John Tyler, Ebenezer Cowell and Sixteen Unknown Workmen.

"To describe the present state of the Province of Pennsylvania, would require a Volume.  It may be divided into 2 classes of men, viz. Those that plunder and those that are plundered.  No Justice has been administered, no crimes punished for 9 months.  All Power is in the hands of the associators, who are under no subordination to their officers.  Not only a desire of exercising power, in those possessed of it, sets them on, but they are supported & encouraged.  To oppress one's countrymen is a love of Liberty.  Private friendships are broken off, & the most insignificant now lord it with impunity & without discretion over the most respectable characters.  Not only the means of subsistence are cut off, but every article of consumption is raised six fold.  Coffee 7/6 pr lb, Salt 7 dollars - the coarsest linen 8/6 pr yard, some @ 25/.  A pair of shoes 30/.  Wheat & Rye 10/ pr bu..."  (Diary of James Allen, Esq., of Philadelphia, Counsellor-at-Law, January 25, 1777)

"The County of Northampton now contains a great body of Stores, which if lost may prove our Ruin."  (Robert Levers to Thomas Wharton, October 8, 1777)

     One of the earliest comprehensive histories of the old Northampton County area can be found in the form of a text entitled History of the Lehigh Valley which was authored by M.S. Henry.  This book was first published in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1860, and along with Daniel Rupp's History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, published in 1845, is largely the basis for the majority of the later "Histories..." ca. 1877 through 1914.  What is most interesting about this text (which was privately printed) is that the author, Matthew Henry, was the youngest son of William Henry II.  The Henrys were Moravian, spoke fluent German and were of course one of the most notable gunmaking families of Northampton County.  [Matthew's father William II had been sent to Lititz to apprentice under Andreas Albrecht, and thence on to Christian's Spring as a journeyman under John Christian Oerter in 1776.]  Matthew was not trained as a gunsmith but was initially put in charge of the iron furnace that his father had established on the Bushkill Creek, and later himself established the Catherine Furnace in Jacobsburg.  ("Henry" 335)  Being an avid 'amateur' historian, fluent in the local German dialects, and conducting research during a period when many of the region's Revolutionary Period and early Federal Period history was yet quite fresh in the memory of noted families and their descendants, Henry was in a unique position in comparison to the later writers.  Within his History of the Lehigh Valley he makes numerous source references to materials currently within the Moravian Archives (Bethlehem) that have yet to be translated, a number of the region's earliest assessment lists [some of the originals which Henry referenced no longer can be found intact, either in the archives at Easton nor in Philadelphia at the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania] and many interesting items drawn from obscure Northampton County administrative paperwork.  It is - in short - a treasure trove of regional information.  Unfortunately, portions of it which are based upon materials no longer extant as well as portions grounded in what was considered to be solid oral tradition can no longer be documented to the satisfaction of any scholar bent upon verifiable research.  This text does, however, provide many clues and points-of-reference which can be independently investigated.

    Touching upon the origins of the town of Northampton, Henry writes:

    "A petition was presented to the court of Northampton County for a road, signed by Peter Kohler, Paul Balliet, Lorenz Guth, and others, from Peter Kohler's mill, in Upper or North Whitehall township, to pass through the town, then being laid out, to be called Northampton.  This, in the absence of other testimony, fixes the period of the laying out of the town to 1762.  The first notice of the town, given in the assessment lists, is in 1764, when thirteen families resided in it.  It may be possible that some houses had been erected in 1763, and also in 1762, yet this does not appear." 

