Jacob Dickert (born January 9, 1740 near Mainz, Electorate/Archbishopric of Mainz, Holy Roman Empire; died February 27, 1822 in Lancaster, PA) was a leading gunsmith in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the center of early American rifle-making throughout the eighteenth century. Over his long career, which extended from the French and Indian War to the War of 1812, Dickert helped transform Lancaster’s scattered, independent, small-scale gunmakers into a coordinated industry that could fulfill enormous government contracts and petition Congress for trade protection. Dickert trained his grandsons, Jacob Dickert Gill (1788-1850) and Benjamin Gill (1790-1860), who also became rifle-makers. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the name Dickert that had been engraved on rifle barrels — commonly distorted in popular usage into “Deckard” — had become synonymous with the longrifle itself.
Jacob Dickert was born on January 9, 1740, near Mainz on the west bank of the Rhine River. Eighteenth-century Mainz, a large walled city with some 25,000 inhabitants ruled by an Archbishop-Elector (Kurmainz/Erzbistum Mainz), was an ecclesiastical state. Monasteries, convents, and chapels filled the city, which was dominated by a massive electoral palace and aristocratic families’ palatial residences. Situated at the confluence of the Rhine and the Main Rivers, Mainz was a significant trading and commercial center. This activity, however, did not arise from manufactured products or an industrial base. The “natural produce of its hinterland” enabled the city’s commercial expansion during the eighteenth century. Very few of these farmers around Mainz owned their own land, and most were subject to four different lords to each of whom they owed dues. It seems likely, since Dickert noted that he was born “near Mainz,” that his father was a farmer. Dickert recalled that he and his parents, John and Mary Dickert, immigrated to America in 1747, though other evidence — a Johannes Dickert arrived in Philadelphia on the Phoenix in October 1744 — hints that this event might have occurred a bit earlier. The Dickerts may have emigrated from Europe for religious reasons: Dickert himself identified with the German Reformed religion in his early years.
The Dickert family settled in what was then northeastern Lancaster County: the land on which they lived became part of Berks County upon its formation in 1752. John Dickert died in 1768, identified on his probate documents as a “yeoman” of Windsor Township, the northern edge of which abuts the Blue Mountains. The inventory of his goods, which were worth only £14.9s (approximately £1,570 or $2,500.00 in 2011$), includes no tools that hint at a trade. No animals, no human chattel, no unpaid bills or debts owed him by others appear in the inventory. The itemized goods consist entirely of clothes; household objects such as blankets, cups, and kettles; quite a few books, including “two prayer Bookes” and “an old Inglish bible”; and “one old Silver wach” worth more than £4 (approximately £436 or $690.00 in 2011$). The silver watch and a blue coat were the only items worth more than £1.
Jacob Dickert — twenty-eight when his father died — yielded his right to serve as executor and appraiser of his father’s estate and renounced any claims on it. “I have no Objection, against… whosoever is Willing to Administer on the Estate of my Father’s decead,” he testified on February 1, 1769, “as I do declare never to Concern my Selfe with whatever is or was belonging to my Father.” His mother had similarly renounced her right, citing “Infirmity” and “great Age” as her reason for not “attend[ing the] Business” of “Administration” of her husband’s “small Personal Estate.” Dickert’s refusal to fulfill this obligation may suggest some rupture between father and son, but this act is more likely a function of the estate’s small size and the difficulties of traveling the fifty or so miles between Dickert’s home and his parents’ abode.
Dickert had left his parents’ home a dozen years earlier. All published sources state that the Dickert “family moved to Lancaster,” but Dickert’s memoir suggests that his parents never left Berks County: he “lived with them a few years in Berks County and in his 16th year came here [to Lancaster] to learn the trade of gunsmith.” Founded only in 1730, Lancaster had quickly become the largest inland town in colonial America, with some two thousand inhabitants in 1755 and over three thousand a decade later. Thomas Barton, Lancaster’s Anglican minister, described the town in 1764 as a “very respectable & wealthy Place,” its size and its prosperity stemming from the town’s central role in the Indian trade. A group of English-speaking families, most prominently the Shippens and Hamiltons, who intermarried and promoted one another through patronage and trade, formed Lancaster’s elite, but they were a small minority surrounded by German speakers. Ethnic Germans comprised nearly seventy percent of families in Lancaster in 1759, and the percentage was even larger in the county as a whole.
Jacob Dickert married Johanetta Höfer (1746-1819) on March 16, 1764. Dickert had “his banns read” by a Reformed minister, John Bartholomew Rieger (1707-1769), who years earlier had upset his congregation by encouraging the Moravian leader Count Zinzendorf. Couples flocked to Rieger to perform their marriages (or so Thomas Barton complained later in 1764) because “No License, or Publication is by him thought necessary — no Questions are ask’d; & no Examination enter’d into, to know whether the Consent of Parents be obtained &c.” But Dickert was not trying to elude his parents’ oversight (he brought his father to a Moravian church service a few days after the bans had been read) and may have had a connection to the Reformed pastor. By the time of his marriage, in any case, Dickert was attending services at Lancaster’s Moravian church. Hannah, as Dickert’s wife was known, was associated with the Moravian church through her mother, Anna Maria Höfer (1718-1796), who had re-married a Moravian, Johannes Spor (1725-1787), in 1752. Dickert could not marry in the Moravian Church because he had not yet been accepted as a member (he was admitted as a Society member, an early level of association that did not permit taking of communion, on November 3, 1765). The Dickerts had two children over the next few years, their first, a boy, born in February 1765. “Dickert told us of the happy delivery of his wife of a son,” the Moravian pastor wrote. But his boy, named John after his grandfather, died a few months later. A daughter, Anna Maria Dickert (1766-1806), was born in October of the following year.
The German immigrant became a naturalized Briton in 1765. An astonishing 2,600 German-speaking immigrants, more than a quarter of all the naturalizations in all thirteen colonies during the entire eighteenth century, asked to be naturalized in Philadelphia that September and October. Dickert may have joined a cohort of Moravians who left Lancaster on September 21 and returned, naturalized, on September 26. On September 24, Jacob Dickert appeared at Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court and testified that he was a “Foreigner” who had “inhabited and resided for the Space of Seven Years in his Majesty’s Colonies in America.” His naturalization document notes that he was “one of the People who conscientiously scruple and refuse the taking an Oath”: a 1742 act permitted him instead to “take and subscribe the Affirmation and Declarations” — which involved a “Declaration of Fidelity,” the “Profession of his Christian Belief,” and an affirmation of the “Effect of the Adjuration Oath.” Having done so, Dickert was “admitted to be his Majesty’s natural born Subject of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of his Province.”
The Dickerts became devoted members of Lancaster’s Moravian community. In November 1770 Dickert joined the Widows’ Society of Bethlehem, one of colonial America’s first beneficial societies. His initial payment of £10, along with annual payments of 10 shillings, guaranteed his widow an annuity of £15 each year. Dickert found among the Moravians a trade community as well. Matthias Roesser and his former apprentice, William Henry (who had left the gun trade to become a merchant), were members of the Moravian congregation in the mid-1760s and, within a decade, they were joined by other Lancaster gunsmiths, including Peter Gonter (1751-1818), John Graeff (1751-1804), George Rathvon (1747-99), and George Frederick Fainot (1728-1817). At the time, the gunsmithing business in and beyond Lancaster seems to have been dispersed, with independent, small-scale craftsmen working in small shops in their homes. It is tempting to imagine that, as these gunsmiths crossed paths at the frequent Moravian church gatherings, they exchanged ideas and information and laid the groundwork for the sort of cooperative ventures that the Revolution would force upon them and that, in subsequent decades, they would systematically undertake.
Dickert had arrived in Lancaster to “learn the trade of gunsmith.” German immigrants had made Lancaster County “the first and largest riflebuilding center in colonial America.” (Few gunsmiths were working in the mid-1750s in Berks County, where Dickert’s family lived.) Immigrant gunsmiths modified the Jaeger rifles that they brought from Germany by lightening the stock and lengthening the barrel, which improved the weapon’s accuracy. “The American rifle,” M. L. Brown wrote in Firearms in Colonial America (1980), “was sired by the jäeger rifle familiar to the rifle-smiths of southeastern Pennsylvania, specifically those active in and around Lancaster during the first quarter of the eighteenth century.” One immigrant gunsmith, Christopher Breidenhart, had been trained by Gotha’s court gunsmith and had worked in Potsdam, Magdeburg, Kassel, and Wertheim before arriving in Lancaster in 1753 or 1754. German speakers, many of them Moravians and Mennonites, would dominate the rifle-making trade in Lancaster County throughout the eighteenth century. Although some of these gunsmiths may have supplied rifles for the Indian trade — eighteen rifles were sent west from Lancaster in late 1762 — most rifles were tailored to particular customers. Although non-German gunsmiths worked in Lancaster, and their rifles ended up in the hands both of Indians and of English-speaking customers, the “American rifle” was initially a product made on a small scale by German-speaking craftsmen for German-speaking customers. A series of military conflicts — the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the mobilizations against Indians, France, and Britain from the 1790s to 1810s — helped to transform the scope and nature of gun production in Lancaster and beyond.
