The 2018 Henckel Family Reunion reception and dinner was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Winchester. The reception began at 6:00 PM with Henckel family descendant from across America in attendance. Dinner was served at 7:00 PM and enjoyed by all. A presentation by our President Richard Henkel was made on the historic sites that we would be visiting on Saturday morning. Group assignments were then made to facilitate our movement to and from each site.
The Morning Tour
The first site visited on Saturday morning was the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley where Nick Powers, the Curator of Collections, gave a presentation and demonstration on the Henkel printing press which was acquired by the Museum from Duke University in late 2014. Nick indicated, that the press was bought by the Henkel family of New Market in 1806 and after a reconstruction effort was put into use around 1807. The first major accomplishment of The Henkel family’s printing business was the printing of the first newspaper in the Shenandoah Valley in 1809. Subsequently, children’s books and religious publications became the mainstay of the Henkel Press. The original press we believe was replaced in 1830 with a modernized press featuring a metal base. Around 1847 the press was again replaced for the printing of the English version of The Book of Concord. The new presses output was increased significant through major changes of the carriage system. Nick went on to explain that the Henkel printing company continued until 1971 when it was purchased by its largest customer the Lutheran Churches publishing company.
A tour of the rest of Museum of the Shenandoah VAlley was given by a member of the Museum’s staff after Nick’s presentation was completed. The tour was enjoyed by our members.
The second part of our morning tours was presented at the Godfrey Miller Museum and consisted of a tour of the home by Sandy Jones and John Trueblood members of the Museums staff. Sandy was dressed in 18th Century attire for her portion of the tour.
Matt Miller, a member of our “Association” then gave a great presentation on the relationships formed through the years by the Henkel and Miller families. These relationships began with the marriage of Reverend Paul Henkel’s oldest son Dr. Solomon Henkel to Godfrey Miller’s oldest daughter Rebecca in 1800. Matt brought many items of Henkel and Miller memorabilia that his side of the Miller family had collected for years. During his presentation, he skillfully tied marriages of Henkels and Millers together with the memorabilia he had brought to the reunion, including picture of more than 50 descendants of both families. After his presentation our members were able to see Fraktur (Family Registers of many of the families created by marriages within the two families. Medical equipment used by Miller and Henkel doctors and even a dental kit from the 1800’s was also on display. Other items included a pistol, thought have been used at the Hinkle Fort during the Revolutionary War and a beautiful quilt create by Henkel and Miller descendants in the 1800’s.
Our Picnic Lunch
We then adjourned for a picnic lunch at the beautiful Jim Barnette Park run by the City of Winchester. After a delicious barbecue lunch, the group headed back to “Historic Old Town Winchester” for four more historical stops. We visited the Bell House, which was built and complete in 1813 by John Bell and his wife Rebecca Ann Miller. The estate had a main house with three floors, which included a full basement. There was a smaller two story house adjacent to the main house. The house was where the Bell’s servants lived and worked. Their duties included cooking fo the family, keeping the beautiful grounds up, and maintaining the home.
The Afternoon Tour
Terry Heder, of the Shenandoah Battlefield Commission which had recently acquired the home, told us all about the history of the home. The most interesting part was that the home sat right in the middle of the famous Civil War Battle of Winchester. It luckily came out of the war virtual unscathed. The house was used as a hospital after the war. The Bell family retained ownership and lived in the home until the house was sold in 2017 to the Battlefield Commission. THe home will be used as a Museum for the Commission.
Our second stop on the afternoon tour was at the Handley Library. The library has to be one of the most beautiful small town libraries in America. It was completed and initially around occupied in 1919. When inside, everyone had to look up at the beautiful domed entrance. Our guided showed us the library’s auditorium and the second floor children’s library which were both well done. Our main focus at the library was the Archives Library where a display of Henkel and Miller memorabilia was set up by the Archives staff just for our families. The Archives contains pictures, scrapbooks, and many written documents that our family members of the past have donated to the library. We hope more Henkel and Miller families will donate their treasures to both the library and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
We then walked about a quarter of a mile to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church where we were met by the Church Historian, Mary Froeliche. Mary talked to our group about the history of the German Lutheran Church and how in 1753 the land for the church was given to the congregation by Lord Fairfax. She indicated that the original church sat in what is now Mt. Hebron Cemetery and that we would see the ruins of the church on our next stop.
She then talked about how the Millers and Henkels were involved with the church. Godfrey arrived from Germany in 1763. While in Germantown, PA, he asked many German Lutheran about settlement that they were considering. Winchester continually came into the discussion, so he decided to live in Winchester and immediately joined the German Lutheran Church, as it was called. Godfrey was a stocking weaver and had studied to be an apothecary in Germany. When he arrived in Winchester he brought with him his stocking loom and immediately rented a log cabin where lived and produced socks. After a few years passed, he opened an Apothecary Shop in what is now “Historic Winchester”. The building was large enough for him to put his sock weaving equipment in, so he ran both business out of the same building. The building still stand and is a restaurant today.
During 1785, a young Lutheran minister name Reverend Christian Streit was sent to Winchester to pastor the German Lutheran Church. In about 1786, Paul Henkel came to Winchester to meet Christian Streit. Paul had been preaching since he was 14 years old and when he meet Streit he was 33. He was not licensed to preach, so Rev. Streit tutored him for about a year and Paul was finally licensed to preach in Lutheran churches. Streit let Paul preach in the churches around Winchester that he served and continued to mentor him. In 1792, Paul was ordained by the Pennsylvania Ministerium. Streit and Henkel remained friends and associates until 1812, when Reverend Streit passed.
While in and around Winchester Paul obviously met Godfrey Miller through the Lutheran church and they became close friends. Paul’s oldest son was studying to be a doctor, so Solomon Henkel probably came to Winchester with his father to purchase medicine from Godfrey Miller. Solomon met Godfrey’s daughter Rebecca on one of his many trips and they were married in 1800. Their marriage started the Henkel-Miller ties which have lasted all these years and included many marriages between the two families.
Our last stop was at Mt. Hebron Cemetery, where Nick Powers of the The Museum of the Shenandoah gave a presentation on the “Old German Lutheran Church”. Our members sat in the middle of the ruins of the church to listen to Nick’s presentation. He started by telling us about Lord Fairfax donation of the land for the church in 1753. He indicated that the foundation of the building was laid in 1764. The construction of the church was sporadic over the coming 20 years because of the Revolutionary War. In 1775, it was noted that the spire was completed The church with its roof and spire in place was then used by American troops as a barracks between 1776 and 1783. In 1785, Reverend Christian Streit came to Winchester to pastor, as previously noted. He attempt to raise the money to complete the church, but was unsuccessful. The church continued to fall into disrepair. In 1790, the spire had to be replaced and two bells were purchased and placed in the spire. The bells wee rung every Saturday evening, but no church services were conducted. In 1795, an organ was place in the building, In 1800 the church started holding regular services. During 1812, Reverend Christian Streit died. During 1820 the churches interior was renovated. In 1844, the Mt. Hebron Cemetery was organized and the church remained. The stone church was destroyed by fire in 1854, when its roof was set fire by sparks from a nearby stable. Nick concluded his presentations as we sat in the middle of the churches remains, one stone wall and two cornerstones.
As we left the area, Nick walked us to the nearby graves of Godfrey and Anna Maria (Kurtz) Miller, where the Henckel Family Association had placed flowers on each of their graves.
Dinner Saturday Night
Our Saturday evening dinner at the Hilton Garden started at 7:00 and was enjoyed by all. A brief business meeting was held and the 2018 Henckel Family Association Reunion was adjourned.
Shown below: Godfrey and Anna Maria Millers Graves 6/16/18 – Flowers provided by “The Henckel Family Association” members. See 2018 Reunion – for more pictures