Angstadt (Family)

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

The Angstadt family of gun makers is the dynasty of makers in Berks County. The family consisted of ten craftsmen who made complete rifles for over 100 years. Centered primarily in Maxatawny, Greenwich, and Long Swamp Townships and the Kutztown area the family consisted of:

Adam 1st. – 1740 -1812
Peter Angstadt 1st. – 1738 – 1782
Peter Angstadt II – 1763 -1815
Joseph Angstadt – 1765 – ?
Jacob Angstadt – 1783 -1843
Joseph Angstadt II – 1817 – 1872
Abraham Angstadt – 1784 – 1868
Peter Angstadt III – 1807 – 1870
Adam Angstadt II – 1821 – 1888

Although each of the Angstadt makers had their own style, similarities can be found and most Angstadt rifles are readily identified after some study. A common characteristic of their design could be defined as Pennsylvania “Dutchy”, with many of their guns as much folk art as firearm. Design motifs seen on some Angstadts have included unusual stars, flowers, lions and even hex signs, along with unique patch box designs.

Adam Angstadt

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Adam Angstadt was taxed as a gunsmith at the dawn of the 19th century in Maxatawny Twp., Berks Co., PA. Rifles with “A A” on the top of the barrel can be assumed to have been made by this man

Peter Angstadt

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Peter Angstadt (Anstat) was taxed as a gunsmith in Rockland Township, Berks Co., at the beginning of the 19th century.

John Bonewitz

School: Berks Womelsdorf  (Pennsylvania/PA)

John Bonewitz [B 1758 – D 1828] worked as Master Gunsmith in Womelsdorf, Pa. from approx. 1778 until 1809. Moved to Pine Grove, Pa. in 1809 and continued the trade there until his death.
Bonewitz first appears in the Womelsdorf tax records in 1780 as a single freeman. In 1781 he appears in York, Pa for a short period of time and then again in Womelsdorf estate records in 1783 and as a tax payer from 1784 thru 1809.
Largely credited with training Leonard Reedy while in Womelsdorf who remained with Bonewitz in the Womelsdorf shop after his apprenticeship and moved with him to Pine Grove in 1809.
Bonewitz and Reedy also are credited with training Andrew Fichthorn Jr. in the mysteries and art of gun making up until 1802-1803 when Fichthorn Jr. returned to Reading, Pa. and established his own shop. [See Andrew Fichthorn Jr.]

Further information available:
John Bonewitz, Womelsdorf, Pa., by Henry Bishop
– KRA Bulletin: Vol. 29 No. 2 Winter 2002
– Selected KRA Bulletin Articles-KRA 2005 Published by Kentucky Rifle Foundation
–  High Resolution Photos of Bonewitz’ Work – Kentucky Rifle Photographs 2005 Volume I, Issue I

Christian Derr

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Christian Derr was taxed as a gunsmith in 1805 in the Oley Valley. His rifles signed with a C.D. are usually found as unadorned rifles with simple patchbox designs and some utilize painted stocks to imitate tiger striping. This gunmaker is most likely the same gunmaker who later worked in Union County.

John (Johannes) Derr

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

John (and on some records – Johannes) Derr is one of Berks County’s most prolific gun makers. He made rifles, smooth bore guns and pistols of a wide variety of styles, including swivel rifles from 1800 until 1850. Guns from Derr are almost always signed, either with a stamp, “John Derr” or in script, “John Derr, Oley Valley” on the top facet of the barrel. He was trained by Henry Mauger and his standard patch box design is similar to Maugers. He often used barrels made by the Wyomissing Creek barrel makers in Cumru Township.

Joseph Faust

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Joseph H. Faust was a gunsmith in Alsace Township just above Reading working from about 1840 until 1888. He was apprenticed to John Derr and was one of the last to make flintlock long rifles in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Andrew Fichthorn Jr.

School: Womelsdorf, Reading and Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Andrew [Andreas] Fichthorn [Figthorn] Jr. [B 1779 – D 1822] was the son of Andrew Fichthorn Sr., a Rev War veteran, Reading land owner/speculator, Reading banker and Bond holder and some believe a gunsmith at various times in his life.
Andrew Fichthorn Jr., however, was a full time Master Gunsmith in Reading, Pa. from 1803 until his death in 1822. He positively spent time in the Bonewitz/Reedy Womelsdorf shop as an apprentice or journeyman until 1802 or 1803 when tax records indicated he returned to Reading, Pa. and set up his own gunsmith business. He signed his work A+F near the breech on the third flat opposite the lock.
Careful examination of his early guns show he spent equal amounts of time with Bonewitz and Reedy while in the Womelsdorf shop. The majority of his later work does not carry the same sophistication of his experience and training in Womelsdorf or his early years in Reading.
He died, after a short illness, and is buried in the family cemetery plot in Reading, Pa.

Further Reference material:
– The ‘Andrew Fichthorn Family, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania’ KRA Vol. 28 , No 1., 2001
– Selected Articles form the KRA Bulletin, Published by the Kentucky Rifle Foundation 2005.

See a listing for Andrew Fichthorn Sr.

Andrew Fichthorn Sr.