Jacob Dickert’s family sent him to Lancaster to train as a gunsmith in the midst of the French and Indian War. The war terrified the inhabitants of western towns such as Lancaster; but it offered an unprecedented opportunity for its gunsmiths. The need had never been greater for men to repair arms or to produce new ones. The unexpected annihilation in July 1755 of Edward Braddock’s army as it marched on Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh) forced Pennsylvanians in Lancaster and Berks Counties to realize that the Susquehanna River would not protect them from the devastations of war with the French and Indians. Towns such as Lancaster and Reading were reminded that they were located in Pennsylvania’s backcountry. “Women from Carlisle, Lancaster, and Reading,” provincial secretary Richard Peters reported in October 1755, were “leaving their Families” to flee to Philadelphia. Edward Shippen, Lancaster’s leading citizen, wondered “who can dare to Stay on their Plantations betwixt here and Philadelphia if [the] enemy Should take possession of this town and destroy the People”? Lancaster’s residents heard that the Indians would make “Winter Quarters at Lancaster,” and rumors spread that “1500 French and Indians had burnt Lancaster Town to the Ground.” At such times, locksmiths, blacksmiths, and joiners might shift their work to help with arms production. Lancaster’s gunsmiths would have eagerly recruited apprentices, the cheapest way to secure an extra hand at the forge or the rifling bench. Some Lancaster gunsmiths, including Dickert himself two decades later, resorted to enslaved labor.
No evidence has yet turned up to illuminate the gunsmith in Lancaster under whom Dickert apprenticed. Matthias Roesser (1708-1771) is one candidate. Several years earlier, William Henry (1729-1786) had “entered apprenticeship with Matth. Roeser to learn the trade of gunsmith,” and by the mid-1750s — his apprenticeship complete — Henry was working as a gunsmith and earning the patronage of Lancaster’s elite. When Captain Joseph Shippen led a company of Pennsylvanians from Lancaster to Shamokin in June 1756 to build Fort Augusta, he took “Wm Henry with” him “to repair” and “do every Thing with regard to the Pennsylvanian arms.” Christopher Breidenhart is another candidate. By 1757 Breidenhart owned property on Queen Street that, a decade later (after passing through other owners), Dickert purchased; Breidenhart probably added to this property the “smith’s shop” at which Dickert worked during his career.
As an apprentice, Dickert would have learned each aspect of the gunsmith’s trade. Although Joe Kindig’s Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age (1960) taught historians to emphasize the artistry of the eighteenth-century rifle, it is important to remember that the gunsmith’s trade involved intense labor. Gunsmiths forged and welded barrels from iron, they cut and shaped stocks from hard curly maple wood, they forged and filed iron and steel locks, and they made the gun’s furniture — buttplate, sideplate, toeplate, patchbox — from brass or silver. The gunsmith’s shop was often in his home. The plan of a Moravian gunshop, a 26’ x 19’ building, described a space in which several craftsmen could work at once: the smith’s shop at Dickert’s residence measured only 12’ x 18’.
The primary activities of a typical colonial American gunsmith remain a matter of debate among historians. For many years, historians of early American gunsmithing offered a picture of a gunsmith who, “by virtue of his isolation and the primitive conditions under which he lived and worked, was forced by circumstances to become a self-reliant and truly individualistic craftsman.” An influential film, Gunsmith of Williamsburg (1969), which showed that a single, talented craftsman could produce each aspect of a rifle, solidified this notion that eighteenth-century gunsmiths created rifles from scratch, lock, stock, and barrel. Other research, however, revealed that even “isolated” gunsmiths in colonial America had access to imported locks and that in some communities gunsmiths could obtain ready-made barrels. The gun trade in Europe was so specialized by the early eighteenth century, as Henry Kauffman claimed, that “a steady flow of ready-made locks from places like Birmingham and London” could have poured into colonial America, “the small size of the lock” and the scarcity of steel encouraging importation. Such information complicated the picture of gun production in colonial America. Some gunsmiths may have crafted each and every part of a rifle; others may have fit an imported lock or locally-made barrel into a newly-carved stock. The term gunsmith was used to describe men who repaired guns, who produced specialized gun parts (such as barrels or locks), who created an entire gun from scratch, or who ran a gun factory that employed other men.
Many gunsmiths may have spent much of their time repairing guns rather than creating new ones. There had long been a steady stream of imported guns into colonial America. Caspar Wistar imported German rifles in the 1730s and 1740s, asking his supplier to tailor them for the American market, where consumers “prefer rifles with barrels that are three feet and three to four inches long.” These imported arms needed upkeep as stocks would break, barrels would need to be re-rifled or “freshed,” lock components would need repair. Importation increased significantly as the British sent vast numbers of arms, mostly muskets, to America to outfit troops during the French and Indian War. In spring 1756, "10,000 stands of Arms" — all "Land Service Muskets of the King's Pattern with Brass Furniture” — were sent to Boston for William Shirley’s use. In 1758, William Pitt sent "12,000... Muskets" to New York. The sheer number of these guns would have demanded a lot of time from gunsmiths. It is important to note, however, that these war-related imports involved muskets: rifles may still have been largely American-made products. Presumably an American-made rifle would be more desirable than an imported one as long as it could be acquired more cheaply than an import.
A gunsmith would never know which skill he would need — and needs would vary as circumstances changed — so apprentices would train in all aspects of the trade. The inventory taken at Roesser’s death indicates that he was capable of producing every part of a rifle, though he may not have regularly used the full range of these skills. Like many gunsmiths, Roesser diversified his activities to make ends meet. Listed on Lancaster’s tax rolls as a gunsmith, Moravian church registers consistently identify him as schlosser (locksmith). The variety of gunsmithing skills that Roesser had taught William Henry are evident from Joseph Shippen’s remark that Henry took “a great deal of pains to rectifie [the arms], & bore & straiten the Barrels.” Dickert, too, would have learned every aspect of the gunsmith’s trade.
Dickert is first recorded in the Lancaster Borough tax lists as a “gunsmith” in 1765, one of four men so identified (the others were Roesser, William Foulks, and John Henry, William Henry’s younger brother). William Henry had managed to leave the forge for the shop, partnering in a hardware store that, in addition to items such as anvils, candlesticks, nails, and coffee mills, sold gun parts (cocks, cock pins, tumblers, main springs, forged breeches) to gunsmiths. Other Lancaster County gunsmiths worked outside of the city in the mid-1760s: Abraham Newcomer in Lampeter Township, John Newcomer in Hempfield Township, Joel Ferree and Christian Eby in Leacock Township, James Mays in Rapho Township, Peter Reigart in Paxton Township, Caspar Shreid in Cocalico Township. It is impossible to know how Dickert balanced his activities during the first decade or so of his time as a gunsmith. Surely he spent much of his time repairing arms. But equally surely he produced original rifles with ornately-carved stocks. Several such rifles survive, and while they cannot be dated precisely — few eighteenth-century American rifles carry dates inscribed by their makers — collectors and connoisseurs assign them to Dickert’s “early career,” to the 1770s or before.
These ornately-carved rifles resemble those produced by craftsmen such as Andreas Albrecht (1718-1802), who had fought in Frederick the Great’s army before crossing the Atlantic in 1750 to settle in the Moravian community at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1762, Albrecht helped set up a gunshop at Christian’s Spring, a small Moravian settlement north of Bethlehem, where he trained the talented rifle-maker Christian Oerter (1747-1777). The trade shops in these closed Moravian communities preserved and fostered traditions of fine craftsmanship: church authorities managed all economic behavior, protecting trades, for instance, by forbidding a craftsman from joining a community where another craftsman in the same trade already worked. Some craftsmen “tired of the economic constraints placed on them by the church,” which produced friction between individuals’ hesitant (and sometime secretive) entrepreneurial efforts and church authorities determined to control them. It is crucially important to note that, while Dickert was a Moravian and his early rifles display superb craftsmanship, he did not train or work in a closed Moravian community. Dickert was never subject in Lancaster to the social and economic controls that frustrated other entrepreneurial-minded tradesmen and craftsmen in Moravian communities from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. For instance, when Nazareth church authorities learned of a large government arms contract secured by William Henry II (1756-1821) in 1798, they refused to let him enlarge his gunshop or to hire the workmen he needed. They eventually made concessions in the hope that, once he completed the contract, he would cease his gunsmithing activities altogether. Dickert in Lancaster confronted none of these obstacles.
Gunsmiths had trouble finding enough work to make a living in the decade before the Revolutionary War. Breidenhart, who worked as a gunsmith during the French and Indian War, had found a new occupation as an innkeeper by 1765. By 1772 Andreas Albrecht, who was practicing his trade in Lititz, a Moravian community eight miles north of Lancaster, and had accepted William Henry’s eldest son as an apprentice, suffered from “lack of work.” Lititz authorities “suggested… that he should have his work advertised” and “should take a trip to visit a certain… Indian trader,” who “sells many guns, in order to introduce himself.” There is no evidence, however, that Dickert was compelled to undertake activities outside of his chosen trade.
