On the Trail of Our Ancestors

URL of this site: http://www.TrailofOurAncestors.com
Almost Canadian

Orange Beads

NOTE: The following article appears in The Wenger Book, a Wenger genealogy of the Wenger descendants of immigrant Christian Wenger and his wife Eve Graybill, who came to America on the ship Molly in 1727. (Christian and Eve married once they came to Pennsylvania.) This story is entitled "How My Family Almost Became Canadian", written by the late Samuel S. Wenger, editor-in-chief of the Wenger book. The preacher Joseph G. Wenger in the story is the great great great great grandfather of my husband, David E. Ristenbatt, and the Benjamin Wenger is my husband's great great great grandfather. This story is related with the hopes that someone reading it may ultimately trace their Canadian lineage back to Lancaster County, PA. This article is quoted in its entirety.

Sometime around the year 1800 a number of Pennsylvania Mennonites migrated to the area that was then called Upper Canada, now the province of Ontario. The first settlers who went there bought land out of a tract that has since become known as the Beasely Tract. The owner of this tract perpetrated a fraud on these purchasers, as the tract was subject to a mortgage that had not been released to these Mennonite purchasers. In the course of a few years, the holder of the mortgage initiated steps to foreclose his mortgage. If this were to happen, all of these purchasers would lose ownership of their lands.

In desperation they sent a delegation to Pennsylvania to raise sufficient money to buy the entire Beasely tract, enabling them to procure satisfaction of the ominous mortgage. Most of the money was collected in Lancaster County, but funds also were secured in Franklin County and in the Franconia District of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. The money in solid coins was assembled at a Brubaker home in Clay Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and was conveyed by a Conestoga Wagon to Ontario.

One of the inducements to procure subscriptions was that the subscriber would receive a deed to an area of land out of the unsold portion of the tract. In many instances someone from the subscriber's family would move north to take up the tract of land acquired.

Preacher Joseph G. Wenger subscribed a sufficient sum to acquire a small two-quarter section, each 160 acres. The family had agreed, so the legend goes, that the youngest son Benjamin, who had married Anna Erb, was to go to Canada and take up the ownership of these 320 acres of land.

Before this plan was actually consummated, there was an ordination for a deacon held at the Groffdale Church. In accordance with the long established custom of the American Mennonite Church, the selection was made by note and casting the "Lot" for the actual selection from among those who received notes. Among those who received notes was the writer's great grandfather Benjamin Wenger, who had been slated to go to Canada. The lot fell upon him, and he was ordained for the Groffdale congregation. As a consequence, he took his father's home farm and remained in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

So, by the fall of the lot, the writer's family did not become Canadian. Had the migration to Canada taken place, the Joseph Wenger children would have married other than was done in America, and there would have been no Samuel S. Wenger. The point is that all of us are precisely the persons we are because our ancestors married precisely the persons they did. Otherwise, each of us would be somebody else.

I (Samuel S. Wenger) have reexamined a map of the land transactions in Woolwich Township, Ontario, and I find that Joseph Wenger had acquired title to three tracts of land instead of two as mentioned above. In the settlement of his estate, it appears that these three tracts were sold to his second cousin David W. Brubaker, a great-grandson of his great-aunt Eve Wenger, who married Henry Weaver. (Weber)

Note: In The Wenger Book, it mentions that the above Joseph G.Wenger participated in the purchase of 45,195 acres of land, which forms what is known as the German Company Tract, or the Eby Tract, of Woolwich Township, Ontario, Canada. (The Eby Tract is bounded by Pilkington Tp. on the NE and Waterloo Tp on the SE, plus the Clergy Reserve for Six Nations on the west and Crown Reserve for Six Nations on the East.) The German Tract was apparently part of the Beasley Tract.

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