(Henry 264)

It is now believed that there may possibly have been a few houses clustered at the site as early as 1739-40, however this is of no real consequence as it was not 'officially' recognized as a village until William Allen [a Chief Justice of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court] drew up proper plans for the village in 1762 with the intent that it would become a regional commercial center.  These plans were not to come to fruition, however, as the Lehigh River proved unsuitable for year-round commerce.  From the beginning, despite the official title of Northampton Town, it was informally known as "Allen's Town" and was primarily inhabited by local Pennsylvania German tradesmen, day laborers and farmers.  Prior to the assessments of 1764, at which point the town was recognized as a town for assessment purposes, local families were taxed as part of the larger Allen township as a whole.  However, in a 1758 "Horse and Wagon Census" wherein Northampton County was broken down by individual townships (in a manner similar to a tax list), one can find a heading entitled, "A List and Return of They Waggon, Draught Horses and Pack Horses in the Township of Allen Town by James Carr - Constable."  (5 PA Archives I, 220)  Additionally, within the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is a small anonymous pen-and-ink map approximately sixteen inches square which is dated 1760:  upon it is marked, "Allen's Town."  Even earlier mention is found via a notice placed within the Pennsylvania Gazette on July 17, 1755:  "Whereas there was a note of hand given the 11th day of November, 1754, by Joseph Brown, Blacksmith, of Allens Town township, Northampton County..."  

    Nearby (to the northeast) Lehigh and Moore townships along the base of the Blue Mountain were typically taxed as "Adjacents of Allen" until 1765 at which point each township was officially recognized.  Prior to the 1764 assessment, which was fairly complete, the  only complete assessment which truly encompassed the entire county was taken in 1761.  The original assessment lists for this year have seemingly vanished [I have yet to uncover exactly where they may be, although I suspect they are within the holdings of HSP], however they were transcribed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration in a small text entitled Tax List for the County of Northampton for the Year 1761.  [The earlier countywide "Horse and Wagon Census" taken in 1758 was an inventory only of those individuals who possessed wagons, pack horses or draught horses.  It was not an assessment.  It is found at 5 PA Archives I, 203-223]  There are incomplete tax lists which date to 1762-63 which were placed on microfilm however they are written in a very difficult script and damaged:  attempted repairs with tape now appear as black spots on the film readers and not all of the townships are represented.  I was unable to locate the original lists themselves.  The assessments of 1764 through 1766 are fairly well preserved for most of the townships within the county, and there are partially complete lists for 1768 and 1770.  The extremely thorough Proprietary Supply and State Tax List for the year 1772 was cataloged within the massive Pennsylvania Archives series, and the assessments for the years 1776 and 1779 remain in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  These essentially round out the surviving tax assessment lists of relevant interest for the Colonial period.

    One of the first mentions in the 'modern era' of a wartime gun factory or gun facilty can be found in the article, "The Gunmakers of Old Northampton," by William J. Heller and originally published in Volume XVII of the newsletter of the Pennsylvania German Society:       this article is dated November 2, 1906.  Unfortunately (as was the case with many such articles), there are no original source documents cited so it is now impossible to determine the origins of the information.  The relevant exerpt reads:

    "Peter Newhardt was from Whitehall Township.  Jacob Newhardt, John Moll, and George Layendecker were from Allentown.  They, at different times, worked at the state factory there and were in business for themselves when the state removed the factory to Philadelphia after the British evacuated that place."

(Heller 156)

     The "state factory" to which Heller was referring was the Pennsylvania ‘State’ gun factory which was established during the early years of the Revolution and was in effective operation in Allentown ca. 1777-1779.  Prior to this period, there may have been regional activity in the town of Easton - the county seat - although it is currently unclear as to both the number and names of the men involved.  [One oft-related episode involved Johnston Smith and John Young, Jr., who contracted with the state of Virginia to deliver one thousand stand of arms.  Meeting of the Committee of Safety, 18 April 1776:  “Resolved, That the Committee of Safety of the Province of Pennsylvania be requested to permit John Young, Jr., & Johnston Smith to carry to Virginia all such arms as they have purchased or shall purchase in Pennsylvania for the use of the Continental Army in the said colony of Virginia, before the first day of May next, at such price as the said Committee shall regulate, not to exceed 1,000 stand in the whole...  In Consequence of the above Resolve of Congress, John Young has Liberty to purchase as many Firelocks as will compleat the said 1,000 stand, provided he compleats the number before the 1st day of May.”  (Colonial Records X, 546-547)]  The 1772 Proprietary assessment lists five smiths and two joiners within the bounds of the town itself, all of whom would have been quite well-suited to the manufacture and repair or militia arms.  Exactly when the State repair shop was organized at Allentown has not been specifically determined, however the Congress fled Philadelphia in September of 1777 and much of the trade activity in the city was evacuated.  Two men, Ebenezer Cowell and John Tyler, figured very prominently as overseers of the shop or shops.  Tyler's background is somewhat elusive although he was paid February 1, 1776 by the Council of Safety for repairs made to "...a Number of Firelocks belonging to Capt. Willet's Comp'y in the Batt'n late Colo. Bull's..." (Colonial Records X, 473) and again on February 22 for repairs to arms of Captain Willet's company, (Colonial Records X, 491).  On August 23, 1776 the Council paid "...Baldwin & Tyler for repairing arms belonging to Col. Hookley's Battalion..." (Colonial Records X, 697), in September they paid "John Tyler & co., for repairing arms..." (Colonial Records X, 713), on October 12 Baldwin and Tyler were paid once more (Colonial Records X, 750-751) and lastly on October 24, 1776 the Council paid John Tyler "...for repairing arms belonging to Capt. Willis's [Willet's] Company of Col. Moor's Batt'n."  (Colonial Records X, 764)  As it will be shown that Tyler has removed himself to Allentown sometime in early October of that year (1777), the October payments were probably retroactive fees for work which was accomplished two to four weeks earlier and probably just prior to the evacuation of Philadelphia in late September.  As all the payments to Tyler were relatively small and in light of the fact that typically only the arms of a single company were specified, it would seem that Tyler was himself a gunsmith running a small shop with an occasional partner or at most a handful of additional workmen.  Where he was prior to 1776 is currently unknown.  The constant mention of "Captain Willet" refers to Captain Augustus Willeet of Middletown Township, First Battalion of Bucks County Associators, which was raised in lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just outside of the city of Philadelphia.  (Davis, Appendix I)  This therefore would indicate that Tyler was working in the Philadelphia area in 1776 and very likely was there the preceding year also.  [Note:  I recently found at 2 PA Archives I, pg. 33, the following notation within the Minutes of the Board of War for March 14, 1777 to August 7, 1777:  “...such arms as are not fit for service, the commanding officers are requested to have immediately repair’d, for w’h purpose they are to apply to Mr. John Tyler, Gunsmith in Arch Street.”  (April 16, 1777)]  He is not present upon the assessment list of Philadelphia (city and county) for 1774, however, so possibly he was initially a resident of lower Bucks County.  Unfortunately, he is nowhere to be found upon extant Bucks County tax lists either; most of the pre-Revolutionary assessments for Bucks County have been irretrievably lost.

     Ebenezer Cowell, conversely, was a substantial merchant and property owner of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Neither Cowell nor Tyler can be found upon the 1776 tax lists for Northampton County, and as with Tyler, Cowell is also absent from the 1774 assessments for the city or County of Philadelphia.  It would appear that he was primarily a resident of Trenton, New Jersey, as there is a documented mention of Cowell as early as 1768 within the Pennsylvania Gazette:

    "By virtue of a writ of Fieri Facias, to me directed, will be exposed to sale... in Trenton township... late the property of Daniel Lanning; seized and taken in execution at the suit of Ebenezer Cowell, executor of David Cowell deceased..."

