John Border percussion rifle, on display at the NRA museum

This photo is courtesy of the NRA Museums, NRAmuseums.com and is included here with their express permission.

Gunsmiths of Bedford and Somerset counties, Pennsylvania

Introduction
This web page indexes information about the muzzleloading rifle gunsmiths who worked within the present bounds of Somerset and Bedford counties, Pennsylvania in the 1700s, 1800s, and early 1900s. The firearms made by these highly skilled craftsmen embody the finest artistry of their time and region. One goal of this web page is to document the lives of these talented individuals. Another is to provide high quality photos of the muzzle loading rifles they made, to supplement the handful of books that have been published on the subject. I am soliciting photographs from owners of such rifles. Working together, I hope this free website can provide far better photos than can be provided in a print book. The photos will be published anonymously, and will be scrubbed of GPS coordinates, to protect the owners and their privacy. I AM NOT INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHS PIRATED FROM OTHER WEBSITES; PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM.

My background
I used to be a gun collector, but sold my collection as part of downsizing for retirement. In a very real sense, this website is a way for me to scratch the gun collecting itch without assembling another physical collection. I've been interested in this subject since I was four or five years old, when my father held his Somerset County father's half stock muzzle loading rifle to my shoulder, and explained how to use the sights. Standing on my maternal grandfather Allen Korns' farm (where I lived when my earliest memories were formed) one can see the farms of the gunsmiths Adam Lepley (II & III) and Benjamin Troutman (My grandfather Korns' farm is adjacent to the Lepley farm). These families are all intertwined, and it's no surprise that Benjamin Troutman was an appraiser of my fifth great grandfather Michael Korn's farm, as part of settling the estate, or that several members of the Lepley family married a Korns. This project started with studies of the Lepley and Troutman families.

Antecedent research
The book "American Gunmakers" by Arcadi Gluckman and L. D. Satterlee is the original published source of much of the fundamental date-related information pertaining to Bedford and Somerset county gunsmiths. This remarkable book was first published circa 1940, and was expanded in 1949 and 1953. The information it contains is repeated by various other authors. For example, Henry Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle" repeats and builds upon the information in "American Gunmakers". In the forward to the 1953 edition of "American Gunmakers", Gluckman acknowledged Calvin Hetrick's contributions to the original edition of book.

Calvin Hetrick's list of the gunsmiths of Bedford County was published in the January 23, 1947 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper. Click here to read an interesting article about Bedford County rifles from the February 14, 1958 issue of the "Bedford County Press" that shows a picture of Calvin Hetrick. The illustrated booklet "The Bedford County Rifle and Its Makers" was written by Calvin Hetrick and published in 1973, after first being published as a section of Dillin's 1959 book "The Kentucky Rifle" (fourth edition). With this publication and his contributions to "American Gunmakers" Hetrick played a key role in highlighting the unique attributes of the Bedford school of rifle making, and documenting its practitioners.

Vaughn E. Whisker published lists of Somerset County gunsmiths in 1971 and 1982 issues of the "Laurel Messenger"; click here to see them. Mr. Whisker continued his research, and with co-author James B. Whisker, wrote an illustrated book titled "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties" that was published in 1991. James B. Whisker and Larry W. Yantz published a now-rare followup book titled "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" in 2001. James B. Whisker also published a small illustrated book titled "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" in 2017. These books are the premiere print resources on Bedford and Somerset County rifles, and the gunsmiths who made them.

Lannie Dietle, July 26, 2020.

Here are links to the information I have collected. Hit the "refresh" button when you visit these pages to ensure you are seeing the latest version.
(= The gunsmith worked in the flintlock era, or is known to have made flintlock rifles.)
(= I have heard of at least one surviving gun by this maker.)

