John Border percussion rifle, on display at the NRA museum

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

Gunsmiths of Bedford and Somerset counties, Pennsylvania

This is a project to document the gunsmiths who worked within the present bounds of Somerset and Bedford counties, Pennsylvania in the 1700s, 1800s, and early 1900s, and the firearms they produced. A key objective is to provide more detail than can be accomplished in a printed publication. Here is the Bedford County portion of the 1792 Reading Howell map, to show how townships were then oriented.

This project encompasses every individual who, correctly or not, has been identified in a collector publication as a gun maker, gun repairer, or gun designer who worked in Bedford or Somerset counties during the 1700s, 1800s, and early 1900s. By including individuals who may have been incorrectly identified, the attributions can be scrutinized.

How you can help
This project is intended to be a collaborative effort with gun collectors, historians, genealogists, etc. who may have documentation or photos to share. Unless otherwise directed, firearms photos are published anonymously, scrubbed of identifying tags and GPS coordinates, to protect contributor privacy. I CANNOT USE PHOTOS PIRATED FROM BOOKS AND 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 project is a way to scratch the gun collecting itch without assembling another physical collection. I've been interested in this subject ever since my father held his Somerset County father's muzzle loading rifle to my shoulder when I was four or five years old, and explained how to use the sights. Standing on my maternal grandfather's farm (where I lived when my earliest memories were formed) one can see the farm of the gunsmith Benjamin Troutman in the distance, and the farm of the gunsmiths Adam Lepley II & III next door. These families are all intertwined, and it's no surprise that the gunsmiths Benjamin Troutman and Adam Lepley II helped to settle the estate of my fifth great grandfather Michael Korn, or that Lepley descendants married Korn descendants. This project started with studies of the Lepley and Troutman gunsmiths.

Lannie Dietle

Antecedent research on Bedford and Somerset County gunsmiths
1920s: Antique Dealer Clarence "Judge" Davidson (1877-1962) began collecting Bedford County rifles in the late 1920s.

1930s: Calvin Hetrick (1890-1985) and R. Armstrong Farber (1913-2002) began collecting Bedford County Rifles in the early 1930s. Calvin Hetrick organized and compiled records at the Bedford County Courthouse as part of the Historical Records Survey (HRS) of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The HRS was part of the original 1935 WPA appropriation.

1940: The book "American Gun Makers" 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 in 1940, and was expanded in 1949 and 1953. In the forward to the 1953 edition, Gluckman acknowledged Calvin Hetrick's contributions to the original edition of book.

1947: Calvin Hetrick's list of Bedford County gunsmiths was published in the January 23, 1947 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper.

1953: Somerset County, Pennsylvania gun collector and historian (and my distant cousin) David J. Weimer (1897-1965) is one of the individuals Arcadi Gluckman and L. D. Satterlee thanked for "indirect contributions" to the 1953 edition of "American Gun Makers".

1958: Calvin Hetrick and R. A. Faber are featured in the article "Collectors Have Prize Specimens" in the February 14, 1958 issue of the "Bedford County Press".

1959: Editor George Hyatt included Calvin Hetrick's study of Bedford County rifles as a new chapter in the fourth edition of John G. W. Dillin's 1924 book "The Kentucky Rifle" in 1959. With this contribution to "The Kentucky Rifle" and his previous contributions to "American Gun Makers", Calvin Hetrick played a key role in highlighting the unique attributes of the Bedford school of rifle making, and documenting its practitioners.

1960: Henry Kauffman's illustrated 1960 book "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle" repeats and builds on information from "American Gun Makers", and includes many photos of Somerset and Bedford County rifles. The July 12, 2002 obituary of Bedford County rifle collector R. Armstrong Farber in the Carlisle "Sentinel" indicates that he helped write the material on Bedford County rifles in Kauffman's 1960 book.

1962: H. Austin Cooper's 1962 book "Two Centuries of Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren 1762 - 1962" has a short treatise about long rifles made in Somerset County that was written by David J. Weimer.

1971 - 1982: Vaughn E. Whisker published lists of Somerset County gunsmiths in 1971 and 1982 issues of the "Laurel Messenger"; click here to see them. In 1973 George Shumway reprinted Calvin Hetrick's 1959 material as the booklet "The Bedford County Rifle and Its Makers", and added new material on Peter White.

1983-2017: Vaughn E. and James B. Whisker published a 12-page booklet titled "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" in 1983. They continued their research and published the illustrated book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties" 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 small illustrated books titled "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" and "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" in 2017. Several individuals wrote articles about specific gunsmiths in the newsletter of the AOLRC, and perhaps in other publications.