The situation changed only a few years later due to the emerging political crisis that divided Americans not only from Britons but from one another. Dickert was a loyal “Subject of the Kingdom of Great Britain” only for a short time. A decade after his naturalization, he complied with Pennsylvania Assembly’s Test Act (June 1777), which required all male citizens to declare their allegiance to the revolutionary government and to forswear Britain’s monarch. By so doing Dickert risked his standing in his church: Moravian church leaders “urged… Brethren everywhere not to mix in any party quarrels” and congregants in closed communities such as Bethlehem and Lititz were denied communion if they disobeyed. Dickert had no compunction about affirming loyalty to Pennsylvania, which he did as soon as possible, or about actively promoting the revolutionary cause. Indeed, he had signaled his sympathies years earlier when he joined other Lancastrians to contribute funds to relieve the “distresses of the poor Inhabitants of the Town of Boston” in 1774 and signed the “Association of the Freemen and Inhabitants of Lancaster County” in May 1775, which authorized the formation of militia companies to “defend and protect… religious and civil rights” against “all arbitrary and d[e]spotic invasions.”
The emerging revolutionary crisis put extraordinary pressure on Lancaster County’s gunsmiths, including Dickert. The Lancaster County Committee of Observation asked the local gunsmiths, most of whom were rifle-makers, to produce a different product, muskets, which were the typical weapon of eighteenth-century soldiers (the Continental Congress did recruit several companies of riflemen in 1775 and riflemen fought throughout the conflict). Rifles were far more accurate than muskets, but they were slower to load and generally did not carry a bayonet, which limited their role in combat. But Lancaster County gunsmiths refused to abandon rifle-making, which was more lucrative than making muskets. “The Demand for Rifles [is] great,” the gunsmiths of York County, across the Susquehanna, noted, “and the Price of the Muskets but Small.” The Committee countered the Lancaster County gunsmiths’ refusal by threatening to deem them “Enemies to this Country,” which quickly ensured that most gunsmiths — including Dickert — complied. The Committee of Observation’s minutes note that
Mr. Jacob Dickert of Lancaster appears in Committee & agrees and promises that on Monday the 20th Day of November  he will lay by all other kind of Work and begin to make Muskets & Bayonets for this County (part of the 600 required by the Honorable House of Assembly to be furnished by this County) And that he will continue with his Workmen at that Work from that time untill the 1st day of March next & make & furnish as great a quantity of Muskets & Bayonets as he possibly can in that time at the Philadelphia price agreeable to the Pattern.
Sometime in early 1776, Jasper Yeates, then the secretary of the Lancaster Committee, recorded a “List of Muskets furnished by the different Gunsmiths.” Sixteen gunsmiths seem to have proved 277 barrels; these gunsmiths, in turn, furnished about 224 muskets. Dickert provided 34 muskets in two months. No other gunsmith equaled this total, though others (including two Moravian brethren, Peter Gonter and John Graeff) came close.
The severity with which Lancaster’s Committee of Observation dealt with the local gunsmiths reveals that whatever production system existed was inadequate to deal with the sudden need for arms. A large number of gunsmiths worked in Lancaster County: continental, state, and local records include the names of dozens and the names of many others are surely lost. But these documents reveal, too, the lack of coordination between these many producers. Most worked in shops in their homes, perhaps buying parts from local hardware stores. These gunsmiths had no hierarchical organization (beyond the apprentice system), no system of specialization, no leadership. Only hard work by a resourceful and skilled procurement officer managed to orchestrate this non-system to ensure that soldiers were supplied adequately. In 1777 and 1778, desperate to solve a failed supply system, both continental and state authorities gave William Henry enormous procurement responsibilities. Henry expended vast sums of money to fund the production of arms (as well as of shoes, hats, flour, etc.) and to purchase available muskets and rifles.
Jacob Dickert seems to have realized early on the opportunity that the war offered. In March 1776, he partnered with gunsmith John Henry to build a barrel mill on rented land in Manheim Township north of Lancaster City. Barrels were the component whose scarcity could stall or arrest arms production. Boring mills existed in York County and Northumberland County, but not, it seems, in Lancaster County. Twenty years earlier, William Henry had traveled across the Susquehanna to rent a “Boreing Mill” for thirty-five days. In December 1775 the Lancaster Committee of Observation, having compelled county gunsmiths to make muskets, recruited Joel Ferree to “immediately proceed to work and forge, bore and grind a number of good musket barrels completed agreeable to the pattern sent from Philadelphia.” A purchase of gun barrels from the Moravian gunshop at Christian’s Spring in Northampton County, which likely dates from before Dickert and Henry’s mill was operating, reveals the networks that developed to satisfy Pennsylvania’s wartime gun production needs.
Dickert and Henry hoped with their mill to capitalize on the urgent demand for components for new arms and to repair damaged ones. When John Henry died in 1777, Lancaster’s Orphan’s Court appointed several gunsmiths to assess the value of “the boreing and Grinding Mill… situate in Manheim Township with the Tools Implements [utensils] and appurtenancies thereunto belonging” and in October 1779 Dickert paid Henry’s widow £250 to obtain full ownership of the mill. As important, Dickert and others learned the importance of producing components of arms (such as barrels) to a “pattern” so these components could be more easily used in new arms or as replacement parts in damaged ones. Pennsylvania’s Provincial Assembly fostered this practice — modeled on Britain’s “ordnance system of manufacture” established before 1750 — when in July 1775 it commissioned and then circulated to the various counties pattern muskets (the Philadelphia “pattern” provided to Ferree) to which the arms produced by gunsmiths had to conform. Dickert’s success as a gunsmith during the Revolution and for the subsequent thirty years depended in large part on his ability to adjust to and prosper within this new system of production.
Dickert’s level of production during the Revolution distinguished him from his Lancaster peers. The accounts of funds that William Henry dispersed for “repairing of arms” for continental forces and for the State of Pennsylvania’s forces reveal extremely large payments to Dickert. Between September 1777 and September 1778, Henry disbursed £1,817 to Dickert on behalf of Pennsylvania for 36 rifles and 90 muskets. Dickert did even more work for Continental forces. Between April 1778 and August 1779, Henry paid Dickert £2,143. The only individual who received more funds in this period — Samuel Sarjant, who received £5,656 — was running a factory at Carlisle in Cumberland County that employed nine men. A later continental account records that from October 1779 to March 1782 Dickert earned £2,492. These are, even taking wartime inflation into account, significant sums. They exceed by far those paid to any other Lancaster County gunsmiths.
No information survives that describes Dickert’s role in these activities. But the scope of his production suggests that he was as much a supervisor as a producer. Surely to supply or repair that many guns Dickert must have been supervising — as Sarjant did — a large shop, perhaps even what we would call a factory. Henry’s payments, which went directly to Dickert, obscure the names of the men who worked under Dickert and whom he paid. At least one German prisoner of war at Lancaster, who had been a locksmith, was assigned to Dickert in October 1777. The eight men that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council excused from military service in December 1777 because Henry insisted that they “can be usefully employed in making Arms for the use of the State” may have worked for Dickert. Little is known about a “continental factory of fire arms at Lancaster” other than that it existed by May 1776 and had a “manager.” Historians have mistakenly assumed that William Henry managed this factory: was it, instead, Jacob Dickert? Whether or not Dickert managed this “continental factory” or another large shop, he seized the opportunity presented by the Revolutionary crisis to become a major gun manufacturer (and repairer).
The leadership role that Dickert played in the 1790s when the need for arms again became urgent suggests that he had been perceived as an economic leader during the earlier Revolutionary crisis. Dickert’s rifles circulated widely during the war years. A long-standing tradition holds that Dickert’s rifles were used at the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina in October 1780. A merchant in Lexington, Kentucky, — a frontier town with 2,000 inhabitants in 1790, some 600 miles from Lancaster — advertised in 1788 that he had “four dickert rifle guns” for sale. The offhand use of “dickert” as a descriptor suggests that the merchant expected customers to recognize the name. Dickert’s interest in improvements to the transportation system — he subscribed to the Lancaster-Philadelphia turnpike in 1792 and to the Lancaster-Elizabethtown-Middletown turnpike in 1803 — probably stemmed from an awareness that good business relied on good roads.
