Jonas G. Wenger.

History of the descendants of Christian Wenger who emigrated from Europe to Lancaster County, Pa., in 1727, and a complete genealogical family register online

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Online LibraryJonas G. WengerHistory of the descendants of Christian Wenger who emigrated from Europe to Lancaster County, Pa., in 1727, and a complete genealogical family register → online text (page 1 of 20)
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3 1833 01433 8963


No. 260. Martin D. Wenger.



Christian Wenger









JONAS G. WEN GER, o f Rittman, Ohio

MARTIN D. WENGER, of Elkhart, Ind. (now deceased)

JOSEPH H. WENGER, of South English, Iowa


19 3

Mennonite Publishing Company,
Elkhart. Indiana.


The publication of this History was unavoidably
delayed on account of the neglect of some of the families
to send their records promptly. Then also the Publishing
House required more time to complete their work than
was expected. However, the subscribers are to be com-
mended for their patience.

On account of the size of this work as compared with
the cost, it was thought necessary to abbreviate and pro-
duce less pages, although the same information is given.

It is hereby announced that the Wenger History is on
sale, until the number is exhausted.

State which binding you want and send your orders
direct to the Mennonite Publishing Co., at Elkhart, Ind.

Leather binding, $1.25.

Full cloth, $1.00. All postpaid.



1st. This book is dedicated to the memory of our
ancestors who braved the dangers of life incident to the
early settlements in the wilds of America, and bequeathed
to us the blessing of religious liberty and by their con-
sistent lives set us noble examples.

2d. To our parents, for their timely advice and for
implanting the seeds of religious thought in our young
minds. May we reverence them as a priceless boon from
the hand of the Lord.

3d. To our children, in whom we hope to see the
perpetuation of these blessings and privileges. May they
cherish their inestimable privileges, and may they hold
fast to the piety to which the lives of their ancestors
direct them.

4th. 'May our posterity imitate the priceless principles
of their ancestors, and may they be found among the good,
the true, and the holy, like those who have preceded them,
and may none dare to bring reproach upon the honored
name of these dear old ancestors.


South English, Iowa.

March 10, 1903.


Christian Wenger, the progenitor of the Wenger
family of our lineage in America, emigrated from Europe
to this country in 1727. According to official records, dif-
ferent Wengers came across the ocean to America on
different occasions, but that the above mentioned Christian
Wenger is the progenitor of our lineage is proved beyond a
doubt by the family records copied from his Bible and
handed down from one generation to another. This record
corresponds with the official records of immigrants ar-
riving at Philadelphia, Pa., during the years from 1700
to 1800.

The traditions of our grandfathers tell us that when
the above Christian Wenger from Europe arrived at Phila-
delphia, then a young man, he made his way up through
the country to Lancaster Co., Pa., into the neighborhood
of Strasburg, where the Herrs and Brennemans and others
settled. Here, it seems, he hired out to a man by the name
of Hans (John) Groff. Said Hans Groff's horses strayed
away on a certain occasion, and were found at what is now
known as Groff's Valley, at the large spring. It seems that
Groff became attached to this place and purchased a large
tract of land, setting the four corner stones, marking the
outlines of the tract he desired. But on surveying he found
that he had more land than money, and also found himself
involved in debt which he was not able to meet. There-
fore, young Wenger, who had some money to invest, in
order to help Groff out of his dilemma purchased 300 acres
of it along the west side, paying forty dollars for it, in the
vicinity now known as Groffenthal, in Earl township,
Lancaster Co., Pa., in the church at which place even at
present (1900) the aged Joseph Wenger, a descendant of

the fifth generation of the same Wenger family, is the
presiding minister. Here then we have the site of the old
homestead where our progenitor, Christian Wenger, took
upon himself the hardships of a pioneer life, and began to
carve out of the dense forest a home for himself and
family, contenting himself with but few requisites.

Having no stoves, they built a fireplace in one end of
the house, upon which an open fire was kept to protect them
from the cold of the winter season. The cooking was done
by means of kettles hung over the fire, and the baking
was done in ovens that were built outside of the house,
and which were simply places arched over with stone
and clay.

