Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Beeks line: Johann Jacob Bentz 1727-1778

I've been trying to learn about Jacob Bentz or Pence, and the first thing I learned is that there are a lot of men by the name of Jacob Bentz or Pence in the same locations and the same time frame.  So I'm going to go mainly by what I've found in other's people's research.  I hope they have figured it out correctly! 

Bentz families were in Philadelphia by at least 1727.  I haven't found anything that ties our family to any of the earlier arrivals, but the possibility exists that they are relatives, at least some of them.  Our Jacob was baptized December 8,1727 in the Reformed Church at Iggelheim, Pfalz, Bayern in what became Germany.  He was the son of Johann George and Anna Barbara Bullinger Bentz.  Iggelheim appears to be a village in southwest Germany, not far from other areas where our German families emigrated.  It is a town that suffered serious loss in the Thirty Years War and was probably still struggling to recover as the Bentz family made the decision to move to America.

Jacob's father, Georg, and at least two of his brothers traveled together on the ship Phoenix, which landed in Philadelphia September 15, 1749. (I am not writing this post about Georg because there is no record of him after his arrival here.  We know he was a shoemaker by trade. It's possible that he lived with one of his sons but it is believed he didn't survive long in the New World. Many seem to think he died in 1749, but I've seen no proof of that.)

Jacob settled in the Hawksbill area of the Shenandoah Valley.  We're not sure just when he arrived there.  There are military records for a Jacob Pence who served in 1757 in Captain Hog's Company of Rangers. Our Jacob would have been of the right age to be this Jacob.  We know our Jacob called himself Jacob Pence, and that is the name used in the records.  So possibly our Jacob had military service in the French and Indian War, although none of the sites I'm looking at it have claimed military service for Jacob. 


One tree I've seen gives his wife a name, Christine Barbara Willrett.  There is no documentation, but it says they married in 1756.  If this is true, then there must have been a first wife, for three sons were born before this marriage.  I've also seen a marriage date of "about 1745".  I'd love to hear from someone who knows more about Jacob and can give some insight about his wife or wives.

We do know he had ten children, and that Jacob didn't leave the Shenandoah Valley after he arrived there.  He died on or before October 29, 1778 in Shenandoah County, Virginia.  As a typical German in this area, he would have farmed and perhaps had a "side trade", but that is all I really can say about the life he led here.  He was working too hard to leave paper records, apparently. 

That's not a lot of information for a blog post, but it gives us something of a feel for the man and his life. We can say beyond a doubt that he worked hard, and that he defended his adopted country, whether he was the Jacob Pence who saw in Captain Hog's company, or whether he stayed home to protect his family.  He's another of the mostly unrecognized men whose pioneer work led to our country's formation.  Thank you, Jacob Pence!

The line of descent is:

Jacob Pence-Barbara
Mary Pence-Jacob Harshbarger
Elizabeth Harshbarger-Jacob Wise
Jackson Wise-Charity Botkin
Mary Wise-William Beeks
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants