“Resolved, Whereas the Honourable Continental Congress have recommended it to the several Assemblies, Conventions, Councils and Committees of Safety of the several United Colonies, who are notoriously disaffected to the cause of America, or who have not associated and who have refused to associate for the defense of these Colonies by arms against the hostile attempts of the British fleets and armies, and that such of the said arms that are fit for use, or can be made so, be appraized as by the said recommendation of the Congress is directed; in pursuance whereof, the Assembly of this province have resolved, that three freemen shall be chosen by the inhabitants of every township in the province, who shall meet those chosen by the two adjoining townships to collect the arms from the disaffected persons and non-associators aforesaid, and have further directed, that the Committees of Inspection and Observation in each county shall take care that the said recommendation of Congress be effectually put in execution.”
In 1777 a man named Johannes Heinrich Rohring, approximately 52 years of age, was a resident of Macunji (now Macungie) in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. When the three men who were selected to enforce the above act [Jacob Behr, Peter Haas and Jacob Stephen] attempted to collect the arms of “Heinrig Rooring” and his sons, Roaring taunted them with obscenities and branded them “thieves and heathen bastards” and refuted their right to confiscate his arms.
The Northampton County Committee of Safety, being informed of Rohring’s response, issued a summons demanding that Heinrich and his sons appear before them in Easton at the next Court of Quarter Sessions. When the local constable delivered the summons, Roaring declared that “…he pist upon it…” and he and
his sons would “…appear or not as they pleased…”. The Committee then
advised Captain Peter Trexler, of Macunji, to bring Rohring and his sons
to Easton by force if necessary, and Trexler delegated this job to
Lieutenant Henry Wetzel. Wetzel and six men, on
July 22nd, 1777, approached Rohring’s house and
demanded he surrender himself to them and
accompany them to Easton to appear before the
Committee. Rohring and his son Jacob, having been
afield, were aware of the militia men and managed to
escape capture; however, the younger son, Joseph, was
arrested at the house and three arms - two fowling pieces
and a rifle - were removed. Apparently the rifle belonged
to Heinrich, and anticipating its ‘theft’ (as he saw it), he
made sure to mark it with his initials quite prominently
so that he could press authorities for its recovery at
a future date.
Heinrich’s fate is not noted in surviving records, but the Pennsylvania Gazette for September 2, 1778 printed the following advertisement:
Northampton county, September 2, 1778. WHEREAS the estate of Heinrich Roaring, late of said county, having been in due course of law forfeited and seized to the use of this State, I the subscriber, one of the Agents of the said Heinrich Roaring, consisting of the following, viz., a plantation, situate in Macunji township, containing about 174 acres, a large stone house, and other buildings thereon, all in good order; also a tract of land, adjoining to the above mentioned, containing about 152 acres, all late the property of said Heinrich; all which will be sold at public vendue, at the Courthouse at Easton, on the 22d day of June next…. And to prevent all difficulties in respect to payment of the said purchase money, the Agent will receive the first payment at his dwelling house in Whitehall township, on the first day of July, and the remainder on the 22d day of July next; no purchase money will be received after the said days, but the premises again taken in possession, and sold for the benefit of this Commonwealth.
STEPHEN BALLIET, one of the agents.
Is this Heinrich Rohring’s long-lost rifle? Following its confiscation, was it relegated to the armory at nearby Allentown (operating ca. 1777-1779)? Is the ample evidence of secondary repair representative of hard service during the Revolution? These questions can not currently be answered. The rifle certainly is marked quite conspicuously with the initials H.R., and the piece appears to be a product of the immediate vicinity [early War-era work of Peter Neihart has been suggested, although the extremely faint remnant of a barrel signature does not seem to match].