Our grandfathers tell us that as the land was cleared
off, the soil was broken up by means of the hoe and the
spade, and after sowing the seeds, a heavy brush was
drawn over it by hand. We may feel inclined to think that
this was a rude way of starting out in life, but by hard
labor and strict economy they prospered, and, I believe,
enjoyed life in their humble new home at that time as well
as if not better than we do in our modern and more com-
modious homes.


Elkhart, Ind.


By Joseph H. Wenger.

Christian Wenger, our first American parent, came
from the Palatinate, Germany, to America, landing at
Philadelphia Sept. 30, 1727, and settled in Lancaster
Co., Pa.

In the course of years, some of his children emigrated
to Canada, Joseph and Henry to Rockingham Co., Va., but
the majority remained in Pennsylvania, and later they
scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Thus, our
progenitor bade farewell to his country, his home, and his
relatives in the Old World to exchange them for the
realities of the New World, and to secure peace and reli-
gious liberty in the forests of America, to battle with
things of which he knew nothing until he approached them.

It is very evident, however, that he and his children
and grandchildren had to brave the inconveniences of
pioneer life in these years, minus the improvements and
advantages which came to their posterity in later years.
For instance, the plow with wooden mold-boards, the har-
ness made of hickory withes, the wagon wheels made of
cut blocks and without tires, the hoe, and the reap-hook —
these few things constituted the farming outfit. The log
cabin, perhaps constructed without a single nail, and, if
it had any windows, perhaps greased paper or skins did
service instead of glass. No cook-stoves, no sewing
machines, no pianos, no fine clothing, nor ruffles, etc.
These people had no opportunity to get such luxuries,
neither did they want them.

The men were engaged in clearing the forest and till-
ing their few small fields, while the women found employ-
ment not only in their household duties, but in operating


the hemp and flax break, the spinning-wheel and the loom
that produced the linsey and the tow linen which clothed
the young men and maidens when they appeared at the
marriage altar. Their plain, healthful diet consisted of
mush and milk for supper, and for a change perhaps milk
and mush for breakfast.

All these things occurred long before the dude was
born, and before the existence of the tramp, the pick-
pocket, the murderer and the robber. Those were years
when people ate their bread by the sweat of the brow, and
who dare say that they did not enjoy life as well as the
people of the present day?

The history of the Wenger family in America has for
175 years been scatteringly preserved by written records
and also by personal recollections, and has been handed
down from one generation to another from 1727 to the
present time. These dear old relics were almost on the
verge of being entirely lost, but a few of the enthusiastic
relatives who were greatly interested in the Wenger rec-
ord, faithfully performed the laborious and tedious task of
producing this work for the benefit of the present as well
as future generations.

The writer from boyhood took great interest in family
records and ties of relationship, at which time he had a
limited number of the older generations on hand. Some
years ago our worthy cousin, Jonas G. Wenger, of Harper,
Kansas, but now of Rittman, Ohio, conceived the idea of
getting up the genealogy in book form, which awakened
me to an untiring zeal in the work, and in which I gave
him all the assistance in my power. Later on, through the
pressure of other business matters, he resigned in favor of
Cousin Martin D. Wenger, of Elkhart, Ind., in whose hands
it remained until he died. Sept. 22, 1901. Since that time
it has been in my hands for completion, and to prepare it
for the press. We are greatly indebted to our co-workers
who have so faithfully aided us in the work: namely,
Jonas G. Wenger, Rittman, Ohio; Joseph Cressman,
Breslau, Ontario, Canada; Joseph W. Dettwiler, Brutus,
Michigan; Isaac G. Wenger, Caledonia,. Mich.; Benj. G.
Wenger, Murrell, Pa., and many others whose names I
have not been supplied with; also with the help of our

efficient committee, of which Christian G. Wenger, of Cale-
donia, Mich., is chairman, all oi whom put forth their best
efforts in bringing this work to completion. The commit-
tee consisted of C. G. Wenger, Chairman, Caledonia, Mich.;
S. P. Martin, Secretary, Caledonia, Mich.; Zimmerman
Wenger, Treasurer, Caledonia, Mich.

In order to accomplish this work, the descendants
were hunted up, grandfathers and grandmothers were in-
terviewed, family Bibles, old documents and public records
were searched and thousands of letters of inquiry were
sent over the United States and Canada.

