Samuel Spangler, Somerset County, PA gunsmith

Introduction: Samuel Spangler practiced gunsmithing in Somerset County, Pennsylvania before moving west, where he established the first gun shop in Green County, Wisconsin. His genealogy is complicated by the presence of more than one Samuel Spangler in Somerset County in the 1800s. In collector books Samuel Spangler is described as a Stoystown (Quemahoning Township) gunsmith who appears in Stony Creek Township tax lists.

This web page is a work in progress. For the time being, it includes some miscellaneous information about county and township evolution, other Spangler families, etc. that may eventually be useful in determining who the father of the gunsmith Samuel Spangler was.

1775: The Quemahoning Township portion of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "The township was organized in 1775."

1790: In a transcript of the 1790 census of Pennsylvania, there are no Spangler households in Bedford County.

1792: The Stony Creek Township portion of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "Stony Creek township was organized as a township of Bedford County in 1792. ... Stony Creek then included about one-sixth of Somerset county..."

1795: Somerset County was formed from a portion of Bedford County in 1795.

1796: Quemahoning Township was reduced in size in 1796. The Somerset Township portion of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "This township was formed in the early part of 1796 from Quemahoning and Milford."

1796: In 1796 John Spangler appears on a list of the taxable inhabitants of Stony Creek Township and Christian Spangler appears on a list of the taxable inhabitants of Quemahoning Township. The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that the Stoystown gunsmith Samuel Spangler was born in 1796. I do not know what the basis for this date is, or where he was born, or who his father was, but (as described below) I do not believe Christian Spangler was his father.

1798: Stoystown is in Quemahoning Township. The Quemahoning Township portion of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "Stoystown is one of the oldest towns west of the Allegheny mountains. ... A Connecticut traveler, journeying to Ohio in 1798, mentions Stoystown and Greensburg as being the only settlements of importance between Bedford and Pittsburgh."

1800: A transcript of the 1800 census of Somerset County lists a Christian Spangler in Quemahoning Township and a John Spangler in Stony Creek Township. Christian Spangler's household has one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group, and four males and one female in the up to ten age group. John Spangler's household has one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group, and one male in the up to ten age group.

1804: The following excerpt from the Quemahoning Township WPA warrant survey map shows where Christian Spangler's Stony Creek Township survey (red dot) was located relative to Stoystown (Blue dot) and the state road. The inset is from the official copy of the survey. When compared to the 1818 map excerpt below, it is clear that the Spangler residence near Stoystown on the 1818 map was not located on the Christian Spangler survey. As described elsewhere herein, I believe Christian Spangler was the father of the another Somerset County resident named Samuel Spangler, and was not the father of the gunsmith Samuel Spangler.

1810: A transcript of the 1810 census of Somerset County lists a Christian Spangler in Quemahoning Township. It also lists a John Spangler and an Abraham Spingler in Stony Creek Township. John's family has one male in the 45 and up age group, one female in the 26 to 45 age group, and one male in the 10 to 16 age group.

1811: According to the markers at her grave, Samuel's wife Catherine was born in 1811.

1818: The following excerpt from the 1818 Melish-Whiteside manuscript map shows a Spangler residence near Stoystown, but in what was then Stony Creek Township. I do not yet know if or how this farm relates to the gunsmith Samuel Spangler. I am including it here for future reference, and wonder if it was the farm of Samuel Spangler or his father.

1820: In a transcript of the 1820 census of Stony Creek Township, the only Spangler household I found is that of John. His household has one male and one female in the 45 and up age group, one male in the 16 to 26 age group, and one female in the 10 to 16 age group, with two individuals engaged in agriculture. I was unable to review the 1820 census of Quemahoning Township.

1821-1843: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts the gunsmith Samuel Spangler in Stoystown from 1821 to 1843.

1822: I am including the next item because it references an individual named Samuel Spangler in Somerset County. Based on the 1840 census (see below) I think this is a reference to a different Samuel Spangler, rather than a reference to the gunsmith. In other words, I do not think the father of the gunsmith Samuel Spangler was the Christian Spangler who died in 1822.

