Did the Bakers invent the Pennsylvania/Kentucky Long Rifle?
I have heard through family stories that a Baker ancestor or ancestors invented the Pennsylvania or Kentucky Long Rifle. I recently found a page that my uncle David Baker did at https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/b/a/k/David-Baker-3/GENE2-0015.html that give some of the background. I’ve copied it here for your consideration.
A number of Baker researchers have noted that Robert Baker and his sons were gunsmiths in Pennsylvania. I found the following information in: 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. (Ran Raider)
Ran Raider: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Baker, Caleb, 1719-41, Gunsmith, worked with his father, Robert Baker, on the confluence of Pequa [Pequea] Creek and the Susquehanna River, Lancaster Co. “
“Baker, Robert (d. 1728), 1717-28, gunsmith at the confluence of Pequa Creek and the Susquehanna River, Lancaster Co. “
“Baker, Samuel. 1717-19, worked with his brother, Robert Baker, Lancaster Co. In 1719 Robert bought out Samuel’s interests.”
Excerpts from GUNSMITHS OF LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA by James B. Whisker: “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 died before the formation of the county.”
“ROBERT BAKER (-1728)., gunsmith. Robert Baker was a gunsmith between 1717 and 1728 at the confluence of Pequea Creek and the Susquehanna River in Chester (now Lancaster) County.In 1719 Robert Baker took over the shop operated by his brother, Samuel Baker. Robert died intestate 19 September 1728, the Orphan’s Court ordered an inventory of Robert’s estate. It showed tools of the gunsmith and blacksmith.The total value of the tools in his gun barrel boring and gun shop was 295 pounds/10/7.”
Editors Note: “Based on all information found, I believe Samuel Baker & his brother Robert Baker were probably the first gun makers in America. National Geographic Magazine stated that the Baker’s invented the Pennsylvania-Kentucky Long Rifle. Unable to find the date of that article.
Excerpts from A RECORD OF THE BAKER AND BUFORD FAMILIES with Allied Lines by KATHERINE BAKER JOHNSON, 1940: “The first of this family in America appears to have been Robert Baker who settled in Conestoga Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This township became Lancaster County in 1729, as this family does not appear on the tax list of any of the other townships, it is possible that the settlement in Conestoga was the original home of the family from their arrival in America.”
Abner Baker, Great Grandson, states in his “Life Book”, that this family came to America from England in the early part of 1700, and that three brothers, Samuel, Andrew and Caleb were gunsmiths, with a grant from the King of England to manufacture arms for the colonies.”
A Mr. Samuel E. Dyke, a researcher in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, finally convinced me I was on the right tract when I came across some writings. This was 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 call the “KENTUCKY LONG RIFLE”. Mr Dyke in his report states; “We feel as though these early gunsmiths came into Chester, Pennsylvania, or New Castle, Delaware, from abroad and migrated up the Susquehanna River to where the Pequea flows into it and set up shop 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 gun shop and operated it until 1728. It was at this time Robert Baker died. His son, Caleb Baker, continued to operate this gun shop until the family moved to Amelia County, Virginia.
From Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe © 1999 The Learning Company, Inc.
COLONIAL FAMILIES OF PHILADELPHIA
“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”. This
tract was within the bounds of Pa., but it was claimed by Philip
Syng and Co., 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, 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.
Editors Note:It is believed that this “Mine” is where the ore came from to make Baker guns.
Editors Note: Robert (James) Baker, the gunsmith, must have more than one wife.
I have changed birth dates of all children according to dates found in Patti Greer’s file.
Editors note: Some researchers report that Robert Baker was ordered to go to England to make guns for either King William or Queen Anne according to time frame. In America these two Wars with France were know as King Williams War & Queen Anne’s War. They covered the period from late 1680s-1714.
He returned to America 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.
Robert Baker settled in Conestoga Township, Chester County, PA (later Lancaster County, PA). He bought 500 acres of land on the Susquehanna River from Col. John French in 1717. (This seems to be time frame of his return to America, so we might assume that he was ordered to England by Queen Anne whose War dates were 1702-1713.) This land was located on mile from the junction of Pequea Creek and the Susquehanna River. Robert’s son Caleb paid taxes on this land from 1719 until 1727. Robert and his sons were gunsmiths and were commissioned by the King of England to make fire arms for the Colonies. Later the Bakers would join the Colonies against England in the Revolutionary War.
August 15, 1719, Robert Baker had Jacob Taylor, Surveyor, with permission from William Penn, lay out a site for erection of a gun mill. See Taylor Papers #2921. From Pattie Greer file. In February 1721 iron ore was found near the site of the Baker tract. From Pattie Greer file.
Robert Baker left no will and his son Caleb was appointed administrator of his estate, dated September 13, 1728. Caleb Baker being part owner of the business and oldest son, took over and operated it until 1741, when he sold out to Jacob Godin.
I am related to the Ferree family of Chester Co. PA (later Lancaster Co. in 1729) who purchased land in the Pequea Creek area. Their land was surveyed in 1710 according to the surviving Surveyor’s book of Isaac Taylor. The Ferree family signed and paid for the land in Philadelphia in 1712 and moved to Chester Co.from Ulster Co. NY where they had been living with the Huguenot relatives. The Ferrees were recognized as gunsmiths of Lancaster Co. during the Revolutionary War. I have seen several books written about their rifle making.
I am related to Robert Baker Sr. and his son Caleb Baker spoken above. I do believe they were the first proven gunsmiths in the area and are considered to be the original founders of the PA/Kentucky long rifle. I am many records, including Robert Baker’s will inventory in 1728 showing manufacturing money going to his son, Caleb and also some iron. The first record I have is from 1719 when Robert Baker Sr. requested a survey on Pequea Creek to build a mill and bore logs. I would like to hear from any descendants.