Now, after several years of persistent labor, the in-
formation has finally been obtained, the work goes to
press, and we present to posterity and the public the result
of our labors.

I would here add that these zealous workers have
arrived at old age and soon will lay their armor by, and it
will be left for the present, as well as future, generations
to say whether or not they appreciate our undertaking in
this work. It is to be hoped, however, that the young
generations will continue these records by beginning
where we left off, so that as it grows in numbers it may
also grow in interest.

Christian Wenger, our progenitor, thus left his
European home during the religious persecutions of that
country, which his peaceful disposition could no longer
endure, and in so doing he purchased for us the privileges
that we now enjoy. We surely are indebted to him for
securing the religious liberty and prosperity that now sur-
round us. He immigrated to this glorious land of America,
and endured the inconveniences of pioneer life in the
forests, and braved dangers among wild beasts and savage

Had he not thus purchased our present liberty, no
doubt our existence in that foreign country would have
been bondage, tyranny, heathenism and martyrdom. We
hope that this thought may be indelibly stamped upon the
heart of every reader. It seems that through the angelic
peace principles and tireless efforts of the noted William
Penn of 1681, these conscientious and harmless Germans
were sheltered at Gerrhantown, Pa. For instance, the

Mennonites, the Dunker Brethren and the Quakers all
assembled in the same meetings and worshiped together
as one denomination, and from the same standpoint they
praised God for their deliverance from tyranny. No
denominational backbiting then. Why should there be any
now? May the Lord deliver us from any of these abomin-
able sins of the present day. We are commanded to rebuke
wickedness in all its various avenues, but God forbids all
denominational backbiting.

The writer has traveled over twenty-eight states be-
sides Canada, and he finds the Wengers scattered from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. Some of them have immigrated
to America since our progenitor came in 1727, whom we
are not able to link to our history. Some of the later ones
have changed the name to Winger, Wanger, Wingert and
Wengerd. But it is positively known that all those who
are recorded in this history are direct descendants of
Christian Wenger of 1727.

All names have a source, and originate from some
occupation, place, or thing, or from some circumstance
that has occurred. History informs us that the name
Wenger originated from a range of mountains found near
Berne, Switzerland, bearing our family name. Between
Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald are found the Wenger
"Alps," spoken of as being famous for their scenic views.
It is with a great degree of satisfaction that we note this
prominent recognition and memorial of our name in the
birthplace of those remote ancestors.

The old clock which has been in the possession of the
Wengers for a century or two is still in existence. In 1847
my brother-in-law, Jacob Blosser, bought it at my Grand-
mother Wenger's sale, and in 1854 it came into my pos-
session. In 1892 I presented it to my son, Benjamin
Franklin Wenger, who died May 1, 1896, after which it
came into the possession of my son, Homer C. Wenger, of
South English, Iowa. It is supposed by some that this
clock was brought from Europe by Christian Wenger of
1727, but of this there is nothing positive, yet we have
evidence that it has been in the possession of the Wengers
for over a hundred years. We also have evidence that it
is extremely old, from its peculiar construction. In size

it is six by eight inches, and the journals and boxes do not
seem to be worn a particle. It has been in continual run-
ning order until within the last few years, and would now
only require cleaning and oiling. I have directed that it be
handed down in the Wenger generation-s as long as the
clock and the name exist.

It is to be regretted that the dates of births and par-
ticulars of some of the families are omitted, and in other
families the grandchildren are not mentioned. It will be
seen that in some cases the particulars are limited, but it
is by no means the fault of the Secretary, as the greater
number of these records in the many different states were
secured by mail. In our general course of business we
demanded names, dates of births, deaths, marriages and
to whom, church denominations, addresses, etc., but in
many cases we were not furnished with all these requisites.
Therefore we beg pardon in their behalf and hope that no
one will accuse us of negligence, as we did not leave one
stone unturned under which we thought there was any
record. Our work has been a toilsome one, in being com-
pelled to write — and write again and again — and occa-
sionally without response. There are a few, yet very few,
families that are not recorded, from the fact that the rec-
ords could not be obtained. A few mistakes may possibly
have occurred in this history; in fact they are unavoidable
in any work, especially of this kind, although we have
been very careful.

