Baker Rifles

Gunsmith’s

A number of Baker researchers have noted that Robert Baker  and his sons were gunsmiths in Pennsylvania .   

·         Baker, Caleb[i],  1719-41, Gunsmith, worked with his father, Robert Baker , on the confluence of Pequa [Pequea] Creek and the Susquehanna River, Lancaster Co.

·         Baker, Robert[ii]  (d. 1728), 1717-28, gunsmith at the confluence of Pequa Creek and the Susquehanna River, Lancaster Co.

·         Baker, Samuel[iii].  1717-19, worked with his brother, Robert Baker , Lancaster Co. In 1719 Robert bought out Samuel's interests.

Robert Baker  and his father before him were gunsmiths, credited with inventing the Baker Long Rifle[iv].  Robert Baker being the first man in recorded history to design and manufacture the Pa. rifle. At his death, his son Caleb  kept up the tradition and later used to great effect in the American Revolution. The rifle was later known as the Hog Rifle and the Kentucky Rifle in Daniel Boone's  day. 

Baker Long R ifle

“…a report given to the Kentucky Rifle's Association in 1972. It seems that the Association had employed Mr. Dyke  to do some research for them. They wanted him to see if he could find out the person or persons responsible for making the first Pennsylvania Rifles or what was sometimes called the " Kentucky Rifle". Mr. Dyke in his report states; "We feel as though these early gunsmiths came into Chaster, Pennsylvania, or New Castle, Delaware, from abroad and migrated up the Susquehanna River to where the Pequea flows into it and set up shop for making guns." He goes on to say that Robert Baker  came into Lancaster County Court on August 15, 1719 and asked permission to erect a gun-boring mill at the mouth of Pequea Creek on his land. Permission was granted. Robert Baker and his son Caleb  set up their gunshop and operated it until 1728” [v].

One source states that the boys of this family were made to fill the bullets for the Revolutionary War.  Even though they were not for England and wanted to do away with taxation[vi].

"Nearly all studies of the Pennsylvania-Kentucky long rifle assume this distinctively American rifle was invented in Lancaster County sometime in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. We find a number of pre-Revolutionary War gunsmiths who may have made Pennsylvania-Kentucky long rifles. We have no idea what the early Baker files may have looked like, c. 1720. Lancaster County was formed out of Chester Co, an original county of the Province of Pennsylvania , on 10 May 1729. Several of the Baker gunsmiths in the Pequea Valley , had worked and d. before the formation of the county.[vii]"

Samuel Baker  and his brother Robert Baker  and Robert Baker's son, Caleb , were among the first if not the first gunsmiths in Lancaster County , Pennsylvania [viii].

It has been theorized by some researchers Robert Baker  was ordered back to England for the purpose of making guns for the crown. Depending on the time frame this would have been either King William  or Queen Anne .  In the Colonies these two wars with France were known as King Williams War & Queen Anne’s War. (Late 1680’s-1714). Based upon the time frame of his return to the Colonies, it could be assumed that Queen Anne whose war dated 1702-1713 had ordered him to England .

The appearance of Robert Baker  back in the Colonies in 1717 may have been actually been his return.  Robert returned with a grant to make guns for the Colonies. This is why some other researchers think Robert Baker was the first of this line to come to America , which was actually the time of his returning to his native soil. Some say he came from Liverpool , England . He may have on his return from making guns & probably teaching cutting of rifling in barrels to others while there. 

In 1717 Robert Baker  settled on 500 acres of land on the Susquehanna River in Conestoga Township , Chester County , PA (later Lancaster County , PA ) that he purchased from Col. John  French. This land was located on mile from the junction of Pequea Creek and the Susquehanna River .

On 15 August 1719, Robert Baker  had Jacob Taylor , Surveyor, with permission from William Penn ; lay out a site for erection of a gun mill[ix].  In February 1721 iron ore was found near the site of the Baker tract[x].  This land was located on mile from the junction of Pequea Creek and the Susquehanna River . Rober t's son Caleb  paid taxes on this land from 1719 until 1727.

"In April or early in May, 1722, Philip Syng  had surveyed by his order and to his use two Hundreds acres of land upon the west bank of the Susquehanna River , at a place known as "The Mine"[1]. This tract was within the bounds of Pa. , but Philip Syng and Co. claimed it, under a Maryland title. A complaint having been made by Robert Baker  and James McClean  before Francis Worley, Esq.,  a Justice of the Peace for Chester County. Syng was committed into the custody of the Sheriff of Philadelphia by the warrant of Sir William Keith, Baronet , and the Governor who had met Syng at Patterison's on April 4 and threatened to have him punished if he presumed to make any survey of the land in question[xi].” 

Later the Bakers would join the Colonies against England in the Revolutionary War.  It is rumored that an example of the Baker Long Rifle exists amongst the artifacts on display at the Alamo [xii].

