Generations of Henckels…
The Reverend Anthony Jacob Henckel Family National Association, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation and the education of Henckels (Henkel, Henkle, Hinkle, Hinkel, and other various spellings) family history and genealogy.
The Henckel family is fortunate to have incredible ancestral records dating back to the year 1500 AD in Germany. Many of these records are attributable to their involvement in the Lutheran Religion and in the churches where the Henckels preached and worshiped.
Anthony Jacob Henckel was born in Merenberg, Germany in 1668. He studied at Giessen University in Germany and was ordained into the Lutheran Church on February 28, 1692. The Reverend Henckel came to America with his wife and seven of their children and arrived in Philadelphia in September 1717. He was hired as the Pastor, of what was known then as the “Swamp Church” prior to leaving Germany, by The Frankfort Land Company. After helping, what is now, New Hanover Lutheran Church build a new church and school, Pastor Henckel helped to form and organized several Lutheran churches in Pennsylvania including: Christ Lutheran Church in Tulpehocken, Goshenhoppen Lutheran, and St. Augustus Lutheran, then known as the the Trappe Lutheran Church. In 1721. Reverend Henckel helped to form and established St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania. St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery is where Reverend Henckel and his wife, Maria Elizabeth Dentzer Henckel, are buried.
The descendants of Reverend Anthony Jacob Henckel are divided into branches designated for each of his seven adult children who migrated to Pennsylvania in 1717. These descendants who are now scattered across the United States continue to research, celebrate, and share their rich heritage through the work of Reverend Anthony Jacob Henckel Family National Association, Inc.
New Hanover Lutheran Church
Reverend Anthony Jacobs Henckel’s first church in America – 1717
Anthony Jacob and his family, before leaving Germany for America, were promised by the Frankfort Land Company 500 acres of land in what is today New Hanover, PA. The land in New Hanover was called “The Swamp” by German immigrants who were already living there. We must understand that the German definition of “swamp” is a place with fertile ground that is suitable for farming. As Anthony and his family discovered upon arrival the land was anything but a “swamp”. It was some of the most fertile farmland that had been discovered in America at that time.
Past history of the area has lead us to believe that the areas first church was started by Daniel Falkner around 1700. Current history, written in a two volume series entitled “Pastors and People” by Dr. Charles H. Glatfelter, the most respected historian of religion in Pennsylvania, corrects this misconceptions. According to Glatfelter, when the Henckels arrived in September 1717, Anthony Jacob, began to organize the German Lutherans, already in the area, into a congregation. During 1718, 50 acres or land was given to the Lutherans and a new church was built. The log structure took until about 1722 to complete. The new church was known as “The Swamp Lutheran Church”. Anthony Jacob was pastor of the congregation from 1718 until his death in 1728. During his 10 years in America he organized and formed numerous Lutheran congregations throughout the aea.
Towards the end of his life Reverend Henckel was helping to establish St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown, PA. He would attend meeting and conduct services in Germantown as part of his work. During the 40 mile horseback ride to Germantown, which would take a couple of days, he would stop along the way to minister to other Lutherans. On his last trip, while returning home, his horse threw him. He died the following day at Herman Grotehausen’s home. Grotehausen was a devout Lutheran who was helping Reverend Henkel to build the new church, which finally was complete in about 1732. Today the two friends are buried about seven-five feet from each other in the churches cemetery.
St. Michael’s Lutheran Church as it looked in 1865
In studying the history of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, we recently and ran across a website for The Germantown Historical Society. On the site, we found all kinds of great information on Germantown’s history, fantastic homes that remain from the 17th and 18th Century, and we were able to purchase a picture of the second St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. The first church was completed in about 1732, after Anthony Jacob’s death. The church was enlarged in 1746, and the second church was built in 1816 and demolished in 1865, to make room for the current structure completed in 1896. The picture below is from 1865, right before the second church was demolished. I wonder what they did for a church during those 31 years?