Starting Sept. 30, 2014, will be making a big change. GenForum message boards, Family Tree Maker homepages, and the most popular articles will be preserved in a read-only format, while several other features will no longer be available, including member subscriptions and the Shop.
Learn more

Chat | Daily Search | My GenForum | Community Standards | Terms of Service
Jump to Forum
Home: Regional: U.S. States: Pennsylvania: Chester County

Post FollowupReturn to Message ListingsPrint Message

Robert/Caleb Baker-1st gunsmiths-Chester C. PA? Part II
Posted by: Jan Swart (ID *****3109) Date: July 26, 2012 at 04:47:33
In Reply to: Robert/Caleb Baker-1st gunsmiths-Chester County PA? by Jan Swart of 2621

This is part two in my quest to show that my direct ancestor, Robert Baker Sr. and his son, Caleb Baker along with other sons. (See my first posting on this Genealogy. com Lancaster County dated 1-2-2012) were the first documented gunsmiths in Chester/Lancaster County, PA. Some feel a gunsmith named Martin Mylin is considered to be the first early gunsmith in Lancaster County. Right to this day you can visit his surviving gun shop. Yet, there doesn't seem to be tangible proof that he was the earliest "documented" gunsmith in the area. If somebody has new tangible research on Martin Mylin being the first documented gunsmith, I would love to see it!

Generally speaking, firm documentation of gunsmiths in this early time in Chester/Lancaster County PA from 1719 to 1742 is somewhat difficult and challenging to find. So we need to piece things together. An example would be that the early tax lists of Chester County do not list professions of taxpayers, though they certainly show that Robert Baker and his sons were taxed there as landowners (not non-residents) in Conestoga Township (Susquehanna River and Pequea Creek) in Chester County from 1719 forward until 1741. This part of Chester County later became part of Lancaster County in May of 1729.

I first came across my Robert Baker Sr. in the following record in the Taylor Papers (as mentioned previously):

August 15, 1719
Dear Brother, (meaning Isaac Taylor )

Whereas Robert Baker a smith of this town, has bought Colonel French's land 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.
by loving brother, Jacob Taylor ( Taylor Papers-Historical Society Building in Philadelphia #2930- pg 11-Landis)

In the papers of James Logan, Penn's secretary to Issac Taylor, brother of Jacob Taylor, Surveyor, dated Feb 17, 1721, there is indications that iron ore had been found near the site of the Baker tract.

February ye 17th 1721 - Isaac Taylor Esteemed friend,

"These inform thee yt there is come into this Province from New England a gentleman named Jno McNeall and hath been with ine 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 to know ye most easy way to come at ye land if we conclude to go on with ye business for if any old rights can be had I incline most to make a purchase yt way however thy opinion in yt matter is what is desired by me and a line or two from thy hand of advice till an opportunity present of conversing and consulting ye best measure further about ye same Which is all at present.
Respect from thy true and loving friend John Cartlcdge (No 2975)

David Landis says: 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 See Susquehanna Indians p 192 Then too under date of May 31 1723 Paper No 2987 in a letter from John Churchman and Arthur Barrett there is mention made of valuable mines in the "barrens" END
(From the Awakening and Early Progress of the Peaqua, Conestoga And Other Susquehanna Settlements-David Landis-Read before the Lancaster County Historical Society on 7 Jan 1921 Volumn XXV).

In my own research I realized that my Robert Baker Sr. died suddenly in Chester County in Sept of 1728. His estate administration papers, #321 from Chester County, PA are dated 13 Sept 1728 and these papers show that his son Caleb Baker Sr. was appointed by the Orphan court as administrator of Robert's estate. When I received these papers from the Registers Office at the Court House in Chester County, Pa, there was the Administrators Bond; an Inventory, and the administrators accounts; the Bond was signed by the Administrator, Joseph Higginbotham and Tobias Hendricks, Sureties; and witnessed by Douglas Baker and Joshua Lowe. The inventory enumerates chatel's, harvest crops, smithing tools, live stock, and 450 Acres of land. The inventory was signed by Tobias Hendricks, David Jones and Joseph Higginbotham, Appraisers. Note:Tobias Hendricks and Joshua Lowe were Quakers in the area)

In the Estate Inventory are clues of a probably gun or iron forge business. I show this with a *

Inventory Debts: “A true and perfeitt Inventory of all his__the goods and chatels, rights and creditts of Robert Baker latte of Conastogoe___taken and apraised at Conastogoe the 19th of September 1728 by Tobias Hendricks, David Jones and Joseph Higginbotham, aprasors appointed for that service.”

pounds shillings pence

Debts solvent and insolvent 12 10 7
Wearing aparell 5 0 0
Housegoods 2 10 0
*Some Smiths Tooles 4 0 0
Plantation Tooles 1 10 0
6 cows, one bull and small ___ 14 0 0
ten sheep 12 10 0
3 head of horse ___ 9 0 0
Some wheat in stacks & stack-hay 10 0 0
Some Indian corn growing 3 0 0
Some hogs 1 10 0
450 acres of land and improvements 230 0 0

Inventory Credits of Robert Baker Sr. Estate:
The Credits (things that needed to be paid out) on the Robert Baker estate were two hardly readable pages.