The publications referenced above are the premiere print resources on Bedford and Somerset County rifles, and the gunsmiths who made them. I hope to honor the authors and their research by adding what I can to the baseline of knowledge they established. This necessarily involves paraphrasing facts they published, just as their publications (like most history publications) paraphrase facts found in earlier writings.

Lannie Dietle, January 8, 2021.

Links to gunsmith information and rifle photos
Here are links to information on Bedford and Somerset County gunsmiths and the rifles they produced. Hit the "refresh" button when you visit these pages to ensure you are seeing the latest version.

These codes are incorporated to the right of some of the links:
= The gunsmith worked in the flintlock era, or is known to have made flintlock rifles.
= I have heard of or seen at least one surviving gun by this maker.
? = I wonder if this individual really was a gunsmith, or really worked as a gunsmith within the present bounds of Bedford or Somerset county. .

  • Map showing the residences of certain Somerset and Bedford County gunsmiths
  • Map showing the cemeteries where certain Somerset and Bedford County gunsmiths are buried
  • A theory on the origin of the Bedford school of gunsmithing

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

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

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

  • ATLEY, Conrad, biographical material

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

  • BAUNELL, William, topic stub

  • BEALLS, Jacob J., topic stub

  • BELL, James, topic stub ★ ?

  • BERGER, John, biographical material

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

  • BLACK. Adam, topic stub ★ ?

  • 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 I (1776-1856), biographical material
  • BORDER, John II (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 Valentine (____-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, Aaron (____-1893), biographical material
  • CRISSEY, Elias (1835-1915), biographical material
  • CRISSEY, Jacob, biographical material
  • CRISSEY, John C. (1845-1911), biographical material

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

  • DEFIBAUGH, Daniel I, topic stub
  • 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 (Circa 1794-1854), biographical material

  • 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

  • ENGLE, Peter, biographical material ★ ?

  • FAY, George (1811-____), biographical material

  • FISHEL, Jacob, biographical material

  • FISHER, Jacob, topic stub

  • FORSYTH, Joseph, topic stub

  • FRASER, John, biographical material

  • FRY, George (____-1854), biographical material

  • FURNEY, John, biographical material

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

  • GRIEBEL, Henry, topic stub

  • GUMP, Jonathan (1823-1912), biographical material

  • HAWKEN, George D., topic stub

  • HEMMINGER, John, topic stub

  • HENRY, John, Jr., topic stub

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

  • HOHRSON, William, topic stub

  • 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

  • HUFF, Frederick, 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 ★ ✓

  • LEACH, Samuel (1864-1944), 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

  • MEGAHAN, Abraham (1817-1900), biographical material

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

  • MIER, Jacob (1793-1873), biographical material
  • MIER, J, percussion full stock rifle
  • MIER, J, percussion half stock rifle
  • MIER, Jacob, percussion rifle
  • MIER, John (1829-1909), biographical material
  • MIER, Samuel (1831-1909), biographical material
  • MIER, William (Circa 1834-1903), 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

  • PAUL, William, topic stub ?

  • PENNEL, Joshua (1813-1899), biographical material

  • PIPER, George, biographical material ★ ✓
  • PIPER, Henry, topic stub
  • PIPER, Thomas (c 1795-1853), biographical material

  • PRICE, John, topic stub

  • PRINGLE, William, topic stub

  • RHOADS, Henry, biographical material
  • RHODES, Samuel, topic stub

  • RICHARD, Harmon, topic stub

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

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

  • SCHROEDER, Valentine, biographical material

  • 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 I , biographical material
  • SNYDER, Jacob II (1821-1875), 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, 1924 halftone image of a flintlock rifle
  • SPANGLER, Samuel, poor quality 1920s photos of a Ruslin-marked percussion conversion rifle
  • SPANGLER, Samuel, 1920 photos of a Rusliy-marked flintlock that may have been made by Spangler

  • STAHL, John George, topic stub

  • STECKENIUS, Jacob, biographical material

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

  • SUTER, Worthe G. (1895-1975), biographical material ★ ✓

  • TOPPER, Henry, biographical material ★ ✓

  • TRESSLER, Isaiah (1850-1916), biographical material

  • 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

  • TULFORD, James, 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

  • WENDLE, Issac, Jr., biographical material ?

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

  • WHITE, John I, topic stub
  • WHITE, John II, biographical material
  • WHITE, Peter (c 1778-1834), biographical material ★ ✓
  • WHITE, Peter, percussion conversion rifle
  • 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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