The Reverend Anthony Jacob Henckel Family National Association
The 2017 Henckel Family Reunion
In New Hanover, Pennsylvania
“Our Family’s 300th Anniversary Reunion since coming to America in 1717”
New Hanover Evangelical Lutheran Church – Built 1768
Our 2017 Henckel Family Reunion was held in and around New Hanover, Pennsylvania. It was hosted by the New Hanover Evangelical Lutheran Church where our 151 members were treated to a historical tour and presentation by the church’s longtime Historian, Mr. Lee Wesner. Lee welcomed our members to the church and showed everyone murals of what the church might have looked like when Reverend Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg visited to dedicate the new church and school buildings in 1743.
Muhlenberg in his Journals, described the area on his first visit in 1742, by stating that he saw two plantations (farms) and a lot of woods! Just think what Reverend Anthony Jacob Henckel and his 10 family members, who came from the Palatinate (now Germany), saw when they arrived at the “Swamp” in mid-September 1717. Reverend Henckel, in our family history, is called the second Pastor of “the Swamp Church” and in the church’s history is called the fourth minister. Neither the church’s journals or the journals of Anthony Jacob have ever been found, so both our family and the church history is currently based on “hearsay” passed through the years, rather than on facts that have been well documented.
Mr. Wesner took all the Henckels into the church’s sanctuary, which according to him was the fourth church that was built and has been in continual use since 1767! The church has been meticulously maintained for 250 years, it is absolutely beautiful and all 151 of the Henckels in attendance were “awe struck” by what they were seeing. Lee proceeded to give a history of the pastors and church through the years. He entertained questions from his attentive audience at the end of his presentation.
Lee did a wonderful job and received an ovation from the Henckels when his presentation was completed. Richard Henkel came to the front of the church and thanked Lee and the church for helping him with the Reunion. Richard indicated that without their help the reunion would not have been possible. Richard then told everyone that he had placed offering baskets at the rear of the sanctuary. He asked anyone who would like to help the church to please donate. Richard, indicated to everyone at our next stop, that the baskets were full and told everyone how much he and the church appreciated their generosity.
We actually visited the Boone Homestead prior to New Hanover Lutheran, but I had to make my comments about the “Swamp Church” prior to any other site visited because it is no doubt the most important testament to our family’s history in America!!!!
Many asked why the Boone Homestead site was being visited? Richard answered the question at our Friday Night Reception at the Crowne Plaza in Reading, PA. He stated that the Boones and Henckels lived less than 8 miles apart in what was Philadelphia County in 1717. The families definitely knew each other beginning around 1718. Proof of this lies in the fact that George Boone, Daniel Boone’s grandfather, was the areas “Record of Deeds” during this time. He was said to have visited the 50 acre tract that John Sprogel, a land agent, gave to Henckel and the “Swamp Church” in 1718 to build a church on. This meeting may have been the first , but surely not the last between the Boones and Henckels. The Boones as we learned came to America a little before the Henckel in about 1708. They came from Exeter, England, where they were cloth manufacturers. Larger textile companies came to Exeter during the early seventeen hundreds and the Boones were forced out of business and decided to come to America.
In 1750, members from both families left separately for North Carolina. The Boone’s lead by Daniel Boone’s father Squire, were “waylaid” around Roanoke, Virginia for almost 2 years and arrived in Rowan County, NC around 1752. The Henckels, lead by John Justus Hinkle and his son, Jacob arrived in 1750 and settled around Dutchman’s Creek. The families each bought 656 acres of adjoining land in 1755 in the Dutchman’s Creek area (now close to Mocksville, NC). Both family’s decided to leave the area around 1758 because of Indian problems. They headed together for Culpeper, VA. After a short stay, they split up in Culpepper, the Boone’s headed toward Frederick, Maryland, and the Henckels to what today is Riverton, West Virginia (in those days Virginia). Now everyone understands why we visited the Daniel Boone Homestead!
We had four stations set-up for our members at the Boone’s Farm. There was a movie on the Boone’s, a calligraphy writing station, where anyone that wanted to could try their hand at calligraphy. The kids in attendance loved it! The home was set up as a it would have been in the Boone era and the basement of the home showed us how people survived attacks by Indians or crooks during the 1700’s. The fourth station was a demonstration on how flax (cloth) was made by the Boone family. Behind the flax demonstration everyone got to see and visit the Boone’s barn, wagon “garage” as one kid called it, and the blacksmith shop. My 6 year old grandson ran up to me and said he got to pet a “sheep” at the barn.
After a delicious lunch at the New Hanover Lutheran picnic pavilion, Richard Henkel gave a presentation, that he and Greg Adamson had worked on together, about the Henckel and Geiger properties and the location of their land and homes. He told everyone how they had used a section from The Henckel Family Record, which was written by Cora Curry, the Historian of the “Family Association” in the 1920’s and 1930’s, to help locate the property. The description of their land, a conversation with the son and grandson from previous owners, and deed information from 1717 to 1932, guided us to their original land which consisted of 500 acres (250 of Henckel’s land and 250 of Geiger land), but more importantly indicated to us where their homes possibly stood and what happened to each family’s property through the years. Richard, at the end of his presentation, asked everyone to follow him in their cars to the site of the Henckel and Geiger 500 acre farm and homes.
Upon arrival at the Meadowview Farm (at the corner of Layfield Road and Big Road), Richard pointed out how we had just driven 1.9 miles through the middle of the Henckel-Geiger farm. He then did a 360 degree presentation on where the Geiger and Henckel properties adjoined each other at the Swamp Creek. Next he went through when and where the land was sold by the Henckels and/or Geiger’s and others throughout the past 300 years, all the way to today. He then stated that the 52 acres that we were standing on was where the Henckel house had sat from 1717 to around 1960.
He indicated that he had just learned the approximate date that it was destroyed by fire and it location from an elderly couple that he had met at lunch on the Wednesday before the reunion. The meeting was totally accidental and obviously was meant to have happened. The couple had lived just down the street from the property for almost 80 years. They agreed on where the house had sat and that it was destroyed by fire in the 1960’s. They could not agree what the house looked like, tye wife said it was made of logs and the husband said that it was constructed of stone. Richard indicated that he concluded that it had to be made out of stone to have lasted for 250 years. Richard end his presentation by showing everyone where the couple had told him the house had sat. Cameras began to click and some of the younger Henckels ran up the hill to the exact location of the home!
We then drove to St. Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, Pennsylvania to tour our final site. St. Augustus was probably formed by Anthony Jacob Henckel prior to his death in 1728. Muhlenberg, upon his arrival in the area in 1742 commissioned the church, it was completed by its members in 1743. Our members then enjoyed a presentation by Jennifer Wentworth, the church’s Tour Director. She walked up quite a few steps to Muhlenberg’s original pulpit and began telling us about the church and its history. Our 151 members present sang “Amazing Grace” after Jennifer’s presentation. She then took the group on a brief visit to the cemetery, where we visited Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg grave.
The”Old” Church as it is called is still used during Christmas and the summer months for services. Greg Adamson, our Historian, said on an earlier visit that it was the best example of a md-1750’s church that he had ever seen!
Our members then drove about 45 minutes back to the Crowne Plaza in Reading for our Saturday Night’s Banquet, which was enjoyed by all!
Everyone agreed, it was a long day, but a must see for all Henckel descendants!!
Richard Henkel, President
“The Henckel Family Association”