Friday, December 16, 2016

Harshbarger line: Johan Mentzer 1701-?? Immigrant

Johan or Johannes Mentzer or Maintzer is the first immigrant ancestor in this family.  He came to Philadelphia in September of 1751 on board the "Brothers", along with his second wife, Catherine Spirgi and four children.  Two of the children were "theirs" and two were from his first marriage, to Anna Maria Meyer.  She died some time between the death of her third child on April 1, 1729 and August 11, 1733, the date of Johan's second marriage.  Johan's birth to Johan George Mentzer and Anna Maria Heim, as well as Johan's two marriages and the birth of all of his children, took place in Hagsfeld, in what is now Baden, Germany.  He is described as a burgher in the town records there, which seems to imply more than just citizenship.  He was likely well-respected and probably a member of the middle class or better, perhaps a merchant of some kind.  (This is implied by the term 'burgher' but may not necessarily be true in this instance.  Generalizations are always dangerous.)

That's as much as we know about Johan's life in Germany.  Probably for economic reasons, perhaps as a result of the Thirty Years War, Johan and his family decided to start a new life in the New World.  We know he came to Philadelphia and we know he settled in what was then Lancaster County.  It's believed that he as well as his son Conrad died in 1781, in Lancaster County, but I haven't found documentation of that yet.  I also have nothing that shows me where he lived, what land he owned, what taxes he might have paid, or what church he attended. 

I always wonder about these people.  At age 50, what gave him the impetus to start over?  Was he healthy enough to try pioneer life, or did he have any idea what he was getting into?  Was he as respected here as he was in Hagsfeld?  The search goes on, but meanwhile, here is another German immigrant who deserves our respect. 

The line of descent is:

Johan Mentzer-Catherine Spirgi
Conrad Mentzer-Catherine Elizabeth Hibschmann
John Mentzer-Margaret
Conrad Mentzer-Elizabeth Tullepan
Catherine Mentzer (Mancer)-Lewis Harshbarger
Emmanuel Harshbarger-Clara Harter
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants