The Wentzell Family Bible

The Wentzell Family Bible
Note in Center of Page States:
"This book was bought at Towanda by the owner December 27th 1850 of Kingsbury's Store".
Dated June 25th 1852, Cherry, Sullivan County, State of Pennsylvania
The signature of Benneville Wentzell is crossed out.

Photo by Lynn Franklin

The Family Bible of Jacob and Percival Wentzell

These materials were arranged by Bob Sweeney for the Sullivan County Historical Society and for use and display by the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Project. We are also grateful to my wife Lynn Franklin for scanning assorted pictures of the Bible, helping me to transcribe it, and then preparing it safely for transport to the Society via Tina Pastusic, our local Administrator.

Prepared November 6, 2002
By Bob Sweeney
For the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Project

Note: The Wentzell Family Bible is 11 and 1/2 by 9 by 2 and 1/2 inches. The covers are separated from the text and slightly warped by age or mildew. The text is in good condition, except for the front and end pages, which are fragile and in loose format in some cases. The text has been thumbed, particularly the early part of the book.
Historical Context: You can learn more in general about the Wentzel or Wentsel family, its origins in Germany and early history in Pennsylvania By enetering and participating in the Wentzel Family Genealogy Forum.

The Holy Bible,

Containing the Old and New Testaments: Translated out of the Original Tongues, And With the former Translations diligently compared and revised. With Canne’s Marginal Notes and References.

To which are added An Index; An alphabetical table Of all the names in the Old and New Testaments, with their signification; Tables of scripture weights, measures, and coins, etc.

Jesper Harding,
No. 57 S. Third St.


Inside Cover

"Percival Wentzell’s Bible"bought of Jacob Wentzell July 15th 1858.Dushore Sullivan Co. Pa. Percival Wentzell (signature encircled)"

Frontispiece (back side):

"Benneville Wentzell" [in pencil]

Next are several loose pages that were originally blank, but then written on. The first page::

"Jan. 25th 1852
Cherry. Sullivan County
state of Pennsylvania"

This book was bought at Towanda by the owner December 27th 1850 at Kingsberry’s store.

Benneville Wentzell [crossed out]"

Note: On the first looseleaf page, there are some calculations on the left side in the original ink type. There is also a penciled in remark, perhaps from the Bible, on the right hand side of the page but it is very hard to decipher. The pencil inscription begins "Command you…" and ends "…from play"

Next page:

"Percival Wentzell --July [torn page]

United with the church of [torn page]
Christ, in the Old School Pres..[torn page]
branch, under the ministrations [page torn]
the Rev. Julius Foster, at Towa..[page torn]
Bradford County Pa. Oct 30, 1857 [page torn]
and received the sacrament of [page torn]
Lords Supper Nov. 1, 1857.

Benneville Wentz..’[page torn]

Next page:

[Note: all in pencil. There are various overlapping penciled remarks that may be biblical quotations, locations, and even lists. It would require a careful detailed analysis to pull these comments apart.

Back of this page references page 693, chapter 5 of this bible. If the reader goes to that page, he will find 1. Corinthians, Chapter V. There is also some math work or addition on the original back side of the originating page.

First Page of Family Records [after page 576]

First column=Marriages

"By the reverend Mr. Wm Pauli on the 15th day of February 1831

Mr. Jacob Wentzell
to Miss Susannah
Beare all of Berks County Pennsylvania

Note: Susannah Beare ("Bahr") was the daughter of John Bahr and Magdalena Reeser. You can learn more about this family at The Heritage of John Bahr. That page also contains a link to a history of the descendants of Jacob Wentzel and Susannah Beare ("Bahr").

On the 27th of March 1853 by the Rev. Wm. Reeser

Mr.AH Zaner to
Miss Fietta Wentzell,
all of Cherry, Sullivan Co."

Note:: You can learn more about this couple and about the Zaner family at The Zehner-Zaner Lineage in Faces and Families of Old Sullivan County, Group Six.

Note: Second column is torn out

Second Page of Family Records: Births

Note: The top half of the first column is torn out.

[torn line…]

consort of J Wentzell
daughter of John
Beare was born Feby
21st 1809 in Windsor
Township, Berks, Co, Penn.

Their children

Benneville Wentzell
Born December 10th

1831 near Reading
Berks County, Penna.

Second column:

Fietty Wentzell
born Febr.y 27th 1834
in Berne Township
Berks Co. Penna.

Percival Wentzell
was born in Cherry Township Sullivan Co.
Penna. August 3rd 1836"

Next Page of Family Records: Deaths

Note: These records are entered by more than one person, or by the same person at different ages in his or her life, which is recognizable in the different handwriting styles.

First column:

"Benneville Wentzell
died February the
21st 1858 in Dushore
Sullivan Co. Pa.
Aged 26 years 2 months
and 11 days.

