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The Brinker Family History

George Madison Brinker 1746 - 1785

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300 years after his death, George Brinker is still one of the most famous rifle makers in history. His rifles are some of the prize passions of gun collectors worldwide.
 
 
 

Author's Note: George is often mentioned as Capt. George Brinker but, I am yet to find proof of Military Records

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George's Childhood
 
George Madison Brinker was the first child of Henry Brinker and Anna Catherine Kreutzberger. He was born on September 29, 1746 in Frederick Town, Frederick Co. Va.

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George was born in a German style log cabin, like the one pictured here, on lot #7 in the early town of Frederick Town Va. (Now Winchester) At the time of George's birth all records would have been either with the Hopewell Friends Meeting, which were destoyed by fire in 1759 or, filed in Frederick Co. The town itself had not yet been established.
Some records of this time were also in Orange Co. because Frederick Co. was divided from Orange Co. three year prior to George's birth. Frederick Co. records started in 1743 but, Winchester's started in 1790. 

In 1746; His father, Henry, began building his tavern. In the book "Planting New Virginia" we find this passage:
As early as 1746 the peddler Samuel Divinny had received brandy, punch, cider, food and lodging from John Hopes, furnishing in return various goods, such as blankets, a hat, and six yards of linen- them selves no doubt, wangled from country people at Opequon. In other familiar cases, mason George Brown traded twenty bushels of "slime", or mortar with tavern keeper Henry Brinker for liquor, and punch, and Brown's sometime employer Duncan O'Gillon build a "chemnee above the joyest" for James Lemon in return for punch, beer, brandy, wine, and a room for himself and his cousin. Accepting goods of any sort from soldiers in exchange for "entertainment" at a tavern would hardly seem unusual. And when soldiers had cash to pay, the allure of money might have been too much for even the most scrupulous.
(Source: The planting of New Virginia page 256)

On ____, 1748 George's sister Elizabeth Brinker is born here in the old village of Frederick Town, Frederick Co. Va.

 On May 1, 1750 George's father purchased 381 acres of land from Lord Fairfax, that he later cleared and built his farm on. The land was located about five miles northeast of Winchester, on the banks of the Opecquon Creek, near the Society of Friends Hopewill Church, just outside of Stephensburg, Va.

(Source: Sims Index to Land Grants in West Virginia, by West Virginia. Auditor's Office) (Source: Frederick Co Land Records Idem 88 NNC H page 306)

On ____,1751 George's brother, Henry Brinker was born. Henry was born here in the same house but, unlike George and Elizabeth his birth place would be listed as Winchester, Frederick Co Va. because the City of Winchester including Frederick Town was legally established and renamed in 1749.

In a paper given to the Frederick County, Maryland Historical Society on Jan. 17, 1896, we read where, George's father, Henry meets with George Washington warning him of the approaching Indian attacks. The following is a quote from that paper:

 

"In 1752 the Lutherans at Frederick, Md. commenced the building of a stone church upon a lot of ground deeded to the congregation for a nominal consideration by Daniel Dulaney. The foundation was dug and the walls reared to the height of five or six feet when the regular pursuits of the town were thrown into confusion by the French and Indian war, which now broke out in great fury. The formerly well disposed Indians, instigated by French money and influence, set the midnight torch to the homes and barns of the peaceful settlers of Frederick county. The women and children, as a protection from the tomahawk and scalping knife of the infuriated savages, were removed to places of security, and instead of the plough, the men took guns and swords into their hands. Many of the more timid abandoned their homes and barns and sought safety by flight to distant points. So great was the desertion on the frontier that Washington wrote in August, 1756: "The whole settlement of Conogocheague has fled and there remains now only two families from there to Frederick Town. That the Maryland settlements are abandoned is certainly a fact, as I had the accounts transmitted to me by several hands and confirmed yesterday, 28th, by Henry Brinker, who left Monocacy the day before, and who affirms that 350 wagons had passed \\\dX place within the space of three days."

