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Sheetz Family Bible Returns to Shepherdstown

Sheetz Family Bible Returns to Shepherdstown

The Historic Shepherdstown Museum recently received a Bible that belonged to the Sheetz Family.

The donor, Christine Saulsbury, of Desert Center, California, was helping a friend clear out her mother’s bookstore, when she came across a Bible that once belonged to William Miller Sheetz.  Inscribed inside the cover were “Shepherdstown” and the date, May 12, 1842. Knowing that the book would be of historical interest, she researched the Sheetz Family and contacted the Museum.

Although a bit tattered, the Bible contains some family genealogy and a hand-written prayer.  The Bible was originally published in Philadelphia in 1835.

The Sheetz were a prominent family in Shepherdstown and were known throughout the Shenandoah Valley for the production of fine firearms. Several generations of Sheetz produced rifles for almost a century, from the time of the Revolution until the Civil War.

William Miller Sheetz was born in 1810.  He was the son of John Jacob Sheetz and grandson of Philip Sheetz, all gunsmiths in Shepherdstown. He was probably the last of the Sheetz family to make rifles.  There is evidence that his son, William Miller Sheetz, Jr., repaired rifles but not that he made any.

The Sheetz Family dwelling and workshop was located on Lot 1, at the corner of King and German Streets, across from McMurran Hall.  The building is now a restaurant.

William Miller Sheetz married Juliann Barnhardt.  Juliann’s date of birth (May 6th, 1815) is recorded in the Bible, along with notations for two of their nine children:  Mary Elizabeth (October 3rd, 1848) and Emma Kate (January 4, 1855).

William Miller Sheetz died in 1866 and is buried in Shepherdstown’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Several rifles produced by the Sheetz Family, including one made by William Miller Sheetz for Rezin Shepherd, grandson of Shepherdstown’s founder, are on display at the Historic Shepherdstown Museum.

An interesting entry in the Bible is a prayer in which Sheetz writes that he has purchased the Bible “as a remembrance of the most true and holy and merciful God.

William Miller Sheetz died in 1866 and is buried in Shepherdstown’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Several rifles produced by the Sheetz Family, including one made by William Miller Sheetz for Rezin Shepherd, grandson of Shepherdstown’s founder, are on display at the Historic Shepherdstown Museum.