Although an example of a later Pennsylvania long rifle – one can only assume that the basic design was somewhat similar to that of the Baker Rifle.

Pennsylvania Research Information

“Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729”

This is before Lancaster became a county in 1728.

·         The early patents deeds and other conveyances of land before 1729 are, of course, in the possession of the modern owners of the lands included in them[xiii].

·         The assessment lists of this county began in 1718.  Those now in existence extend from 1718 to 1726.  These list were in the dark recesses of the basement of the Chester County Court House until 1879, when Gilbert Cope  rescued them and much other valuable early history, just as the County Commissioners were about to sell them to the waste paper man to "raise money for cigars,” The lists include only Conestoga, Donegal and Pequea Townships[xiv].

·         The lists that have been copied do not seem to contain all of the names of the male adults living here at the time.  Then, too, for a year or two several names disappear and again appear in later years.  It seems certain that a number of persons living on the extreme outskirts were missed in taking lists.  Then too, a number lived across the Sesquehanna, and were not taken into account because they were not ascertainable:  and because Maryland claimed them.  (That area is now York County , Pa. In fact, no one who lived on Pequea and Conestoga Creeks were called upon for eight years after the original date of settlement to pay any taxes--not from 1710 to 1718[xv].

·         There are some seventy names on the naturalization list of those who came over prior to 1718.  This shows the lists are not complete.  Some of the names, however, do appear on the assessment of 1719 and other later lists[xvi].

Conestoga Rate 1719-Assessment[xvii]

Jan.11, 1719-20 Robert Baker  and Son        Ass. in Pounds, 46

Freeman[xviii] (single men, were all valued at 9 shillings each) 1719-20 Caleb Baker  Samuel Baker  

Conestoga Assessment[xix] 1720-21

Robert Baker  and Son        Ass. Valuation   50 pounds    (listed under the Dutch Inhabitants, Dutch Baker, 16 pounds)

English-Conestoga Assessments[xx] 1721

Robert Baker  and Son             Ass. Valuation   31 pounds    (also listed as a neighbors Samuel Price  and David Priest [2])

West Conestoga Also Know As Donegal Twsp[xxi] 1722

Robert Baker  and Son           Ass. Valuation   40 pounds.    (also listes as a Non Resident Neighbor, Elizabeth Pare [3])

Assessment book for the year 1723-24[xxii] is missing.

Conestoga Township 1724-25

Robert Baker  and Son     (no assessment value listed)   (also listed for the first time, John Postlethwait )

Pequea Township [xxiii] 1724-1725

John Thompson   *** (first time he is listed)

Conestoga Rate[xxiv] 1725-26

Robert Baker  and Son                 7 pounds 6 Pence

Conestoga Rate[xxv] 1726-27

Robert Baker  and Son                7 pounds

“The Awakening And The Early Progress Of The Pequea, Conestoga And Other Sesquehanna Valley Settlements.”

As shown by Official Letters, etc., of the Time

By David M. Landis

1710In the Taylor Papers, under date of Oct. 16, 1710, there is the original order to survey 10,000 acres of land on Pequea Creek to Rudolph Bundley and others, on the authority of a warrant dated Oct. 8, same year, which is therein recited.  The order is directed by Jacob Taylor  to Isaac Taylor , surveyor of Chester Co. The purchase of 1681 and 1682 refer to rights sold by Penn to divers persons in England , to take up lands here on Conestoga, etc., not at that time located however.  (Wm. Penn ) [xxvi]


August 15, 1719[4]
Dear Brother, (meaning Isaac Taylor )

Whereas Robert Baker  a smith of this town has bought Colonel French's  land[5] on Sesquehanna and Pequea, he tells me that being minded to build a mill on Pequea for boring logs that he needs an addition of two or three perches of ground on a corner of Pequea next to the barrens (as he describes it) which he may be obliged with by paying thee for running the line.

hy loving brother Jacob Taylor [xxvii].

Philly.  Dec. 12, 1719
Isaac Taylor , Loving Friend:


.............I wish we had one hour conference to settle some of these matters. I am puzzled about thy meeting Colonel French.

James Logan


Reference to the map aforesaid will show that Col. French originally seccured tracts 48 and 56.  This originally was one large tract and extened from the Sesquehanna River about Shenk's Ferry, eastward to Martic Forge[xxviii].

 

Feb. 17, 1721

Isaac Taylor :

 
Esteemed friend, these inform thee yet there is come into this Province from New England a gentleman named Jno. McNeall  and hath been with me and have viewed the iron oar (ore) and matter yt wee laid out (dug out) I suppose yt he will apply to thee, as I have advised him[xxix].

