William Border, Bedford County gunsmith

William Border, was a gunsmith in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Here is the biographical material I have found about him so far. He is one of only a handful of Bedford County gunsmiths who made rifles in the flintlock era that have survived.

1800: The 1978 book "Blackburn and Allied Descendants of John Blackburn., Sr. ..." indicates that William Border was born on June 30, 1800 in Maryland and was a son of John Border and Mary M. (Black) Border. According to his memorial on findagrave.com, William Border's parents were John Border and Mary Magdalene (Black) Border. The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" describes William's father as Johannes Border, a son of of the blacksmith Gebalt Border.

1804: The 1978 book "Blackburn and Allied Descendants of John Blackburn., Sr. ..." indicates that William Border's wife Lydia Blackburn was a daughter of Thomas Blackburn's son John and was born on April 9, 1804.

1815: According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", William Border's mother Mary Magdalene (Black) Border died in 1815.

1825: According to his memorial on findagrave.com, William Border married Lydia Blackburn in Schellsburg on April 16, 1825. The 1978 book "Blackburn and Allied Descendants of John Blackburn., Sr. ..." indicates that Lydia Blackburn married the gunsmith William Border circa 1824 to 1825.

1826-1870: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts William Border in Napier Township from 1826 to 1870, as does the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties". The 2001 book reports him as consistently appearing on the tax rolls as a farmer.

1826: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that William Border's tax was $6.00 in 1826 while living in Napier Township.

1826: The 1978 book "Blackburn and Allied Descendants of John Blackburn., Sr. ..." indicates that the gunsmith Daniel B. Border, son of William and Lydia Border, was born on April 29, 1826. According to his tombstone at the Bedford Cemetery, Daniel Border was born April 29, 1826.

1827-1847: Pages 26 and 27 of Calvin Hetrick's book "The Bedford County Rifle and its Makers" are a transcript of information found in William Border's account book. The book documents the types of work he did in the 1827 to 1847 timeframe, the charges for the work, and the names of the customers.

1828: According to her memorial on findagrave.com, William Border's daughter Margaret was born on January 14, 1828.

1829: According to her memorial on findagrave.com, William Border's daughter Sarah Mary (Border) Oldham was born on December 30, 1829.

1831: According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", William Border's son John who died in 1864 was born in 1831 and was married to Catherine Ott. Based on the year of death, this son would be the talented gunsmith John Border.

1835: According to her memorial on findagrave.com, William Border's daughter Anna (Border) Cuppet was born on January 14, 1835.

1841: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that William Border's tax was $41.00 as a farmer living in Napier Township in 1841.

1850: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", William Border, the father of Daniel Border and John Border, is identified as a gunsmith on the 1850 tax roll of East St. Clair Township, Bedford County.

1850: The following composite images from the 1850 census provide information about the size and productivity of William Border's farm:

1855: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that William Border's property was valued at $480.00 while living in Napier Township in 1855.

1856: According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", William Border's father John died in 1856.

1861: The following image from the 1861 Walker map shows a "Wm. Border" residence in Napier Township.

1861: The following notice is from the January 18, 1861 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It shows that William Border was a resident of Bedford County in 1861.

1862: The following notice was placed in the September 19, 1862 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". Information provided by William Border at the bottom of the notice identifies William Border as a gunsmith.

1864: The following notice is from the September 16, 1864 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It suggests that William Border owned real estate in Napier Township.

1868: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that William Border's property was valued at $420.00 while living in Napier Township in 1868.

1873: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" reports that William Border's property was assessed at $1,445.00 in 1873.

1873-1881: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" puts William Border in East St. Clair Township from 1873 to 1881, as does the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties". The 2001 book reports him as consistently appearing on the tax rolls as a farmer.

1877: The following image from the East St. Clair Township portion of the 1877 book "County Atlas of Bedford Pennsylvania" identifies the location of William Border's residence and gunshop. The general location of the gunshop is 40.096004, -78.584077.

1876: The 1978 book "Blackburn and Allied Descendants of John Blackburn., Sr. ..." indicates that William Border’s wife Lydia (Blackburn) Border died on August 14, 1876 and is buried at Fishertown. This date of death agrees with the date of death given on her memorial on findagrave.com.

1878: The following image is from the 1878-1879 edition of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", which was "Printed at the Inquirer Office, Bedford, Pa." It identifies William Border as a gunsmith in Spring Hope (East St. Clair Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania).

1880: In the 1880 census, George Border is enumerated as a 47-year-old farmer. Also living in his household are his 45-year-old wife Martha, 19-year-old Lottie, 17-year-old Lydia, and 79-year-old gunsmith William Border.

1880: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" indicates that William Hartley foreclosed on Daniel Border's $745.00 debt on September 10, 1880. The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" indicates that William Border was a cosigner on a loan that his son Daniel B. Border had made, and both Daniel and William experienced foreclosure in connection with the debt when the business of Daniel B. Border failed. These may be references to the same event.

1881: According to the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties", William Border was residing with his son George when he died on July 12, 1881.

1881: According to his memorial on findagrave.com William Border was born June 30, 1800 and died July 11, 1881 at age 81. William Border is buried in the Fishertown Lutheran Cemetery in Fishertown, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The cemetery is located at Latitude 40.125362, Longitude -78.586293.

1881: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" reports that the value of William Border's estate was $2,375.62 with debts of $163.33. The same book reports that the children listed in William Border's will were Daniel B. Border who resided in Bedford, Margaret Anstadt who resided in Cambria County, Sarah Oldham (deceased), John Border (deceased), George Border, and Annie Cuppett who resided in New Paris.

The 1953 edition of Gluckman's "American Gun Makers" puts William Border in New Paris in Bedford County, and says he made squirrel rifles with full stocks and marked his locks "W. B." The same book says William Border was the son of Gebald Border and the father of John Border and Daniel Border, and was producing rifles earlier than 1800. If true, this statement would seem to have to be a different individual, based on the pre-1800 statement. I think the pre-1800 statement is wrong.

The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" includes Gebald Border in a list of Bedford County gunsmiths, but the authors of that booklet do not include Gebald Border in their 1991 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties".

Although various items appear to be incorrect, here's what Vaughn E. Whisker wrote in an article titled "Somerset County Gunmakers and Smiths" in the November 1982 issue of the "Laurel Messenger". I recommend giving more weight to later writings of any author, to give them an opportunity to correct mistakes.

The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" includes John Border, Sr. (1775-1856) in its list of Bedford County gunsmiths, indicates that John Border, Sr. was the father of William, indicates that John Border, Sr.'s wife was Mary Magdalena Black, and puts John Border, Sr. in Naper Township up until 1825, in Providence Township in 1825, and back in Napier Township from 1826 to 1856. The authors of the booklet did not include John Border, Sr. as a gunsmith in their 1991 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties".

The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" reports that William Border was one of John Border's sons.

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