James Defibaugh, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: At least three collector publications tell of a James Defibaugh who was active in 1829 and 1852. For the year 1829 one publication identifies him as a gunsmith and two as a silversmith. All three publications identify him as a gunsmith in 1852. In my opinion, these publications conflate two different individuals. This page attempts to explain why I have that opinion.

1819: James Culbertson Defibaugh seems to be the individual who appears in in the 1850 census of Bedford Township, where the gunsmith James Defibaugh was documented in 1852. I am not aware of any other James Defibaugh who is a candidate to be the gunsmith.

Several web pages about the James Culbertson Defibaugh who died September 17, 1895 and is buried at the Imler Valley Cemetery (40.21052418, -78.52249621) at Imler in Bedford County, Pennsylvania indicate he was born on August 8, 1807. In my opinion, that date of birth is wrong. All available census information, and his obituary, indicate that James Culbertson Defibaugh was actually born in the circa 1818 to 1820 timeframe. For example, the obituary in the September 21, 1895 issue of the "Altoona Tribune" (see below) indicates that James Defibaugh died at age 77. If the age is correct, he was born circa 1818.

Mary Lou Cook's August 3, 2013 Defibaugh working file, titled "Descendants of Caspar Defibaugh", provides an 1819 birth date for James Culbertson Defibaugh, and indicates his parents were Abraham and Elizabeth (Culbertson) Defibaugh. Mary Lou Cook indicates that Abraham's father was Johann Gottlieb Defibaugh, and his grandfather was Caspar Defibaugh.

The following graphic shows how I currently understand the relationships among the Defibaugh gunsmiths. Red text is used to identify individuals who were known or have been said to be gunsmiths.

1820: I did not find a James Defibaugh household in transcripts of the 1820 Bedford Borough and Bedford Township census records I examined.

1829-1852: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" identifies James E. Defibaugh as a single gunsmith in the borough of Bedford in 1829, and locates him in Bedford Township in 1852. The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker and Yantz and the Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" indicate that James Defibaugh was identified as a single free man and a silversmith in the borough of Bedford in 1829 and was identified as a gunsmith in Bedford Township in 1852.

If James Culbertson Defibaugh was born circa 1818 to 1822, he was not old enough to be a single freeman and a silversmith or gunsmith in 1829. So far, I haven't identified any other candidate except James Culbertson Defibaugh to be the 1852 gunsmith.

1830: I did not find a James Defibaugh household in transcripts of the 1830 Bedford Borough and Bedford Township census records I examined. I have not been able to search the entire 1830 census to see if a James Defibaugh appears in any other township.

1840: I did not find a James Defibaugh household in a transcript of the 1840 Bedford County census. This suggests that the 1829 silversmith/gunsmith James Defibaugh was either boarding with someone, was deceased, or was no longer present in Bedford County in 1840.

1850: Based on the 1850 census, James and Catherine Defibaugh had a son named George who was born in 1850. George's death certificate indicates he was born on April 28, 1850:

1850: The 1850 federal census of Bedford Township enumerates James Defibaugh as a 30-year-old Pennsylvania-born laborer. Also living in his household are 25-year-old Catherine and one-month-old George. Based on the age given in this census record, James Defibaugh was born circa 1820.

This 1850 census record puts this James Defibaugh in the township where the gunsmith James Defibaugh appears as a gunsmith in 1852. In my opinion, the age of James Defibaugh in 1850 suggests that the 1852 gunsmith is not the same individual as the 1829 silversmith/gunsmith.

1852: As mentioned above, at least three collector publications describe a gunsmith named James Defibaugh in the borough of Bedford in 1852.

