Lehigh, how early? And other questions

Discussion in 'Historically Accurate Equipment' started by Brokennock, Dec 7, 2018.

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  1. Dec 7, 2018 #1

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

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    I'm placing this here in "Historically Accurate Equipment" instead of the "flintlock rifle" section so as not to offend the "I don't care about hc/pc stuff," crowd.

    1st, how early might one have found what we would now call a "Lehigh" school rifle being built?
    Second, might a Connecticut settler to the then disputed "Wyoming Valley" of Pennsylvania have encountered one and possibly purchased one? If so, roughly where in terms that can be found on a map? What is the earliest our hypothetical settler might have had this opportunity?

    Lastly, I'm struggling with modern maps and old descriptions, 5o get a visual geographic idea in my head of what cities and modern counties the disputed land encompassed. Can someone point me to a more usable map? Or give me an idea of, " the disputed land ranged from X in the east to Y in the west and south to Z,"?

    Thanks,
    Dave
     
  2. Dec 7, 2018 #2

    Grumpa

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    Wikipedia - "Wyoming Valley" - may be of help to you re the geographics then and now.

    A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, I was unaware of the three Pennamite Wars between Connecticut settlers to the Valley and Pennsylvania militia, so I thank you for the post.

    Your question is an interesting one. Lehigh school rifles were being built during the time of the wars. Obviously, the first CT settlers who founded Wilkes Barrie, in 1769, would have brought their own firearms with them. Given the animosity against them, would a gunsmith have knowingly sold a rifle to one of them? Given the very few casualties, the likelihood of a "battlefield pick-up" is slim, also.

    This is mere speculation on my part and, hopefully, someone knowledgeable in this area will come along soon.

    Richard/Grumpa

    PS: I was also surprised to learn that the state of Wyoming is named for the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, by way of the Thomas Campbell 1809 poem "Gertrude of Wyoming", which describes the 1778 Battle of Wyoming, in which over 300 Patriots were killed by British and Iroquois warriors.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  3. Dec 7, 2018 #3

    Brokennock

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    Thanks. I had tried wikipedia, the graphics left something to be desired. I'll look again and try to cross reference it with other maps.

    You raise a good point questioning if the gun builder would sell a rifle to a Connecticut settler.
    My impression is that he would have brought a smoothbore of some type with him, but might have been interested in these rifles he was seeing.
     
  4. Dec 8, 2018 #4

    zimmerstutzen

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    There were gun smiths in the area and building before the Lehigh type was born. The styles were an evolution from what the individual builders brought from the old country. The First Angstadt of the Berks County-Kutztown school of Angstadts was set up in Rockland Township, in 1737. He came from Alsace-Lorraine, Germanic but not Germany. Apprentice gun smiths would leave and travel to other nearby areas. I believe there is documentation that one or two of the Angstadt's apprentices moved to Allentown. Some of my ancestors were already in Rockland Twp some 5 years earlier. They also traveled a bit. One of my Rockland Township ancestors married a woman from Bethlehem some 20 miles northeast from there in the 1750's. Keep in mind that Bethlehem (Northampton County) and Allentown (Lehigh County) are a mere 1/4 mile apart on opposite sides of the river. Traveling up the River took a person to Mauch Chunk in Carbon County and beyond toward the south eastern edge of the disputed area at Hazelton and Wilksbarre. The Pennsylvania Germans traveled back and forth from the Mennonite Settlements in Montgomery County to Bethlehem, a distance of about 50 miles. It is only 48 miles from Allentown to Hazelton. German Moravian Settlements had already extended to Lehighton, 30 miles along that route between Allentown and Hazelton. The 20 miles between Lehighton and Hazelton was made difficult by mountains and rapids in the river through the Lehigh Gorge. The Settlers into the Wyoming valley did find it easier to float down the Susquehanna to Harrisburg. Some would tie logs together into flat boats and float them down the river to Harrisburg, where the logs would be sold for money to continue west ward. Some dozen miles North of Harrisburg, Simon Girty would attack the flat boats and kill white settler families.
     