The Revolution had transformed the scale of arms production in Lancaster, as William Henry mobilized the county’s gunsmiths to ensure that American troops were supplied. But with the war’s end, this system disintegrated. Dozens of “hands” who manned the Lancaster gunshops had to find other work, as large producers such as Dickert confronted a diminished demand for arms. Only forty-five years old in 1785, Dickert must have envisioned that his future work as a gunsmith would involve, much as it had before the war, a vigorous repair business coupled with small-scale production for individual customers and the Indian trade. During the war years, Dickert had owned an enslaved man named Will. No information survives to reveal when Dickert purchased Will or what labor he performed. But Will no longer appears as Dickert’s property on Lancaster tax lists after 1787, perhaps because, due to lack of work in the post-war years, Dickert sold his human chattel. Dickert seems, too, to have ceased to operate the boring and grinding mill that he and John Henry had built during the war.
The decline in demand for new arms that occurred after the Revolutionary War eventually reversed by the early 1790s. The vast body of Dickert’s production between 1790 and 1810, it turned out, involved government military contracts. Dickert partnered with several other Lancaster gunsmiths to manage these contracts, and other Lancaster gunsmiths joined forces as well. The Lancaster gunsmiths established an integrated industry that could fulfill the new Federal government’s extraordinarily large orders for arms.
This new urgency for arms came in the wake of General Arthur St. Clair’s defeat by the Miami Indians in the Northwest Territory in November 1791. By January 1792, Secretary of War Henry Knox authorized General Edward Hand to sign “written agreement[s]” with rifle manufacturers to supply “rifle guns at twelve dollars” each. Knox hoped that “the number of one thousand could be made, at Lancaster,” in part because this would save the time it would take to deliver arms from more distant armories in Virginia or Massachusetts. Knox hoped regiments could leave Lancaster for Fort Pitt as early as May. Hand quickly began negotiating with Lancaster’s gunsmiths, and he reported to Knox on January 13, 1792, that “the Barrel-makers have been set to work and the Gun-smiths, that they might not be idle untill a supply of Barrels can be obtained, are busie in preparing Mounting[s], Locks, Ramrods & next week they intend to finish some Rifles.” Barrels remained a problem, however. In February, Hand wrote that “the Gun-Smiths are just beginning to work” because “the severity of the weather prevented any considerable supply of barrels sooner,” and this “disappointment in obtaining Barrells” meant that only in late April would “Workmen in Lancaster have… full employment.” (This issue persisted: “Rifle Barrels are so scarce at present,” Henry DeHuff told Tench Coxe fifteen years later, “that we scarcely get that many to keep my hands employed.”) By May 16, however, Hand assured Knox that he could deliver 1,130 rifles, or more, by July 1. Dickert was busy. He partnered with Gonter and Graeff, and the three gunsmiths delivered 817 rifles between June and November 1792. Dickert, Gonter, Graeff, and Jacob Leather (who supplied only eight rifles) were the only Lancaster rifle-makers with whom Hand dealt: gunsmiths in Berks, York, and Philadelphia counties supplied an additional 659 rifles.
Knox must have been pleased by the system that Hand and the Lancaster gunsmiths had established. On August 9, 1793, he asked Hand to “make the inquiry whether the public could have One thousand good Rifles made at Lancaster and its vicinity, at what price, and in how short a time.” Perhaps, he added, if he could obtain the rifles “upon proper Conditions” (at a low price), “the Contract… might be extended to the number of One thousand five hundred.” This time, the work was dispersed among more Lancaster gunsmiths — some of whom supplied a dozen rifles or fewer. It is likely that some of these gunsmiths had worked for Dickert, Gonter, and Graeff on the 1792 contract, but their labor was obscured due to the record-keeping for such large projects. In 1794, Dickert supplied 314 rifles, while Gonter supplied 300 and Graeff 287. In all, Lancaster gunsmiths supplied about three quarters of the rifles procured in 1794. Hand’s records allow us to see the speed with which Dickert’s shop could produce rifles. On March 24, 1794, for instance, Dickert sent twenty-three rifles to Hand. Two weeks later, on April 8, he sent thirty more and, in less than ten days, fourteen more. In two months, then, Dickert’s shop produced sixty-seven rifles.
In 1795 Jacob Dickert and his son-in-law, James Gill (1763-1796), opened a store at Dickert’s “well known dwelling” on Queen Street, as an early advertisement noted. The store carried a “general assortment of fresh MERCHANDISE,” perhaps even new books. This partnership did not signal that Dickert had left the gunsmith trade. The advertisement assured customers that Dickert, with “forty years experience” in the “GUN-SMITH line,” still “carries on the Gun-smith business as usual.” Gill, who had married Dickert’s daughter, Anna Maria, at Bethlehem in 1787, had run the Moravian store in Emmaus, a settlement south of Bethlehem, before the couple moved to Lancaster in the summer of 1794. Gill died in 1796, and Maria Gill operated the store until, in late 1800, Dickert dissolved the enterprise. James and Maria Dickert Gill had three children: Jacob Dickert Gill (1788-1850), Benjamin Gill (1790-1860), and Maria Gill (1794-1818). Dickert sent his granddaughter to Bethlehem for schooling. Both boys, one of whom attended Nazareth Hall, would become gunsmiths (see below). In 1799 Maria Dickert Gill remarried Matthew Lewellen (1775-1802) and the couple gave Dickert a fourth grandchild, Samuel Dickert Lewellen.
Dickert did not participate in the massive 1798 federal procurement of 40,000 muskets: no Lancaster gunsmith did. In 1801 he did contract to supply 1,000 muskets to the State of Pennsylvania in partnership with his new son-in-law. Dickert may have hoped for a long-term partnership with Lewellen, but the young man died in 1802. An advertisement over a year earlier in the Lancaster Journal (August 21, 1799), in which Dickert tried to obtain some 2,000 musket locks and barrels, may have been related to this 1801 contract or may have related to the earlier federal procurement: “WANTED, 2000 MUSQUET LOCKS and BARRELS. The Subscriber will contract with any person or persons, for any quantity of LOCKS and BARRELS. No Locks nor Barrels will be accepted unless a pattern is first had from the Subscriber.” This advertisement hints at Dickert’s production practices at this time. Dickert sought subcontractors who could supply parts for muskets that he would produce and that would carry his name. His demand that any locks or barrels would need to conform to a “pattern” reveals how thoroughly Dickert had embraced the system established in Pennsylvania and elsewhere during the Revolution, and it reveals his attempt to exercise quality control over a system in which others provided important components of each gun. All told, Lancaster County gunsmiths contracted to supply the State of Pennsylvania with 5,000 muskets.
The Lancaster gunsmiths had come to think of themselves as an industry, as a combination or organized group of producers. This is clear in a memorial that the “Gun-Manufacturers, in the borough of Lancaster” submitted to the Congress in 1803, begging that the government preserve a tariff on imported arms and by so doing protect the “manufacture of arms” in the United States. The gunsmiths depict their industry as being in an “infant state” — the result of a deliberate and “successful experiment” in government “patronage.” Based on the promise of such patronage, the gunsmiths noted, they “have at very great expense established manufactures of arms” that “completed twenty thousand stand” of arms for Pennsylvania. “Allured by this encouragement,” they added, “they have encreased their establishments” and “taken in and instructed apprentices.” With “some difficulty” they have “progressed in the establishment of this manufacture”: “Mills for the making of gun-barrels have been erected — gun locks and every other article in a gun have been made in the best manner, and of the most substantial kind. The workmen, the execution, the machinery, and the demand have all progressed apace with each other.” If the government made it easier to import arms, the gunsmiths worried, it would “crush this manufacture in its infant establishment.” The gunsmiths conclude by asking that “the impost duty on arms… not be taken off.” The memorial was signed by nine gunsmiths, Jacob Dickert’s name appearing at their head. Most of these men had been involved in the 1798-1801 musket contracts with the State of Pennsylvania.
This remarkable document reveals that government “patronage” or “encouragement” generated a new self-conception on the part of the Lancaster gunsmiths as a specialized, integrated, and organized industry. No such integration had been present during the Revolutionary War. Then, William Henry had struggled to orchestrate the work of a large number of dispersed “hands,” some working in group settings, others in their shops at home. But even at this time, under the urgent pressure of demand, some larger gun factories — Sarjant’s in Carlisle, another in Lancaster perhaps supervised by Dickert — developed. It seems likely that it was this experience that led to the “experiments” to establish an integrated system in the 1790s to which Dickert and his peers refer in their 1803 Memorial of Sundry Gun Manufacturers.
The Lancaster gunsmiths’ language — the plea that government should act to protect and encourage American industries — reinforced language that had been used for twenty years by Tench Coxe, who, as Purveyor of Public Supplies from 1803 to 1812, implemented procurement policies that he had long advocated. He had supported Pennsylvania’s 1785 tariff “act to encourage and protect the manufactures of this state,” organized Pennsylvania’s Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts in 1787, and served in 1792 as the Treasury Department official responsible for purchases and contracts for the Department of War. Throughout his life, as Jacob Cooke has shown, Coxe “dream[ed]” of “burgeoning industrialization sponsored by a paternalistic state.” As Purveyor of Public Supplies under President Thomas Jefferson, Coxe finally had the position from which he could foster this dream.
