Wentz Family

This final section describes the origin and movement of the Wentz family through my grandmother's generation. There is a lot of geography here, and it may be wise to consult an overview map of Pittsburgh.

Martin Wentz

Graben

It is very fortunate that there are persons dedicated to publishing genealogical data, usually about people with which they have no relation, as sooner or later someone may find it useful. In this instance it is me who thanks everyone who has ever transcribed an old document, paged through nearly illegible records of births and marriages, or indexed newspapers.

So from the Kirchenbücher der Dorf Graben I am blessed to have from a secondary source the following information :

Martin Wentz, citizen and mason in Graben was born 10 August 1816, sixth child of Martin Wentz, also citizen and mason in Graben and his wife Elisabetha Weick. He married 15 December 1842 Emma Virginia Lang of Graben, born 23 April 1818, illegitimate daughter of the Theilungskommisar Valentin Friedrich Lang and the single Friederike Katharina Kunzmann. At the time of his marriage, Martin Wentz declared himself as the father of her illegitimate child. The family emigrated to America in 1847.

and a listing of the children

The Wentz family had a presence in Graben for at least a century before this . Graben (German for grave, as in cemetery) itself has been a town near the upper Rhine, in the Land of Baden, about 25 miles north of Karlsruhe, for over 700 years; and its history (alas, in German) may be viewed at a website written for the celebration of its seventh centennial in 2006.

Emigration to America

It is further recorded that the following family arrived in New York City via the ship Havre, from Havre, on May 24, 1847 :

Wentz, Martin age 30 Male, farmer from Bavaria, unknown village
Wentz, Emma age 29 Female
Wentz, Carl age 7 Male child
Wentz, Caroline age 3 Female child
Wentz, Louis age 2 Male child

Nothing more is known concerning Martin, Emma and Caroline. Two of Martin Wentz' sons were in Pittsburgh after 1860. Both assumed English names; Karl became Charles and Ludwig, Louis. Information from the census, and later death certificates, confirm that this is the correct family.

Charles W. Wentz

Charles (English for Karl) appeared in Pittsburgh in the census from 1870 through 1910. The factual data I know from the census and his death certificate include the following:

While this is not perfect correspondence, it is close enough.

Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Birmingham, 1852

Pittsburgh and surrounding buroughs in 1852
Birmingham is the location in red south of the Monongahela River

The Pittsburgh directories showed Charles Wentz in Birmingham as of 1865. This would be the same person as found in the 1870 and 1880 census, whose address was 116 Sixteenth Avenue, Birmingham. In 1870 he was married to Margaret , born in Pennsylvania, 1843, and had three children: Louis Frederick Wentz, born 1863, Anna born in 1867, and Frank, born 1868. Later records show that his wife was Margaret Krempel (or Kremple) . Her father and mother, Jacob Francis and Ann Mary Krempel, lived in the third ward, Allegheny city. Jacob was a cabinet maker, later selling furniture and chairs. Judging from the census information, Margaret married before 1860.

I have been fortunate to learn of a family Bible, in the hands of the descendants of Charle's son Frank, which confirms all of the above investigation . It lists Charles children

and his marriage

By the 1880 census Charles' wife was Annie, born in Bavaria, 1853. Later census entries stated that she immigrated around 1867. Charles' obituary stated that her maiden name was Shubert.

The Pittsburgh directories listed Charles occupation in various ways, as box maker, glass packer, or window glass packer. Somewhere between 1888 and 1892 he and Annie moved to 323 Orchard Street, Knoxville, where they stayed for the rest of their lives. Charles declared his occupation in the 1900 census as "Capitalist". He died on December 3, 1919 of a cerebral hemorrhage. The death certificate states that his father was "unknown", and his mother Emma Kurtzmann . This would imply that his patronage was more doubtful than the official German record would indicate. The informant for the certificate was Charles second wife Anna. She lived for at least another twenty years, dying perhaps in 1943. She was known to Berta as "Gram on the hill".