Funeral expenses -7 shillings
Doctor__ mare and horse hire – 1 lb
Pmt of loan @ death of dec’d -18 lbs 18 shillings
Interest to loan office – 10 lbs
Charge of rent to loan office – 1 lb 18 shillings
*To put up money before office money was taken out – 20 lbs
A bond to John Swift Esq with Interest - 9 pounds
A bond to James Cattisou with four years interest -8 pounds
Sam Baker -16 Shillings
John Kerrick – 2 shillings
Douglas Baker- 8 Shillings
Robert Baker Jun. -6 pounds
****Caleb Baker manufacturing money -4 pounds 18 shillings
Letters of Administration- 14 shillings
New Hat for Baker Mother – 7 shillings
Thomas Rutter -1 pound 10 shillings
Stephen Shifon -12 shillings
Robert Wilkinsen – 3 shillings
Delivery of goods from Wm Cox – 12 shillings
Caleb Baker a Book Debt- 9 shillings
**Caleb Baker for 100 weight of new iron #
carriage - 2 pounds
Robert Baker Jun. – 6 shillings
9 Bushels of wheat - 9 shillings
Wm Cox for 2 gals of Rum - 8 shillings
***Francis Rowle for 116 lbs of old iron-Carriage - 7 shillings
Elizabeth Baker - 14 shillings, 6 pence
Elizabeth: ____15 shillings six pence
Caleb Baker for beef -1 pound - 8 shillings
Caleb Baker to make up his sale payment - 2 pounds
pay for appraisors for apprasing goods - 1 pound
Robert Middleton - 4 sh 6 pence
John W. Daniel- 2 sh 6 pence
Sarah removed a call note - 3 pounds
Paid a bond to John Hays - 20? pounds
Tobias Young packer – 7 shillings

In looking for proof that the Bakers were a gun-making family, since Robert Baker Sr. died without a will, there is no reference to him as a gunsmith in any legal document that I could find.
However, his son Caleb Baker Sr's grandson, Abner Baker, wrote in his Life Notes Journal in 1854 the following: "I learned that my grandfather Baker emigrated from England to America with two brothers commissioned by the King of England as artists in the gunnery business to establish a gunnery for making and suppling the colonies with firearms and settled in what is now called the State of Pennsylvania." There is probably a kernel of truth in this statement in his journal and the rest is probably a wistful family story.
Yet other little tidbits present themselves. Caleb Baker Sr.'s brother, Robert Baker's widow Mary, in her will dated 9 Oct 1760 in Prince Edward County, VA, refers to her deceased husband, Robert Baker Jr. as, "Robert Baker, gunsmith".

But the greatest example comes from a deed I received from Lancaster County Clerk of Court, the deed is that of the summer of 1741, when Robert Baker Sr.'s son, Caleb Baker Sr., sold some land in Lancaster County to Jacob Good, before the Baker family left "en masse" for Amelia County, Virginia, later Prince Edward County, where they cultivated plantations. Note that in this deed Caleb Baker Sr. is referred to as a "gunsmith".

Deed – Caleb Baker to Jacob Good – 1741
THIS INDENTURE made the fourth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty one. BETWEEN CALEB BAKER of CONESTOGA in the County of Lancaster, Gunsmith and Martha his wife of the one pt. and Jacob Good of the same place, yeoman of the other part. ....

In The Baker Family Of Gunsmiths In Lancaster County, 1717-1754 written by Samuel Dyke of Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1972, Samuel Dyke mentions a second Baker family in early Lancaster County.

Samuel Dyke says: "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."

He also says: "A second group of Bakers, not related at this writing, (NOTE they have now been proven in 2012 to be related to my Bakers by DNA on the Baker DNA site ) to the ones previously named as gunsmiths, were located near Lancaster."

"Their names were John Baker and his son Joshua Baker. John Baker of Lancaster Borough died in 1750. His will and inventory were filled March 12, 1750. Among the items were smith's tools, forge hammer, etc. He was a gun barrel forger. His son, Joshua Baker, died on July 3, 1754. In his will he is called gunsmith. His will and inventory were proved by William Henry, Lancaster gunsmith "

Samuel Dyke goes on to say that:
"There is a lock on an early rifle here with the name J. Baker on the plate, but not on the barrel." END

In the Taylor papers there is a reference:

Aug 24 1728
My good cousin,
I suppose you know much better than I how far your good father proposed to accomodate John Baker the gunsmith on Conestoga and Samuel Taylor in the manner of locating land for him. Baker and Samuel complain of delays."
Ja Taylor (#3041)

This would be:
John Baker(-1750) gunsmith. Between 1728 and 1750 John Baker was a gunsmith in Lancaster County, PA. His shop was located on Factory Rd., south of Lancaster, near Rockford Plantation. The estate inventory was taken on 12 March 1750 by Martin Mylin and Robert Thornburgh. It showed, cutting box,(L=Pounds) L1/12/0, Smith tools & peice of a forge [?], L4, 1 Gunn, L1/5/0, a Negro man Dick, L35: a Negro Wench Tibbe, L30. Total estate, L331/5/4

Joshua Baker,Sr. (1754). gun barrel maker. 1754, Lancaster City.[tax]. "Inventory of the goods... of the Estate of Joshua Baker, Dec'd...taken and valued by Thomas Butler and James Bickham... 5 September 1754.( At the time of his death he was residing in Lancaster City at 12 East King St, Lot # 125). to a Quantity of Gun locks & old mounting, L2/10/0..., an old axe & cutting knife, L0/6/0

Notify Administrator about this message?
No followups yet

Post FollowupReturn to Message ListingsPrint Message
Search this forum:

Search all of GenForum:

Proximity matching
Add this forum to My GenForum Link to GenForum
Add Forum
Home |  Help |  About Us |  Site Index |  Jobs |  PRIVACY |  Affiliate
© 2007 The Generations Network