Coxe’s correspondence and negotiations with Lancaster’s gunsmiths reveal his effort to involve them in this project. “I wish to encourage our manufacturers,” Coxe wrote Dickert and his two partners, Peter Gonter and Henry DeHuff, on December 16, 1803. To this end, Coxe sent “another order to help to keep you and your journeymen and apprentices employed.” Dickert and DeHuff promised to supply 50 rifles, 20 with “silver star & thumb pieces (at $11.00 each) and 30 of the “Common kind” (at $10.50 each) to Coxe by January 9, 1804.
Dickert’s letters to Coxe reveal much about his operation at this time. “We carry on the business upon a larger scale than any” other Lancaster gunsmith, he and DeHuff wrote, “by keeping more hands.” He noted, too, that as a practice “we always have a parcel” of completed rifles “on hand whether bespoken or not, for if we were to wait until an order was to come and then only fall to work” it would be “out of our power to render a supply when dispatch was required.” It seems that Dickert and DeHuff’s prominence generated suspicion among their gunsmith colleagues. They anticipated a letter of complaint from “several of the Rifle makers of this place.” These other producers believed, wrote Dickert, that “whenever we received a letter for Rifles, we kept it back until a day or so before we intended to send them — and in the meantime made Rifles where they had no opportunity of making any.” This concern reveals the standard practice: the Lancaster gunsmiths expected that a leading gunsmith such as Dickert would gather product from the fraternity generally to fulfill a government order. Dickert assured Coxe that he had followed this practice: “whenever there was an Order sent for Rifles, we went the very next day after receipt thereof, to collect as many as we could to make the compliment wanted.” Indeed, Dickert and DeHuff reminded Coxe that, if he would only “Remit the Money to us for the Rifles sent You,” they could in turn “pay… the Several Rifle makers” who “over Run us Daily, for the Money” due them for the items they supplied. These letters reveal, too, the expectation that leading gunsmiths would not use their prominence to take advantage of their colleagues. Dickert refuted the charge that “we received a half of a Dollar more than we gave them” by “show[ing other gunsmiths] the contract made.”
Coxe continued to obtain arms from Lancaster makers. In 1807 he asked DeHuff and Dickert whether the “different workmen at Lancaster” could supply “2000 good common plain rifles” (as well as 1,000 pistols and 1,000 swords). Coxe negotiated about prices, withholding patronage until a lower price was offered. “I wish to know at what price muskets with bayonets could be delivered,” Coxe wrote DeHuff. “If cheap enough, I might be able to induce the Government to buy considerably.” To Thomas Jefferson, at the same time, Coxe boasted that “the Cost of rifles, when I came into office, was $13. I have gradually reduced them to $9.50 and 10 for which they cannot be imported.” Coxe’s strict economy, however, caused problems for the Lancaster gunsmiths, including Dickert. In March 1808, DeHuff was able to write to assure Coxe that he had sent 57 rifles “made by the different Gunmakers of Lancaster.” But these gunmakers had trouble extracting payment from Coxe and in November they refused to address a subsequent order for more rifles until he would “send us the money due us on our former contract.” In early 1809 they wrote again to note that it was “now upwards 5 months since the last Rifles were delivered” and they had not been paid. “We Mechanics,” Dickert and others wrote, “can hardly lay out of our money so long.”
At seventy years old Dickert still lived on Queen Street in Lancaster, where he continued to work as a gunsmith. At Dickert’s death over a decade later, the Moravian minister noted that he had “followed… the trade of gunsmith… until 2 years before his” death “with industry and great skill.” It seems likely that, although he may have continued some work on individual rifle-making, in this final decade of work Dickert was largely a supervisor. We know from the official documents discussed above that Dickert had many “hands” and “apprentices” working under him — but his most promising successor, his son-in-law Matthew Lewellen, with whom he had partnered on his large 1801 state musket contract, died before that contract was complete. It was the next generation, Dickert’s grandsons, Jacob Dickert Gill and Benjamin Gill, who would preserve the family business.
By 1810, both grandsons were in their twenties and presumably well-trained by their grandfather — or in their grandfather’s manufactories — in the gunsmith trade. A considerable number of rifles with barrel signatures of “Dickert Gill” survive, which represent either a partnership between grandfather (Dickert) and grandson (Gill) or barrels signed by his grandson Jacob Dickert Gill. These “Dickert Gill” rifles were very popular among western traders. In August 1824, a trader at Kaskaskia on the Mississippi River purchased “2 Com[mon] Rifles Dickert Gill @ 11.00 [and] 1 best D[itt]o” for $12.00. When J. Joseph Henry began to produce rifles for the western trade, the American Fur Company sent him a “sample Rifle of J. Dickert Gill” and asked him to model his rifles on it. Dickert’s rifles had been used in the government’s Indian trade at least since his 1807 contract with Tench Coxe.
Rifles that carried the name Dickert, then, whether produced by Jacob Dickert or by his grandson, circulated on the frontier for at least fifty years, from the 1780s (when “dickert rifles” were advertised in Kentucky) to the 1830s (through the long reach of the American Fur Company). Dickert had been signing the barrels of the rifles that he (or his shop) produced since the Revolutionary War. Gunsmiths may have signed their barrels due to pride in their craft or so that officials responsible for large-scale procurements could identify those who supplied sub-standard products. By the early nineteenth century, some government contracts required makers to sign their work so that, when the guns were proved, makers could be held responsible for faulty ones. Coxe insisted in 1806, for instance, that "every maker's name is to be on his rifles.” Dickert’s signed barrels seem to have created him as something of a “brand.” Indeed by the 1850s the term “Deckard” rifle — it seems likely, though we cannot be certain, that this is a distortion of “Dickert” — became synonymous with a well-built and dependable longrifle. An early account of the Battle of King’s Mountain in J. G. M. Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee (1853) claimed that all the patriots were “well mounted, and nearly all carried a Deckhard rifle,” “so called,” a note elaborated, “from Deckhard, the maker, in Lancaster, Pa.” A writer in 1915, imagining Daniel Boone in 1760 — just a few years after Dickert’s apprenticeship had begun — pictured Boone “carrying a long Deckhard rifle, hunting knife, and tomahawk.”
By 1820 Jacob Dickert was an old man. His wife Hannah had died the previous year, on her husband’s birthday. Their daughter, Anna Maria, had died over a decade earlier. After Hannah’s death, the Moravian pastor wrote, Dickert’s “longing for the eternal homeland grew more and more although he continued to enjoy good health and only occasionally complained of weakness in his feet.” Dickert remained devout, praying that he would see the consecration of a new Moravian Church in Lancaster at the same time that, watching workmen demolish the old one, he “shed melancholy tears… because of the many blessings that he had received within its walls.” Having been a laborer all his life, Dickert asked only that his “Savior preserve him from a lengthy bed-ridden illness.” The Moravian pastor reported that this “untiring prayer was granted him” on the morning on February 27, 1822. Dickert “got up by himself but sank down and was laid back in bed and, almost unnoticed, without convulsion of the body, his spirit fled softly to eternal rest.” He had been the oldest communicant member of Lancaster’s Moravian Church and “one of her most trusted… supports.”
The inventory taken shortly after Dickert’s death valued his possessions, along with the debts owed to him, at more than $3,300.00 (approximately $65,000 in 2011$). Some of the items reveal his trade: a rifling bench, a batch of gun barrels, some brass mountings, a gun lock, some molds, two anvils, a bellows. (15 rifles were valued at $9.00 each.) But the majority of items in the inventory are of a different sort: a “clock & case” (worth $50.00), a “gilt Lookingglass,” a silver sugar bowl, soup ladle, and cream jug, and four silver watches. The vast majority of these items reveal a man whose trade had made him prosperous. Dickert’s real estate holdings, the most valuable of which were his dwelling on the east side of Queen Street, assessed at $2,500.00, and a house and barn on the east side of Prince Street, amounted to $5,471.00 (approximately $108,000 in 2011$). His debts subtracted, Jacob Dickert left some $7,698.00 to his heirs (approximately $152,000 in 2011$).
Dickert’s career as a gunsmith extended from the French and Indian War to the War of 1812. By its end, the German immigrant entrepreneur was the most prominent gunsmith in one of early America’s leading manufacturing centers for arms. It is difficult to know the extent to which Dickert’s German heritage shaped his entrepreneurial opportunities or activities. No evidence suggests that government officials such as William Henry or Tench Coxe, whose wartime procurement activities enabled the economic success of entrepreneurs such as Dickert, sought out German-speaking gunsmiths in particular, though, given the ethnic composition of Lancaster’s gunsmith community, a large percentage of Lancaster gunsmiths who received government contracts were ethnic Germans. The most important thing to note is that Dickert chose a career in a trade, rifle-making, dominated by German immigrants. This trade, and his location in the borough of Lancaster with its majority German-speaking population, made the preservation of his German language and culture not only a personal or familial choice but also a prudent economic decision.
