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Johann Leonhard Benkelmann

Male 1796 - 1848  (52 years)


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  • Name Johann Leonhard Benkelmann  [1, 2, 3, 4
    Born 6 Feb 1796  Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 5
    Gender Male 
    Died 24 Feb 1848  Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 6
    Notes 
    • In a 1979 letter that Margaret-Bonnie Jacobs wrote to Ben Benkelman, Jr she said: "You may have heard from one source or another that I'm putting together rather a comprehensive history of the Benkelman family. To date, it's taken me most of my time just to track the original 10 immigrants and get them firmly placed and dated and documented. This year I am concentrating on the reach back to Germany. I have hired a genealogist there to see how far back we can go with the family before the mass emigration of the '50s. Just by collecting the data on the 10 immigrant children I have learned a great deal. All of the boys were artisans with trades. In Germany that usually meant  long apprenticeships. Since Adam and his brothers and sisters were born in different villages I assume the father, Leonhard, was also a tradesman of some sort rather than a farmer."

      BonnieMargaret later concluded they were all actually born at the Schneiderhof, across from Breech, on the outskirts of Börtlingen, and Parish records discovered later showed Leonhard's occupation as bricklayer

      In her 1981 unpublished manuscript, BonnieMargaret wrote that "On February 6, 1796 Johann Leonhard Benkelmann was born to Katharina Bauer, and according to the parish record, he was born at the Schneiderhof. The pastor dutifully recorded that he was unehelic (illegitimately) born and that he bore the name of his unehelic father, Johann Jacob Benkelmann of Plüderhausen. BonnieMargaret indicated that His mother was refered to on Leonhard's and his wife Dorothea's family register page as "Maria Katharina, frueher des Johannes Haeller auf dem Schneiderhof Ehefrau geborene Bauerin." This means that she was then the wife of Johann Haeller, and was born Maria Bauer. (pp. 56-58)

      When Leonhard's father, Johann Jacob, married another woman the year after Leonhard's birth, he was first required to provide 75 of the 200 florins he had inheritied from his grandfather to his "Weibsbild" for the upbringing of his son born out of wedlock. (p. 58)

      Leonhard was only 2l when his stepfather died , and as a result became the head of his mother's household.  He must have discharged all of his responsiblities admirably, because only five years later he was allowed to be married to Dorothea Stähle, the daughter of a respected citizen and farmer of Börtlingen. (Jacobs, p. 70).

      On the Parish records, he is referred to as a "Bauer and Maurer"...farmer and bricklayer.

      After Leonhard's death early in 1848, each of his 10 children that had survived into maturity emigrated to the United States. The first to leave was his namesake son, Leonhard, in the summer of 1849, who was age 21. The last was eldest son, Friedrich, and he left in 1873 at age 50, taking a large group of family members with him.

      The Benkelmanns were not alone. A huge number of Germany left their homeland in and around 1848. This excerpt, from a website about the "The Origins of the Forty-Eighters" in Davenport, Iowa applies to the Benkelmann family as well, even though Leonhard and Dorothea's children instead settled in first in New York, and later Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado, versus Iowa.

      Letters ... sent back to Germany were instrumental to channeling the influx of immigrants from Germany.....

      Historian Scott Christiansen explains the purpose of the letters:

      "They wanted to tell their friends back home how good it was in America. And they tended to exaggerate a little bit, because they were lonely and liked to have some of their compatriots come over and join them."

      The decision to emigrate from one's homeland is generally informed by two forces: the so-called push and pull forces. Letters from family and friends who had already settled in the new world certainly qualify as pull factors. Other such factors were the multitude of job opportunities, inexpensive, yet fertile cropland, and - especially important to the politically motivated Forty-Eighters - the guarantee of democratic liberties such as freedom of speech and expression.

      Many of the push factors are related to the causes of the German revolution. As the social and economic conditions in Germany worsened during the 1840s, many people were forced to look for new opportunities. [E]migration has become a matter of life or death, as one German newspaper put it. America with its promise of a new chance for everyone appealed to many Germans ready to emigrate. Reports from America, printed in German newspapers, underscored this notion. Iowa, for example, was described in 1847 as leaving little to be desired both to the productivity of its soil and the more bearable nature of its climate.

      While economic necessity might have been a major driving force for many to emigrate, political reasons also factored into the decision to leave the homeland. In fact, the Forty-Eighters are per definition political refugees who for the most part did not struggle financially. But one might argue that a majority of emigrants regarded both political circumstances and economic distress as making life in Germany unbearable. The causes for emigration thus intermingle in many cases.

      The strong early presence ...triggered a chain migration...in succeeding years. The term chain migration is defined by the Dictionary of Geography as [a] migration process which depends on a small number of pioneers, who make the first moves to set up a new home in a new place. They send information back home, and this encourages further migration from the originating area.

      BonnieMargaret Jacob's cited similar reasons in her manuscript, pointing out the decrease of demail for high-quality goods of the small town artisan, the reluctance of these artisians to move to cities to work in factories, the restrictive craftsman guild system that made it difficult to learn and advance in a trade, and the equally restrictive marriage laws.