323 Orchard, Knoxville

323 Orchard, Knoxville

Louis M. Wentz

Further evidence that the Wentz family came to Pittsburgh early can be found by the presence of Louis M. Wentz, who is probably Charles brother. He can be found in the same census records with birth dates and emigration data consistent with Ludwig Wentz in Graben, viz.:

Still not perfect correspondence, but the fit is satisfactory.

Louis showed up briefly in the Pittsburgh directories in 1870 as Lewis Wentz or Wenz, blacksmith, West Pittsburgh. He was then absent until 1880, when he reappeared in the city directories yearly through 1893. Various addresses are associated with him, all of which are on top of Mount Washington south of the Monongehela River. The 1880 census does a good job of showing what he had been up to:

Wentz, Louis M age 36 born Baden
Wentz, Adeline age 37 born Nassau
Wentz, Laura age 14 born Pennsylvania
Wentz, Frederick age 12 born Pennsylvania
Wentz, Charles age 9 born Pennsylvania
Wentz, Louis age 7 born Iowa
Wentz, Emma age 4 born Iowa
Wentz, William age 2 born Iowa

It would appear that Louis M. moved to Iowa and back during the 1870s. This is confirmed by a biography I have found of his most famous son, Louis H. Wentz. As this link has changed in the past I will put the entire text here; this qualifies as an "only in Pittsburgh" story .

eyeglasses icon

LOUIS HAINES WENTZ

(November 10, 1877 to June 9, 1949)

Lew Wentz, the son of a blacksmith, was reared with six brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh, PA. He was born in Tama City, Iowa. He loved children, Shetland ponies, the Republican Party and baseball: playing, organizing teams, and coaching. He even tried to buy the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934.

Charles Wentz' Children

But enough digression. Charles W. Wentz, you may recall, had three children reach adulthood.

Louis Frederick Wentz

Early years

Born July 4, 1862, according to his death certificate , Louis F. Wentz did not appear in the Pittsburgh directories until 1885, when he was listed as a bookkeeper. He was a cashier for the Mutual Union Telephone Company in 1886, and again was keeping books in 1887. Throughout this time he gave his address as 116 Sixteenth Avenue, Birmingham.

In 1888 everything changed .

Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, Oct 11, 1888.

At the residence of the bride's parents, corner Pride and Bluff streets, by Rev. J. T. Haley, Louis F. Wentz to Alberta W. Beck, Wednesday evening, Oct. 10, at 6:30

A Beck family digression

From the census, newspaper accounts and cemetery records I can assemble some Beck family history.

A Beck family came to Allegheny County early, judging from the name of Beck's Run shown on the overview map.

1815 Pittsburgh map

Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Birmingham in 1815

A William Beck (Sr.) was in Birmingham as early as the 1830 census, and it was reported that he was at one point the Burgess of that Borough . The Pittsburgh directories listed him as early as 1857 living on Centre, a street which became Fifteenth Street when the Borough became part of Pittsburgh in 1873.

Detail of Birmingham, 1872

Birmingham, 1872. The Beck residence and factory are labelled, upper right

He stated in the 1880 census that he was born (around 1808) in Pennsylvania, but his parents were both born in Ireland. His death notice appeared in 1890 :

Work of the Grim Reaper. Wm. Beck, an old and esteemed resident of the Twenty-fifth ward, died yesterday at his home on South Eighteenth street. He was 83 years of age. The funeral took place to-day.

While William (Sr.) was a carpenter, all of his sons ended up in the glass business. Son William (Jr.) was particularly successful; as of 1866, at the age of 30, he is listed as a partner in a glass-making company.

1873 ad

Pittsburgh Directory, 1873 advertisement

Indeed, the William Beck (Jr.) family in the 1880 census was living in a new estate development near Howard Station upstream on the Monongahela, three doors down from Joseph Doyle .

1876 Homestead map

1876 Map of Homestead and vicinity, showing the Beck and Doyle residences

On later plat maps that parcel appears to be at least two acres, and of course there are servants listed in the census records. The 1885 Directory showed that the family moved back into Pittsburgh, residing at the corner of Pride and Bluff Streets. The plat maps of the 6th ward of Pittsburgh show a large house with a carriage house in back.

