylor as a Representative to the State Legislature from Bedford County.

1789: The following item from page 23 of the Pennsylvania Archives, Sixth Series, Volume III shows an individual named Jacob Saylor residing in Bedford Township in February of 1789.

1789: The following is an extract of March 2, 1789 minutes from the book "Minutes of the First Session of the Twelfth General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania". Jacob Saylor's approval of this dissent reveals something about his personal philosophy.

1789: The following March 24, 1789 item (two pages) is from the 1825 book "The Proceedings relative to calling the conventions of 1776 and 1790 the minutes of the convention that formed the present Constitution of Pennsylvania". Jacob Saylor's participation in activities related to a Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention shows up in slightly garbled form in an Indiana family tradition (see below) that Jacob Saylor participated in the first Continental Congress. If you look hard enough, it's usually possible to decipher the kernels of truth that family traditions contain.

1790: The following item from Volume XII of the Pennsylvania Archives series that was printed circa 1855 shows that Jacob Sayler was still a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature on December 18, 1790. This is harmonious with the family tradition (included below) that Jacob Sayler served in the State Legislature. The tradition, combined with the legislative evidence, seem to be strong evidence that the gunsmith Jacob Sayler did not leave Bedford County for Ohio in the 1780s.

1790: Here are the Saylor households that appear in a transcript of the 1790 census of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. As one would expect, there are two Jacob Saylor households.

1790: The following composite image is from the Bedford County section of the 1908 book "Heads of Families of the First Census of the United States: 1790."

1792: The following item is from the September 29, 1792 issue of the "Independent Gazetteer" newspaper. It shows that an individual who signed his name as Jacob Sayler" who had an interest in politics was still living in Bedford County in 1792.

1793: The other Bedford County Jacob Saylor, who lived in what is now Somerset County, died on April 15, 1793 and is buried on Saylor Hill, overlooking Meyersdale, Pennsylvania.

1795: Somerset County was created from a part of Bedford County in 1795. When first created, Somerset County was all west of the crest of the Allegheny Mountain. Any reference to a Jacob Saylor in Bedford County after the creation of Somerset County would be for an individual living east of the crest of the Allegheny Mountain.

1796: The following two pages are a 1796 public record from the Bedford County court that is signed by an individual who signed his name "Jacob Sayler" and was serving as a Foreman in a matter that is at least partially political in nature.

1796: The following is from the Bedford Township section of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania". It shows an individual named Jacob Saylor on the 1796 tax roll of Bedford Township, with a grist mill.

1796: The following December 12, 1796 diary entry from the 1893 book "Extracts from the diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, of Philadelphia 1765-1798" indicates that Jacob Saylor was a member of the Pennsylvania House in 1796.

1799: The following excerpt is from Orra Eugene Monnette's 1911 book the "Monnet Family Genealogy". It reports that Jacob Sayler's son David was born on June 16, 1799. David is buried in the Weston Cemetery in Jasper County, Indiana. His tombstone states "Sacred to the memory of David Sayler born June 16, 1799 died Sept. 15, 1854 aged 55 yrs.' Various secondary sources, which have not been confirmed, indicate that David was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. If this could be verified, it would help in understanding when Jacob Saylor migrated to Ohio.

Circa 1800: The following is from the Salt Lick Township portion of the 1880 book "History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio". It estimates that Jacob Saylor came to Pickaway County, Ohio about 1800.

The following excerpt from the 1906 book "History of Pickaway County, Ohio and Representative Citizens" Indicates that Jacob Sayler, Sr. was a squatter along Salt Creek before the land was first offered for sale by the government in 1801.

1800: An article in the February 1992 AOLRC newsletter indicates that the gunsmith Jacob Saylor died on September 21, 1800 in Pickaway Township, Pickaway County, Ohio and is buried in the Boggs Cemetery. The Boggs Cemetery is located at 39.5118550, -82.9599040. Jacob Saylor's tombstone is in excellent condition, and states, "Jacob Sayler Died the 21 September 1800 Aged 52 Years." Elizabeth Sayler is also buried in the Boggs Cemetery. The part of her tombstone that I can read states "Elizabeth Sayler Died the 28 August 1822..."

The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" mistakenly states that the gunsmith Jacob Saylor and his wife Magdalena buried at the Three Hills Farm in what is now Summit Township, Somerset County. That is the other Jacob Saylor.

1800: The following excerpt from the 1906 book "History of Pickaway County, Ohio and Representative Citizens" indicates that Jacob Sayler was the second individual who was buried in the Boggs Cemetery.

The following family tradition is from the 1883 book The History of Hardin County, Ohio, and seems to be written by Jacob Sayler's grandson John Saylor, who was born long after Jacob Sayler's death. It states, "...Jacob Sayler, who was brought from Germany to this country when a small boy. He learned the trade of gunsmith, and during the Revolution was detailed as artificer for the colonial forces, for which services he was paid in continental money; this money becoming worthless, the family were almost reduced to poverty. Removing to Bedford, Penn., he worked at his trade some years, and was elected to the State Legislature, when death came, and the hopes of the family were again frustrated. The widow was left with a young family of nine children, and after battling with the stern realities of life in that hilly region, she determined to emigrate to the West. Being a woman of strong will an energy, she finally accomplished her purpose, reaching what was then called the Northwest Territory, after many hardships, and settling about midway between Chillicothe and Circleville in the year 1798." This tradition, although slightly garbled, correctly captures Jacob Sayler's gunsmithing services during the Revolutionary War, his gunsmithing work as a Bedford County civilian, and his service as a Pennsylvania State Legislator. This is not the only recorded family tradition that indicates that the gunsmith Jacob Sayler died in Pennsylvania.

Here is another family tradition stating that the gunsmith Jacob Saylor died in Pennsylvania. It is from Volume II of the 1899 book "Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana". This family tradition, which seems to have been written by Jacob Sayler's grandson Isaac Sayler, correctly connects Jacob Sayler to Bedford County, Pennsylvania and correctly identifies Jacob Saylor's gunsmithing services to the Revolutionary Army. The tradition is incorrect regarding the first Continental Congress: Jacob Sayler was not one of the Delegates. Nevertheless, understanding that stories do drift when passed down through generations, this family tradition does correctly capture Jacob Sayler's participation in a legislative body that met in Philadelphia -- it just gets the name of the legislative body wrong. The Holland story is probably the typical misunderstanding where families assume "Deutsche" means "Dutch", when it really means "German".

 "

In the February 2004 newsletter of the AOLRC, James B. Whisker reported that he had once seen a musket that had the initials "JS" on the lock. Whisker reported that the musket was crude and may have been something Jacob Sayler made during the Revolutionary War.

The following excerpt is from pages 65 and 66 the 1916 book "The Kinnears and Their Kin". It contains an obvious typographical error when it names the first generation "John Saylor" on page 65 and "Jacob Saylor" on page 66. It is included here because it provides a list of Jacob Sayler's children.

 "

Return to Gunsmith Index
Return to the Korns family genealogy home page