  • Map showing the residences of certain Somerset and Bedford County gunsmiths
  • Map showing the cemeteries where certain Somerset and Bedford County gunsmiths are buried

  • ADAMS, Daniel (1814-1900), biographical material

  • ALTFATHER, John (1834-1910), biographical material

  • AMOS, John (1800-1867), biographical material ★ ✓
  • AMOS, John, percussion rifle

  • ATLEY, Conrad, biographical material

  • BAKER, Andrew (1807-1887), biographical material
  • BAKER, Charles, topic stub

  • BAUNELL, William, topic stub

  • BISBING, John (1825-1905), biographical material

  • BLAIR, William, topic stub

  • BORDER, Daniel (1826-1891), biographical material
  • BORDER, Daniel, two percussion rifles
  • BORDER, Daniel, percussion rifle
  • BORDER, Enos (1822-1888)
  • BORDER, John (1831-1864), biographical material
  • BORDER, John, percussion rifle
  • BORDER, John, percussion rifle
  • BORDER, Samuel (1814-1886), biographical material
  • BORDER, William (1800-1881), biographical material
  • BORDER, W & D (William & Daniel) percussion rifle
  • BORDER, William, percussion lock
  • BORDER, William R. "Billy" Border (1869-1937), biographical material

  • BOWMAN, Jeremiah (c 1846-1890), biographical material

  • BOWSINGER, Henry, biographical material

  • BRIGGLE, Jacob (____-1881), biographical material (Jacob Briggle I)
  • BRIGGLE, Jacob G. (1831-1895), biographical material (Jacob Briggle II)

  • CLARK, James, biographical material ★ ✓

  • CLOUSE, George (c 1808-1879), biographical material
  • CLOUSE, Henry V. (____-1890), biographical material
  • CLOUSE, Valentine Feltus (1850-1936), biographical material

  • COMPTON, Phineas (1804-1858) & Samuel (1825-1902), biographical material

  • CONRAD, Samuel (1810-1853), biographical material

  • CRISSEY, Elias (1835-1915), biographical material
  • CRISSEY, Jacob, topic stub
  • CRISSEY, John C. (1845-1911), biographical material

  • DAVIS, Casper Ealy (1849-1928), biographical material
  • DAVIS, John N., biographical material

  • DEFIBAUGH, Daniel (c 1820-1902), biographical material
  • DEFIBAUGH, David (1840-1914), biographical material
  • DEFIBAUGH, James, biographical material
  • DEFIBAUGH, Lawrence (c 1842-1908), biographical material
  • DEFIBAUGH, Milton (1848-1931), biographical material
  • DEFIBAUGH, William (1814-1891), biographical material

  • DEMPSEY, John, topic stub

  • DETWEILER, Anthony (1810-1893), biographical material

  • DEVORE, Benjamin, topic stub

  • DIETZ, John, biographical material

  • DILLON, James, biographical material

  • DODDRIDGE, John (1745-1791), biographical material

  • DORMAYER family overview
  • DORMAYER, Peter (c 1795-c 1873), biographical material
  • DORMAYER, Peter, percussion rifle
  • DORMAYER, Jonathan (1826-1885), biographical material
  • DORMAYER, Jonathan, percussion rifle
  • DUNMEYER, David (1825-1913), biographical material

  • DRAKE, Dolphus (c 1853-1955), biographical material

  • DUFFY, Frank, topic stub

  • ENDERS, Augustus (1815-1892), biographical material

  • FISHEL, Jacob, biographical material

  • FISHER, Jacob, topic stub

  • FORSYTH, Joseph, topic stub

  • FRASER, John, biographical material

  • FRY, George (____-1854), topic stub

  • GARLICK, Absalom (____-1876), biographical material

  • GRIEBAL, Henry, topic stub

  • HAWKEN, George D., topic stub

  • HENRY, John, Jr., topic stub

  • HOFFMAN, Gillian (1797-1885), biographical material

  • HORNER, Frederick, biographical material
  • HORNER, Jacob (1803-1877), biographical material
  • HORNER, Jacob, percussion rifle
  • HORNER, John, Jr., topic stub
  • HORNER, John, biographical material
  • HORNER, Lewis (c 1835-1897), biographical material

  • ICKES, Jacob (1842-1898), biographical material

  • JOHNSON, John (1768-____), biographical material ★ ✓

  • JONES, William, biographical material

  • KING, George, biographical material
  • KING, Isaac, biographical material

  • KNUPP, Charles Monroe (1863-1937), biographical material
  • KNUPP, Charles Monroe, percussion rifle
  • KNUPP, Charles Monroe, percussion rifle
  • KNUPP, Elias (1838-1917), biographical material

