The Old Homestead

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God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

- Romans 5:8


   Johan Jakob Schwenk was born about 1783 in Pennsylvania. Early records usually list his name as Johannes Schwenk. (1)
   Married Elizabeth Geissel on Feb. 12, 1805, at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown, Pa. It’s possible that she was the daughter of Johannes and Anna Luisa Geissel. They had a daughter named Elisabet who was born March 20, 1787, and baptized May 6, 1787, at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown, Pa. (2)
   Children: (3)
   Anna Maria Schwenk, born Nov. 18, 1805. Died in March 1806.
   Jacob Schwenk, born Feb. 12, 1807.
   Johannes Schwenk, born Feb. 8, 1809.
   Hannah Louisa Schwenk, born Sept. 27 or Dec. 10, 1810. Married George Erb.
   Wilhelm Schwenk, born Aug. 11, 1812.
   Hermann Schwenk, born Feb. 10, 1815.
   Nancy Schwenk, born Sept. 22, 1821.
   Hieronymous Schwenk, born Jan. 27, 1826.
   The Schwenks lived in southeastern Pennsylvania but the exact location is uncertain. They were married at a Lutheran church in Germantown in Philadelphia County and most of their children were baptized there until 1815.
   It seems likely that the family moved away from Germantown because the baptisms at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church end with Hermann’s in 1815. In addition, later church records indicate that Nancy was born in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, in 1821 and Hieronymous was born in Roxbury Township, Philadelphia County, in January 1826. The names John and Jacob Schwenk or Swink appear several times in the 1820 Census of Montgomery County, but none seems to be an ideal match for this family based on the ages of the members of the household.
   About 1826, after the birth of Hieronymous, the family moved to the area around Zelienople in Butler County, which is on the western side of Pennsylvania.
   However, Johannes did not live long after the move. He died in Zelienople on June 21, 1827.
   After the move to Butler County, the family attended at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople. Johannes’ funeral was held there. A few months later, on Oct. 24, 1827, Elizabeth was the sponsor at the baptisms of her children Nancy and Hieronymous. On the following April 4, Jakob and Johann Schwenk were confirmed in the church. Hannah was confirmed on June 14, 1829, and Wilhelm on March 28, 1834.
   After Jakob’s death, Elizabeth may have remarried. On Sept. 30, 1832, an Elizabeth Schwenk married Martin Bast
of Zelienople. (5) Elizabeth’s family does not appear to be listed in the 1830 Census of Butler County. However, a Martin Best appears in Connoquenessing Township in that year.
   Elizabeth appears to drop from the available records after the marriage.
   (1) Date from death record in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude M. Zieger, page 148. His birthplace is indicated in the 1880 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa., which says the parents of Hannah Erb were both born in Pennsylvania. Several Schwenk families lived in the general area during the likely time of Johannes’ birth so his parentage has not yet been established. (2) The marriage is recorded in the records of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown, Pa., which are available through “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” at Elizabeth also is identified as John’s wife in St. Paul’s records, page 26. (3) St. Michael’s baptismal records mention Anna Maria, Jacob, Johannes, Hanna Louisa, Wilhelm and Herman. They also list the death of Anna Maria. St. Paul’s records mention the following children, often with slightly different birth dates than those in the St. Michael’s records: Jacob and Johann, page 3; Hannah, page 5; Wilhelm, page 6; and Nancy and Hieronymous, page 26. It’s possible that the Schwenks had other children between 1815 and 1821 but these do not appear in the records of either St. Michael’s or St. Paul’s. (4) (5) St. Paul’s records, page 106.