(Source: First settlements of Germans in Maryland. A paper read by Edward T. Schultz before the Frederick County Historical Society, January 17th, 1896)

By 1753 The Indian raids had become so bad that the areas west of Winchester had been mostly abandon, Hampshire County was formed from the western part of Frederick Co and part of Augusta Co in 1753 but, the area was considered so unsafe that it was not established until 1757.

In 1754 George was eight years old when the French and Indian War broke out. Many people in the area around him were being killed and their homes burned during the some times daily Indian raids. No doubt George's house and the town of Winchester was a very vulnerable place, because the office of George Washington, the main leader of the militia, was just three blocks down the street from his home.  

Besides being a farmer George's father also ran his tavern in town. During the war hundreds of soldiers camped in the open areas on the out skirts of town, called the commons. No doubt George and his brother and sister seen much of the roughness and drunkenness of these soldiers, because it was so bad that George Washington sent out orders that the tavern owners could only provide a limited amount of liquor to each person or they would face harsh consequences and that any soldier caught drunk would receive 50 lashes without the benefit of a court martial. It was also ordered that George's father's tavern and two others were the only taverns that any soldier was allowed to enter or set down in without a very good reason.

By 1755 the Indian raids were getting so bad that Col. George Washington ordered the construction of Ft. Loudon to start on the east end of Winchester.
In 1756 Ft. Loudon was finished and no doubt George, now ten years old, and his brother and sister, spent many nights inside the walls of the fort.

In April 1756 Though we find no record of any of George's family having it , we can only imagine the care they took to limit their contact with the public, because a great epidemic of Small Pox had entered the Winchester area and many died from it. This must have been extremely hard for a ten year old boy and his younger brother and sister, being that they were rushed into the fort with all of the other town's people and soldiers, each time an Indian raid occured.

On august 28, 1756 George and his family was rushed into Fort Loudon because the Indian raids were so bad that it was reported to Col. Washington that there was only two families left in the area from Frederick, Md. to Winchester, Va. the rest had abandoned their home for safety.

On December 7, 1757 George's Grandmother Regula (Herter) Brinker died in Lower Saucon Twsp. Northampton Co. Pa.

On ___, 1758 George's sister Mildred Brinker was born. Like her brother Henry, she was born in Winchester but, her records would have been filed in Frederick Co. because Winchester records did not start until 1790.

From July until September 1758, at the age of twelve George, his mother and younger brother and sister were left to tend the tavern and farm, while his father marched with Col. George Washington to the battle of Ft. Dequesnse.

The 1759 Frederick Co. census shows George, age 13 years old, still living with-in Frederick Co. (Source: Virginia Census, 1607-1890)

In late 1763 the French and Indian War was coming to a close and life was beginning to get back to normal, though there were a few hostile Indians who randomly raided homes in the area.

February 1764, George's uncle, Abraham Brinker died in Lower Saucon Twsp. Northampton Co. Pa. Two months later in May 1764 George's grand father Andreas Brinker died in Lower Saucon Twsp. Northampton Co. Pa.

On July 21, 1764, at the age of 17 years, 9 months, and 14 days. Georges' father, Henry Brinker, signed an indenture bounding George to a Mr. Adam Haymaker until his 21st birthday. Adam Haymaker was the inventor of the famous Haymaker Rifle and many Kentucky type long rifles. George was bound to Haymaker's gun shop on Cameron St. in Winchester, Va. until his 21 birthday.

