Introduction: When you examine what is known of the life of the gunsmith Peter White and his son the gunsmith John White, it seems clear John White would have learned gunsmithing from his father while they still lived in Bedford County. As a result, John White falls within the scope of this web project. Since there is was more than one gunsmith named John White, I have referred to Peter White's son as John White II in the title of this page.
1778: Calculating from information reported to be on his now-missing tombstone, the gunsmith Peter White was born circa 1778.
1800: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that John White, son of Peter White, was born in 1800 in Maryland. I wonder if a census record is the basis for the stated birth date. The Maryland place of birth is harmonious with the 1800 federal census of Emmitsburg, where a young Peter White is enumerated as heading a household.
1803: According to the 1879 book "History of Columbiana County, Ohio", Columbiana County, Ohio was established in 1803.
1803-1817: As documented here Peter White was in Bedford County from at least as early as 1803 to at least as late as 1817, and the 1810 federal census documents four young male individuals living in his household; one in the 10 to 16 age bracket and three in the under 10 age bracket. One of these would have been Peter's son John White.
Circa 1818-1819: The Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" puts John White at New Lisbon in Columbiana County, Ohio as early as 1818 or 1819, and indicates that he was somehow associated with the gunsmiths John Small and Samuel Small. As documented here Peter White was in Uniontown by 1819.
1820: I could not find a copy of the manuscript 1820 census records for Columbiana County, Ohio.
Here is what the 1879 book "History of Columbiana County, Ohio" says about the early gunsmiths at New Lisbon, including John White and John Small. The information about the Small family of New Lisbon in the 1953 edition of "American Gun Makers" appears to be based on this passage, as does the information about a John White working in New Lisbon. The passage does not provide a basis for dating when the individual named John White first came to New Lisbon. One may reasonably wonder if this is the same John Small that Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle" identifies as being on the 1802, 1803, and 1806 tax lists of George Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
1823: According to the Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", an individual named John White ran an advertisement in the May 3, 1823 issue of the "Tuscarawas Chronicle" newspaper thanking the public for their support since he started his business in New Philadelphia, Ohio, informing them that he has moved his business to the courthouse square, and stating that he will be stocking and repairing firearms at the new location.
1829: David Small ran an advertisement in the February 7, 1829 issue of the "New Lisbon Western Palladium" indicating that he was continuing to perform gunsmithing business at the shop that until lately had been occupied by the White & Small firm on Market Street. The advertisement indicates that the White & Small firm had been dissolved:
1830: I could not find a copy of the manuscript 1830 census records for Columbiana County, Ohio.
1835: As reported here John White signed a document in Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1835 relating to his father Peter White's estate.
Circa 1840: Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle" states that sometime around 1840 John White established a shop on Ferry Street in Pittsburgh.
1840: An individual named John White is listed in the 1840 census of Union Borough (Uniontown), Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
1841-1842: The 2017 book "Arms Makers of Western Pennsylvania" indicates that the gunsmith John White advertised that he was Peter White's successor in the July 26, 1841 and November 16, 1842 issues of the Uniontown newspaper "Genius of Liberty".
1842-1843: The January 19, 1843 issue of the "Genius of Liberty" newspaper contains the following advertisement: "GUN-SMITHING The subscriber respectfully informs his friends and the public in general, that he continues to carry on the GUNSMITH Business, in all its branches, at the old stand near the court-house, and one door West of the hotel of MATTHEW ALLEN, Esq., where he will be always ready, except in case of sickness, to promptly execute all work in his line of business, in a neat and substantial manner, and on the most reasonable terms. ALL KINDS OF REPAIRING, &c. will be done on the shortest notice, so that persons from a distance can have their work to take home with them. He hopes, by the most diligent attention to business, and an earnest desire to please, to receive a share of the custom of the public. Uniontown, November 16, 1842 JOHN WHITE, Successor to PETER WHITE".
The following excerpts are from James Hadden's 1913 book "A History of Uniontown..."
1843-1857: The Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" states that John White moved to Pittsburgh in 1843 and had a shop at 46 St. Clair Street until 1857.
1844-1858: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle", John White has a different Pittsburgh address in each city directory in the 1844 to 1858 timeframe.
1844: Here is John White's listing in the 1844 "Harris' Business Directory of the Cities of Pittsburgh & Allegheny..."
1848: The following advertisement appears in the September 4, 1848 issue of the "Pittsburgh Daily Dispatch" newspaper: "A GOOD WORKMAN at the Gun Smith business wanted immediately, having a large contract of No. 1 Patent Mincinger's Guns to fulfill for Arkansas Territory. Apply to JNO. WHITE, Gun Smith, on Fifth Street, Pittsburgh, Pa." An image from Minesinger's patent follows. Click here to see U.S. Patent 6139 in its entirety. Minesinger was living in Beaver in Beaver County Pennsylvania on the May 29, 1848 date he applied for the patent. Beaver is 27.5 miles downriver from downtown Pittsburgh. Click here to see a photo of the patent model of the rifle, which is at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
1850: Here is a John White listing in "Fahnestock's Pittsburgh directory for 1850..."
1857: Here is a John White's listed in Thurston's 1857 book "Directory of Pittsburgh and Vicinity, for 1857-'58."
1858: Here is a John White's listed in Thurston's 1858 book "Directory of Pittsburgh and Vicinity, for 1858-'59." As you can see from the directory excerpt, there was more than one individual named John White living in the area.
1859: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle", John White moved to Rochester, Pennsylvania in 1859. Rochester and the town of Beaver are adjacent to one another, on opposite sides of the mouth of Beaver River.
1860: In the following excerpt from the 1860 census records of Rochester, Pennsylvania John White is listed as a Maryland-born gunsmith:
1861: The Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" states that John White appears in an 1861 edition of Boyd's directory. Based on context, the directory may be for Rochester.
1863-1868: The Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" states that John White had returned to Pittsburgh by 1863, was located at Miltenburger and Seventh Street (the streets must have been different back then), and had an advertisement in an 1868-69 directory for Pittsburgh.
1864: Here is a John White listing in Thurston's 1864 book "Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities. 1864-1865".
1868: The Whiskers' 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" states that John White is listed in an 1868-69 directory of Pittsburgh.
John White work product:
Please visit the Gunsmithing Project Index for links to web pages that provide detailed information about early western Pennsylvania gunsmiths and the muzzleloading rifles they manufactured.
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