Detail of Bluff Street, 1889

1889 Plat map detail showing Beck Residence on Bluff and Pride Streets

William, Jr. married Rachel Williams, who died January 2, 1892 at age 54 . William received a substantial obituary upon his death September 4, 1904 :

William Beck died at the family residence, 1501 Bluff street, at 6 o'clock this morning, after a short illness following a nervous collapse. Mr. Beck was born on the South Side, December 21, 1834, and was identified with the glass industry from a mere youth until his company was absorbed by the United States Glass Co. in 1891, when he retired from active business.

Mr. Beck is survived by two sons, William and Robert Beck, and two daughters, Mrs. L. F. Wentz and Mrs. Sarah Eurich, all of Pittsburg. His wife died 12 years ago. The deceased was a director of the Iron & Glass Dollar Savings Bank of the South Side, and was a member of the Royal Arcanum. He spent three months at Atlantic City during the past summer, arriving home two weeks ago. He was taken suddenly ill a week ago on Saturday and never rallied from the attack.

Mr. Beck was identified at one time or another with many of the early glass works of Pittsburg, and when the U. S. Glass Co. was organized he was a member of the firm of Doyle & Co.

Pittsburg years

I believe that like F. R. C. Perrin, Louis F. Wentz discovered enhanced business opportunities with his marriage. He and his wife resided at her parents residence for the next two years, then moved to Allegheny, the site of Louis business, that of making cigars !

Wentz, Stewart & Anderson, Manufactures of Cigars, Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15 Church Avenue. -- Prominent among the progressive and representative houses of Allegheny is that of Messrs. Wentz, Stewart & Anderson, manufacturers of cigars and stogies. This extensive business was established in 1889 by Messrs. Louis F. Wentz, Wm. W. Stewart, and Thos. W. Anderson. The partners have had long experience, and possess an intimate knowledge of every feature of this industry and the requirements of jobbing trade. The factory is a spacious three-story building, 40 x 100 feet in area. The various departments are fitted up with the latest improved appliances and apparatus, while steam power is utilized for cutting, heating, and sweating the leaf. Here two hundred skilled hands are employed, who turn out from eighty to ninety thousand cigars and stogies daily. The firm manufacture fine, medium, and cheap goods, their chief brands being "Clarendon," "Purity," "Gold Edge," "Plantation," "Silver Edge," "Dudes," etc. Their goods, according to their grade, are unrivalled for quality, finish, flavor, and uniform excellence, and have no superiors in the market. The firm promptly fills orders at the lowest possible prices, and its trade, which is rapidly increasing, now extends throughout the entire United States. Messrs. Wentz, Stewart & Anderson have agents in St. Louis, Louisville, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Nashville, Tennessee, Memphis, San Francisco, St. Paul, Chicago, Illinois, and fully warrant all their cigars and stogies to be exactly as represented. The partners are all natives of Allegheny, and are enterprising and honorable business men.

Louis F. stayed with that business for about five years, subsequently (starting in 1896) moving into the real estate and mortgage business, first in association with J. D. Irons, and from 1899 until at least 1930, on his own. His office was downtown Pittsburgh, at various 4th Avenue locations. Following the cigar making episode, Louis and Alberta moved back to Pittsburg and lived directly next door to the Becks on Bluff Street. Oh, and the cigar company? I dont think it is a coincidence that starting in 1900 Louis cousins Charles E. and Frederick W. were running a cigar making company, also in the south side neighborhood on Pride Street.

Crafton Years

After William Beck died in late 1904, the Wentz family moved to Crafton. The house at 47 Bradford Street was not present on the 1905 Crafton plat map; the 1907 Pittsburgh directory did not give a street address for Louis but a phone number: Crafton 40-R. The Bradford Street house is still extant; an older picture of the house is shown elsewhere.