This Indenture made the Twenty first day of July in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty four Witnesseth that Henry Brinker of the County of Frederick and the Colony of Virginia Hath and by these presents doth bind his son George Brinker unto Adam Haymaker of the County and Colony aforesaid Gunsmith to serve him until he the said George Brinker who now is of the age of Seventeen Years Nine Months and Twenty three days shall arrive at the full Age of Twenty One Years During which Term and Time the said George Brinker the said Adam Haymaker faithfully shall serve his Secrets keep all his Lawful Commands Every where Gladly Obey he shall Do no Damage to his said Master nor see it done by others with out giving thereof to Adam Haymaker his said Master he shall neither buy nor sell with out his said Master’s licence At cards dice or any other unlawful game he shall not play nor haunt taverns gaming houses or racefields or any other places of  bad resort he shall not contract matramoney within said term nor committ fornication nor absent himself Day or Night from his said masters service with out his consent but in all things shall behave himself  unto his said master during the said term as a faithful and delegent  Apprentice ought to do and the said Adam Haymaker doth Covenant and agree to and with the said Henry Brinker that the said Adam Haymaker will teach or cause him the said George Brinker to be taught Informed and instructed in the trade art and Mystery of a gunsmith also to provide him good sufficient meat drink washing and lodgings the said Henry Brinker to find him in wearing apparrel  fitting for such an apprentice during the said term and for the true performance of all and singular the above covenants and agreements the parties to these presents have interchangeable set their hand and seals the day and year first above written   

Source: Gunsmiths of colonial Virginia pg 17    

In 1767, after four years, George finished his apprenticeship under Adam Haymaker, freeing him from his indenture.

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Starting His Family
 
November 7, 1768 George Brinker married Rebecca Bowman, daughter of George Bowman and Mary Hite. Rebecca was born March 25, 1745 in Cedar Creek, Frederick Co Va. They were married in Opequon Creek, Orange Co. Va.
Author's Notes: Check Co. lines for that date.

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Rebecca was raised in this two story stone house her father built in 1751. The house still stands today in near perfect condition.
 
Her father, being one of Jost Hite's three son-in-laws, was pretty well to do. Many envied him and his family, looking at their houses as mansions but, these houses were many times the difference between life and death for the people living around them. 

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Two of these times were told by Rebecca herself, when she told Samuel Kercheval that she remembered when sixteen families took shelter in their home. She also remembered the massacre that took place in 1764, just four years prior to her marriage.
 
Click on the picture to read her complete story

In Cartmell's Book, he mentions that at the time of his father's death George was living on a large plantation near Winchester on the east side of Potomac Road. This would likely be that plantation.

Some time between his marriage in 1768 and the birth of his twin daughters in 1770, George aquired land about a mile southwest of Middletown, Frederick Co. Va. In the book; A History of Shenandoah County Virginia Chap. XVII pg 279, George is listed as one of the first citizens of Middletown, Virginia.

 

First Citizens Middletown, Virginia

 

James Anderson, Anderton Brown, George Brinker, David S. Danner, J. Smith Davison, John Delong, Henry Grant, Isaac Harrison, John Lodor, Joseph Miller, Alexander R. Newman, Alexander Swany.  

According to; The Kentucky Long Rifle Association George Brinker was a rifle maker and gunsmith in Frederick Co. Va. from 1769-1785.  

On October 17, 1769, George's father, Henry wrote his Will. It named his wife Catherine Brinker, and son-in-law Fred Hass as Executors. Children named were daughters Mildred Haas, Elizabeth Brinker, sons Henry Brinker and George Brinker.
Author's Notes: As yet I am unable to find a complete copy of the Will. The information above is readily available.

On December 26, 1770 George and Rebecca's first children, twin daughters Mary Ann Hite Brinker and Catherine M. Brinker was born in Middletown, Frederick Co. Va. Source: Stephens Family History
 

August ___, 1772, George's father died, at the age of fifty, on his farm northeast of Winchester, near Stephenburg, Frederick Co. Va.

On December 15, 1772 George and Rebecca's third child Abraham Brinker was born in Middletown, Frederick Co. Va. He was baptized April 30, 1773.
Source: Shenandoah County Birth and Baptism Records, by John Wayland 1927

On December 22, 1774 George and Rebecca's fourth child Isaac J. Brinker was born in Middletown, Frederick Co. Va. He was baptized February 19, 1775. (Source: A history of Frederick Co. Va. pg. 741) 

Oct 25, 1775 PUBLIC SERVICE CLAIMS - ROMNEY & WINCHESTER 1775 pg 18
To George Brinker for a gun / Claimant

On December 5, 1776 George and Rebecca's fifth child, Joseph Brinker, was born in Middletown, Frederick Co. Va.

