William Marshall’s Rifle?

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            The above rifle was made by John Christian Oerter at Christian Spring in 1775.  As is evident, it is marked 'WM' upon box lid, this engraving being entirely contemporary with the rifle's construction.  When this rifle ‘surfaced’ in 2007, family information which was provided traced ownership back to a man named William Henry Marshall who was said to have been born in Miami County, Ohio, ca. 1840.  As will be shown below, this man was almost certainly a direct descendent of Edward Marshall’s son William and it is very probable - if not certain - that this rifle was built for and owned by Edward’s son.

            William Marshall (II) was the second son of Edward Marshall, namesake of Edward's brother William (I).  William II was born ca. 1737/1738 (Buck 259) in Bucks County, PA.  He survived both Indian attacks of 1757 on Edward Marshall's home in Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County.  (Buck 225-226)  With his father Edward he moved back to Bucks County ca. 1759-61.  [see footnote 1]  Edward Marshall died in 1789.  In 1791, William Marshall II with brothers Martin and Edward (Jr.) bought a farm of one hundred acres at the mouth of the Tinicum Creek.  Edward Jr. sold his rights in 1800 but William II, unmarried, continued to live there as head of his own household [as per census records] until Martin died in 1819, and which point William II lived with his deceased brother's family until he himself died in 1823.  (Buck 259)  He is said to have been associated with the Quakers and left one hundred pounds to the Buckingham Monthly Meeting.  Also, his will states:  "My rifle and shot gun with their accoutrements I give to William Marshall..."  (Buck 259)  This referenced William Marshall (henceforth referred to as William III) was a son of Edward Marshall's third son Moses Marshall (born 1741) and thus a nephew of William II.

            Moses purchased a farm ca. 1782 "...near the confluence of the North Branch with Pine Run in New Britain township, where he resided until into the beginning of this century [19th], when he sold it and purchased another of 158 acres near Mechanicsville, in Buckingham township, where he continued until his death, which took place June 22, 1828, aged nearly 88 years."  (Buck 260)  [see footnote 2]  In his will, Moses left his sons William III and Martin each 79 acres [half the 158-acre farm].  (Buck 260)  Both sons are present upon the 1830 Federal Census for Buckingham Township, Bucks County, and William III is noted with three sons and three daughters.  On all three censuses whereupon William III is listed as head of his own household [1810, 1820, 1830], a woman of comparable age is noted which would seem to indicate a wife.  Furthermore, within the records of the Neshaminy Presbyterian Church of Warwick Township, Bucks County, a record can be found for the year 1809 indicating a marriage between Rachel Walker and Wm. Marshall "...from New Britain township."  New Britain Township is where William III's father, Moses, lived prior to the move to Buckingham ca. 1809-1810 [as per census records and Buck's text].  Within Bucks County Newspaper Marriage Notices, 1804-1834 is found a notice of this same marriage which was published on February 24, 1809 and which specifically states that Rachel was the daughter of William Walker of Warrington.  (pg. 134)

            According to Buck's text, following the death of Moses Marshall in 1828 "The sons afterwards sold their places and moved to Ohio and have descendants there.  We are informed that the 'rifle and shot gun with their accoutrements' were taken along and no doubt are still in the possession of William's family."  (Buck 260)  These guns were the same two guns deeded to William III by Edward Marshall's son William II.  The information given by Buck regarding the move to Ohio seems to be verified by the presence of both men upon the 1830 Census in Buckingham Township but their absence in 1840.  Sure enough, both men are present upon the 1840 Federal Census records for Miami County, Ohio.  [see footnote 3]  William III was also present upon the 1850 and 1860 census records along with numerous family members.  [see footnote 4]  These family members included apparent sons Charles and Walker [could this refer to his wife's maiden surname?], both men as well as William III noted as being born in Pennsylvania and Walker having a son named William Henry Marshall who was born ca. 1841 in Ohio.  This William Henry Marshall was the man referenced above to whom ownership of the rifle had been definitively traced.  Additional information is forthcoming but at this point it seems a near-certainty that this particular Oerter rifle was owned by William Marshall II, son of Edward Marshall of "Indian Walk" fame, and it is his initials which are engraved upon the box.