Jacob Dickert helped reshape a landscape in which small-scale craftsmen working at home produced unique and individualized rifles into a gun industry that depended on specialization, coordination, and integration. After 1800, leaders such as Dickert were managing large shops or factories that subcontracted many aspects of production — barrels, locks, furniture — to local tradesmen. The Lancaster gunsmiths insisted that producing each aspect of a gun locally would benefit not only the community but the nation as a whole, securing its independence from foreign nations and foreign imports. Rifles with “Dickert” on the barrels circulated so widely for so long (his grandsons, too, used “Dickert” on their barrels) that the family name followed many Americans as they moved west. Through William Gilmore Simms’s poetry, which circulated widely via collections such as Patriotic and Heroic Eloquence: A Book for the Patriot, Statesman, and Student (1861), The Franklin Fifth Reader (1871), Patriotic Reader (1888), and Columbian Selections: American Patriotism for Home and School (1892), children learned that patriots armed with “Deckard’s long rifles surrounded” the British in battles of the Revolution. The German immigrant had given his name to the American longrifle itself.
 March 1, 1822, Lancaster Congregational Diary, trans. Roy Ledbetter, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pa. (hereafter cited as MAB). Moravian congregants typically wrote or dictated a spiritual memoir (Lebenslauf), which was read aloud at their burial; if they left no first-person account, a pastor wrote one. Samuel Reinke, Lancaster’s pastor, wrote the long March 1 entry in the congregational diary that was Dickert’s memoir (hereafter cited as Jacob Dickert’s Memoir).
 T. C. W. Blanning, Reform and Revolution in Mainz, 1743-1803 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 42, 76, 87-88. For John Dickert’s emigration, see Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, 3 vols. (Norristown: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934), 1: 354-355.
 1791 Membership Catalog, Lancaster Congregation, MAB.
 To calculate 2012 figures, I have relied on Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, "Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1270 to Present," and Samuel H. Williamson, "Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to Present," MeasuringWorth (www.measuringworth.com), April 2013.
 John Dickert Probate File, Register of Wills, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
 John Dickert Probate File. Percy Edward Deckard, Genealogy of the Deckard Family (Richfield, PA: n.p., 1932), identifies a John Dickert as the “brother of Jacob Dickert… who was a gunsmith in Lancaster, Pa.” (751), but these probate materials state that Dickert was the “only Son” of John Dickert.
 Jacob Dickert Memoir. See Joe Kindig, Jr., Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age (York, PA: George Shumway, 1960), 81, and Henry J. Kauffman, “Jacob Dickert, Rifle Maker,” Pennsylvania Folklife 40, no. 2 (1990-91): 76.
 March 16, 1764, Lancaster Congregational Diary, MAB; Thomas Barton to Daniel Burton, November 16, 1764, quoted in James P. Myers Jr., The Ordeal of Thomas Barton: Anglican Missionary in the Pennsylvania Backcountry, 1755–1780 (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2010), 212; Jerome H. Wood, Jr., Conestoga Crossroads: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1730-1790 (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1979), 159; Aaron Spencer Fogleman, Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), 127.
 March 7, 1764, Lancaster Congregational Diary, MAB; Thomas Barton, Report to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, November 16, 1764, in The Ordeal of Thomas Barton, 215. For Rieger, see Charles H. Glatfelter, Pastors and People, 2 vols. (Breinigsville, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1980-81), 1: 108-109.
 February 27, 1765, Memorabilia 1765, Lancaster Congregational Diary, MAB; “Burial Book of the Moravian Church, Lancaster, 1744-1821,” trans. George M. Steinman, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 10 (1928): 145. Dickert was admitted as a full church member on April 2, 1769 and to communion on January 26, 1771.
 Fogleman, Hopeful Journeys, 127.
 Jacob Dickert Naturalization Certificate, Lancaster Heritage Center Collection, Lancaster County Historical Society (cited hereafter as LCHS); The Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, Carefully Compared with the Originals (Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers, 1775), 197-198; September 21 and September 26, 1765, Lancaster Congregational Diary, MAB.
 Augustus Schultze, A Brief History of the Widows’ Society of Bethlehem (Bethlehem, PA: Times Publishing Company, 1913); Ledger A, Widows’ Association, 188, MAB.
 J. Wayne Heckert and Donald Vaughn, The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle: A Lancaster Legend (Ephrata, PA: Science Press, 1993), 1. For Berks County gunsmiths, see Patrick Hornberger, Berks County Longrifles and Gunmakers, 1750-1900 (Reading, PA: Historical Society of Berks County, 2009), 6-10 and Henry J. Kauffman, The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle (New York: Bonanza Books, 1960), 43.
 M. L. Brown, Firearms in Colonial America: The Impact on History and Technology, 1492–1792 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1980), 264. For more on the origins of the longrifle, see Kindig, Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle, 25-30; Kauffman, Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle, 8-16; Brown, Firearms in Colonial America, 260-67; Heckert and Vaughn, The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle, 3-18.
 For Breidenhart, see Otto Langguth, “Pennsylvania German Pioneers from the County of Wertheim,” Pennsylvania German Folklore Society 12 (1947): 202.
 Pittsburgh Store Invoice Book, 1760-61, 53, Gratz Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania (cited hereafter as HSP) (see also Walter Scott Dunn, Frontier Profit and Loss: The British Army and the Fur Traders, 1760-1764 [Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998], 97).
 Peters quoted in Francis Jennings, Empire of Fortune: Crowns, Colonies, and Tribes in the Seven Years War in America (New York: Norton, 1988), 334; Edward Shippen to William Shippen, November 29, 1755, in Shippen Family Papers, 1671–1936, Reel 3, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; “At a Council held at Philadelphia, Wednesday the 5th November, 1755, A.M.,” in [Samuel Hazard, ed.], Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, from the Organization to the Termination of the Proprietary Government (Harrisburg, PA: , 1851), 6: 673.
 We know little about the organization of gunmaking in Lancaster at the middle of the eighteenth century. But see Carlton O. Wittlinger, “The Small Arms Industry of Lancaster County, 1710-1840,” Pennsylvania History 24, no. 2 (1957): 121-36 and Wittlinger, “Rifles and Other Firearms,” in Early Manufacturing in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1710-1840, part III, in Papers Read before the Lancaster County Historical Society 61, no. 1 (1957): 99-108; James Biser Whisker, Gunsmiths of Lancaster County (Bedford: Old Bedford Village Press, 1995); Heckert and Vaughn, The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle.
 Joseph Shippen to Edward Shippen, June 2, 1756, in “Military Letters of Captain Joseph Shippen of the Provincial Service, 1756–1758,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 36 (1912): 386; William Clapham to Robert Hunter Morris, June 11, 1756, Pennsylvania Archives (Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA: Joseph Severns [and others], 1852–1935), 1st ser., 2:664 (cited hereafter as PA, followed by series and volume number). For Henry, see Scott Paul Gordon, “The Ambitions of William Henry,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 136, no. 3 (2012): 253-284.
 Deed Book 2, 248-53, Office of Recorder of Deeds, Lancaster, PA. The smith’s shop is itemized in the 1798 direct tax list for Lancaster Borough (Microfilms, LCHS). James B. Whisker, Arms Makers of Colonial America (Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 1992), states that in 1759, after the death of Lancaster shoemaker Peter Pritz, “his estate was appraised by gunsmith Jacob Dickert of Lancaster and his executor was gunsmith Christopher Breidenhart” (49). But Dickert did not inventory Pritz’s goods (Peter Britch [Pritz] Inventory, December 11, 1758, LCHS). Twenty years later, Lancaster’s Orphan’s Court asked Dickert and Adam Reigart to appraise Pritz’s home on Queen’s St. (March 4, 1779, March 26, 1779, Lancaster County Orphan’s Court Records, 265, 274, Microfilm, LCHS).
 See Kauffman, Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle, 152-53; 1798 Direct Tax List.
 Brown, Firearms in Colonial America, 244. Robert Lagemann and Albert Manucy contend that even “in the primitive isolation of the mountains… almost all the materials for firearms” were available, so a frontier gunsmith could “mak[e] a rifle from scratch” (The Long Rifle [N.p.: Eastern Acorn Press, 1980], 10-12).
 Kauffman, Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle, 107.
 De Witt Bailey and Douglas A. Nie, English Gunmakers: The Birmingham and Provincial Gun Trade in the 18th and 19th Century (New York: Arco Publishing, 1978), 13.
 Caspar Wistar to Georg Friederich Hölzer, October 1, 1737, in Rosalind Beiler, Immigrant and Entrepreneur: The Atlantic World of Caspar Wistar, 1650-1750 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), 145-146.
 Jim Mullins, Of Sorts for Provincials: American Weapons of the French and Indian War (Elk River, MN: Track of the Wolf, 2008), 19, 23.
 For Roesser, see Henry Kauffman, The American Gunsmith (Morgantown, PA, 1998), 11; Lancaster Congregational Membership Catalogs, MAB; Lancaster County Tax Lists, LCHS; Joseph Shippen to Edward Shippen, June 2, 1756, in “Military Letters,” 356.