 
John Cartledge


August 24, 1728
My Good Cousin,  ( John Taylor , son of Jacob Taylor )

 
I suppose you know much better than I how far your dear father proposed to accommodate John Baker  the gunsmith on Conestoga and Samuel Taylor  in the manner of locating land for him.  Baker and Samuel complain of delays.

James Taylor


In the map before referred to, it will be seen that tract # 28 is marked Kaleb Baker It is lower down that the mouth of Conestoga Creek[xxx].

 
 I am sending off for two different maps of this area.  I hope Robert  and Kaleb  will appear on these maps.  This is all on the Baker's from the papers I ordered.  I am going to order more but they will be dated after 1735.  Here are some interesting things about this land and people who were involved is this area.

This is one of the earliest references to iron ore in Conestoga of which there is any record.  The Indians rumored that ore was to be found there however in 1707.  Then too under date of May 31, 1723, in a letter from John Churchman  and Arthur Barrett  there is mention made of valuable mines in the barrens[xxxi].

In 1915 the Lancaster County Historical Society erected a marker were Postlethwaite Tavern Stood in which the First Courts of Justice were held in Lancaster County . This spot was not far from the Baker tract. Included in the program was as address on "Old Conestoga Neighbors", printed in Vol. XIX pamphlet #8 

Page 278 has: Over toward Pequea Creek, near Susquehanna, were Peter Kline , Peter Creamer , Francis Norley , Joseph Rebman  and Robert Baker . (Note that most all of Robert Baker 's neighbors seem to have German names. Caleb Baker , Robert's oldest son always signed his name Beaker & possibly spoke with a German assent. Growing up in a predominantly German speaking area may explain this trait.) 

 

Page 284 - The speaker referred to the 1721 assessment list and the English on the list included Robert Baker .  Excerpts from a letter to Mrs. Katherine Baker Johnson , February 14, 1940, written by Lettie M. Bausman , Record Searcher: "The Province of Pennsylvania was an English possession and so all people who were subjects of the King of Great Britain had free access into Pennsylvania . No account was taken of them, hence no ship lists. Now your Baker name is straight English; I believe Caleb was raised here in Pennsylvania , and his association with German neighbors may have caused him to acquire a German accent. "


[1] It is believed that this "Mine" is where the ore came from to make Baker guns. – Ran Raider
[2]
In a file on FTM, Robert Baker  was m. to a Prene, Prence, Price, Pries or Priest
[3]
Pare is close to the other names.
[4]
NOTE:  this is 2 years after the death of Robert Baker  of Chester Co., who m. to Susannah Packer .
[5]
Colonel John French , in 1718, was a "Non-resident but land owner.


[i] Whisker, James B. Arms Makers of Pennsylvania . Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1990.  See pages 37-38.Gunsmiths of Lancaster and York Counties , Pennsylvania . Lampeter; Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd., 1990.  See pages 6-8. Grove , Charles . "List of Gunsmiths of Lancaster County Pennsylvania , Period 1728-1863." Journal of the Lancaster Historical Society. Vol. 72, no. 1, 1968, pages 50-60.  Egle, William Henry , Notes and Queries Historical and Genealogical Chiefly relating to Interior Pennsylvania . Third Series in Three Volumes. Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970. ________. Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg : Harrisburg Publishing Co., 1896. Fisher, Charles Adam. Central Pennsylvania Marriages: 1700-1896. Selinsgrove; Privately published, 1946.  NOTE: This is a very incomplete listing of marriages for the period between 1700-1780. McConnaughey, Gibson Jefferson. Will Book I, Amelia County , Virginia : Wills 1735-1761, Bonds 1735-1754.   Ameila; Mid-South Publishing Co., no date.   See page 8 for Douglass Baker for accounts owed him and page 62 for Caleb Baker  as Executor of a Will.  Wills of Chester County , Pennsylvania , 1713-1748, Based on the Abstracts of Jacob Martin. Westminster ; Family Line Publications, 1993. NOTES: Lancaster County was formed from portions of Chester County in 1729
[ii]
Whisker, James B. Arms Makers of Pennsylvania . Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1990.  See pages 37-38.Gunsmiths of Lancaster and York Counties , Pennsylvania . Lampeter; Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd., 1990.  See pages 6-8. Grove , Charles . "List of Gunsmiths of Lancaster County Pennsylvania , Period 1728-1863." Journal of the Lancaster Historical Society. Vol. 72, no. 1, 1968, pages 50-60.  Egle, William Henry , Notes and Queries Historical and Genealogical Chiefly relating to Interior Pennsylvania . Third Series in Three Volumes. Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970. ________. Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg : Harrisburg Publishing Co., 1896. Fisher, Charles Adam. Central Pennsylvania Marriages: 1700-1896. Selinsgrove; Privately published, 1946.  NOTE: This is a very incomplete listing of marriages for the period between 1700-1780. McConnaughey, Gibson Jefferson. Will Book I, Amelia County , Virginia : Wills 1735-1761, Bonds 1735-1754.   Ameila; Mid-South Publishing Co., no date.   See page 8 for Douglass Baker for accounts owed him and page 62 for Caleb Baker  as Executor of a Will.  Wills of Chester County , Pennsylvania , 1713-1748, Based on the Abstracts of Jacob Martin. Westminster ; Family Line Publications, 1993. NOTES: Lancaster County was formed from portions of Chester County in 1729
[iii]
Whisker, James B. Arms Makers of Pennsylvania . Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1990.  See pages 37-38.Gunsmiths of Lancaster and York Counties , Pennsylvania . Lampeter; Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd., 1990.  See pages 6-8. Grove , Charles . "List of Gunsmiths of Lancaster County Pennsylvania , Period 1728-1863." Journal of the Lancaster Historical Society. Vol. 72, no. 1, 1968, pages 50-60.  Egle, William Henry , Notes and Queries Historical and Genealogical Chiefly relating to Interior Pennsylvania . Third Series in Three Volumes. Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970. ________. Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg : Harrisburg Publishing Co., 1896. Fisher, Charles Adam. Central Pennsylvania Marriages: 1700-1896. Selinsgrove; Privately published, 1946.  NOTE: This is a very incomplete listing of marriages for the period between 1700-1780. McConnaughey, Gibson Jefferson. Will Book I, Amelia County , Virginia : Wills 1735-1761, Bonds 1735-1754.   Ameila; Mid-South Publishing Co., no date.   See page 8 for Douglass Baker for accounts owed him and page 62 for Caleb Baker  as Executor of a Will.  Wills of Chester County , Pennsylvania , 1713-1748, Based on the Abstracts of Jacob Martin. Westminster ; Family Line Publications, 1993. NOTES: Lancaster County was formed from portions of Chester County in 1729
[iv]
Wilkes US GenWeb Page; Early Settlement in the New River Valley of North Carolina, an oral presentation by William    Doub  Bennett; History and Genealogies of Old Granville Co; Oranges Co. Deed
[v]
“Good Bakers – Bad Bakers” by Clyde N. Bunch (KD4VQD@juno.com) ©2000, Nora N. Kelly, All Rights Reserved
[vi]
I need to add this in some of my very old records that a Frances Jones had written to my Grandfather Edward McNary back in the 1950's stating that these boys of this family was made to fill the bullets for the Revolutionary War. Even though they were not for England and wanted to do away with taxation. From the LDS library's IGI files & Jean Wood Vore.” - Information from Patty McNary Greer, pgreer@rectec.net©2000, Nora N. Kelly, All Rights Reserved
[vii]
Excerpts from GUNSMITHS OF LANCASTER COUNTY , PENNSYLVANIA by James B. Whisker
[viii]
Volume VI  - No. 1  "The Baker Family of Gunsmiths In Lancaster County, 1717 - 1754", compiled and documented by S. E. Dyke, Lancaster Pennsylvania , 1972
[ix]
See Taylor Papers #2921. From Pattie Greer file
[x]
From Pattie Greer file
[xi]
Colonial Families of Pennsylvania
[xii]
I have heard that a Baker rifle was found at the Alamo . I have never seen it, but the story goes; when the historians at the Alamo were going through excess items, on of those was a Baker Rifle that went down with the Tennesseans. She is from John Rentas family. Jean 

[xiii]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 157
[xiv]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 158
[xv]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 159
[xvi]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 160
[xvii]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 164
[xviii]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 166
[xix]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 167
[xx]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 170
[xxi]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 176
[xxii]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 178
[xxiii]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 181
[xxiv]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 186
[xxv]
Assessment List And Other Documents Of Lancaster County Prior To The Year 1729,  Vol. 20, # 7, 188
[xxvi]
The Awakening And The Early Progress Of The Pequea, Conestoga And Other Sesquehanna Valley Settlements.  As shown by Official Letters, etc., of the Time.   By David M. Landis , p. 6
[xxvii]
The Awakening And The Early Progress Of The Pequea, Conestoga And Other Sesquehanna Valley Settlements.  As shown by Official Letters, etc., of the Time.   By David M. Landis , p. 11
[xxviii]
The Awakening And The Early Progress Of The Pequea, Conestoga And Other Sesquehanna Valley Settlements.  As shown by Official Letters, etc., of the Time.   By David M. Landis , p. 12
[xxix]
The Awakening And The Early Progress Of The Pequea, Conestoga And Other Sesquehanna Valley Settlements.  As shown by Official Letters, etc., of the Time.   By David M. Landis , p. 12
[xxx]
The Awakening And The Early Progress Of The Pequea, Conestoga And Other Sesquehanna Valley Settlements.  As shown by Official Letters, etc., of the Time.   By David M. Landis , p. 14
[xxxi]
Willy Konieczny [ekony@ctos.com]