1830 - 1908 (77 years)
||Johann Georg "George" Benkelman [1, 2, 3, 4] |
||25 Jun 1830
||Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany [1, 2, 3, 4]
||16 Jan 1908
||Denver, Denver County, Colorado [1, 4, 5, 6]
||Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado 
- Johann Georg Benkelmann was referenced as applying to emigrate to North America in 1850 by Schenk, Trudy and Froelke, Ruth THE Württemberg EMIGRATION INDEX Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Vol. 5. 1988. 240 p. Source Code 8057.8, p 14. Also listed with him in this index were Johann Adam and Catharine Benkelman (1851) and Johannes Benkelman (1851).
German Parish records show "ist 1850 Ausgewander." his actual emigration occuring in the same year he applied.
Hilda Stickley Benkelman wrote that "George came from Germany in a sailboat about 1852. He first went to Lancaster, New York, and worked in a sawmill for 25 cents a day. Then he and three friends bought a span of oxen and a covered wagon and started for California around 1854. They worked in the fields or anywhere they could find work to pay their expenses. They arrived in California during the Gold Rush, and found work in the mines for $10 a day. George saved his earnings, and staked his own claim. He lost all his money, and returned to work for other miners.
BonnieMargaret Jacobs, in her 1981 manuscript said that George "had an exquisite little brooch made of all the gold he had ever found its natural state. It is not large! But he laughed as he displayed the net results of his mining attempts....as my father gave the broach to me, he would laugh as heartily at the story of George scratching the earth all that time for no more glad than that!" (Jacobs, p. 117). He was called "Big George," while his nephew and associate in the cattle business was "Little George." (Ibid, p. 119)
He married Christine Rommel, and they moved to Iowa where they bought a herd of cattle. Christine drove the Oxen in a wagon, and George walked beside the cattle. Later they returned west, to Leadville, Colorado. Here he opened a store to service the miners. He also worked as a butcher. Their customers paid them in gold dust, which George and Christine took to the mint in Denver. They later sold their store, and bought a ranch in St. Francis, Kansas. Eventually he owned a hotel in Denver, which was named for him. This was sold by his heirs in 1952. (Stickley)
BonnieMargaret Jacob's states that on 27 Aug 1868, "The Rocky Mounty News" published a deposition of J. G. Benkelman in regards to the inquest of the death of the pregnant Mrs. Henrietta Dietermann and son. She had been captured and killed in a ambush by Indians in Douglas county, Colorado Territory. John was a resident of Central City, Colorada at the time, working as a butcher. At the time of the ambush, however, he and a small group men were tending to cattle at the time, about 45 miles southeast of Denver. (Jacobs, p. 118).
In a separate history she prepared about the Colorado and Nebraska Benkelman's, BonnieMargaret wrote: "The gold and silver strikes in the Rocky Mountains made Denver City a most desirable place for a young man to seek his fortune. John George Benkelman with his wife Christine Rommel Benkelman set out for Denver in 1862. After arriving in Denver, the couple spent the next few days tramping around Denver surveying the possibilities for livelihood. It was apparent that the miners needed supplies brought to them. John George felt like he could handle that chore. Among his many interests were a butcher shop and a shoe shop.
By 1868, George had amassed sufficient funds to consider entering into the cattle business. His headquarters were located at Running Water just east of Denver. The sheep ranchers were taking more and more of the range, so Big George decided to move further east. His first order of business was to contact George Adam Benkelman, his 19 year old nephew in Cass City, Michigan, to see if he was interested in going into the cattle business with him.
In 1870, Big George had purchased two lots in Denver from William Barth at 18th and California Street, for $800. He bought two additional lots for less. He built the Benkelman family residence on his block of land in 1871. Christine and the four boys were at home here. At the time, it was on the outskirts of Denver.
After operating over 30 years, the Benkelman Ranch was sold in 1903. The east half went to Josiah Crosby. This was later sold to Quinn and Martin of Oberlin. Jake Holzwarth leased this land for many years.
The west half of the ranch was sold to Reinholt and Puderbough. They sold their portion to J.G. McCall in 1917. In 1941, Frank R. Douthit purchased the ranch and turned it over Thad Douthit, Sr. Thad was able to regain most of the Benkelman holdings, and used the land to raise Registered Herefords. Thad Sr. died September 23, 1978, and the ranch was once again split up, this time between his son and son-in-law (Thad Douthit Jr and Roger Faulkender). These ranches were still operating as of 1987.
The original headquarters of the old JC Ranch was purchased by A.J. Sheldon, and later sold to Peter O'Brien. It is still a portion of the O'Brien Ranch, operated by Dean and Neal O'Brien.
In her 1981 manuscript, BonnieMargaret noted that George also invested wisely in real estate in Denver. He at one time owned most of what would become California street, from 16th to 18th street. His home was at 1725 California, which would soon become the heart of the banking area of Denver. He also owned a block on Curtis Street, this too in the heart of the commericial downtown area. (Jacobs, p. 121).
A notice of George's death appeared in the January 24, 1908 issue of the Cass City Chronicle, in "Local Items", page 4:
Mrs. John Striffler and Mrs. Louise Striffler received the news of the death of their brother, George Benkelman, on Jan 16, at his home in Denver, Colorado. Mr. M.M. Schwegler, another sister, who left Cass City last fall, to assist in caring for Mr. Benkelman, is expected by her friends to return to this place within a few months.
Census Place:Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado
Source:FHL Film 125 4088 National Archives Film T9-0088
Page 25 RelationSexMarrRaceAgeBirthplace
John G. BENKELMAN Self M M W 49 WURTEMBERG Occ: Live Stock Dealer Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
Christina BENKELMAN Wife F M W 48 WURTEMBERG Occ: Keeps House Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
George W. BENKELMAN Son M S W 17 CO Occ: School Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
Charles A. BENKELMAN Son M S W 14 CO Occ: Schoo lFa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
Henry J. BENKELMAN Son M S W 12 CO Occ: School Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
George A. BENKEMAN Other [Nephew] M M W 28 NY Occ: Cattle Dealer Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
Barbara BENKEMAN Other [Wife of Nephew AND sister-in-law] F M W 27 WURTEMBERG Occ: None Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
Mary DEVERNES Other [Sister] F S W 36 WURTEMBERG Occ: Seamstress Fa: WURTEMBERG Mo: WURTEMBERG
||Strong Family Tree
||17 Aug 2014 |
||Johann Leonhard Benkelmann, b. 6 Feb 1796, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany , d. 24 Feb 1848, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany (Age 52 years) |
||Maria Dorothea Stähle, b. 5 Jan 1800, Börtlingen, Göppingen, Donaukreis, Württemberg, Germany , d. 22 Oct 1853, Transit to America, Lost At Sea (Age 53 years) |
||20 Nov 1822
||Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany [7, 8]
- BonnieMargaret and her husband Bruce visited Germany in September, 1980. In a letter to Ben and Avis dated October 13, 1980, she shared the following information "Then we were on to Börtlingen, where Adam and Catherine were married. The church there was built in 1484 and is one of the most beautiful we saw anywhere. I decided to see the village of Breech--for no particular reason except I that I'd heard Elsie Anthes speak of it and it had turned up in various records. WE had no real family association there--but it was nearby. What a stroke of dumb luck! Without that decision we might never have found the Schneiderhof, where Adam and his siblings were born and lived until they emigrated. The Schneiderhof is not a town and is not on any map. It's just a cluster of about 4 houses and supporting buildings, just down and across the road from Breech, and if you were looking away for just a second, you'd miss the sign to it.
I cannot tell you my excitement! ...There is nothing new there. Adam would recognize it as if he had never left. The tools and equipment are there as they have been for who knows how long. It is surrounded by orchards (apples) and small plots of vegetables. Börtlingen is on a hill and is lovely with good views. The Schneiderhof is on top of the world, looking out on miles of hills and valleys and villages. It is incrediably beautiful. Again I found myself out in some cabbage patch, trying to explain to some farmer that this was my family heimat (home)...Clearly Americans are accepted as eccentric and harmless!...Vocabulary doesn't reach the beauty of that hilltop and its vistas out over hazy valleys, looking at other hills where red tiled houses form little villages. I can just imagine it at night--looking out over perhaps two dozen sparkling little villages on other hills around. One climbs from Börtlingen to the Schneiderhof. But going down the back side of the mountain, through dense forest, the trail winds back and forth across the mountain into Waldhausen--which the Schneiderhof also looks down upon. This is the trip the family took to get to church, and probably to work."
In her 1981 unpublished manuscript, BonnieMargaret noted that only the top floor of the Benkelmann home shows from the road leading in. The house is three stories high on the back side, two stories high in the front. It was built in 1733, by the state, to provide housing for state licensed artisans who were not allowed in the town as guild craftsmen. Apparently it gained its name from its first inhabitants, since the name literally means "the place of tailors." The official state description of the Schneiderhof in 1845 states that it was a place with 22 Evangelical residents, lying on the mountain top about one-half an hours walk from Waldhausen. The rents were paid to the city of Göppingen, in 1845 twelve of those residents would have been Leonhard and Dorothea and their 10 living children, others would have included Leonhard's widowed mother and some of her children by Herr Heller, and likely their families. The land was described as rocky and and lying on a mountainside, "even today it is impossible to use machinery to work the land" and that the "people who lived there would have to have outside work." The house itself lies on the very crest of the mountain, with the house built on the downside of the mountain, overlooking Waldhausen. A very small patch of is on the level crest at the top of the mountain. When BonnieMargaret visited the home in 1981, she said it had four or five dwellings in all, and barns and sheds nearby the house and in the orchards. Just west of the house stands the old Bauernhaus, perhaps the homestead of Leonhard's maternal grandparents. The fields to the south were planted in potatoes and turnips, the high production crops that all of southern Germany turned to in the early 1800's. Beyond the westernmost buildings were apple orchards, beautiful and well tended. (pp. 68, 69 and accompanying photos).
BonnieMargaret also noted that German life centered in the family. Even today we're told that day to day life included few close relationships with people outside the family. Certainly they were cordial and friendly with neighbors and cooperating artisans, but the joy of living was carefully protected within the walls of the home. Country people had no protection but each other, and the trusted "other" were kinsmen. Unlike the towns that were structured to protect the citizens from difficult times, the country folk were on their own, in good and bad times. Parents carefully nutured the bonds of affection and caring, and though they may have experienced the sibling rivalry that modern children do, it was not expressed in the German home, where only mutual caring and consideration were approved and encouraged.
Names and birthdates for this family were from the Waldhausen Parish Kirchlichen Familienregister Band I, Blatt 244, Dekanat Welzheim, Schwäbisch Gmünd. BonnieMargaret noted that all the family information shown on pages 95 and 96 of her book were certified by Pastor Rau of the Ev. Pfarramt Waldhausen to be the complete record of the family of Johann Leonhard Benkelmann, with the exceptions of the dates of death, which were included by BonnieMargaret from other sources. They had one stillborn child, neither name or sex listed, on 4 July 1838. She also noted that they were married on November 20, but the year was illegible.
The family register for the family of Georg Friedrich Stähle and wife, Anna Maria Leins shows that Maria Dorothea was the fifth of their 15 children. She was married at the Schneiderhof on 20 Nov 1822, approximately 10 months after the birth of eldest son Friedrich.
||Benkelmann, Johann Leonhard and Dorothea (Stähle), Church Family Registry (German), page two|
German Church Family registry, second page, which lists the fifteen children born to Leonhard and Dorothea. Four of these children died young, the twelfth child was stillborn ("todgeborenes"), and the remaining 10 children all emigrated to the United States between 1849 and 1873.
||Striffler-Benkelman Annual Labor Day Family Reunion, 1936 Newspaper article|
In the mid 1850's, in Erie County, New York, two sons of Jacob & Otilla Striffler married two Benkelman sisters. Shortly after their marriages, the couples moved to the Michigan frontier, many of their brothers and sisters following them. The two families remained intertwined for subsequent generations. At a reunion of the Henry Striffler family in 1930 it was decided to enlarge the scope of the reunion to include descendants of Henry, Jacob, Joseph, Christian, John and Susan Striffler. Members and "in laws" of these families first gathered at the Assembly grounds in Sebewaing for a reunion in 1932. As the Benkelman-Striffler family had remained very close over the years, all branches of the Benkelman family were invited to their Sixth Reunion, and since that time it remained a joint event. This articles from the 1936 "Cass City Chronicle" details one of the earliest joint reunions. Attended by over 170 family members, the reunion was held on the John Striffler homestead northeast of Cass City, with attendees travelling from Ontario, Ohio and many places in Michigan. President W.D. STRIFFLER presided at a business meeting in 1936, and Harry HUNT, Mrs. S.G BENKELMAN (the former Mary Striffler), and Mrs. Ben SCHWEGLER (the former Joanna Mark) were elected officers for the ensuing year. The first volume of the STRIFFLER-BENKELMAN BROADCAST was published for the September 1936 reunion.
||Striffler-Benkelman Reunion 1954 Handbill|
Handbill advertising the annual Striffler-Benkelman Reunion, 1954, featuring Cass City's Main Street. At the fiftieth Striffler-Benkelman Reunion in 1981, Ruth Schenck Esau recalled a time when on Main Street, the owners of the newspaper, a farm implement store, both meat markets, the grocery store, paint store, insurance agency, funeral home, and photography studio were all members of the Striffler-Benkelman clan; not to mention a bank teller, many clerks, the music teacher, and many of the town's farmers.
||Striffler-Benkelman Reunion Photo, 1961|
Group Photo fromthe 30th Striffler-Benkelman Reunion, held September 4, 1961 at the Cass City Evangelical Church, founded by members of the Striffler and Benkelman families
Börtlingen 1683/1685 im Kieserschen Forstlagerbuch
||Group Sheet, Family chart
||Christina "Christine" Rommel, b. 3 Mar 1831, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Württemberg, Germany , d. 10 Jan 1903, Denver, Denver County, Colorado (Age 71 years) |
||Lancaster, Erie County, New York [9, 10]
- In the 1981 unpublished manuscript, BonnieMargaret Jacobs stated that George Benkelman and Christina Rommel were married in Lancaster, New Yorkafter George had returned their from California for a short visit. The families had lived in close proximity in Germany, and BonnieMargaret theorized that "George's plan (to marry her) was well formulated" prior to his trip back to New York. "When she arrived in America, we don't yet know, but she was there and waiting and willing when George returned." Art Peck instead lists the location of their marriage as in Sturgis, Michigan. Christina's father, Michael Rommel, was assesed taxes in Michigan in 1863 and 1864, and younger sister Mary Rommel was married to Christian Striffler in St. Joseph County, MI "prior to returning to Lancaster"...so it appears possible that George and Christina could have been married in either location. In the footnotes to her chapter on Johann Georg Benkelmann, BonnieMargaret also notes that newspaper biographies of George varied in the account of the location of his marriage, one stating he married Christine on his return to New York, another saying he went to Lancaster and then on to Michigan to marry Christine before heading back west.
| ||1. George W. "Denver George" Benkelman, b. 23 Sep 1862, Blackhawk, Colorado Territory , d. 28 Dec 1925, Denver, Denver County, Colorado (Age 63 years)|
| ||2. Frank B. Benkelman, b. May 1864, Denver, Colorado Territory , d. 14 Dec 1875, Denver, Colorado Territory (Age ~ 11 years)|
| ||3. Charles A. Benkelman, b. 7 Feb 1866, Blackhawk, Colorado Territory , d. 17 Jun 1917, Denver, Denver County, Colorado (Age 51 years)|
| ||4. Henry J. "Harry" Benkelman, b. 6 Nov 1867, Blackhawk, Colorado Territory , d. 11 Dec 1915, Denver, Denver County, Colorado (Age 48 years)|
||1 Jul 2013 |
||Group Sheet, Family chart
||Benkelman, Johann Georg
Husband of Christine Rommel
B. 1830 Württemberg D. 1908 Colorado
Margaret "Bonnie" Jacob's wrote: "The gold and silver strikes in the Rocky Mountains made Denver City a most desirable place for a young man to seek his fortune. John George Benkelman with his wife Christine set out for Denver in 1862. After arriving in Denver, the couple spent the next few days tramping around Denver surveying the possibilities for livelihood. It was apparent that the miners needed supplies brought to them. John George felt like he could handle that chore. Among his many interests were a butcher shop and a shoe shop.
||Benkelman Immigrants, ca 1890's: Six of the Ten Benkelmann Children who emigrated from Württemberg, Germany to the United States|
Top Row, l to r, Lena Benkelman Schwegler, Maria Benkelman Striffler , Georg Benkelman, Louisa Benkelman Striffler
Bottom Row, l to r, Frederick Benkelman, Adam Benkelman
Children of Johann Leonhard Benkelmann and Maria Dorothea Stähle
Must have been taken while George was visiting Cass City from Denver, and sometime prior to 1897, when Frederick died
||_Benkelman, Johann Georg|
Husband of Christina Rommel
B. 1830 Württemberg D. 1908 Colorado
||Benkelman Ranch Cowboys ca 1879|
Photo taken at the Benkelman Ranch in Kansas ca 1879
||Benkelman, Johann Georg ca 1880's with wife Christina Rommel|
George and Christina, both immigrants from Germany, were married in 1861. They raised four sons in Denver, Colorado.
