William Jones, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: William Jones is known as an early Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith from a 1780 accounting document that records payments to William Jones for "repairing arms".

There was more than one individual named William Jones in early Bedford County. William Jones is such a common name that it may not be possible to determine which early records are really about the gunsmith who was paid to repair arms in 1780. To me, the individual(s) who appear in the Turkeyfoot and Milford township lists seem(s) less likely to be the gunsmith. One reason is an 1816 Bedford County estate of a William Jones that has a few smith-type material and tools listed. 1816 is after Somerset County was formed, so the smith-type items in the 1816 Bedford County estate are not related to the William Jones individual(s) who lived in the area that became Somerset County.

Some collector publications seem to assume that the Bedford County gunsmith was a Delaware servant who ran away from the widow Sarah Jones in 1775, and was described as being "...a gun-lock maker, and very ingenious at any kind of whitesmith's business, and even at blacksmith's work..." That may very well be true, and I personally believe it, but I don't know of any way to prove it. It just makes sense to me that a runaway indentured servant might head west to avoid capture, and it seems reasonable to think that when a multi-talented smith disappears from one location he is likely to show up in another location.

1775: The 1983 Whisker booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" references a January 9, 1775 warrant to a William Jones for 200 acres of property. This seems unlikely to be Sarah Jones' servant, because he did not run away until about seven months later, in July of 1775. The January 9, 1775 warrant is mentioned in Volume 25 of the Pennsylvania Archives, third series. The survey (Book A-38 Page 190) is on the North Fork of Turkey Foot or Laurel Hill Creek", which means it is within the bounds of present-day Somerset County.

Because this warrant in what is now Somerset County is dated before the servant William Jones ran away, I do not think the William Jones who had property in what is now Somerset County was the Bedford County gunsmith.

1775: The Revolutionary War began with battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

1775: An advertisement in the December 25, 1775 issue of the Pennsylvania Packet states"Kent County, on Delaware, July 10, 1775, FIVE DOLLARS REWARD, Ran Away from the Subscriber, living on the road leading from Dover to Queen's Town, and near the place called Horsehead, on Sunday night, the second instant, a servant man named WILLIAM JONES, by trade a gun-lock maker, and very ingenious at any kind of whitesmith's business, and even at blacksmith's work; aged upwards of thirty years, of middle stature, he went off very well cloathed with sundry sorts of cloathes, and is supposed to have taken plenty of money with him. It is believed he is gone in company with another servant man who is also eloped from a neighbor, name unknown. Whoever secures said servant in any public goal so that his mistress may have him again, or brings him to her, shall have the above reward and reasonable charges paid by SARAH JONES, Widow."

Here is the definition of a Whitesmith from Webster's 1874 "A Dictionary of the English Language":

1776: The following is from page 20 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII. It shows that a man named William Jones was enumerated on the Turkeyfoot Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania tax list in 1776 as a property owner.

1780: The following is from page 25 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume VII. It documents significant 1780 payments to William Jones for "repairing arms". This is from a chapter titled "State of the Accounts of the Lieutenants and Sub-Lieutenants of Bedford County 1777-1783".

1781: Volume 1 of the 1907 book "History of Cambria County" reports on "Captain John Boyd's Ranging Company, 1781", indicating that the company was "Recruited in Bedford County", and indicating that an individual named William Jones was a Private in the company. The same thing is reported in the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania", as shown by the following composite image:

1783: The following two images are from pages 212 and 239 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII, and represent 1783 Bedford County, Pennsylvania tax lists. The first image (212) is for Colerain Township, and the second image (page 239) is for Milford Township.

1784: The following two images are from pages 280 and 286 of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Third Series, Volume XXII, and represent 1784 Bedford County, Pennsylvania tax lists. The first image (280) is for Colerain Township, and the second image (page 286) is for Milford Township.

1785: The 1983 Whisker booklet references a "smith" named William Jones in Bedford in 1785.

