Introduction: John Border was a talented gunsmith who operated in the borough of Bedford, Pennsylvania. Evidence of his career in gun making exists in the form of newspaper advertisements and articles, at least one census record, a notice of an award, and surviving examples of his work. A younger brother of the gunsmith Daniel Border, John Border died in his early 30s in a railroad accident in 1864. Since there was an earlier gunsmith named John Border in Bedford County, I refer to the two individuals as John Border I and II in the respective web page titles. John Border I was the grandfather of John Border II.
1831: The 1953 edition of Gluckman's "American Gun Makers" indicates that John Border is the son of William Border. According to the Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", William Border's son John who died in 1864 was born in 1831. Several websites indicate indicate that John Border was born on September 22, 1831.
Here is an outline of how I currently understand the members of the Border family who were gunsmiths in Bedford County (including Rebecca Border's husband John Amos):
1832: Kate Border is buried at the East Harrisburg Cemetery at Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Her tombstone gives her name as Kate Border, and although eroded appears to give a death date of January 30, 1899, with only the penultimate character being difficult to read. A website gives her name as Katherine "Kate" (Ott) Border, and indicates she was born in 1832, died on January 30, 1899, and was the widow of John Border.
1850: John Border is identified as a gunsmith in his father William Border's household in the 1850 Federal census of Napier Township, Bedford County.
1854: The following Daniel Border gunsmithing advertisement is from the July 21, 1854 issue of the "Bedford Gazette", newspaper, and also appears in many other issues. Daniel Border's gun shop was in a house that was located "one door west of the residence of Major Washabaugh". An 1859 advertisement included below shows that this house eventually became John Border's gun shop.
1855: The following Daniel Border advertisement is from the June 22, 1855 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper. I suspect that the referenced "good and competent workman" at the old stand was John Border, since John Border eventually took over the stand that was described in 1854 as being "in the east end of Bedford, one door west of the residence of Major Washabaugh".
1855: Frank R. Border is buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery at Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. His portion of a tombstone he shares with his wife Ella states, "Frank R. Border 1855--1929". A website indicates he is the son of John Border's widow Katherine (Ott) Border. This makes Frank a son of John Border.
1856-1863: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts John Border in the borough of Bedford from 1856 to 1863.
1857: John Border was a regular advertiser in the Bedford Gazette. The following advertisement is from the July 3, 1857 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". I think the "Dec. 12, 1856.--1y" text is a reference to when the advertisement began, and how long it was supposed to run. I believe the metal type would remain set from issue to issue, and think the inclusion of the date at the bottom of the advertisement informs the typesetter when to pull the advertisement. Notice that John Border's shop is "at the east end of Bedford". This makes me suspect he was working in Daniel Border's old stand, which had been described in the 1855 Daniel Border advertisement as being "in the east end of Bedford, one door west of the residence of Major Washabaugh".
1857: The following article is from the August 7 1857 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer and Chronicle". The article indicates that Daniel Border and John Border worked together to install the town clock in the cupola of the Bedford County courthouse. This conclusively demonstrates a working relationship between the two brothers.
1857: A web page about Carrie (Border) Koomes indicates that she was born on February 18, 1857, died on March 10, 1930, is buried in the East Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and is the daughter of Katherine (Ott) Border. This makes Carrie a daughter of John Border.
1857: The following excerpt is from the November 6, 1857 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer and Chronicle". It reports that John Border received an award for his single and double barrel rifles from the Bedford County Agricultural Society in October, 1857.
1859: The following advertisement is from the June 17, 1859 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". This advertisement references the same shop location that Daniel Border described in earlier advertisements.
1861: The following item is from the February 8, 1861 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper. The item is repeated in the March 8, 1861 issue.
1861: As shown below by an 1899 newspaper article, John Border had a daughter Mrs. Wendell Fackler. A website indicates that Wendell A. Fackler was born in 1860, died in 1933, is buried in the Paxtang Cemetery at Paxtang, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and was the husband of Mary A. (Border) Fackler. The same website indicates that Wendell's wife Mary Fackler was born on April 15, 1861 in Bedford County, died January 19, 1922, is buried in a mausoleum at the Paxtang Cemetery, and was the daughter of John Border and Catherine Ott. Paxtang is part of the Harrisburg metropolitan area.
1861: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", John Border used the initials "J.B." on his locks, and is identified as a gunsmith on the tax roll of Bedford Township in 1861. Here are two examples of his initials from a rifle that is on display at the NRA museum. These two images are copyrighted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and are included here courtesy of Erin Sabatini of the NRA Museums, NRAmuseums.com with the express permission of the NRA Museum:
1862: The following advertisement is from the March 21, 1862 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". It shows that John Border was running for the Bedford Borough office of High Constable on the Democratic ticket.
1863: The following advertisement is from the January 9, 1863 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". It shows that John Border is still working in the gun shop formerly occupied by Daniel Border.
1863: George M. Border is buried in the East Harrisburg Cemetery at Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. His tombstone indicates he was born in 1863 an died in 1941. A website indicates that George M. Border was born on November 27, 1863 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, died on January 17, 1941, and was the son of Katherine (Ott) Border. That makes him a son of the gunsmith John Border.
1864: The next three articles are from the May 27, 1864 issue of the "Bedford Gazette", and are related to the untimely death of John Border.
1864: The following article about John Border's death is from the May 27, 1864 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer".
1864: The following advertisement is from the December 2, 1864 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". It indicates that John Border is deceased, and David Defibaugh has taken over his workshop.
1864: "John Border, gunsmith" was selected for jury duty on May 3, 1864, a few weeks before his death. The following notice is from the August 5, 1864 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer".
1871: According to the Whiskers' 1983 booklet, records from the Orphan's Court of Bedford County show that John Amos represented the John Border family in the legal activities relating to the settlement concerning John Border's 1964 death in a railroad accident. The Whiskers' 2017 book indicates that John Border's estate was finalized in 1875, and is estate no. 5 of 1871.
1899: The following item from the September 8, 1899 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper indicates that John Border had a daughter Mrs. Wendel Fackler. This was the key that allowed me to discover the names of the children of John Border.
Thoughts on manufacturing processes: The model and clock making activities referenced on this web page, and the geometric accuracy of the patch box recess on one of the rifles linked below, make me wonder whether John Border had access to machine shop equipment, or employed the services of a machine shop.
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