Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Bunch of Dead Henkels

It was a beautiful day last Friday, so Joseph and I took a walk. Enjoying the view of the mountains, we walked by this lovely old church and through the cemetery behind it.

I actually like walking through cemeteries. In the daytime, naturally. Cemeteries are obviously creepy & teeming with ghouls at night. Obviously.

I enjoy reading the epitaphs on all of the gravestones. Especially the older, decrepit ones that are hard to make out. Of course, there is always a part of me that is really hoping to come across something along the lines of, "Here lies good old Fred. A great big rock fell on his head." I think real cemeteries need more headstones like that, don't you?

Anywho, this wasn't the first time I'd walked through this particular cemetery, but this was the first time I noticed a grouping of Henkel grave markers. And it was the first time I became inappropriately excited in a cemetery. I may or may not have done happy little jigs between the lines of headstones. I give a whole new meaning to "dancing on your grave".

Why so excited about a bunch of dead Henkels??? Because they used to own the property lot that my house sits on. DUH!

I found Ambrose Henkel, the third son of Reverend Paul Henkel (the original owner of our property lot). In 1818, Paul Henkel sold the southern half of our property lot to Ambrose. Ambrose then purchased the northern half from his older brother Philip Henkel, thereby coming into possession of the complete lot.

"In Memoriam. Ambrose Henkel. Evangelical Lutheran Pastor. Departed this Life Jan. 6, 1870. aged 82 years, 5 months, and 26 days; son of Rev. Paul, son of Jacob, son of Jusius, son of Rev. Gerhard Henkel of Germany, founder of the First Lutheran Church in Philadelphia. Veronica. nec Heyl. his third wife, who departed this life Aug. 11, 1851; aged 18 years and 28 days."
In 1841, Ambrose Henkel sold the property lot to the Reverend Solomon D. Henkel. Solomon died in 1847 and in his will, he left the whole lot to his grandson, Solomon Peter Rupert. I had hoped that the gravemarker below was the same Solomon D. Henkel who owned my property, but the date of death doesn't match up, so this is probably a relative or son with the same name. I'll have to go back and see if I can find another S.D. Henkel.

"Solomon D. Henkel, Died October 9, 1872, aged 56 years and 10 months. Honest and upright in all the departments of life. 'O, death where is thy sting, O, grave where is thy victory.'"
Solomon Peter Rupert, the grandson of Solomon D. Henkel, married a local seminary teacher by the name of Jessie who sympathized with the Union during the Civil War. When Solomon P. Rupert committed suicide in 1884, a legal battle ensued over ownership of the property. Jessie Rupert, was able to purchase the southern half of the lot in public auction.  She then immediately sold the property to Lewis P. Henkel, who then immediately sold it to James Cox in December of 1884. Here is Lewis P. Henkel's gravestone:

"In remembrance of Lewis P. Henkel. Born Feb. 3, 1837. Died Jan. 30, 1904."
There were way more Henkel gravesites to investigate and photograph, but at this point, Joseph started complaining that the stroller had stopped all forward motion. So, you should probably thank Joseph profusely for saving you from 50 random pictures of headstones (which would have been super cool, right?!?). He accepts cookies, toys, and cash money.

I'm going to have to more thoroughly explore that cemetery on our next walk. Joseph can read Hop on Pop while he waits in the stroller ;).


  1. So. What I'd like to know is what was that 18 year old doing with 80 year old and how did she manage to die first!? And that was his THIRD wife? Seems fishy to me!

  2. i love graveyards too - we used to play in the st. john's one in richmond when we were little bc my grammy worked in the church gift shop there. how fun that you found the infamous dead henkels! and i'm loving the name ambrose - very fancy.

    also - what a gorgeous view!!

  3. You may, or may not, be interested by this random fact...

    I lived in the former groundskeepers house of a very old cemetary between the ages of 18 months-3 years old. Crazy! Me! I don't even like the dark!


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