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  5. Dec 8, 2018 #5

    zimmerstutzen

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    If you refer to this map https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazle..._Tamaqua,_Nesquehoning_and_Jim_Thorpe,_PA.png, it shows Hazelton, a part of the Wyoming valley in the upper left and Lehighton part of Pennsylvania and outlying community 30 miles from Allentown in the lower right. The Lehigh River was fairly passable north to Jim Thorpe (Also known as Mauch Chunk) but from there the River goes through a steep twisted gorge and has several white water sections, but a branch does eventually swing westward toward Hazelton North of Broad Mountain. There was an Indian Trail from Mauch Chunk over Broad Mountain know as the Warriors Trail. Current Rt 93 pretty much follows that trail over the mountain. In 1780, a group was sent from Allentown over the mountain using the trail to investigate trouble from Tories and was ambushed in a battle known as the Sugar Loaf Massacre. 15 Patriots killed. Moravians who were pretty much neutral then went over the mountain from Lehighton to bury the dead. If you have a modern map of Pennsylvania, the disputed territory was pretty much along and North of Interstate 80 in Northeastern PA. I live in an area where there was fighting between Maryland and Pennsylvania in the 1730's, known as Cresaps War. Cresaps fort was only 4 or 5 miles from my farm. Pennsylvania's southern border was supposed to be the 40th parallel, but ended up being 30 miles further south. I think the Connecticut territory boundary was supposed to be at the 41st Parallel across New York and Pennsylvania to the Pacific. When you examine the Charter for Virginia, it was supposed to be about a third of the country.
     
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  6. Dec 9, 2018 #6

    Brokennock

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    Wow Zimmerstutzen! Thanks for all the info and background into the area. Will have reread those a few more times to digest it all and connect the dots.
     
  7. Dec 9, 2018 #7

    Elnathan

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    Classic Lehigh style, with the combination roman-nose stock and stepped wrist, started to appear in the 1780s, I think. I have seen a smoothbore attributed to one of the noted Lehigh makers that was probably made during the American Revolution, and it bore little resemblence to the Lehigh style you are probably thinking of.

    I've studied that school very little, and what I know is just enough to know that I don't really understand it well. The KRA has a CD of Lehigh rifles - if you are interested in knowing more that might be the best place to start.

    I have no idea about whether one could be found in the Wyoming Valley.
     
  8. Dec 11, 2018 #8

    Stophel

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    I agree, mid to late 1780's, for what would typically be recognized as a "Lehigh gun". The 1787 Peter Neihardt gun is still fairly bulky and straight, but the basic Lehigh syle is there in nascent form. By 1793, we have for sure the fully formed and functional Lehigh style in the signed Rupp gun. To get a glimpse of what earlier Lehigh guns might be, take a look at the Oerter rifles and other Bethlehem/Christian's Spring guns, as the origins of the Lehigh forms are found there.
     
  9. Jan 9, 2019 #9

    tenngun

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    When we think about gun styles and ages at this time we have to keep in mind time.
    The first American rifles were when? Cr 1730. How long do it take to progress through American jagers- Transitional- styles. About fifty years from the first rifles to the end of the revolution added to a small market, limited range, slow expansion of styles.
    Rifles were new enough and inter colony communication so slow, folks of Massachusetts were amazed at how well Virgina riflemen could shoot.
    Questions like this are just so fascinating to read people’s thoughts and contributions to... thanks for posting.
     
  10. Jan 10, 2019 #10

    Black Hand

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    From what I remember reading, the "first" DATED American rifle didn't come on the scene until the 1760's (at the earliest), though there are other undated rifles that some think might be a little earlier. At least this is what I am remembering...
     
  11. Jan 10, 2019 #11

    tenngun

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    You could’ve rightfor sure. I’ve seen disputed dates since are stated this hobby.
    I thinks that’s a might late since we do see ‘schools’ early in post war era, that makes me think divergence of local styles would have happened too quick.
    However your point is on target, the chances of a recognizable local Pennsylvania style moving out of state to the east in that time frame seems pretty unlikely and it being a recognizable “Lehigh” style also unlikely.... I think
     
  12. Jan 10, 2019 #12

    Stophel

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    The Johann Schreit gun is dated 1761. There are few, if any, existing American rifles that may be earlier than that, and if so, not by much.

    There were earlier rifles, of course, but remember that through the 18th century, the American population was growing rapidly. A town with three gunsmiths in 1770 might not have even existed in 1750. The farther back in time you go, the fewer and fewer rifles/guns there would have been, simply because there were fewer and fewer people.
     
  13. Jan 10, 2019 #13

    Spence10

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    Just FYI and apropos of nothing in particular, here's a list of mentions of rifles in the early days which I've collected. I excluded rifles after 1765, and others.

    1640 rifle barrel dug at Denbigh Plantation Site, Virginia, dated by archaeologists as before 1640

    1683 Estate of Robert Spring, “1 screw gun”

    1702 estate of Ralph Wormeley, twenty-one guns, one of them a Rifle Gun.

    1737 Wister imported German rifles in the 1730s and 1740s

    1739 "Took with him a smooth Rifle Gun..."