(March 17, 1768)

Later, in 1776, a letter posted in Philadelphia from the Committee of Congress and written to Abraham Hunt [a relatively wealthy Trenton, NJ merchant] reads as follows:

    "To Abraham Hunt Esq. at Trenton

     Sr, Philada March 9th. 1776
The Congress have appointed a Cmttee to Contract for the making Musketts & bayonetts, in persuance of wch. they have agreed with Ebenezer Cowel to carry on the

manufacture of gunlocks for the use of the United Colonies & have advanced him 267 Dollars & he is to be paid weekly for all the good substantial double bridled gunlocks he shall make & deliver.  This makes it necessary that there should be some person in Trenton who will receive the said gunlocks as they are made & pay Mr. Cowell the money for them; upon Enquiry it was strongly recommended to us to make application to you to undertake this business. You will please to let us know as soon as may be your inclination in the matter that we may Supply you with a Sum of money for the said purpose. 
I am yr hble Servt, RTP by order of sd. Cmttee"

(Smith 362)

The committee also wrote to Benjamin Yard in Trenton inquiring as to the procurement of barrels and stocks, however it is not known at what point the armories in Trenton were shut down and moved across the Delaware River to Philadelphia.  Washington and the army retreated westward by October of that year (1776) while the British and Hessians overran the city soon after.  [Note:  Abraham Hunt is an interesting character in and of himself, being a fervent patriot but signing an oath of loyalty to the British in December of 1776 and hosting the Hessian General Johann Gottlieb Rall at his home on Christmas Eve, 1776.]

    Apparently, ‘State’ repair and fabrication facilities were planned for Philadelphia by February of 1776, for on February 9 the Council of Safety wrote to Benjamin Rittenhouse thus:

    “Dear Sir, The present exigency of our Public affairs is such, that the Committee of Safety think it expedient to establish a Gun-lock Manufactory, with a view that a great number of hands may be immediately employed in that branch, altho’ there may not be a sufficiency of expert workmen to be had at this juncture, nevertheless, it is imagined that there are a considerable number of ingenious & handy Black and White smiths, who may soon be instructed in its several parts.”

(1 PA Archives IV, 712)

It was intended that Rittenhouse would supervise the operation, and within the records of the Committee of Safety there is in fact some mention to be found throughout 1776 of a “Gun Lock Factory” or  “Gun Lock Manufactory.”  (Colonial Records X, 606, 726)  By June of that year, “ order was drawn on John Nixon, Esq’r, & others, The Committee of Accounts, in favor of Thomas Goucher, for Thirty pounds, being so much paid him for disclosing his Art of Boreing and Grinding Gun Barrels, agreeable to this Agreement of this Day.”  (Colonial Records X, 615).  In September of 1776, the Council of Safety resolved “...That the Lock Makers in this state shall be allowed 25s. for every Good Gun Lock they deliver at our Lock Factory” (Colonial Records X, 724) and in November, “...That the Gunsmiths be allowed 24s. p. piece for every good Gun Barrel delivered at the Lock Factory.”  (Colonial Records X, 782).  In December of 1776, the rapidly-growing factory was ordered moved:  “Resolved, That Peter Dehaven be directed to procure Waggons to Carry the Tools belonging to the Gunlock Factory, and such arms that want repair, to some convenient place, not more than 30 miles from Philadlphia, there to erect the Factory.”  (Colonial Records XI, 48)  Thus, the Philadelphia operation was moved to French Creek.

     Any additional gun manufacture and repair activity that may have began in Philadelphia in 1776 and 1777, primarily through smaller contracts, came to a rather abrupt halt once the British pressed on into Pennsylvania and subsequently occupied Philadelphia in September of 1777.  The French Creek Armory - just outside Philadelphia in Chester County - suffered a major explosion in March of 1777 (Bishop I, 526-527) and as the British moved upon Pennsylvania, the operation was moved to Hummels Town [near Harrisburg] under the management of Peter DeHaven [see "Rifles and Muskets on the Swatara:  Clandestine Hummelstown Factory Armed the Revolution" in KRA Bulletin, V. 34 N. 1 by J. Wayne Heckert, Ed. D.].  Additonally, William Henry, Sr., had established a substantial operation for the manufacture and repair or arms outside of Lancaster Borough, it being in operation as early as 1776.  It is unknown why the obscure village of "Allen's Town" was selected as the site of a additional armory and repair facility in the early autumn of 1777, and it is unknown how or why both Tyler and Cowell came to be involved in its operation.