 Lancaster Borough Tax List [1765?], Lancaster County Papers, 1724-1816, HSP. Although the list carries no date, internal evidence dates it to within a year of 1765. Because this tax list is not included among the many tax lists available on microfilm at Lancaster County Historical Society, researchers have overlooked it.
 These names constitute a partial list. Both Whisker, Gunsmiths of Lancaster County, and the lists on which Whisker relies (Samuel E. Dyke, “Gunsmiths of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1727-1863,” Kentucky Rifle Association Bulletin 24 ; reprinted in Dyke, The Pennsylvania Kentucky Rifle [Lancaster: Lancaster County Historical Society, 1974], 53-61), are notoriously unreliable. For a recent addition to the lists, see R. Martin Keen, “Christian Hess, Mennonite Gunsmith,” Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage 35, no. 2 (2012): 18-26.
 Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution (Trappe, Md.: Kentucky Rifle Association, 2010), 125.
 Stephen H. Cutcliffe and Karen Z. Huetter, “Perfection in the Mechanical Arts: The Development of Moravian Industrial Technology in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741-1814,” in Jean R. Soderlund and Catherine S. Parzynski, Backcountry Crucibles: The Lehigh Valley from Settlement to Steel (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2008), 163; Scott Paul Gordon, “‘A Considerable Building on the Bushkill Creek’: William Henry of Nazareth at Jacobsburg,” Jacobsburg Record 37, 3 (2010): 5-8. Katherine Carté Engel’s Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009) overemphasizes the degree to which, after the 1762 dissolution of the communal economy in Bethlehem, “economic behavior” became “primarily a question of individual choice and character” (216).
 Lititz Aufsehers Collegium Minutes, MAB. Breidenhart, listed on two deed transfers in 1757 and 1763 as a gunsmith, sold the property with the smith’s shop and is listed on the 1765 and 1773 Lancaster Borough tax list as an innkeeper. During the Revolutionary War he resumed some work as a gunsmith, “repairing guns for the Militia” (November 27, 1776, in [Samuel Hazard, ed.], Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, from the Organization to the Termination of the Proprietary Government [Harrisburg, PA: Theophilus Penn,1838-53], 11: 18 [cited hereafter as Colonial Records]).
 Dickert “subscribed the oath or affirmation of Allegiance” on July 15, 1777 (PA, 2nd ser., 13: 428). When Dickert appraised John Henry’s estate in 1778, he affirmed (rather than swore) the accuracy of the account: “sworn…by John Miller one of the appraisers,” the clerk noted, “and affirmed by Jacob Dickert the other appraiser” (John Henry Inventory, March 19, 1778, LCHS).
 For these issues, see Scott Paul Gordon, “Entangled by the World: William Henry of Lancaster and ‘Mixed’ Living in Moravian Town and County Congregations,” Journal of Moravian History 8 (2010): 7-52; and Gordon, “Patriots and Neighbors: Pennsylvania’s Moravians During the Revolution,” Journal of Moravian History 12, no. 2 (2012): 111-42.
 [Boston Relief Petition], Lancaster County Papers, 1724-1816, 2: 5-7, HSP; At a Meeting of the Committee of Observation for Lancaster County, May 1, 1775 [broadside, n.p], signed copy in Pennsylvania Series, Provincial Conference, Case 1, Box 16, Gratz Collection, HSP.
 Commissioners of York County to Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, February 3, 1776, PA, 1st ser., 4: 708. For rifles in the Revolution, see Joe D. Huddleston, Colonial Riflemen in the American Revolution (York, PA: George Shumway, 1978).
 Lancaster Committee of Observation Minutes, November 13, 1775, Peter Force Collection, ser. 8D, item 86, Library of Congress.
 [List of Muskets Furnished], Lancaster County Papers, 1724-1816, HSP. Lancaster’s gunsmiths may have returned to rifle production soon after the Committee’s order to work on muskets expired. In July 1776, Dickert sold five or six rifles worth £31.7.6 to Captain Paul Zantzinger’s company, which was part of the Flying Camp that hurried from Lancaster to New Jersey in summer 1776. Several times during 1776 and 1777, the Committee of Observation paid Dickert for “repairing public arms” (Colonial Records, 11: 89; PA 3rd ser., 6: 376).
 See Gordon, “Ambitions of William Henry,” 278-281.
 Deed Book S, 514–16, Office of Recorder of Deeds, Lancaster, PA.
 For barrel mills, see Kauffman, Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle, 155-60. For Henry’s use of Henry Willis’s mill in 1756, see Norris of Fairhill Manuscripts, Box 33, Loan Office Accounts, 1743–1758, HSP. This might be the boring mill that, in 1800, the folk artist Lewis Miller depicted burning (Donald A. Shelley, ed., Lewis Miller: Sketches and Chronicles [York, PA: Historical Society of York County, 1966], 48). Willis is not mentioned in Walter Klinefelter, “The Gunsmiths of York County, Pennsylvania,” Publications of the Pennsylvania German Society 14 (1980): 133-181.
 December 11, 1775, Lancaster Committee of Observation Minutes, Peter Force Collection; Robert Lienemann, “Moravian Gunmaking: Bethlehem to Christian’s Spring,” in Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution, 39. The debt is noted as “remaining still,” which suggests a remnant of a purchase that had been made some time before: the declining number of barrels charged to Dickert (eighteen in 1777, two in 1778) suggests as well that he was slowly paying off a debt. If, on the other hand, he was purchasing barrels at Christian’s Spring while running his own mill, it would testify that the need for barrels at this time was greater than any single mill could supply or that Dickert was obtaining rifle barrels from Christian’s Spring while his Lancaster County mill was producing musket barrels.
 Deed Book AA, 266-68, Office of Recorder of Deeds, Lancaster, PA; September 2, 1778, May 17, 1779, June 24, 1779, October 7, 1779, in Lancaster County Orphan’s Court Records, Microfilm, LCHS.
 George D. Moller, American Military Shoulder Arms, volume 1: Colonial and Revolutionary War Arms (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1993), 121, 212-213.
 “Wm Henry's acct with the State of Pennsylvania from Sept 1777 to Sept 1st 1778,” Miscellaneous Accounts, United States Accounts, 1775-1791, Records of the Office of Comptroller General, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg; “The United States to William Henry, for repairing of Arms” , Henry Family Papers, 1758–1909, Acc. No. 1209, Box 11, Folder 1, Hagley Museum and Library; “The United States to William Henry, Superintendant of Arms and M. Accoutrements, for Monies expended for Repairing of Arms…” , William Henry Papers, 1759–1826, 2:49, HSP.
 Dec. 5, 1777, in Colonial Records, 11: 380; May 23, 1776, in Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford (Washington, DC, 1904–37), 4:384 (see also Memorial of Gun Stockers in the State Factory, Oct. 30, 1777, in PA, 1st ser., 1: 733). “List of the Hessian Prisoners belonging to the Artillery Corps and a Return of Their Employers” [September-December 1777], Peter Force Collection, ser. 9, volume 21, Library of Congress. Leveringhausen is identified as a locksmith in a different document in Peter Force Collection, ser. 9, volume 20. A different prisoner from a different regiment is identified as Dickert’s employee in “A Composite List of Hessian, Waldeck, and British Prisoners Located in Lancaster, 1777 and 1778,” in Johannes Schwalm, the Hessian (Lyndhurst, OH: Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, 1976), 231-243. See also Jim Kinter, A Way of Life (Lancaster: Lancaster County Historical Society, 1974), 41-42. For the German prisoner-laborers in Lancaster, see Daniel Krebs, A Generous and Merciful Enemy: Life for German Prisoners of War during the American Revolution (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013), 149-155.
 For King’s Mountain, see note 72 below; Kentucky Gazette, no. 20 (January 12, 1788): 1 and no. 26 (February 23, 1788): 2.
 “An Act to enable the Governor of this Commonwealth to incorporate a Company for making an artificial Road from Lancaster, through Elizabeth-town, to Middletown,” Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Octoraro: Francis Bailey, 1804), 6: 132. Governor Simon appointed “Jacob Deckerd” to examine a turnpike road near Chambersburg in 1815 and 1817 (Executive Minutes of Governor Simon Snyder, October 25, 1815, December 11, 1817, in PA, ser. 9, 6: 4369, 5794), but this is a different man as he was described as “of” Franklin County in 1820 (PA, ser. 9, 6: 5375).
 And he did: in 1809, Samuel Winans purchased three rifles (one for $10.50, another for $11.50, and another for $12.00), while in 1810, Jasper Slaymaker paid Dickert $14.00 for a rifle (Receipt, Box 1, Folder 8, Samuel R. Slaymaker II, White Chimneys Collection, Series 2, 1759-1928, LCHS).
 Lancaster County Slave Register, 1780, LCHS. John Henry, Dickert’s partner in the boring mill, also owned an enslaved man (John Henry Inventory, March 19, 1778, LCHS).
