John Phillip Beck (1751-1811) was a master gunsmith in Lebanon, PA. J. P. Beck took the oath of allegiance to Pennsylvania in 1778 and was paid to repair arms in Lancaster County for the militia from 1777-1781. J. P. Beck trained his son Christian, Nicholas Beyer and Simon Lauck in the art of gunsmithing.
A rifle built by J. P. Beck was presented to President George Washington, and is currently held in the Frazier Museum in Kentucky. Click Here to see George Washington’s long rifle.
Born in 1782, Christian Beck was the son of J. P. Beck, from whom he learned the trade of gunsmithing. He died in Jonestown in 1861 at the age of 79. He continued the style of Gunsmithing as he was taught. Except for the signature on the barrels his rifles are nearly identical to the work of J. P. Beck. Click here for an in-depth study of Christian Becks work.
Christian Beck III was the nephew of J.P. Beck, and was born in 1787. He apprenticed the trade of Gunsmithing from John Bonewitz in Womelsdorf, PA. He worked in the Womelsdorf area until about 1808 when he briefly relocated to Adamstown, Lancaster County, where his first son was born. He moved to Roxbury, Lurgan Township, Franklin County, PA in 1810. The PA septennial census in Franklin County listed his occupation as gunsmith. In 1827 he opened a gun shop on Martinsburg, Va. He had three sons who became gunsmiths in Indiana, they where Christian Beck, Jacob Beck, and Samuel Beck.
When traveling West at the age of 76, on the Oregon Trail he made his finally journey to the Snake River where he died from poison salmon.
Click here for an in-depth study of his work.
Jacob Beck was born in Franklin County, Penn., November 30, 1820. Son of Christian Beck III. He Began life as a gunsmith, an occupation he kept through life. He apprenticed with Richard J. Gatling. He was Commander in Chief of the Anti-Mormon forces of Hancock County, IL, in 1845-46. He served in Company A, First Illinois Volunteers, called the Quincy Riflemen, commanded by Col. John J. Hardin, James D. Morgan, Captain. He participated in the battle of Buena Vista. He and his family were members of the Lutheran Church. He belonged to the Masonic order, and also to the Good Templars.
George Beck was the son of Jacob Beck, borne in Maryland, and traveled west with his family. He is my 3rd Great Grandfather. Following the end of his first marriage, he returned to Pennsylvania, and settled in Buchanan Valley with his second wife. He served in the Union Army and fought in the battle of Gettysburg where he was wounded. Every Beck following George were carpenters by trade
George Beck grew up in Franklin County Pa and was a devout Methodist. He was a farmer in Buchanan Valley and carpenter making fine wood furniture. My family oral history tells that he was blinded in his right eye by an accident when shooting a rifle he built.
James Beck was the son of George Beck II. He remained in Franklin County and worked as a carpenter and served in the US Army under General Patton during WWII. My Grandfather says he was a avid outdoorsman frequently found in the woods next to a rifle.
Special thanks to my Grandfather, Donald Beck. Donald Beck is the son of James Beck-a carpenter by trade, and Air Force Veteran. He grew up in Franklin County, Pa - and is known as a great hunter and tracker. Through his family history and oral tradition I was inspired.
1.Genealogy of Christian Beck of Jonestown—Gunsmith, Van Pitman, 2013
2. “Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age” by Joe Kindig, 1960
3.American Gun Makers, Satterlee, Leroy; Gluckman, Arcadi, 1953
4. The Beck Family of Gunsmiths, Dyke, Samuel E., 1968
6. Beck, John Philip (c. 1751/2 – 1811). Flintlock long rifle, presented to George Washington, 1791. Colonial American (Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania), 1791. Iron, brass, and maple. Frazier History Museum’s Permanent Collection.
7. My Grandfather Donald Beck, and the Beck’s family oral tradition.
*Special thanks to Van Pitman and the Kentucky Rifle Foundation for the above family tree excerpts, picture, and history preservation.
-If you have information, contribution, or photographs of a Beck Rifle you would like to share please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org