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The first gunsmith was William Henry, born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on May
19, 1729. At the age of fifteen he went to Lancaster and became apprentice to Matthias
Roessor. William Henry had in own shop in Lancaster already at age of twenty and mad
guns of his own. In 1755 he became armourer to General Braddock and served later as
armourer to General Forbes.
In partnership to Simon he did business with the Indians. It is believed that Henry supplied the guns. This partnership was dissolved in 1759 when Henry visited England. In 1761 he came back to America.
From 1765 to 1777 he has Assitant Burgess of Lancaster and in additional he served as Assistant Justice of the County COurts in 1770, 1773 and 1777. As of 1777 until his dead in 1781 he was Treasurer of Lancaster County. During the Revolution he was Superintendent of Arms and accoutrements.
William Henry and his wife Ann Wood (maried in 1755) had three sons, John Joseph I, William II and Abraham. The later became a gunsmith and worked in Lancaster in the late 18th and early 19th century. He was a member of the Lancaster cartel of gunsmiths. Abraham manufactured pistols and rifles but only a vew have survived. He died in 1811.
John Joseph I died in 1811 seems not having executed the gunsmithing.
William Henry II opened a shop in the Moravian community of Nazareth, Northampton County. He made guns but only very little is known. He died in 1812.
The Henry factory was build at Boulton. Planning was most likely made by William Henry II. The factory was composed of three units. The first unit built was an iron furnace at Jacobsburg along the old Nazareth-Wind Gap road. The both remaining untis were appendages to the main unit. Owner was William Henry II. The factory became known as Boulton Arms Works. Large commercial was made with the American Fur Company.
Barrels were bought from various barrel manufacturers and bored at the mill at Jacobsburg. Produced were rifles, muskets, pistols as well as axes and knives.
William Henry III, Matthew S. Henry and John Joseph Henry formed a partnership in 1821 which was named William Henry & Co. and replaced the Boulton Arms Works name. John Joseph bought the full interest in the factory in 1822. Since the locks are marked J.J. Henry Boulton.
John Joseph died in 1836. His son James became proprietor of the company.
On June 26, 1837 James asked the American Fur Company about their need for rifles explaining that, if an order was not imminent "in common with most manufacturers I am about to discharge my hands for several months". Most likely for harvesting that needed many hands at that time. At that time the factory had a production capacity of about 100 guns a month.
When Granville Henry, son of James entered the business the company changed name to J. Henry & Son. James died in 1895. About the same time gun manufacturing was stopped.
Nothing is left of the factory and no place called Boulton exists today.
Henry guns are rather rare. William Henry I seems being too occupied with other activities. Some Pennsylvania rifles made by Abraham Henry are known. But where have disappeared the several thousands of rifles that were made at Boulton is a mystery.