 Before 1785 Dickert appears consistently in the Manheim Township tax lists, assessed for one “boreing mill”: in the 1785 list his name is struck through and he does not appear thereafter. Dickert and his wife transferred the rights to the mill back to Michael Rudisill (on whose land the mill sat) only on April 7, 1802: Deed Book L3, 407-11, Recorder of Deeds Office, Lancaster, PA.
 For this, see John F. Winkler, Wabash 1791: St. Clair’s Defeat (Osprey, 2011).
 The most reliable guide to this government contract (and later ones) is George D. Moller, American Military Shoulder Arms, volume 2: From the 1790s to the End of the Flintlock Period (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1993), 19-30. See also Edward R. Flanagan, “1792 and 1807 Contract Rifles,” American Society of Arms Collectors 97 (2008): 30-38 and Milton E. B. Von Damm, “Dickert, DeHuff & Co.: Lancaster Riflemakers and Related Background,” Kentucky Rifle Association Bulletin 39, no. 2 (2012): 1-9.
 Edward Hand to Henry Knox, January 13, 1792; Hand to Knox, February 23, 1792; Hand to Knox, April 30, 1792; Hand to Knox, May 16, 1792, in Edward Hand Papers, 2: 77, 80, 83, 85, HSP; Henry DeHuff to Tench Coxe, March 19, 1806, in James E. Hicks, Notes on United States Ordnance, 2 vols. (Mount Vernon, NY: James E. Hicks, ), 2: 92.
 George Moller, American Military Shoulder Arms, 2: 21. Dickert’s receipts for payment survive in the Edward Hand Papers, 2: 95, 98, HSP.
 Lancaster Journal, July 1, 1795. “Dickert and Gill” appears on the subscriber list (iii) in Oliver Goldsmith, An History of the Earth and Animated Nature, 4 vols. (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1795).
 PA, 2nd ser., 9: 114. In September 1787 Gill began to make “the necessary preparations for his store and dwelling”; Gill bought a house in January and signed the town regulations on February 19, 1788 (Emmaus Congregational Diary, in Preston A. Barba, They Came to Emmaus, 2nd ed. [Bethlehem, PA: n.p., 1960], 39-40, 44). Secondary literature often assumes that “Dickert and Gill” produced rifles, but Gill was not a gunsmith. Born on October 3, 1763 in Oldman’s Creek, New Jersey, he attended the boys’ school in Nazareth. Although he lived in New Jersey during the Revolution, he returned to Nazareth in June 1785 to work in the congregational store and was admitted to communion there in 1786. See Paul Minotty, ed., The Records of the Moravian Church at Oldman’s Creek (Woodbury, NJ: Gloucester County Historical Society, 1968), 9, 71, 103; November 20, 1772, July 26, 1787, Nazareth Congregational Diary, MAB; June 21, 1785, Nazareth Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB.
 Lancaster Intelligencer and Weekly Advertiser, vol. 2, no. 16 (November 12, 1800): 2. In May 1800, a Lititz woman who met Matthew Lewellen noted that “he married a Widdow in Lancaster…who keeps a large shop” (Mary Penry to Meredith Penry, May 23, 1800, Penralley Collection, Item 1390, National Library of Wales). Dickert continued to administer James Gill’s estate at least until 1803: see Bill from Matthew Gill to Jacob Dickert, 1803, Folder 8, Frank R. Diffenderffer Collection, 1738-1920, LCHS.
 There is confusion over Dickert’s grandsons’ names. Moravian records (congregational diaries, membership catalogs, birth, baptismal, and burial registers) consistently identify the elder as “Jacob Dickert Gill”; the younger grandson’s name nearly always appears as “Benjamin Gill” (without the middle name “Dickert”), except in the baptismal record of a son, James Dickert Gill (born January 9, 1820) that lists “Benjamin D. Gill” as the father. The baptismal record of his daughter, Maria Elisabeth Gill (born January 17, 1818), identifies him as “Benjamin Gill, Cabinet Maker.”
 William C. Reichel, A History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies at Bethlehem, Pa. (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1874), 357; Levin T. Reichel, A History of Nazareth Hall, 1755-1855 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1855), 54. Little is known of Samuel Lewellen, who left Lancaster for Philadelphia in 1825, shortly after the administrators of Dickert’s estate dispersed to him a $300.00 legacy from his father (Jacob Dickert, Administrative Account, 1824, LCHS).
 For this government contract, see Moller, 2: 138-139, and David A. Stewart and William M. Reid, “Pennsylvania Contract Muskets: 1797 Arms Procurement Act,” American Society of Arms Collectors Bulletin 91 (2005): 10-40. Dickert and Lewellen’s contract, issued on April 17, 1801, “for supplying the state with 1000 stand of arms” earned nearly $10,000: $1,100.00 in 1801 (Report of the Register-General of the State of the Finances of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1801 [Lancaster: William & Robert Dickson, 1802], 16), $3,023.00 in 1802 (Report of the Register-General on the State of the Finances of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster: William Hamilton, 1802] and Receipts and Expenditures in the Treasury of Pennsylvania [Lancaster: George Helmbold, Jr., 1802]), and $5,522.00 in 1803 (Report of the Register-General on the State of the Finances of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster: Brown & Bowman, 1803] and Receipts and Expenditures of the Treasury of Pennsylvania [Lancaster: George Helmbold, 1803]). Dickert only delivered 900 stands, however, and late in 1810 he promised to deliver the rest within three months or forfeit a bond for $2,500.00 (Governor Simon Snyder, Executive Minutes, September 7, 1810, PA, ser. 9, 4: 2890).
 Memorial of Sundry Gun Manufacturers of the Borough of Lancaster, in the State of Pennsylvania (Washington City: William Duane & Son, 1803).
 Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978), 71, 103, 200, 244. See also Stephen P. Halbrook and David B. Kopel, “Tench Coxe and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, 1787-1823,” William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 7, no. 2 (1999): 347-399.
 Jacob Dickert and Henry DeHuff to Tench Coxe, June 8, 1804, in Hicks, United States Ordnance, 2: 92; Jacob Dickert and Henry DeHuff to Tench Coxe, July 14, 1804, Ed and Helen Flanagan Collection.
 Tench Coxe to Thomas Jefferson, April 6, 1807, quoted in Cooke, Tench Coxe, 431n39.
 Jacob Dickert, George Miller, Christopher Gumpf, John Bender, and Peter Gonter to Tench Coxe, February 10, 1809, in Hicks, United States Ordnance, 2: 94.
 Jacob Dickert Memoir.
 Secondary sources associate these rifles (wrongly) with the partnership between Dickert and his son-in-law James Gill in the general store from 1795 to 1796 (see note 58).
 Louis A. Garavaglia and Charles G. Worman, Firearms of the American West, 1803-1865 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984), 34.
 Tench Coxe to Henry DeHuff, December 23, 1806, in Hicks, United States Ordnance, 2: 93.
 J. G. M. Ramsey, Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century (Charleston: John Russell, 1853). See also J. Watts dePeyster. "King's-Mountain: The Oriskany of the South," Historical Magazine, 2nd ser., 5, no. 3 (1869): 191 (which traces the “Deckhard Rifle” with which the patriots were armed to “the most noted” maker of rifles in Lancaster “a century since”) and Lyman C. Draper, King’s Mountain and Its Heroes (Cincinnati: Peter G. Thomson, 1881), 175 (“a century ago the Deckard or Dickert rifle was largely manufactured at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by a person of that name”).
 Wilbur R. Mattoon, “Daniel Boone’s ‘Bar’ Tree,” American Forestry: The Magazine of the American Forestry Association 21, no. 264 (December 1915): 1106.
 Jacob Dickert Memoir. For the building of Lancaster’s new church, see Mark Häberlein, The Practice of Pluralism: Congregational Life and Religious Diversity in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1730-1820 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009), 201-202.
 Jacob Dickert Inventory, March 22, 1822, and Administrative Account, February 14, 1824, LCHS.
 The most famous “Dickert” rifle, which resides at the Alamo, seems to have been “re-constructed in the 1920s by a local gunsmith using various parts”: Bill Ball, “The most famous rifle of Texas!: Recreating Colonel Crockett's rifle at the battle of the Alamo,” Guns Magazine 50, no. 1 (January 2004): 54. See also Walter F. Siegmund, “History of Dickert Rifle Used in Defense of the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas” , in Todd Hansen, ed., The Alamo Reader: A Study in History (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003), 633-634.
 William Gilmore Simms, “King’s Mountain: A Ballad,” in Areytos, Or, Songs and Ballads of the South (Charleston, SC: Russell and Jones, 1860), 324.
Cite this Entry
"Jacob Dickert." (2020) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved January 22, 2020, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=180
Gordon, Scott Paul. "Jacob Dickert." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 1, edited by Marianne S. Wokeck. German Historical Institute. Last modified March 25, 2014. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=180
"Jacob Dickert," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2020, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 22 Jan 2020 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=180>