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On July 30, 1778 Maj. Joseph Bowman wrote two letters one to his uncle, John Hite, and the other to his brother-in-law, George Brinker, and sent them to Virginia with his brother Isaac Bowman.  
 

Joseph Bowman wrote to George Brinker, his sister Rebecca's husband, describing events that occurred in the first few weeks after the expedition to the Illinois country led by George Rogers Clark's left Kentucky. Bowman supplies details of the capture at Kaskaskia of commandant Philippe Rocheblave and the surrender of Cahokia. The following year, Major Bowman died at Fort Patrick Henry (Fort Sackville) near Vincennes, Indiana.

Letter from the William H. English Collection at the University of Chicago.

 

The letter reads:

July 30, 1778

 

Illinois - Town of Keiskeiskies July 30th 1778

 

Dear Sir

 

I Imbrace this oppertunity of writing to you by my Brother Isaac, by whome I shall Indevour to furnish you With Every Perticular Progress Since our Imbarking in from the Monongohail till our arivel to this place, we set sail with a plentifull stock of Provisions and Continued Down to the Big Kanhaway, their found the men had been Close Confind to the fourt for Eight Days past at wich time their had been an attact made at the fourt

by a suppearior Boddy of Indians Appeaing to be about 200 in Number [words struck through] they killed one man of the fourt and wounded one or two more, but finding themselves not Able to succeed in their attact, they Killed all their Cattle that they Could find and then made towards Greenbryer, where I Expected they Intended to make a fatal blow, whatever has been Done I have never Heard, from thence we Continued down the River, Landing the salt Kittles at the mouth of the Kentucky and proceeded down to the fall of Ohio, where we built a small Garrison on a small Island, and stord. up a large Quantity of Flower & some bacon their left Eight or ten Families with a few men to guard them thence down the River about 175 men in Number till Within about 50 miles of the mouth of the Ohio, seeing a great Deel [word struck through] signs of Indians all along the Ohio. [word struck through] we run our boats in the Night up a small Creek to hide them as we hadnot men Enough to Leave a guard with the boats The Next morning we started with about four days provisions and Steard. a Norwest Course for the Ilenoise and in six Days time we arived there In the night two days we Traveld. without any provisions, beeing Very Hungray. Our men wher all Determined to take the town or die in the attempt, about midnight we marchd into the town Without Ever been Discoverd, we Pitchd. for the fourt And took Possession, The Commanding officer we Catcht. In bed, and Emmediately Confind him, his name Is Philip Rochblave a frenchman who is to be Conducted To Williamsburg, with all his Instructions which he has Had from time to time from the Governers at detroit and Queebeck [words struck through] to set the Indians against us and Give Large Rewards for our scalps

This town Consists of about 250 families and where Fortified strong Enough to fitt a Thousand men but Coming on them by surprise they were obligd. to surrender to us [words struck through] on the 5th day of July {Begin deleted text}[words struck through] the same day I was orderd off  by Colo.Clark with a Detachment of 30 men mounted on [word struck through] Horseback to perceed up the [word struck through] River Mississippi to three more towns and lay seage to them the first I came to was about fifteen miles from Kaskaskies the town we had Possession of Which was Called Parraderushi before they Had any Idie of our arivel we had possession of the Town They seamd. to be a good deal surprised and where willing to Come to any terms that wood be Required of them, from thence I perceeded to St Philips about 9 miles higher up it beeing a small town they where forcd. to Comply with my terms; Likewise [word struck through] beeing In the ded time of the nigh[t] they seamd. scard almost Out of their wits as it was Impossible that they Could Know my Strength, from, thence to Cauhow [word struck through] between forty and fifty miles Above St Philips this town Containd about 100 families [words struck through] we Rode up to the Commanders House and Demanded a surrender, he accordingly surrendered Himself [words struck through] Like wise all the Inhabitants of the Place, I then Demanded of them to take[word struck through] the Oath of ferdelity to the States otherways I should treat them as Enemies They [words struck through] told me they wood give me an answer Next morning, I then took Possession of a strong stone Hous well Fortified for war, and soon got word that their was a man [words struck through] in the town that wood Immediately Raise 150 Indians Who were near at hand and Cut me off, I beeing much on my Guard Happend to find out the Person and [word struck through] Confind him under a guard and lay on our arms that night This beeing the third night We had not Closd. our Eyes The next morning I Assembld. the Inhabitants together and before ten o'clock 105 of them [word struck through] Took the Oath of ferdelity to the states and in Less than ten days Near 300 Took the Oath [words struck through] from the several towns and seams now much Attachd. to the American Cause, but as this part of the Country lies so Remote from any other part and the Indians beeing [words struck through] always furnishd. here with Goods by the British officers And offering large Rewards for our scalps {Omitted text, 2 or 3 words} [words missing] this place with out a Command, and beeing willing to do Every thing