The plan was adopted for each family to be reported
by one of its own members. A very few records, how-
ever, were so illegibly written as to be difficult to decipher.
Now, if a few errors are found, the Secretary is not willing
to claim all of them, but charges the greater portion to
the readers. Entire omissions are due to failure to respond
to our continued calls.

In presenting this work, we do so in a plain, common
way, claiming no honor, but only a duty. We present
the history of a plain, industrious, thrifty, upright, Chris-
tian people. We present the history of an ancestry which
we can always justly be proud to honor and respect. And
as our ancestors were a Christian and law-abiding people,
we sincerely hope that their posterity may think their


lives worthy of imitation. May we aspire to every-
thing that is worthy and honorable and good; may we
never forsake the virtues of the fathers and bring shame
and reproach upon an honored name, but may we look
forward and onward and upward, submitting ourselves to
the will of the Lord, and finally all have our names re-
corded in the great book of eternal life, which is of far
greater value than to have them in the Wenger record.

With this hope, we present this work to the public.

South English, Iowa.

March 10, 1903.


At different periods, and from various causes and
motives the ancient Germans were induced to leave their
firesides and relatives in their native country to exchange
for, they scarcely knew what, in the untried realities of
the New World.

Since 1606 millions have left their homes, the dearest
spot on earth to them, to which their hearts often returned
with sadness for the loved ones who were left behind.
Religious persecution and political oppression drove
thousands to Pennsylvania, which was then the asylum for
the oppressed sons and daughters of the relics of the
Reformation, and who were sheltered under the wings of
William Penn's administration, who himself had invited
the persecuted of every creed and religious opinion.

From 1682 to 1776 Pennsylvania was the central point
of immigration from Germany, France and Switzerland.
Penn's liberal views and the liberal government of New
York towards them induced many to come to this province.

In the period of twenty years from 1682 to 1702 com-
paratively few Germans arrived; not more than about two
hundred families. They located principally at German-
town, and were nearly all of the low German language
from Cleves and Westphalia.


Leaving their native country at that time, they provi-
dentially escaped the desolation of a French w^ar, which in
1689 laid waste the city of Worms, near which town they
had resided. The countries for miles around were ravaged
and the flames went up from every market-place, every
hamlet, every parish church and every country-seat within
the devoted provinces.

The period from 1702 to 1726 marks an era in the
German emigration, and between forty and fifty thousand
left their native country; the ravages and desolation by
the troops of Louis XIV. under Turenne caused the bloody

Because of persecution and oppression in Switzerland,
a large body of defenceless Mennonites fled from the
cantons of Zurich, Berne and Schaffenhausen about the
year 1672 and took up their abode in Alsace on the Rhine.
In 1708 they immigrated to Pennsylvania and settled at
Germantown and Philadelphia. It 1712 they purchased a
large tract of land from Penn's agents in Pequea, then
Chester, now Lancaster, county. Among the Indians this
Swiss settlement formed a nucleus or centre of a rapidly
increasing Swiss, French and German population in the
Eden of Pennsylvania. Scarcely had the Mennonites com-
menced making their lands arable, when they sent a com-
missioner by the name of Martin Kindig to Germany and
Switzerland to induce others to come to Pennsylvania, in
which he was successful. There were large accessions to
this new colony during the time from 1711 to 1717, and a
few years later the influx was so great as to call forth
public attention. But finding that these harmless people
were a great source of benefit to the country, the objec-
tions of those in public oflftce were withdrawn.

In 1719, through the invitations of Martin Kindig,
many thousands came and settled about sixty miles west
of Philadelphia. About this time some of the Germans,
French and Dutch began to penetrate farther west into the
wilderness, from thirty to seventy miles, at which places
large settlements soon sprang up.

Some Mennonites coming from the Netherlands settled
along the Pakihmomink (meaning Cranberry Place).

The Germans were principally farmers, and depended


more upon themselves than upon others. They wielded
the mattock, the spade, the axe and the maul, and by the
power of brawny arms dug up the grubs, removed the
timber, and changed the forest into fields of golden grain.
They were those of whom Governor Thomas in 1738 said:
"This province has for some years teen the asylum of the
distressed Protestants of the Palatinate and other parts of
Germany, and I believe it may truthfully be said that the
present flourishing condition of our country is due to the
industry and economy of these people."

