Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, gunsmith Bill Rooks grew up loving anything colonial and feasted on such film portrayals of the times as Northwest Passage with Spencer Tracy, Frontier Times on Disney, The Unconquered with Gary Cooper and Boris Karloff, The Alamo with John Wayne, and others. Understandably, 1992's The Last of the Mohicans quickly found a place in his heart. In his own words:

I grew up in an area rich with colonial history. Ben Franklin sat under a large oak tree in Easton (called the Treaty Oak) and negotiated land purchases from the Delaware and Mohican nations. Edward Marshall later made his famous "walk" for more land than the Indians were willing to part with. George Washington stayed at the Sun Inn in Bethlehem. The colonial Congress moved to Allentown (along with the Liberty Bell) when the British occupied Philadelphia. Williamsburg, Virginia was only a four hour drive away and became a very frequent weekend trip. Always, I could be found just hanging on every word of the gunsmith there.

More to the point, Bethlehem is in the heart of Pennsylvania Longrifle country. Within an hour's drive (or two days travel back then) are a number of different longrifle "schools" including Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading, York and of course Lehigh/Northampton. The area is swarming with Pennsylvania Dutch farms and culture. As the bicentennial approached I became very interested in Pennsylvania longrifles and discovered Dixon's Muzzle Loading Shop was a mere 45 minutes west of my home. Dixon's became a frequent hangout of mine. By 1973 I was buying the parts for my first attempt at making a flintlock longrifle, and shortly thereafter Chuck Dixon took me in hand and began instructing me in the various styles and techniques of making longrifles. Several other noted individuals also worked out of the same area or visited Dixon's shop including Dave Ehrig and Kit Ravenshear. All helped instruct me in the arts and mystery of longrifles. In 1979 I sold my first longrifle. I have been making and selling longrifles ever since, first as a hobby and later as a business.  I have a particular fondness for rifles in the style of Northampton county. I also admire the work of J. Beck and Frederick Sell and many of the other regional gunsmiths as well. For myself I like simpler, early style rifles. I use only hand tools in the construction of a longrifle as that was the way it was done originally. Many makers these days take shortcuts with routers, planers, drill presses and fancy planographic machines and such. They do so in order to increase their production and therefore their income. I refuse to do that. A large part of my satisfaction and joy comes from working it all by hand. That way, my rifles never look machine made, are always unique and look more as the original rifles do. I feel more in touch with the old gunsmiths in that way. Many of the tools I use are actual antiques re-conditioned and refreshed. Occasionally, when needed, I forge a tool or re-work it into another tool.

I call the first phase of my gunmaking the "hobby phase" ... up until perhaps 1985. I made many rifles during that time and sold each and every one of them, but there was no attempt to make a living at it. After a break of perhaps 8 years, I returned to making rifles with the goal of making it first an avocation and eventually a primary vocation. I am now primarily making longrifles as my vocation ... This year I intend to be making rifles as a sole occupation. Even so, all my rifles will be hand made and individually crafted.

William Rooks
PO Box 691
Sun Prairie, WI 53590
608-825-8132

Please feel free to contact me regarding your desires and I will quote an estimate as to cost, ordering procedures, and completion schedules.