Introduction: The 1953 edition of the book "American Gunmakers" indicates that Worthe G. Suter was born in the vicinity of Ruffs Dale (Westmoreland County) on October 6, 1896 (sic) and was employed by Charles Monroe Knupp of Bakersville, Somerset County as a gunsmith's assistant. The book indicates that Worthe went on to be a gunsmith near Ruffs Dale and made both flint and percussion rifles with locks he built himself. The wording of the biographical information in the book indicates that Worthe was still in business when the book was written. The book indicates that Worthe's grandfather was the gunsmith John J. Suter, who died in 1902 (sic). The book reports that Worthe assisted his grandfather when he was just a little boy.
I am including Worthe G. Suter as a Somerset County gunsmith on the basis of his having worked for the well known Somerset County gunsmith Charles Monroe Knupp, who died in 1937.
Locks made by Worthe G. Suter still exist, and Suter lock kits were once sold by Dixie Gun Works. Although the locks that I have seen are stamped "W. G. Sutter" Worthe's tombstone uses the spelling "Suter".
Worthe, with his family, made handmade locks that were hand engraved. I have read that there are cheap reproductions of Suter locks on the market, and have seen some fairly crude looking castings of flint locks with the name "W. G. Sutter" cast into them. Although I've heard the name of the individual who made the cast locks, I don't know if they were authorized reproductions or if they were unauthorized counterfeits.
1895: The tombstone of Worthe G. Suter indicates he was born on October 6, 1895.
1901: Worthe's paternal grandfather is buried in the Mount Zion Lutheran and Reformed Cemetery, Mayfield, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. The tombstone states, "John J. Sutor died Nov. 11, 1901 aged 78 Yr 6 Mo 9 Ds". Worthe had just turned six years old.
1923: According to her obituary, Betty S. Stahoviak was born in Smithton on January 21, 1923 and was a daughter of Worthe Suter and Amy C. (Momyer) Suter Thompson.
1931: According to his 2004 obituary, Worthe G. Suter Jr. was born on September 19, 1931 in East Huntingdon Township, and was the son of Worthe G. Suter and Leona Sylvia Long Suter. The obituary says that he was preceded in death by a sister named Betty Lynch and a brother named Robert Suter.
1933: Robert L. "Bo" Suter is buried in the Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church Cemetery at Tarrs (near Ruffs Dale) in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. His tombstone indicates he was born on September 30, 1933.
1953: The 1953 edition of the book "American Gunmakers" describes Worthe G. Suter as a "current period" gunmaker who, when young, had worked with Somerset County, Pennsylvania gunsmith Charles Monroe Knupp as a gunsmith assistant.
1958: W. G. Suter is featured on page 9 of the November 1958 "Muzzle Blasts" magazine. The article indicates that Worthe's 18-year-old daughter Charlotte performs assembly of and engraves flint locks for him, and is assisted by two brothers who are younger than her.
1960s: An individual who talked to Worthe G. Suter at Friendship in the 1960s wrote that Worthe told him he made his lock tumblers from the torsion bars of wrecked Chrysler and 1955 and 1956 Packard automobiles.
1960s-1970s: An individual who was originally from Ruffs Dale wrote that his father knew Worthe in the 1960 to 1970 timeframe, and indicated that Worthe had a small two story gun shop out in the country with minimal power equipment. The individual indicated that Worthe's sons and grandsons worked with him at the gun shop.
1966: In the 1966 catalog of Dixie Gun Works, W. G. Suter percussion lock kits were $13.50 and flintlock kits were $17.50.
1972: In the 1972 catalog of Dixie gun works, the cost of a W.G. Sutter lock kit was $19.75.
1975: Worthe G. Suter died on July 22, 1975 and is buried at the Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church Cemetery (40.1705551, -79.5975037) at Tarrs (near Ruffs Dale), in Westmoreland County.
The following images show a Bedford County style percussion lock plate and hammer. The plate is stamped "W. G. SUTTER". As you can see, this is high quality work.
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