1823-1834: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Samuel Spangler is identified as a gunsmith in the 1823, 1829, 1832, and 1834 tax rolls of Stonycreek Township, Somerset County. The Whiskers' 1983 booklet incorrectly refers to the township as "Stoney Brook".

1828: The lock bolt plate of a flintlock rifle obtained in Somerset County and thought to have been Samuel Spangler's personal rifle is engraved "Stoys Town - Pa 1828".

1829: According to a web page about him, the gunsmith Valentine Spangler was a son of Samuel and Catherine Spangler, was born on February 20, 1829 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, died in 1894, and is buried at the Maysville Cemetery in Benton County, Arkansas, where he shares a tombstone with his second wife Elizabeth, who he married in Henry County, Missouri. The web page says his first wife Martha died in Rice County, Minnesota. His tombstone gives his lifespan as "1829-1894".

1829: Samuel Spangler's son George W. Spangler practiced gunsmithing in Wisconsin, succeeding his father in the business. An 1884 book says he was born on December 23, 1829. The book was written while George was still living, and I think it is reasonable that he assisted in preparation of his biography. he is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Green County, Wisconsin, where his tombstone indicates he was born in 1830 and died in 1913.

1830: There are three individuals named Samuel Spangler in a transcript of the 1830 census of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. One is in Quemahoning Township and two are in Stoneycreek Township.

1830: The 1953 edition of "American Gun Makers" mentions the existence of a flintlock rifle that has "Stoystown" and "1830" engraved on its brass lock bolt plate.

1830: The following excerpt from the 1830 Tanner map of Somerset County (which is based on the 1818 manuscript map included above) helps us to understand a possible reason collector books say Samuel Spangler was a Stoystown gunsmith but appears in Stony Creek Township tax lists. In the old days before the township boundary changed, Stoystown (in Quemahoning Township) was on one side of Stony Creek, and Stony Creek Township was on the other. Nowadays, in the vicinity of Stoystown both sides of Stony Creek are in Quemahoning Township. I suspect that back then, Samuel Spangler lived near Stoystown and had a Stoystown address, but lived on the Stony Creek Township side of Stony Creek. (My thanks to K.J. Fogge and Glenda Tressler Smith for information about the old township boundary.)

1835: On page 90 of his 1962 book "Two Centuries of Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren 1762-1962", H. Austin Cooper quotes from the "History of Daniel Stoy" that was written by George F. Spangler around 1912. The quoted material tells the story of George's father Franklin Spangler walking to Stoystown at age 14 to pick up his new rifle that his great-grandfather Daniel Stoy had ordered for him from the Stoystown gunsmith Samuel Spangler. Daniel Stoy died on January 12, 1835 as Franklin Spangler was walking to Stoystown and back to fetch the rifle. This story indicates that Samuel Spangler was an active gunsmith in Stoystown in 1835.

1840: There are two individuals named Samuel Spangler in a transcript of the 1840 census of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Both are in Stoneycreek Township. The household of Samuel Spangler "of C" has one male in the 30 to 40 age group, one male in the 10 to 15 age group, one male in the up to five age group, one female in the 30 to 40 age group, one female in the 10 to 15 age group, and two females in the 5 to 10 age group. The household of the other Samuel Spangler has one male in the 30 to 40 age group, one male in the 20 to 30 age group, one male in the 10 to 15 age group, one male in the 5 to 10 age group, one female in the 40 to 50 age group, one female in the 15 to 20 age group, one female in the 10 to 15 age group, and one female in the up to five age group. The household of Samuel Spangler of C had one individual engaged on agriculture, while the second Samuel Spangler had one individual engaged in manufacturing. From this census information, only the second individual has household members listed in age groups that fit Samuel's sons Valentine and George. Based on this, I think that Christian Spangler was not the father of the gunsmith Samuel Spangler.