in my Power for the Good of my County, In order to Estab[lish] Peace and Harmony once more amongst us, has Engagd. my Attention for the Insueing Winter The Inhabitants in this Country along the River Mississippi Has had with out aney Kind of Doubt the whole Influance over several nations on this Quarter as well as allong the River Ohio; I Can assure you that since the Commencements of This War, Trade up this River has never {Omitted text, 2 or 3 words} [words missing] it is Evidant that the said Philip Rochblave has done Every Thing in his Power to set the Indians against us, which they are Onley tow apt to Except of such offers, I am in hoops that his Correspondance with them is Intirely at an End, and Wish that the Executive Power of Virginia may Deal in the most serverist terms with him, as no Punnishment can be tow severe for the Barbarrity of his former preceedings; As for aney other Perticulars I must Refer you to my Brother, Isaac; [words struck through] I am sorrey that it is not in my Power to hear from you but as I am at the Distance of about 12 or 13 Hundred miles Now from Home, I Cant much Expect to hear from you or aney other my friends, but If aney oppertunity should offer I should Expect to be furnishd. with Every perticular with Regard to the news from the Northward or our Preasent Circumstance In General I therefore Conclued you all with the Blessing [word struck through] of God your most Effectionate friend and Very Humbl. Sarvt.

 

To my friends in General

 

Jos. Bowman

 

On November 7, 1779 George and Rebecca's sixth child Rebecca Brinker was born in Middletown, Frederick Co. Va.

On July 5, 1781 George and Rebecca's seventh child George M. Brinker Jr. was born in Middletown, Frederick Co. Va.

February 1785 George Brinker died in Winchester, Frederick Co. Va. at the age of 38.

The Will of George Brinker was filed in the court of Judge Lyman Chalkley in Frederick Co. Va. 1785. Source:Wills in Frederick Co. Va. Prior to 1805 by Judge Lyman Chalkley 

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The “Haymaker”

This grand rifle is attributed to Adam Haymaker of Winchester, Virginia. The initials “A H” are found as decoration behind the cheek piece, a design element also used by his son John Haymaker.

Adam Haymaker, Gunsmith is found in the U.S. Census of 1790, heading a family of 11 white and no black members in Frederick County, Virginia. On November 1st 1760 and again on October 9th 1761 he was court martialed for having missed too many militia musters. His known apprentices include: Frederick Short, Jacob Sperry and George Brinker. The will of Adam Haymaker was appraised, June 28th 1808, it showed: 

  •                                                     Sundry Bench Tools, $3
  •                                                     1 Iron vise, $4
  •                                                     1 Bench vise, $1.50
  •                                                     1 Small vise & sundry tools, $3
  •                                                     1 drill & rifling rods, $1
  •                                                     1 Rifling bench, $1.50
  •                                                     1 Chemical still, $7

    Hancock Taylor, deputy surveyor of Fincastle County, Va. carried this rifle. He was killed by Indians, July 29th, 1774 at the mouth of Silver Creek on the Kentucky River. He was buried in what is now Madison County Kentucky not far from the city of Richmond.

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