||Benkelman and Neighboring Ranches, Republican River Valley, at the borders of Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado|
From the book, "Sutton's Southwest Nebraska," E.S. Sutton, Published by the Author, Benkelman, Nebraska, 1983
||Sutton, E.S. "Sutton's Southwest Nebraska" (Published by the Author, Benkelman, Nebraska, 1983); page 166-167|
Benkelman Ranch History
||Sutton, E.S. "Sutton's Southwest Nebraska" (Published by the Author, Benkelman, Nebraska, 1983); page 168-169|
Benkelman Ranch History
||Sutton, E.S. "Sutton's Southwest Nebraska" (Published by the Author, Benkelman, Nebraska, 1983); page 170-171|
Benkelman Ranch History
||Benkelman, Nebraska Train Depot|
A train passing through the Benkelman Nebraska Train Depot, northeast of the Benkelman Ranch Holdings in Cheyenne County, Kansas
- [S492] Peck, Edward Arthur THE TEN BENKELMANS WHO EMIGRATED TO AMERICA Ca. 1850s AND CERTAIN OF THEIR DESCENDANTS, 1982.
- [S1610] Jacobs, BonnieMargaret McDonald "The Family Benkelman" Unpublished Manuscript, 276 pages, October 1981 Version, (Copy owned by Barney Benkelman, Helena, Montana; which he xeroxed and sent to Melinda McLemore Strong in San Antonio, Texas), p. 95, 117, 124 (Reliability: 3).
- [S311] Bonnell, Kathy Brandt (firstname.lastname@example.org) "Göppingen, Württemberg, Germany and surrounding villages" http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=kbonnell, (RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project: Göppingen, Württemberg, Germany and surrounding villages. This database is one large family tree; everyone is connected by birth or marriage. Many of the families were inputted from the family books which were compiled by the pastors of each village beginning in 1808. Villages include Heiningen, Bartenbach, Gruibingen, Faurdau, Schlat, Hattenhofen, Eislingen, Holzheim, Auendorf , Dürnau, Bezgenriet, Ebersbach , Maitis, Gammelshausen, Börtlingen, Boll, and others. Kathy Brandt Bonnell work directly from German records to the computer.).
- [S873] Find A Grave [database online]; http://www.findagrave.com/, (Thousands of contributors submit new listings, updates, corrections, photographs and virtual flowers every hour to the FIND A GRAVE website. When it comes to administrating, building and maintaining the site, Find A Grave is largely operated by its founder, Jim Tipton.), # 54921677 (Reliability: 3).
- [S653] Cass City Chronicle, P.O. Box 115, Cass City, Michigan 48726, Published continously since 1899, archived from 1899 through 2005 at http://newspapers.rawson.lib.mi.us/chronicle/, January 24, 1908 (Reliability: 3).
- [S1610] Jacobs, BonnieMargaret McDonald "The Family Benkelman" Unpublished Manuscript, 276 pages, October 1981 Version, (Copy owned by Barney Benkelman, Helena, Montana; which he xeroxed and sent to Melinda McLemore Strong in San Antonio, Texas), p. 117, 122, 124 (Reliability: 3).
- [S469] Williams, Dorothy Ball--Family Researcher (email@example.com) 3331 Southwest Villa Place, Palm City, FL 34990 ; based in part on BonnieMargaret Benkelman Jacob's unpublished typescript, THE FAMILY BENKELMAN.
- [S1610] Jacobs, BonnieMargaret McDonald "The Family Benkelman" Unpublished Manuscript, 276 pages, October 1981 Version, (Copy owned by Barney Benkelman, Helena, Montana; which he xeroxed and sent to Melinda McLemore Strong in San Antonio, Texas), p. 95 (Reliability: 3).
- [S492] Peck, Edward Arthur THE TEN BENKELMANS WHO EMIGRATED TO AMERICA Ca. 1850s AND CERTAIN OF THEIR DESCENDANTS, 1982, He shows that they were married in Sturgis, Michigan. (Reliability: 3).
- [S1610] Jacobs, BonnieMargaret McDonald "The Family Benkelman" Unpublished Manuscript, 276 pages, October 1981 Version, (Copy owned by Barney Benkelman, Helena, Montana; which he xeroxed and sent to Melinda McLemore Strong in San Antonio, Texas), p. 117 (Reliability: 3).