  • LEBEAU, Valentine (c 1790-____), biographical material ★ ✓

  • LEPLEY, Adam II (1776-1853), Adam III (1821-1903) & Joseph, biographical material ★ ✓
  • LEPLEY, remnants of the gunsmith shop
  • LEPLEY, farm and stone farm houses
  • LEPLEY, percussion rifle

  • MATHESIEE, Nicholas (____-1880), biographical material

  • MCGAHAN, Abraham, topic stub

  • MICKEY, Daniel (1811-1882), biographical material

  • MIER, Jacob (c 1792-1873), biographical material
  • MIER, J, percussion full stock rifle
  • MIER, J, percussion half stock rifle
  • MIER, Samuel (1831-1909), biographical material

  • MILLS, Isaac (1798-1836), biographical material) ★
  • MILLS, Joseph (1790-1876), biographical material ★ ✓
  • MILLS, Joseph, percussion conversion "smooth rifle"
  • MILLS, Joseph, percussion conversion rifle

  • MOORE, William I, topic stub
  • MOORE, William II, biographical material

  • MOSS, Josiah, topic stub

  • MULLIN, J. Clay (c 1849-1906), biographical material

  • OLDHAM, Thomas (1809-1891), biographical material

  • PAINTER, Jacob, topic stub

  • PENNEL, Joshua, biographical material

  • PIPER, Thomas (c 1795-1853), topic stub

  • PRICE, John, topic stub

  • RHOADS, Henry, biographical material

  • RICHARD, Harmon, topic stub

  • SAUPP, Andrew J. (1805-1855), biographical material

  • SAYLER, Jacob (c. 1748-1800), biographical material

  • SCHROEDER, Valentine, topic stub

  • SHAW, William (____-1890), biographical material

  • SIDES (____-1806), Henry, biographical material

  • SLAGLE, Frederick (1834-1920), biographical material

  • SLONAKER, George (1797-1875), biographical material
  • SLONAKER, John George (c 1830-1889), biographical material

  • SMITH, Conrad (1815-1894), biographical material

  • SNYDER, Jacob (____-1875), biographical material
  • SNYDER, Jacob, percussion rifle
  • SNYDER, Tobias, biographical material
  • SNYDER, Tobias, percussion rifle
  • SNYDER, William M. (1849-1905), biographical material

  • SPANGLER, George, topic stub
  • SPANGLER, Samuel, biographical material ★ ✓
  • SPANGLER, Samuel, poor quality 1920s photos of a percussion conversion rifle
  • SPANGLER, Samuel, 1924 halftone image of a flintlock rifle

  • STECKENIUS, Jacob, biographical material

  • STOUDENOUR, Jacob (c 1795-1863, biographical material ★ ✓
  • STOUDENOUR, Jacob, percussion conversion rifle
  • STOUDENOUR, Jacob, details of a percussion lock

  • SUTER, Worthe G. (1895-1975) ★ ✓

  • TOPPER, Henry, topic stub ★ ✓

  • TROUTMAN, Benjamin (1780-1856), biographical material ★ ✓
  • TROUTMAN, Benjamin, percussion rifle
  • TROUTMAN, Benjamin, "Columbia" flintlock rifle
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin (1822-1891), biographical material ★ ✓
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin, percussion rifle
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin, flintlock reconversion rifle
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin, remains of a wrecked rifle

  • TROXEL, Peter, topic stub

  • UNKNOWN maker, full stock percussion rifle with Bedford styling
  • UNKNOWN, 1776 reference to Bedford County gunsmith
  • UNKNOWN, 1879 reference to Kennell's Mills gunsmith

  • VAUGHAN, Aaron C. (1836-1919), biographical material

  • VORE, Benjamin (1814-1885), biographical material
  • VORE, Benjamin, percussion rifle

  • WALKER, B.H., biographical material

  • WEAVER, Henry, biographical material

  • WHETSTONE, David (1814-1883), biographical material

  • WHITE, Peter (c 1778-1834), biographical material ★ ✓
  • WHITE, Peter, unpierced patchbox
  • WHITE, Peter, percussion conversion rifle, 1924 halftone images
  • WHITE, Peter & WRIGHT, Moses, percussion conversion rifle

  • WRIGHT, Moses (1792-1854), biographical material ★ ✓

  • WHYSONG, Samuel (1832-1898), biographical material

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