    The first notice which can be found of activity there (Allentown) is present within a letter from John Tyler to Thomas Wharton, Jr., President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania:

    "To his Excellency Thomas Wharton, junr Esq., President of the Executive Council for the state of Pennsylva in Council;  May it Please your Excellency - The Indispensible Duty I owe to your Excellency and the council, Induces me to inform you of the state of my Department at this place; at my first coming here all was hurry and Confusion no place could be procured for carrying on the Repair of the musquits, &c., belonging to this state or even for the People to put their Heads in; but thro' the kind Interference of the worthy Col. Wetzell and other Lieutenents of this County, A place was soon purchased and I have sixteen hands Employ'd and in a few days expect to have three hundred stand of arms repaired and Ready to deliver to such place as your Excellency shall order; (besides a Number already delivered by Col. Wetzells order) Nothing shall be wanting in me to promote with the assistance of the Lieutenants, the utmost decorum and dispatch,some uneasiness it is true prevails among the workmen that the Artificers and Labatary men in the Continental Service draw Liquor, and it is not in their power to draw any, altho' they think they are entitled to is as the allowance from the state, but the difficulty is there is no state Commissary here, and it is the opinion of Col. Hagner and Col. Wetzell that if their was a state Commissary here the people would be better supplied and if they Could then draw their Liquor, every thing would go on smooth and it would tend to further the Business of the state.  It is therefore requested that your Excellency & the Council would Consider the matter, Col. Hagner and Col. Wetzell are willing to undertake the purchase & Issues for the present if they have the Councils Authority for that purpose.  I am your Excellency's most Hu'ble Servt JNO. TYLER, Armr

Northampton, Oct'r 31, 1777-

P.S.  As we have no very large Quantity of arms here I hope we may receive such a supply from time to time as will keep the people in Employ.  Directed, To his Excellency Thos Wharton, junr Esq., President of the Executive Council of the state of Pennsylvania."

(1 PA Archives V, 731-732)

While no date is given as to the time that Tyler established the armory, the British occupied Philadelphia on September 22-23 and the above letter was dated October 31.  It is therefore probably safe to say that the armory was probably removed to Allentown sometime in early October of 1777.

    A few very interesting points can be noted following a reading of Tyler's letter.  First, one can not help but find a small degree of amusement in the fact that the employees of the armory were upset at being denied a liquor allowance, and Tyler is essentially begging the Council to establish a commissary in Allentown so as to provide the men with alcohol.  Second, one can note in the postscript that he offers a complaint regarding the number of arms being sent to him for repair and expresses a fear of not being allotted a sufficient quantity of work to occupy his sixteen employees.  This is a curious comment, as there also has survived a document entitled, "A General Return of all the Arms, &c. the Property of the State of Pennsylvania Received into the public Armourer's Store in Allen Town, from Oct. 15 to Dec'r 4, Inclusive, 1777."  This document indicates that during this relatively short period of time, the armory received 7 pistols, 810 muskets, 847 bayonets, 360 scabbards, 36 rifles, 5 carbines and 25 gun barrels.  Eight of the muskets were lacking locks and two of the rifles likewise.  (2 PA Archives III, 132)  This would seem to represent a fairly large number of arms and accouterments to maintain in good order, even among sixteen men.  However, the fact that he states that " a few days [he] expect[ed] to have three hundred stand of arms repaired..." (1 PA Archives V, 731) would seem to indicate that the armory was operating at a high rate of speed.  Unfortunately, despite many years of research by a number of individuals, no list or payroll indicating the names of these sixteen men has ever materialized.  It is possible that such a list existed at the time that Heller was writing his article (mentioned previously), although if so it apparently has not survived.  No such list is yet to be found within the Pennsylvania Archive series nor in any of the surviving Revolutionary-era paperwork archived at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