47 Bradford

47 Bradford, Crafton

I have a little information regarding Lewis other business activities. In 1903 both he and William Beck were on the Board of Directors of The Iron & Glass Dollar Savings Bank of Birmingham, a modest bank about one tenth the size of the Mellon Bank at that time . In 1910 he became the first president of McCombs Company, a roofing enterprise run by William P. McCombs, a post he still held in 1930, according to the Pittsburgh directories . The directory also reveals that he was the secretary of the South Side Cemetery Company in 1918. In Crafton he proved to be a model citizen; he taught Sunday School classes at the Methodist Church , and served on the Board of Directors, Crafton Branch, Red Cross , as well as the Crafton School Board. Regarding the last position, there is the following citation from the Crafton High School year book :

Why do we call our annual "Ginkgo?"

Last year when we decided to have an annual, we wished to give it an unusual name -- something original. We also wished the name to be connected with the school in some way. When we first considered the name Ginkgo, which is the name of a tree, we thought we had a row of them on the school grounds; but found that they belonged to the property adjoining. Mr. Wentz, a member of the school board, said that if we wished to name our book "Ginkgo," he would give us a tree which we could plant somewhere on the school lawn. When the pupils voted on the names presented, "Ginkgo" was chosen; and the tree was planted April 19, 1922.

Louis died on June 13, 1935, and had a decent sized obituary in the Pittsburgh newspaper :

LOUIS F. WENTZ.

Louis F. Wentz, 73, secretary of the Crafton School Board for 24 years and a District Deputy Grand Master of Pennsylvania Masons, died in his home at 47 Bradford avenue, Crafton, yesterday afternoon. Mr. Wentz was born on the Southside but lived in Crafton for the last 31 years. He was a member of Milnor Lodge, F. & A. M.; Zerubbabel Chapter No. 167, No. 1 Commandery, Knights Templar; Syria Temple, and the First Methodist Episcopal Church, where he was a teacher in the Sunday School. Mr. Wentz leaves his wife, Alberta Beck Wentz; a son, Howard Wentz of Cleveland; a sister, Mrs. Anna Hammack of Washington, D.C.; a brother, Frank Wentz of Tampa, Fla., and four grand-children.

Louis F. and Alberta Beck Wentz had two children. Their daughter Helen was discussed in an earlier section. Son Howard Beck Wentz was born in 1896. He attended the University of Pittsburgh , graduating in Engineering. By 1930 he had married Emma Lou Courthen. He worked in Texas for a time and settled in Cleveland in the 1930s. The Cleveland Directories and Lea Perrin's address book show that the family lived in Rocky River, later moving to Lakewood and finally retiring to Florida. He had two sons.

Anna Laura Hammack nee Wentz

Louis only sister Ann is largely a mystery. She will appear in photos later, and she is mentioned in Anna Wentz' will in 1943. Her married name, and the one I can find in the 1910 census onwards in the District of Columbia, is Hammack. However, the same census states that this was her second marriage, and I am unable to identify her first husband. She had a daughter Laura from her first marriage; Laura married William Dittmar, and both of them died before 1930.

Francis William Krempel Wentz

Frank Wentz was also quite successful in business. In the 1890s the directories listed him as a bookkeeper, then secretary, and finally as of 1914 president of W. E. Osborn & Co., a produce and grocery organization. By 1918 he was chairman of the board. Despite all of this, his residence remained modest in the Knoxville borough, only 5 blocks north of his step-mother. He retired to Florida, where his wife died in 1929. His mother, and the rest of the Wentz family, joined him in the 1930s; he died in 1948 .

South Side Cemetery and the Beck Plot

South Side Cemetery was founded just south of Knoxville in 1873, and it seems likely that the Beck family purchased a family plot soon thereafter, as the family rests on a section of land which is located immediately upon entering the cemetery from Brownsville Road, in Circle A, section 15.I have put pictures of the entire plot in this

In the rear of this plot are two ornate but virtually unreadable marble stones. These may represent William and Jane Beck. However, the cemetery has no records concerning burials this early, and the few letters I can read on these stones disagree with the published times of death for either of this couple. So I will merely represent these stones below by presumption. In front of these two older stones are those of William Beck, Jr. and wife Rachel. The following is a summary of this cemetery section.