He left this world’s
troubles and cares
while in his youth,
and in his best prime
of life, and it appeared
by his walk and con-
versation that his object
was to love and Serve
God, and made his eye
mark heaven ward and
To enter in at the golden
Gates of that Celestial
City of new Jerusa

Second column:

"Child of Percival
and Anna Wentzell

died January 13th1866.

Jacob Wentzell Died
July 17th 1878, Aged 84 yrs
2 months and 8 dys His
Funeral Sermons say preached
by Kramer [Krasner?] and {?…th]

Susannah Wentzell Died
October 19th 1878 Aged
64 yrs 7 months and 28 dys
His preach as above
[names of two preachers]"

Note: The Bible contains various loose items. One of these is a card with four sections each devoted to a different biblical quote from the New Testament. Another insertion has two separate handwritten [in pencil] paragraphs—one of which seems to be a set of self-instructions for preparing for the afterlife and the other is a quote from the New Testament. Third, there is a torn piece of an old newspaper of unknown significance.

The fourth and perhaps most amazing item found in the pages of the Bible is a folded up letter, handwritten in ink. It was inserted in the bible at page 618 where the Gospel According to St. Luke begins. The letter reads as follows:

The Kester Letter
Dated February 24, 1864, Renovo, Clinton County, PA
Addressed by Charles Kester to his Wife Mary (Bahr) Kester
Found in the Pages of the Wentzell Family Bible

Photo by Bob Sweeney

Renova [sic] Feb 24th ’64

Dear Wife I arrived safe today 24th and found the folks all well and business plenty. I have a place and will go to work in the morning, I work for the same man that William Hartzig works for, and I board with William. The men that work with us all board there and the boss boards there to [sic]. We get one dollar and fifty cents per day and they think about the 17th of next month they will pay two dollars a day and then it will pay. Write soon and I will write again.

Your loving Husband

Charles Kester

Charles and Mary Kester are found in the 1900 Census for Forks. He is on the bottom of page 9 and she is at the top of page 10. Linda Crawford, one of our regular readers and contributors, also pointed out to us that Charles Kester is written up in the Streby History of Forks Township and Forksville Boro as follows:

Charles Kester was born in Cherry Township, April 7, 1841. He was a son of Joseph and Catharine (Miller) Kester and a grandson of Jacob Kester, who was probably the first permanent settler of Cherry Township, where he located about 1813 on the farm now owned by Charles Bahr and Benjamin Kester. Mr. Kester located on the farm in Forks, where he now lives. He married Mary Ann Bahr. She was a daughter of Samuel and Caroline Lopfrom. Mr. Bahr, being a son of John Bahr, who settled in Cherry Township in 1833. To Mr. and Mrs. Kester have been born: Salinda, dec’d, married George Shrimp, dec’d of Forks; Samuel, who died in March, 1892; Alfred, of Forks; George, of Campbellville; Jerome, of Lexington, Mo.; Charles, also of Lexington, Mo.

Renovo is about 100 miles west of Dushore on the Susquehanna River in Clinton County, 20 miles or so northwest of Lock Haven, PA. Presumably, Charles went there to work in a lumber camp. How or why this letter, which is preserved in excellent condition on paper bearing a watermark, should have ended up in the Wentzell Family Bible is a mystery. Perhaps there was a connection of some kind through the Bahr, Hartzig, Shrimp or one of the other German families in the general Sullivan County area. On December 4, 2002, we received the following message from Dave Kester, the great-grandson of Charles Kester:

First, let me thank you for posting that letter on your site. I had nothing of a personal nature regarding my great grandfather Charles Kester except for a few church records from St. Paul's in Overton. This letter tells me a lot about his education, his strong work ethic, and his love and his devotion to his wife, Mary Ann and family, which at that time consisted of his first child, Celinda Susanna, b. 28 Jan 1862.

I can only speculate on how the letter got in the Wentzell Bible, but here are my thoughts based on a few facts. Percival Wentzell had a daughter Aurilla/Aurella, b. 12 Jun 1868. who married G. B. Yonkin. Then, Laurilla/Lorilla Wentzell, probably her sister, married Levi Yonkin, G.B.'s brother. Thus they established a Wentzell-Yonkin connection

Lewis W. Yonkin married Minerva Ann Hartzig, a granddaughter of Jacob Kester. Their son Charles E. Yonkin, my third cousin, once removed, lived in Forks Twp. at the same time as both Charles Kester, the author of this letter, and his son, my grandfather Alfred B. Kester. I know that my grandmother, Clara "May" (Musselman) Kester, was very close friends with a Yonkin woman whose first name I can't recall, but I've seen a picture of them together taken during a casual visit..

Also, my late first cousin, Helen Hottenstein, daughter of Willard B. Hottenstein and Blanche Kathleen Kester, had several marital connections to the Yonkin family. My sister, Ruthie, met some Yonkins at Helen's funeral in September 2002; she seemed to know our father, whom everyone called "Ted", quite well, but she doesn't recall their first names.

