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 web page is an index to information I am collecting about the muzzleloader gunsmiths who worked in Somerset and Bedford counties, Pennsylvania. One goal of this project is to provide high quality photos of antique muzzle loading rifles and pistols made by those gunsmiths, to supplement the handful of books that have been published on the subject. Toward this end, I am soliciting photographs from owners of such firearms. Working together, I hope this free website can provide far better photos of such firearms 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.

Another goal of this project is to provide transcripts of or images of documentary evidence identifying Somerset and Bedford County gunsmiths, or illuminating their lives. I have also provided a modest amount of information from secondary sources.

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 loader 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 (I, II, and 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 one of the Lepley gunsmiths (Joseph) married a Korns.

Click here to see Vaughn E. Whisker's lists of Somerset County gunsmiths that were published in 1971 and 1982 issues of the "Laurel Messenger" (17.3MB pdf). Mr. Whisker continued his research, and with co-author James B. Whisker, wrote a 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 book titled "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" in 2001. James B. Whisker also published a book titled "Gunsmiths of Somerset County, Pennsylvania" in 2017. The book "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). Click here to see Calvin Hetrick's 1947 list of Bedford County gunsmiths.

Lannie Dietle, January 12, 2020.

Here are links to the information I have collected so far. Hit the "refresh" button when you visit these pages to ensure you are seeing the latest version.

  • BORDER, Daniel, two percussion rifles
  • BORDER, Daniel, percussion rifle
  • BORDER, Daniel, biographical information
  • BORDER, John, percussion rifle
  • BORDER, John, percussion rifle
  • BORDER, John, biographical information
  • BORDER, Samuel, biographical information
  • BORDER, William, percussion lock
  • BORDER, W & D (William & Daniel) percussion rifle
  • COMPTON, Phineas & Samuel, biographical information
  • CONRAD, Samuel, gunsmith in the 1837 Berlin tax list
  • DEFIBAUGH, David, biographical information
  • DEFIBAUGH, Lawrence, biographical information
  • DEFIBAUGH, William, biographical information
  • FRASER, John, biographial information
  • HORNER, Frederick, appears on 1817 Jenner Township tax list as a gunsmith
  • HORNER, Jacob, percussion rifle
  • KNUPP, Charles Monroe, percussion rifle
  • KNUPP, Charles Monroe, percussion rifle
  • KNUPP, Charles Monroe, biographical information
  • KNUPP, Eli, biographical information
  • LEPLEY, Adam I, II, III & Joseph, remnants of the Lepley gunsmith shop
  • MIER, J, percussion full stock rifle
  • MIER, J, percussion half stock rifle
  • MIER, Jacob, biographical information
  • MIER, Samuel, biographical information
  • MILLS, Joseph, percussion conversion "smooth rifle"
  • SAYLOR, Jacob, enumerated as a gunsmith in the manuscript 1785 tax list
  • SHAW, William, biographical information
  • SIDES, Henry, enumerated as a Bedford County gunsmith in 1796
  • SLONAKER, George, biographical information
  • SNYDER, Jacob, percussion rifle
  • SNYDER, Tobias, biographical information
  • SPANGLER, Samuel, poor quality 1920s photos of a percussion conversion rifle
  • STOUDENOUR, Jacob, percussion conversion rifle
  • STOUDENOUR, Jacob, details of a percussion lock
  • TROUTMAN, Benjamin, misc. documents
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin, flintlock reconversion rifle
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin, remains of a wrecked rifle
  • TROUTMAN, Daniel Benjamin, biographical information
  • UNKNOWN maker, full stock percussion rifle with Bedford styling
  • UNKNOWN, 1776 reference to Bedford County gunsmith
  • UNKNOWN, 1879 reference to Kennell's Mills gunsmith
  • VORE, Benjamin, percussion rifle
  • WHITE, Peter, unperforated patchbox

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