William Henry, the earliest-known gunsmith in what would become Bedford County

Collector publications, such as Calvin Hetrick's 1983 booklet "The Bedford County Rifle and Its Makers" cite John Fraser as the earliest known gunsmith in what is now Bedford County, Pennsylvania. I propose that the honor belongs to William Henry, who accompanied Forbes' expedition against Fort Duquesne as an Armorer. Forbes was at Fort Bedford from September 16, 1758 to October 22, 1758, and perhaps longer. For however long William Henry was at Fort Bedford, it was in the official capacity of a military Armorer. To learn more about William Henry, read his 1910 biography "The Life of William Henry of Lancaster Pennsylvania 1729-1786" and the brief biography in Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle".

A November 13, 1759 letter Ourry wrote to Bouquet from Fort Bedford states, "In a little time we may discharge the Blacksmiths also, as I have set up a Smith, who is now at Work for himself in the Gunsmiths new House. And Frazer has built himself a Shop, intending to Work at his Trade. ..." This means there was an unknown gunsmith at Fort Bedford after Forbes' expedition and before John Fraser went to work in his new shop. In my opinion, this makes John Fraser the third gunsmith in the area.

The following excerpt is from the 1924 edition of Dillin's book "The Kentucky Rifle". It provides information on William Henry, and a son and grandsons who were also in the gun making business.

The following excerpt is from the 1896 book "Merion in the Welsh Tract". It provides a brief biography of William Henry, and names his children.

The following composite image is a footnote in Volume IX of the book "Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society" (1905) that provides a brief biography of William Henry.

The following excerpt is from Volume LXXI of the book "Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers" (1911). As part of a memorial biography, it was probably written by a family member. The subject of the biography was born in 1833, and his grandfather was William Henry.

gunsmith project collaborative notice

Return to Gunsmith Index
Return to the Korns family genealogy home page