With these familial and societal ties, I believe there were probably many opportunities for a Kester to have come in contact with the Wentzell Bible. Perhaps Mary Ann or her daughter-in-law, May Kester, had occasion to peruse it. Perhaps on such an occasion either one of them might have used the letter as a bookmark. I know my grandmother May had some interest in genealogy because she often speculated that her paternal grandmother, Hannah Eisenhart, wife of Jacob Musselman, was connected to President Eisenhower. She was wrong, since the Eisenhowers were Eisenhauers in Germany, but it validates her interest, and heightens the possibility of her having looked at someone else's family Bible records, e.g., perhaps including the Wentzell Bible.

That's the best I can come up with at this point in time. Keep surprising me like this, I can take it... gladly!

Dave Kester

On March 15, 2004, we received a further update from Dave that may have resolved the issue thoroughly. Dave points out that "Beare" and "Bahr" are actually versions of the same name. Susannah Beare was the aunt (!!!) of Mary Ann Bahr, wife of Charles Kester, author of the letter found in the Bible. In addition, per Dave:

"According to Bradford County family histories, Samuel and Caroline Bahr, parents of Mary Ann Bahr, settled in Cherry Township, Sullivan County, PA, for a while, and then moved out West. Samuel's brother Benjamin also moved out West and another brother, Jacob, moved to Oregon. Samuel and Caroline must have departed before 1860, since both of their children were left behind living in the homes of neighbors. Mary Ann was 16 in 1860 and listed as living with the "Jacob Wentzel family" in Cherry Township, as doing housework. Her brother Samuel was 12 then and listed in the same census as living with the "Lewis Zaner family", and having been adopted by them."

With her husband Charles working in another county, it only seems natural that Mary Ann might have been living with her surrogate parents, especially since Susannah (Jacob Wentzell's wife) was her father's sister. Dave obtained this information from Laura DeWald, a correspondent on the family of Caroline Lopfrom, the wife of Samuel Bahr and therefore the mother of Mary Ann (Bahr) Kester.

P.S. You can learn more about the Kester family history at Descendants of Jacob Kester and Katherine Knubaharin. You can also see a group picture with Charles and Mary Ann (Bahr) Kester in it at Guilds.

There are also additional pieces of information relating to the Wentzel family that we can add here. One is a March 2003 note from Paula Wentsel that reads as follows:

The First United Church of Christ (it use to be the First Reformed Church), Berks County, PA) has a wonderful gal that works there and she is going through 300+ years worth of records and is mailing me anything with the last name of Wentzel. As I receive it I add it to my tree if I can figure out where the data belongs.

One of the records she sent to me was a baptismal record:

Parents-Jacob & Susannah Wentsel
child: Beneville, born 12-10-1831 bapt. 02-12-1832
Sponsors: John & Elizabeth Wentzel.

Of course, that is the Biennville Wentzel shown on the Bible entry.

I've been playing around on LDS, rootsweb and I have a Jacob Wentzel born May 14, 1794 (per baptismal records) who was the son of Christopher Wentzel --son of Johann Philip-- son of Lorentz. Jacob had a brother John who was married to an Elizabeth Wentzel, so the sponsors would indeed fit as well. Jacob also had a brother Samuel, whose daughter Rebecca married Jonas Leinbach and they had a son Percival Leinbach on 03-23-1844. The name Percivial shows up as the brother of Biennville Wentzel.

Jacob Wentzel owned land in Berks County, but I never could find a land deed reflecting when or who he sold it to. He just disappeared. Now we know where he went to. The death date shown in the Bible was July 17, 1878, at the age of 84 years, two months and two days. Which makes him a total match to the birth records I have on him in Berks county.

Here are two obituaries of relevance:

The Sullivan Review
Dushore, PA
January 5, 1921

Percival Wentzel, a life long citizen of this place died at his home on Railroad Avenue, Tuesday evening,, Jan. 4 at the age of 81 years.

Mr. Wentzel has been in poor health for the past year and for nearly three months has not been able to leave his room. He is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Levi B. Yonkin of Cherry township and Mrs. James Vincent at home, and one son, Leroy Wentzel.

Funeral services will be held at the home Friday at 2 o'clock with interment in Bahr Hill cemetery.

The Sullivan County Democrat
Dushore, PA
March 26, 1858

Died in Cherry, on the 21st of February, Benneville Wentzell, aged twenty-six years, two months and eleven days.

The sickness of the deceased was brief and his death unexpected. He had been ill with the measles, but had recovered so far as to walk to the village of Dushore. From this exposure he took cold, and sank to an early grave.

In life he was a diligent student, and was laying the foundation for a thorough education. He had spent some time in the Seminaries at Williamsport, and Towanda, and had made good use of his time and opportunities.

Though death came to him so suddenly and unexpectedly he was prepared to die. While at school in Towanda, he united with the Presbyterian Church, and he had resolved to devote himself to the Gospel ministry.

God has called him to a higher sphere. He is now learning at the feet of Jesus. In his diary he left on record many proofs that his affections were in heaven.

“Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”- Luke 12:40

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