    1741 Rifle barrel Guns, Bucaneers, with several sorts of fowling Pieces

    1747 Benjamin Robbins, "Observations on the Nature and Advantages of Rifled Barrel Pieces".

    1751 DAVID and William Geddy, Barrels blued, bored, and rifled

    1751 a rifle barrel gun , and a large yellow dog

    1753 carries a rifle barrel gun with him

    1754 [to Washington] I Shall take care that you Shall have your Rifle

    1755 Braddock's expedition 12 rifled carbines

    1755 took with him a rifle gun

    1756 The Indians make use of rifled guns for the most part,

    1756 Creeks "are daily getting into the Method of using Rifle Guns…

    1756 good Woodsmen with us, who are so dextrous with their Rifles

    1756 Cresap, with a Rifle , mortally wounded the Indian

    1756 parcel of very neat rifle-barrel guns


    1756 Booty of two Guns, one of which a Rifle

    1758 Bouquet Receipt For Rifles dated May 6, 1758

    1758-59 Kirk, I bought a riffle gun, some powder, and two new blankets

    1758 Bouquet, A large part of the provincials are armed with grooved rifles

    1758 Bouquet, Their arms...should be short fusils and some rifles

    1759 compleat assortment of fowling pieces, rifle-barrel and trading guns

    1760 The Delaware Indians use no other than rifle-barreled guns,

    1760 having many Rifles among them, they did Execution at a greater Distance than our People could.

    1760 soldiers got horses, saddles, guns, rifle and Indian guns

    1760-61 They are remarkable at Philadelphia for making rifled Barrell Gunns, which throw a Ball above 300 yards, vastly well

    1761 rifle gun barrels

    1762 and a valuable Rifle Gun

    1763 has a Rifle Gun with him

    1763 gun-powder, Indian trading guns, neat fowling-pieces, rifle-barrel guns

    1763 superfine Rifle powder by the Quarter Cask

    1763 variety of neat fowling pieces, and rifle-barrel guns

    1763 took from the Enemy four Rifles

    1763 took 11 rifles and 2 smooth barrel guns from them

    1764 sundry other Clothes, and a Rifle Gun

    1764 had no sooner fired his Rifle than he had four Guns fired at him

    1764 An Officer per Company to be present who will examine the Rifles & such arms as cannot be drawn.

    1764 best, handsomest and cheapest rifle barrel guns ever imported

    1764 two Firelocks, the one a Rifle , the other a round Bore

    1764 rifle, double barrel and smooth bore guns

    1764 BEST Dutch rifles, with moulds and wipers

    1765 German rifles of the very best sort

    Spence
     
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  14. Jan 10, 2019 #14

    Coot

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    Wow. As always, the amount of information is deeper than expected. I would think that the 1683 reference to a "screw gun" is most likely a screw (off) barrel rather than a rifled barrel. Thanks for posting.
     
  15. Jan 10, 2019 #15

    Spence10

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    You could certainly be right about that. In reading many of these accounts, though, it seems to me they speak of the firearms in a different way than we do, today. They generally use the term gun for smooth long guns, rifle barrel gun for long rifles, and pistol for pistols.They will almost always say "screw barrel pistol" if that's what they mean, and "rifle barrel pistol". They don't use the term 'gun' as a generic for any firearm. In general.

    Spence
     
  16. Jan 10, 2019 #16

    tenngun

    tenngun

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    I wonder what the percentage of barrels made in Europe was compared to the guns here? How many were European jagars style guns, even if plainer ‘poor boys’ vs true gentleman’s gun, and how many were baby American long rifles.
    I like to think about Central European immigrants to Pennsylvania turning out jagars with native woods, being told by tiered old woods men “ these rifle guns or you’rn Pretty nice. Howsomeever I’d like me a gun that I can get maybe thirty forty shots to a pound of lead and a barrel that looks right, maybe as long as the kings fire locks’
    Those postings make you think rifles were at least not uncommon, but rifles never ‘took off’ in Canada until breech loaders came along. Same people, same woods, same game ( do we have any Ph.D candidates on the forum looking for a dissertation subject?)
    There were only two million Americans in 1776, about six hundred thousand adult males. 90% of them lived where a gun was something you owned of required military service. About 9% lived where hunting was more ‘sporting’ and game mostly small
    Back to the op, would a man from Connecticut wanted a rifle if he had seen it.... that’s a question not a statement.
     
  17. Jan 10, 2019 #17

    Coot

    Coot

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    A screw gun would not necessarily be a pistol although that is what we normally think of today. Colonial Williamsburg has a pair of screw barrel carbines that belonged to Lord Dunsmore. The barrels are held to the lock with hinged metal slip rings which allows the unscrewed barrel to be kept with the lock & butt stock while held in one hand to reload. These guns had to be very pricey.
     
  18. Jan 10, 2019 #18

    Spence10

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    Don't want to hijack the thread, one last comment.

    Yes, screw-barrel long guns were known. Wm. Cleator wrote in his Essay on Shooting, 1789, that:

    "...we are informed, that the pieces used by the Hessian yagers, are charged in the same manner as the common screw-barrel pistols."

    Spence
     

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