      "The auswanderer went less to America to build something new than to regain and conserve something old...to till new fields and find new customers, true enough, but ultimately to keep the ways of life they were used to, which the new Europe seemed determined to destroy...people who traveled thousands of grim miles in order to keep their roots, their habits, their united families and the kind of future they wanted for their families. They did not wait passively for their roots to be broken, to be sure; yet they were conservatives, who acted radically in order to preserve, and who journeyed to another world to keep their homes." (Walker, Mack, GERMANY AND THE EMIGRATION 1816-1885, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1964, Page 69, as transcribed by BonnieMargaret Jacobs on pages 77 and 78 of her manuscript).
    Person ID I41  Strong Family Tree
    Last Modified 17 Aug 2014 

    Father Johann Jakob Binkelmann, III,   b. 16 Apr 1776, Plüderhausen, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 May 1842, Plüderhausen, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Mother Maria Catharina Baur,   b. Abt 1776, Breech, Börtlingen Parish, Göppingen, Donaukreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F37  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Maria Dorothea Stähle,   b. 5 Jan 1800, Börtlingen, Göppingen, Donaukreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Oct 1853, Transit to America, Lost At Sea Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 53 years) 
    Married 20 Nov 1822  Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 6
    • 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.
    Children 
     1. Johann Friedrich "Fredrick" Benkelman,   b. 6 Jan 1822, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Aug 1897, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     2. Leonhard Benkelmann,   b. 22 Dec 1823, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Jul 1824, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     3. Johann Adam Benkelman,   b. 13 Feb 1825, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Dec 1897, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years)
     4. Maria Dorothea "Dorothy" Benkelman,   b. 13 Jul 1826, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Jan 1888, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 61 years)
     5. Johann Georg Benkelmann,   b. 7 Aug 1827, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Sep 1827, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     6. Johann Leonhard "Leonard" Benkelman,   b. 5 Jul 1828, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 May 1913, Manitowoc, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years)
     7. Johann Georg "George" Benkelman,   b. 25 Jun 1830, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Jan 1908, Denver, Denver County, Colorado Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     8. Maria Catharina Benkelman,   b. 16 Aug 1831, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Dec 1883, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years)
     9. Anna Maria Benkelmann,   b. 18 Oct 1832, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Nov 1832, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     10. Luise "Louisa" Benkelman,   b. 14 Sep 1833, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Oct 1910, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     11. Johannes "John" Benkelman,   b. 3 Apr 1836, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Jan 1917, Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)
     12. Anna Maria "Mary" Benkelman,   b. 22 May 1839, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 May 1913, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years)
     13. Magdalena Benkelmann,   b. 13 Sep 1840, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Sep 1840, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     14. Rosine Benkelmann,   b. 10 Mar 1842, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Nov 1844, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 2 years)
     15. Maria Magdalena "Aunt Lena" Benkelman,   b. 31 Aug 1845, Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Jan 1926, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)
    Documents
    Benkelmann, Johann Leonhard and Dorothea (Stähle), Church Family Registry (German), page two
    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
    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
    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
    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, Germany
    Börtlingen, Germany
    Börtlingen 1683/1685 im Kieserschen Forstlagerbuch
    Last Modified 23 Jun 2013 
    Family ID F35  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 6 Feb 1796 - Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 20 Nov 1822 - Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 24 Feb 1848 - Schneiderhof, Waldhausen Parish, Welzheim, Jagstkreis, Württemberg, Germany Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Documents
    Benkelmann, Johann Leonhard and Dorothea (Stähle), Church Family Registry (German), page one
    Benkelmann, Johann Leonhard and Dorothea (Stähle), Church Family Registry (German), page one
    German Church Family registry for Leonhard Benkelmann and Dorothea Stähle, showing their names, marriage date, birthdates and parents. Their children are listed on the page two. Leonhard is shown as the son of Jacob Benkelmann of Plüderhausen, and Maria Katharina, wife of Johannes Heller living at the Schneiderhof, maiden name Bauer. Dorothea was born to Georg Freidrich Stähle, a farmer in Börtlingen, and Anna Maria, maiden name Leins.

  • Sources 
    1. [S152] Jacobs, BonnieMargaret McDonald--Family Researcher, Letter to Ben Benkelman, Jr., April-80. (Reliability: 3).

    2. [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. 56, 95 (Reliability: 3).

    3. [S311] Bonnell, Kathy Brandt (kbonnell@byu.edu) "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.).

    4. [S469] Williams, Dorothy Ball--Family Researcher (dotwfl@comcast.net) 3331 Southwest Villa Place, Palm City, FL 34990 ; based in part on BonnieMargaret Benkelman Jacob's unpublished typescript, THE FAMILY BENKELMAN.

    5. [S311] Bonnell, Kathy Brandt (kbonnell@byu.edu) "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.), she instead shows 5 Feb 1796 (Reliability: 3).

    6. [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).