    Another important letter was written from the Council at Lancaster to Ebenezer Cowell on December 1, 1777.  This letter makes no mention of Tyler, but there is a subtle implication that business at the Allentown armory was not progressing at the desired rapid pace:

    “Sir, Council are informed that a number of arms belonging to this State now lie at Allentown & the neighborhood unfit for service.  They request you will give them a return of the number & your opinion in what time you think ye can render them fit for Service, & that you will in ye meantime repair them as speedily as possible, & the Council hereby authorize you to ask for & receive them from any persons in whose hands they may be, & to direct such persons to deliver them to you.  Directed, to Ebenezer Cowell."

(1 PA Archives VI, 51-52)

This letter, dated December 1, is but three days short of the December 4, 1777, return of arms and accouterments at the Allentown armory previously mentioned.  It is quite likely that this return of all work accomplished between October 15 and December 4 of 1777 was undertaken under Cowell's supervision, and that it represents the return requested by the Council in their letter of December 1.  It is also probable that the date of October 15 fixes the date at which the Allentown armory commenced operation.

    The plot thickens; Supreme Executive Council at Lancaster, December 13, 1777:  “An order was drawn on Dav’d Rittenhouse, Esq’r, Treasurer of the State, in favor of John Tyler, (Gunsmith,) for the sum of Two Hundred Pounds, & ordered to be charged to Jacob S. Howell, to whom the said John Tyler (Gunsmith) is to be accountable...  Ordered, That Mr. John Tyler send what Rifles he has by him in service, immediately forward to this Borough, to the Council.”  (Clonial Records XI, 384-385)  What could this mean?  The pressing need for rifles is no mystery, as the captains of many companies were constantly requesting them of the Commissaries, especially those companies serving on the Northumberland frontier.  Payments to Tyler were also not out of the ordinary.  But, who was Jacob Howell and why was Tyler accountable to him in this instance?  It’s not really as dramatic as all that.  Jacob Howell was Secretary to the Executive Council (Colonial Records XI, 146) and it would seem that by holding Tyler accountable to him the Council was simply attempting to retain some degree of oversight. 

    The next mention of the armory at Northampton is somewhat cryptic but quite interesting.  A man named James Carter, whom I have yet to identify and about whom I found only a single additional reference, wrote to Supreme Executive Council President Wharton from Allentown on January 1, 1778:

    "SIR:  Agreeable to your orders signified t me by Collo'l Henry, I am come to this place.  The Collon'l, however, has gone some time since.  The other City Lieute'ts that are here, are of the same opinion they were when I followed the armory to Trentown [Trenton, NJ], which was, that as the number of Gunmsiths who came out of the City were but few, they would undertake to pay their Bills and save the publick the expense of my attendance.  And Indeed the Business I was originally employed in is now reduced to such a trifling matter, that I have no objection to resign the concern into their hands, & am only sorry for this, my Journey of Considerable expense to myself, and of no utility to the publick.  I should have waited on the Honor'ble Council in Lancaster, in hopes of a Settlement before my return to the head of Timber Creek, to my family, but find it excessive difficult traveling at this severe time of year, for such as act under no Commission, nor are entitled to any rations, especially for their horses.  I have only to observe to your Excellence, that though I think I have rendered faithful services to my Country in my department, for (in part) an uncertain Consideration, yet having followed the dictates of my conscience, I am satisfied, and shall always be ready to serve the publick to the utmost of my ability in any station that is suitable for me.  I shall trouble your Excellence too add that I have found the shattered remains of the Armory collected in Good order in this town, under the direction of the City Lieutenants, and Mr. Tyler the Armourer.  I am, sir, with sincere esteem.  Your Humble Serv't.  James Carter."