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)
Andrew Fichthorn Sr. [B 1756 – D 1829] will remain a mystery to the collecting world in the same manner as Wolfgang Haga and several other Borough of Reading gunsmiths. An extensive search of the Tax, Church and Land records of The Borough of Reading, Pa. do, in fact, identify his trade as a gunsmith in 1779,1780 and 1781. His will, dated 6/10/1828, also lists him as a gunsmith as well. However, his activities after the Rev War suggest he took full advantage of his business and real estate knowledge and created a considerable estate for himself and his family. Andrew Fichthorn Sr. [his proper name] served as an ‘Artificer’ during the American Revolution inCapt. George Wills Co. of artillery. An ‘Artificer’ was considered a skilled mechanic and a very valuable part of the company’s craftsmen.Even though he wanted to be considered a gunsmith, when you look at his estate records you start to wonder just how serious a gunsmith he was. He held many ‘bonds’ [mortgages today], owned multiple properties, engaged in various land transactions and held several Reading bank stocks. In addition, he supported his own children and those of his son Andrew Jr. who preceded him in death by 7 years. Andrew Fichthorn Sr. died a wealthy man. Collectors are waiting for the day a ‘signed’ example of Andrew Fichthorn Sr.’s work surfaces.

See a listing for Andrew Fichthorn Jr.

Henry & Jacob George

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Henry George (Yorg) is shown as a gunsmith in an 1804 deed transfer to his son, Jacob “a gunsmith”. Both father and son worked in Greenwich Township. Jacob worked until the 1830s and many samples of his work have been found. His rifles are often confused with Stofil Long’s work and it is likely these two makers had a close working relationship.

William Graff

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

William Graff (Greif or Graeff) is listed as a gunsmith in the Reading Town census of 1767. He also worked in Lancaster County and apparently worked in both areas from 1750 until the turn of the century. He may be related to the gunsmith, John Graeff.

Wolfgang Haga

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

The legendary Wolfgang Haga was a gunsmith working in Reading according to a land grant dated 1767. Further tax records show him still working in Reading in1779. No signed guns by Haga have been found, yet rifle design attributed to Haga set the standard for the Berks County style with later gunmakers copying his “Roman-nose” stock and basic patchbox design. Always made with strong grained substantial tiger maple, Haga’s rifles with simple raised carving are symbolic of the Berks County rugged style of rifle.

Stofil (Stofille) Long

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Long, Stofil (Stofille) is shown in the 1850 census working as a gunsmith in Albany Township. Albany Township lays at the most northern end of Berks County and his rifles show nearby Lehigh County influences of slimmer, lighter rifles than those produced in other areas of Berks County. His rifles sometimes include the mysterious “Indian head” motif seen on rifles coming from the two neighboring county’s borders.

Henry Mauger

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Henry Mauger was born in 1750 and died in 1826. He worked in Douglas Township which lies along the Bucks County line. Mauger made rifles and pistols and apparently some locks. It is believed that John Derr apprenticed under Mauger and Derr used a similar patchbox design on his many of his rifles. This same design was also used by Joseph Faust.

Simon Miller

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Simon Miller worked in the borough of Hamburg, Windsor Township from the late 1700s to 1806. Miller was a prolific maker of rifles and pistols. His rifle design with the Roman-nose stock and a distinctive patchbox design rarely varied.

John Palm

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

John Palm was a versatile gunmaker located on Second Street, Womelsdorf, Heidelberg Township until he died in 1865. His work shows little influence by the earlier Womelsdorf makers, making a variety of rifles from plain guns to fancy silver inlaid rifles. Palm often numbered his rifles alongside his signature. He also worked in neighboring Lancaster County for a short period during the early 1800s.

Daniel Pannebecker

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

The Pannebecker family of Cumru and Brecknock Townships consisted of no less than eight gunmakers. Although some, like Samuel and Jess also worked in nearby Lancaster County, the grandfather, Daniel was one of the first to make guns near Mohnton in the late 1700s. Through marriages and related apprenticeships the Pannebecker family spawned barrel makers such as Henry Deeds, the Worleys, Cyrus Hornberger and the Schnaders – the last gun barrel makers along the Wyomissing Creek.

John Schreit (Shreight)

School: Berks  (Pennsylvania/PA)

A rifle signed by John Schreit and dated 1761 is the earliest dated Kentucky rifle that is known to exist. John Schreit (Shreight) worked in Reading Town and is shown as a gunsmith and landowner of a town lot in the 1758 Berks County records. American rifles of this age are rarely found and even rarer are signed and dated rifles from the period.

Stoeffel Smith

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Stoeffel Smith was a gunmaker working in Reading from the late 1700s until 1820. His rifles reflect a strong influence by Wolfgang Haga with similar stock profiles and raised carving behind the cheek piece. Since both worked in Reading at the same time, it is possible Smith worked with Haga in some capacity. Many of the samples of his work extant are rugged swivel rifles engraved with his signature and a date on a large brass side plate.

Jesse Worley

School: Berks (Pennsylvania/PA)

Jeese Worley was a gun maker and owner of a gun barrel factory along the Wyomissing Creek in Cumru Township from 1788 until 1838. Two of his sons, John and Henry worked in the factory making gun barrels until 1890. Rifles signed with J. Worley or J.W. are found to have the classic Berks County “Roman-nose” stock and a Haga style patchbox design.