Clio Logo

NW corner of German and King Sts. One of the oldest buildings in town, it is located on Town Lot No. 1. Three generations of the Sheetz family manufactured guns and stocks here from before the American Revolution to c.1830s. The gun shop was in a structure behind the Sheetz building facing King Street. From c.1810 to 1821 the family also maintained a tavern. The brick building held the saloon, the adjacent stucco house contained the dining room, and the living quarters were upstairs. William Sheetz manufactured gun stocks for the armory at Harpers Ferry. After the armory was destroyed during the Civil War, Sheetz used the left over gun stocks to build a picket fence.


  • Sheetz Building today

Prominent among the gunsmiths were the Sheetz family, who arrived in 1762. For more than 100 years, until the shop closed in 1866, they made and sold guns in Shepherdstown. Most famously, they made the guns that Shepherdstown soldiers carried when they joined George Washington after Lexington and Concord. John Jacob Sheetz (1785 – 1860), his brother, Martin Sheetz and their father, Philip Sheetz, were respected gun builders.[1] Philip Sheetz apprenticed under George Unkafare of York County, Pennsylvania in 1760.[2]

The Sheetz specialized in making longrifles, a uniquely American gun design that differed based on the region that it was made in. “The Sheetz rifle is an excellent example of a flintlock longrifle made in what is known as the Golden Age, the time frame when these guns reached the zenith of their architectural design and artistic development—loosely from the American Revolution to 1830.”[3] After the Civil War, the Sheetz shop eventually could not compete. By the end of the Civil War, gunmaking had become a factory industry, and in 1866 the Sheetz shop closed down.


[1] Sage, Mark. The John Jacob Sheetz Rifle Project. 2013 CLA Fundraising Auction. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://www.contemporarylongriflefoundation.org/cgi-bin/2013news.cgi?record=8.

[2]Sage, Mark. The John Jacob Sheetz Rifle Project. 2013 CLA Fundraising Auction. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://www.contemporarylongriflefoundation.org/cgi-bin/2013news.cgi?record=8.

[3] Sage, Mark. The Sheetz Rifle. NRA American Rifleman. May 30, 2013. Accessed July 08, 2017. https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2013/5/30/the-sheetz-rifle/

Sage, Mark. The John Jacob Sheetz Rifle Project. 2013 CLA Fundraising Auction. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://www.contemporarylongriflefoundation.org/cgi-bin/2013news.cgi?record=8.
Sage, Mark. The Sheetz Rifle. NRA American Rifleman. May 30, 2013. Accessed July 08, 2017. https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2013/5/30/the-sheetz-rifle/.