1786-1808: The 1983 Whisker booklet mentions a William Jones who lived in "Bedford Towne" from 1786 to 1808. I don't know how to reconcile this with William Jones' absence from the 1796 list of taxpayers in the borough of Bedford.

1787: Volume 25 of the Pennsylvania Archives, third series mentions a September 10, 1787 warrant for 50 acres to William Jones & others. The survey for this warrant (Book A-34, Page 137) is in Milford Township, which is now in Somerset County.

1789: The following excerpt is from Volume III of the "Pennsylvania Archives", Sixth Series.

1790: The following composite image is from the Bedford County section of the 1908 book "Heads of Families of the First Census of the United States: 1790". It documents two men named William Jones living in Bedford County.

1792: The following excerpt from the 1792 Reading Howell map of Pennsylvania shows the location of Millford Township relative to Colerain Township and the town of Bedford. To get an idea of scale, it is approximately 30 road miles from the town of Fort Cumberland to the town of Bedford, and approximately 28.8 miles in a straight line.

1794: Volume 25 of the Pennsylvania Archives, third series mentions an April 10, 1794 warrant to William Jones for 400 acres of property. This warrant is listed on page 121 of the Bedford County warrant register, but no survey is listed.

1795: Much of present-day Somerset County was formed from the western portion of Bedford County in 1795, causing Milford Township to become a part of Somerset County.

1796: William Jones does not appear on the 1796 list of Bedford Borough taxpayers

1796: The following transcript of the 1796 Milford Township tax list is from the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania":

1800: In a transcript of the 1800 census of Providence and Colerain Townships of Bedford County, a William Jones household has one male and one female in the 45 and over age group, one female in the 16 to 26 age group, one female in the 10-16 age group, and one male and two females in the up to ten age group.

1800: In a transcript of the 1800 census of Bedford and St. Clair Townships of Bedford County, a William Jones household has one male and one female in the 16 to 26 age group. If the given ages are reasonably accurate, this William Jones is too young to have performed gunsmithing in 1780.

1800: There are three individuals named William Jones in the 1800 census of Somerset County. Two are in Milford Township and one is in Cambria Township. In Milford Township, both individuals are in the 45 and over age group. In Cambria Township, the individual is in the 26 to 45 age group.

1810: In a transcript of the 1810 census of Colerain Township Township of Bedford County, a William Jones household has two males in the up to 10 age group, one female in the 10 to 16 age group, one female in the 16 to 26 age group, and one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group. If the given ages are reasonably accurate, this William Jones is too young to have performed gunsmithing in 1780.

1810: In a transcript of the 1810 census of St. Clair Township of Bedford County, a William Jones household has two males and one female in the up to ten age group, and one male and one female in the 26 to 45 age group. If the given ages are reasonably accurate, this William Jones is too young to have performed gunsmithing in 1780.

1810: In a transcript of the 1810 census of Milford Township of Somerset County, the William Jones household has one female in the up to ten age group, two males and one female in the 16 to 26 age group, and one male and one female in the 45 and older age group.

1811: The 1983 Whisker booklet references a William Jones in Colerain Township in 1811.

1816: According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", estate 12 of 1816 is for a William Jones. This is well after the formation of Somerset County, so the William Jones of estate 12 was not the individual from Milford Township. The estate appraisal does not list gunsmithing tools per se, but does list two lots of old iron, a drawing knife, hammers, a handsaw, and some vices.

1820: There are three individuals named William Jones in the 1820 census of Bedford County, all in the 26 to 45 age group, and all too young to have performed gunsmithing in 1780. One is in St. Clair Township, one is in Bethel Township, and one is in Dublin Township. This adds a little circumstantial evidence to the idea that the individual with the 1816 estate may have been the gunsmith.

The following composite image from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania" describes the early history of Friend's Cove, which includes an old gunsmithing tradition that could relate to John Doddridge, Jacob Saylor, William Jones, or John Fraser.

  .

gunsmith project collaborative notice

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