The Germans, Swiss, French and Dutch formed the
greater portion of the first settlements in Pennsylvania.

These were the ancestors of the now toiling millions;
the ancestors of the now rich and poor; the ancestors of
the honored man and the criminal, the presidents and their
adherents, the Christian and the infidel, the millionaire and
the pauper, all of whom are more or less miscellaneously
mixed up in this world's business matters, and many of
whom, especially the ungodly, seldom and perhaps never
entertain a single thought of thankfulness to their an-
cestors who cared for them, much less to the God who
created and preserved them. • J. H. W.



It is just as necessary for the reader to first study
these explanations as it is for the student in arithmetic to
commit to memory the multiplication table before he can
be able to solve its problems.

This work might have been differently arranged and
perhaps to a better advantage, but from the fact that the
collections of the many different lineages were so scatter-
ingly sent in, in fact some of them coming in at the
eleventh hour of the last days.

Directions — First, pay no attention to pages, use num-
bers instead.


No. 40. Fourth Generation. 20.

4) John Jones, born Oct. 23, 1850.

Married Minnie Johnston, July 1, 1875. Their children:

1. Henry Jones, born June 2, 1878. No. 75.

2. Minnie Jones, born May 1, 1880. No. 90.

No. 40, as above, means that John Jones is the fortieth
family so far recorded.

Fourth generation indicates four steps down from the
first generation, therefore Henry and Minnie Jones would
be fifth generation.

The figures 20 following the word "generation" refers
you back to No. 20, where you find John Jones and his
father's family are recorded.

4) means that John Jones is the fourth child of his
father's family.

1. means that Henry Jones is the first child, and

2. means that Minnie Jones is the second (see

No. 75 following the name of Henry Jones takes you
farther on to No. 75, where you find Henry's family re-
corded, and so on through the entire work.

Where marriages occur, the name of the person who
is in direct relation to the Wenger lineage is placed first
on record, as also the same in the index.

This history contains the names of 4,243 persons, in-
cluding 716 bearing the name of Wenger, making a total
of 834 families. J. H. W.




YEARS 1727 AND 1767.

Sept. 30, 1727. — "Seventy Palatines (Pfaelzer) with
their families, about 300 persons, imported in the ship
Molley, John Hodgeson, Master, from Rotterdam, last from
Deal, appeared, repeated and signed the Declaration." —
Among these Palatines was a Christian Wenger, whom we
claim as our progenitor.

Oct. 20, 1747. — "Foreigners imported from Rotterdam,
last from Leith." — Among these were a Johannes Wenger
and a Christian Wenger.

Sept. 5, 1748. — "Foreigners imported in the ship Edin-
biirg, James Russel, Master, from Rotterdam, last from
Portsmouth." — Among these was one named Peter Wingert.

Sept. 16, 1748. — "Foreigners imported in the ship
Paliena, John Brown, Master, from Rotterdam, last from
Cowes." — Among these were a Hans Wenger, a Stephan
Wenger, and a Christian Wenger.

Sept. 9, 1749. — "Palatines — ship St. Andrew, James
Abercrombie, Master, from Rotterdam, last from Plym-
outh. 400 passengers." — Among these were a Christian
Wenger and a Hannes Wenger.

The above is copied from "Rupp's Collection of Thirty
Thousand Names of Immigrants in Pennsylvania."

Two Early Settlers of Pennsylvania.

Hans Graaf came to Germantown, Pa., in 1696. He
afterwards settled in Chester county, now Lancaster, took
up, as per date of warrant, in 1716, in Pequea, 1,000 acres
of land; on a second warrant, Nov. 22, 1717, a large tract
of land in Earl township, Lancaster county. The old home-
stead on this tract is now owned by Levi W. Grove, a lineal
descendant of Hans. — Rupp's History of Lancaster Co.

Heinrich Zimmerman came to Pennsylvania in 1698.
He returned to Europe for his family, which he brought
over in 1706, to Germantown. In 1717 he removed to
Chester county, now Lancaster. His son Emanuel died in

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Online LibraryJonas G. WengerHistory of the descendants of Christian Wenger who emigrated from Europe to Lancaster County, Pa., in 1727, and a complete genealogical family register → online text (page 1 of 20)