[1]  On August 18, 1757, Edward's brother William (of Tinicum) made his will and died soon after.  William left all of his estate to his wife Ann to be used as she saw fit for three years, after which all of his lands were to pass to his brother Edward [ca. 1760].  This included Tinicum Island, a large island in the middle of the Delaware River directly across from the mouth of Tinicum Creek and upon which Edward would subsequently make his home; this island would thus come to be known for many years thereafter as "Marshall's Island."  (Buck 239)  There is no known exact date for the point at which Edward Marshall returned to Bucks County, but according to the terms of William's will, Edward would have full use of William's lands as of approximately August , 1760.  Buck states that he interviewed one of Edward's granddaughters who stated that the first two children by his second wife were born at Tinicum.  These would be sons Peter [named for his eldest son, Peter, who had been killed in 1757 - see above] and Thomas.  Thomas was born January 19, 1761, which would indicate a birth date for Peter sometime ca. 1759.  (Buck 240)  He married his second wife in 1758, and in that year he was enumerated upon a 'Horse and Wagon Census' of Northampton County, wherein "Edward Marshell" in Mount Bethel Township is noted as owning two pack horses.  (5 PA Archives I, 211)  However, the following year [1759], "Edward Mershal" is noted upon the assessment list for Plumstead Township in Bucks County; Plumstead is immediately to the south of and borders upon Tinicum Township.  It is possible that Edward was permitted by his sister-in-law to relocate upon William's lands prior to the three-year lapse mandated by William's will, but it is more likely that he had retained land of his own in the area - certainly in Plumstead, as per the tax entry, and possibly also in Tincum and/or Bedminster Townships as well.  In fact, Marshall can be placed in Tinicum very shortly thereafter, for in the Pennsylvania Gazette of July 9, 1761, the following advertisement was placed: 

"CAME to the Plantation of Edward Marshall, in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, a black Horse, about 8 Years old, shod before, about 13 Hands and an Half high.  The Owner coming and proving his Property, and paying the Costs, may have him again."

Less than a year later, another advertisement was placed on January 7, 1762:

"To be sold by the Subscribers, THE following settled Plantations and Tracts of Land, in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, in Pennsylvania, about Thirty five or Forty Miles from Philadelphia, lying on and near the River Delaware...  Likewise to be leased, a Farm, containing 302 Acres, well improved, now in Possession of Edward Marshall."

(Pennsylvania Gazette)

All that can be said with a fair degree of certainty, then, is that sometime between the taking of the Northampton County 'Horse and Wagon Census' of 1758 and the 1759 Plumstead Township [Bucks Co.] tax assessment, Marshall removed from Mount Bethel Township back to Bucks County and was located in Tinicum by 1761.  I have not uncovered any additional evidence to further clarify this matter.

[2]  Moses ('Moses Marshall') is present upon the 1800 Federal Census for New Britain Township, Bucks County, age 45 years and upwards along with his wife (45 yrs. +) and three children - 2 sons and 1 daughter, all aged 16-26.  He is upon the 1810 Federal Census for Buckingham Township (Mozes Marshel) and listed separately, also in Buckingham, are sons 'Martin Marshel' and 'Wm. Marshal.'  Both sons are married with young children noted.  Moses is also upon the 1820 Federal Census for Buckingham Township ('Moses Marshell') as well as sons 'Martin Marshall' and 'Wm. Marshell.'  In 1820, these three men were all listed next each other and the census-taking was non-alphabetical, indicating extremely close proximity if not the same property.

[3]  1840 Federal Census for Miami County Ohio:  Martin Marshall, Lost Creek Township, aged 60 to 70 years.  Wm. Marshall, Stanton Township, aged 50 to 60 years, also w/ one male 20 to 30 years and one female 20 to 30 years.  [Was his wife deceased?  She was still present upon the 1830 Buckingham record.]  Listed immediately next to William III upon this record is one Walker Marshall, aged 20 to 30 years.  A wife is noted between the ages of 15 and 20.

[4]  1850 Federal Census for Staunton Township, Miami County, Ohio:  Family 317, William Marshall, age 68, Farmer, born PA.  Real estate value $5,000.00.  [This indicates birth ca. 1782]  Immediately adjoining:  Family 316, Charles Marshall, age 38, Farmer, born PA.  Wife Elizabeth, 28, b. OH.  Children Sarah and Catherine.  Family 315, Walker Marshall, age 29, Farmer, born PA.  Wife Sarah, 27, children Charity, age 5, William Henry, age 9.  1860 Federal Census, same location (Troy Post Office noted):  William Marshall age 79 born PA, retired farmer, value real estate $7,000.00.  William was living with Charles Marshall, age 47, farmer, value real estate $2,000.00, born PA, wife Elizabeth (38), daughter Sarah C. (12), sons William (3) John (7).  1860 Federal Census for Washington Township, Shelby County, Ohio (Lochington Post Office noted):  Walker Marshall, wife Sarah and children William (19) and Charity (16).  Value estate $1000.00.

See:  Buck, William J.  History of the Indian Walk:  Performed for the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania in 1737, to which is appended a Life of Edward Marshall.  Printed for the author, 1886.