Circa 1853-1854: Based on the 1860 census, James and Catherine Defibaugh had a child named Sara Malinda who was born circa 1854. This child does not appear in the 1870 census, or in the 1880 census transcript I've seen. Mary Lou Cook's August 3, 2013 Defibaugh working file gives the name of this child as Sarah Malinda Defibaugh, and gives a birth date of 1854. A web page about Sarah Malinda (Defibaugh) Stambaugh indicates she is the daughter of James and Catherine (Speece) Defibaugh, was born on October 21, 1853, died on November 8, 1894, and is buried at the Imler Saint Paul Brethren Cemetery in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

1856: Based on the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses, James and Catherine Defibaugh had a son named John who was born circa 1856-1857. The death certificate of John Defibaugh indicates he was born on July 17, 1856:

1860: Based on the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses, James and Catherine Defibaugh had a daughter named Mary Margaret who was born circa 1859. Her death certificate indicates she was born in 1860.

1860: In the 1860 federal census of St. Clair township, James Defibaugh is enumerated as a 41-year-old Pennsylvania-born farmer with real estate valued at $2,500.00 and personal property valued at $300.00. Also living in his household are 35-year-old Catherine, 10-year-old George, 6-year-old Sarah Malinda, 3-year-old John, and 1-year-old Mary Margaret. Based on the age given in this census record, James Defibaugh was born circa 1819.

1861: I did not find James Defibaugh in the St. Clair Township, St. Clairsville, or Pleasantville portions of the 1861 Walker map of Bedford County.

1862: Mary Lou Cook's August 3, 2013 Defibaugh working file indicates that James and Catherine Defibaugh had a son named William H. Defibaugh who was born circa 1862 and married Annie E. Mock. A tombstone at the Imler Cemetery is inscribed, "W.H. Deffibaugh died Nov. 28, 1926, aged 64 ys. 7 ms, 1 ds Annie E. his wife died Sept. 13, 1921, aged 52 ys. 7 ms. 6 ds". This inscription indicates an 1862 birth for W.H. Deffibaugh.

1864-65: We know from the Veteran's schedule of the 1890 census that James Defibaugh served in the 91st Pennsylvania Infantry. He joined the regiment in October of 1864 and was discharged in July of 1865. The following composite image is from the 1870 book "History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-5":

The following excerpt from the 1870 book "History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-5" describes the activities of the 91st Pennsylvania Infantry during the period when James Defibaugh was a member:

Circa 1865: Based on the 1870 census, James and Catherine Defibaugh had a daughter named Emma who was born circa 1865. The tombstone of Emma J. Hammer at the Osterburg Lutheran Cemetery is inscribed with a birth date of Nov. 3, 1864 and a death date of Aug. 2, 1941. Her death certificate gives a birth date of Nov. 3, 1866.

1870: In the 1870 federal census of Union Township, James Defibaugh is enumerated as a 52-year-old farmer living with 48-year-old Catherine, 20-year-old George, 14-year-old John, 11-year-old Mary, 8-year-old William, and 5-year-old Emma. Based on the age given in this census record, James Defibaugh was born circa 1818.

1876: The 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "In 1876 King township was taken from Union." This means that James Defibaugh many not have had to move to live in Union Township in 1870 and live in King Township in 1880.

1877: I could not find James Defibaugh in the Union and King township portion of the 1877 atlas of Bedford County.

1880: In a transcript of the 1880 federal census of King Township, James Defibaugh is enumerated as a 61-year-old Pennsylvania-born laborer. Living with him are his 55-year-old wife Catherine, 23-year-old son John J, 21-year-old daughter Mary, and 15-year-old daughter Emma J. Based on the age given in this census record, James Defibaugh was born circa 1819.

1880: James Defibaugh applied for an Invalid pension on May 8, 1880. The application was successful.

1890: In the 1890 Veteran's Schedule of King Township, James Defibaugh is enumerated as having been a Private in the 91st Pennsylvania Infantry who enlisted in October of 1864 and was discharged in July of 1865.

1895: The following obituary is from the September 21, 1895 issue of the "Altoona Tribune" indicates that James Defibaugh died at age 77. Based on the obituary, he was born circa 1818 and died on Tuesday, September 17, 1895.

1895: Catherine applied for a Widow's pension on October 18, 1895. The application was successful.

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