1840: Click here to read the May 19, 1840 patent of Samuel Spangler of Stony Creek Township, Somerset County for a "Machine for Cleaning Grain". Although there were two individuals in Stony Creek Township named Samuel Spangler in 1840, I suspect that the gunsmith, with his mechanical skill, was the inventor.

1844-1846: The 1953 edition of "American Gun Makers" puts Samuel Spangler in Somerset County before moving to Wisconsin and indicates that he moved to Wisconsin in 1844 with his wife and his son George, and settled down in Monroe, Wisconsin in 1846. The entry in the 1953 book may be based on the following excerpt from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin":

1846: The following excerpt is from the "Early History of the Village of Monroe" section of Bingham's 1877 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin":

1848-1850: The following is from the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and shows that Samuel Spangler was a county surveyor:

1850: The following is from the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and shows that Samuel Spangler laid out the town of New Glarus:

1850: K.J. Fogge reports that 54-year-old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith Samuel Spangler appears in the 1850 federal census of Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin with property valued at $900.00. Also in the household are 44-year-old Pennsylvania-born Catherine, 19-year-old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith George with property valued at $30.00, and 17-year-old Pennsylvania-born Elizabeth.

1850: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that Samuel Spangler died in 1850. Based on the surveyor and census information presented on this web page I think this 1850 date of death is incorrect.

1851: The following is from the Cadiz section of 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and shows that Samuel Spangler laid out the cemetery there:

1854: The following is from the Monroe section of the 1884 book "History of Green County, Wisconsin" and indicates that Samuel Spangler surveyed an addition to the town of Monroe in 1854:

1857: K.J. Fogge reports that 61-year-old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith Samuel Spangler appears in Faribault, Rice County, Minnesota in the 1857 Minnesota Territorial & State Census. Also living in the household are 50-year-old Pennsylvania-born Catherine, 24-year-old Pennsylvania-born Elizabeth, and 22-year-old Pennsylvania-born carpenter Valentine.

1860: K.J. Fogge reports that 69-year-old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith Samuel Spangler appears in the 1860 Faribault, Rice County federal census with real estate valued at $1,000.00 and personal property valued at $350.00. Also in Samuel's household are 56-year-old Pennsylvania-born Cathe. and 26-year-old Pennsylvania-born Elizabeth. K.J. Fogge also reports that the household listed before Samuel's in the 1860 census is that of 28-year-old Pennsylvania-born carpenter V. Spangler with a personal estate valued at $100.00. Also living in the household were 20-year-old Pennsylvania-born Martha and 8-month-old Minnesota-born N.B.

1865: K.J. Fogge reports that Samuel Spangler is listed in Faribault, Rice County, in the 1865 Minnesota Territorial & State Census. Also in his household are Catharine and Elizabeth, along with Katie Pool. K.J. Fogge also reports that the next household in the census is that of Valentine Spangler. Also in Valentine's household are the females Martha A., Nevada B., Lizzie B., and Mary J.

1870: In the 1870 census of Grand River Township, Henry County, Missouri, the widow Catherine Spangler is living with her 38-year-old gunsmith son Valentine Spangler. This suggests that Samuel Spangler is already deceased, or living in a nursing home.

1882: A Samuel Spangler is buried in an unmarked grave in Row 13/14 Block 4 Lot 2 of the Greenwood Cemetery, Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin. Also buried there in the same lot, in a marked grave, is "Catherine wife of Saml. Spangler died Sept 11, 1882 aged 71 ys. ..." Another marker that may be a footstone states, "Catherine Spangler 1811 -- 1882". George W. Spangler is buried in the same cemetery.

1888: The "other" Samuel Spangler died on December 11, 1888 at age 83, and is buried in the Lambertsville Cemetery in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County. A web page about this other Samuel Spangler indicates his father was the Christian Spangler who died in 1822.

1913: The obituary of George Spangler was published in the April 5, 1913 issue of the "Evening Times" of Monroe, Wisconsin.

Samuel Spangler work product:

  • Dated gun & powder horn
  • 1920s halftone images of a Ruslin-marked percussion conversion rifle
  • 1924 halftone image of a flintlock rifle

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