(2 PA Archives III, 139)

This letter is quite provocative.  First, it clearly indicates that William Henry had, at some time previous (probably in October of 1777, when the armory was being initially located at Allentown), visited Allentown himself; most likely, as Henry was superintendent of a successful and important armory in Lancaster County, he had aided in the evacuation of Philadelphia and subsequent removal of that city's gunsmithing operations to Northampton County.  Second, the letter openly states that the number of employees who traveled from Philadelphia to Allentown were few in number [more on this point below].  Third, it notes that the Allentown armory was under the direction of the "City Lieutenants" as well as John Tyler.  Who were the "City Lieutenants?"  This is not clear, however I would speculate that the 'city' referred to here was Philadelphia and that Ebenezer Cowell at the least was one of these individuals.  Apparently there may have - at least initially - been other overseers involved also.  It would appear that James Carter was a payroll manager or accountant who at some point had been responsible for some degree of the financial management of the armory(s).  He specifically states that he had been at "Trentown" [Trenton, NJ] and once might assume that he may have played a role in Philadelphia [briefly, as the armory was not long operable in that location] as well.  The purpose of this letter seems to be that of Carter informing Wharton and the Council that Cowell, Tyler and/or others who were involved in running the newly-operable Allentown armory did not require his services but would manage the payroll [and additional hiring?], and subsequent reparation of such, themselves.

    [Note:  the lone additional reference which I have found which mentions James Carter was uncovered within the Pennsylvania Gazette.  An advertisement placed on February 12, 1777, mentions Carter in conjunction with the French Creek armory which was under the supervision of Peter DeHaven and reads as follows:  "Wanted, a Number of Hands, who understand the Gunsmith Business, or any of its Branches:  Stockers in particular, will meet with good Encouragement, by applying to Peter DeHaven, at the public Gun Manufactory, at French Creek, or James Carter, in Third street, near Arch street, in Philadelphia."]

    Difficulties again seemed on the horizon when Lieutenant Jonathan Wetzel wrote to Council President Wharton on February 17, 1778; once more, the issue of rations was at the heart of the matter:

    “May it please your Excellency,

     The Indispensible Duty I owe to your Excellency and the Council, Induces me to Inform your Excellency of a new order the Issueing Commissary received, & would have put in Execution yesterday, in Regard of shortening the Rations to the armourers & Saddlers of This State, now working at Allentown, which caused a great uneasiness amongst the Workmen; they where determined to leave the Work whereupon after consulting with David Deshler & Fd. Hagner Sub Lieut. having a good many unrepair'd arms upon hand and received yesterday 400 from Camp out of Repair, & many more dailie expected, by the Letter, the Battn. Quarter Master writes he will want a good quantity in good order, as he expects some militia every day, and likewise this County Militia, which will be Compleat accoutred; We agreed, and thought it best for the Publick Interest to give an order to James Kennedy, Commissary's of Issues to allow the Former Fatigue Rations untill I could have an answer from your Excellency & the Council, who I don't doubt will take this Matter in Consideration and send me proper Instructions that I may be able to set accordingly.  Our departments are now in good order and we encrease every day, so that I hope we shall have the Differrent Workmen to compleat our Buysiness. 

I am with esteem Your Excellencys Most Humble Servant John Wetzel, Lieutenant

P.S.  Inclised you have a Copie of the Letter the Commissary produced, & for your Excellencys & the Councils Inspection; the following are the former Rations, Vizt, 1 1/2 lb of Beef, 1 1/2 lb of Bread, 1 1/2 Flower & Vegetables, 1/2 pint of Rum or Wisky; Wood, Soap & Candles.

Directed.  To His Excellency Thomas Wharton Jr. Esq., President of the Executive Council For The State of Pennsylvania at Lancaster.”

(1 PA Archives VI, 271-272)

How this situation was finally resolved is not mentioned, however it would seem that the workmen were satisfied with whatever resolution was adopted as there were no further major disruptions - at the least, none that were recorded - amongst the employees of the armory for the remainder of the time of its operation. 

Continued - click here.