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The Life & Times Of John Justus Henckel
Written and submitted by Sarah Hinkle Warner From Pendleton County, WV Past and Present, page 61
John Justus "Jost" Henkel, son of Rev. Anthony Jacob Henckel, was born in Daudenzell, Germany, 10 February 1706 and died August 1778 in Germany Valley, Pendleton Co., WV. He was eleven years of age when he reached Pennsylvania where he grew to manhood on his fathers farm in New Hanover Township.
After he married Maria Eschmann, a German-Swiss, about 1730, they removed to Upper Milford Township in Bucks (now Lehigh) County,. near Dillingerville, Pennsylvania where they joined the Gossenhoppen Congregation. Until 1748 he paid taxes there, but in 1750 he sold his land, and by 1751 he and his family, which then included ten children, were living on Dutchmans Creek in the Forks of the Yadkin in Rowan (now Davidson) County, North Carolina. Two more children were born in Rowan County, North Carolina.
After only ten years in Rowan County, NC, John Justus Henkel in 1760 removed to Germany Valley on the north fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River in Augusta, later Rockingham County, VA, and now Pendleton County, WV. All of his children including three of his married children and their families were said to have accompanied him to Germany Valley, but there is doubt that his daughter Catherine who married John Adam Biffle made the move. The successful arrangements for the migration of so many individuals required the mind and leadership of a remarkable individual. The records of his family clearly indicate that John Justus Henkel was indeed an exceptional man.
A careful study of Henkel and Biffle records raises serious doubt if Catherine Henkel and her husband Adam Biffle accompanied her father to Germany Valley. A daughter Mary was born ca. 1758 in Rowan Co., NC; son John, their eldest son, was born there in 1760, the same year of the removal, and their youngest son, Jacob, was born there in 1763. If the couple did remove to Germany Valley, they must have soon returned because other Rowan County records place Adam in that county as late as 1779. By 1779 he removed from Rowan County and entered land on the south bank of the Holston River Valley in what is now Sullivan County, Tennessee. In this move, as already mentioned, he was accompanied by his son-in-law, John Jacob Eller, Jr.
Among the married children who removed to Germany Valley with John Justus Henkel were his oldest daughter, Anna Maria Henkel and her husband Moses Elsworth, his oldest son, Jacob Henkel, and his wife Barbara Teter, and daughter Rebecca Henkel and her husband Paul Teter. Among the three couples were several grandchildren, including young Paul Biffle, son of Jacob and Barbara Teter Henkel, who was destined to become a most distinguished Lutheran minister, printer and publisher of the southeastern frontier.
All of his sons-in-law, his sons and some grandsons were active in the Revolutionary War. His family fort became a military fort and was used to quarter and drill the militia. The Henkel Family Association in 1938 placed a handsome granite arrow-head monument honoring John Justus Henkel near the site of his fort. Also a West Virginia Historical marker which mentions the Hinkle Fort is placed adjacent to highway # 33 overlooking Germany Valley. (Note: My wife and I visited these sites soon after Conf III but were advised not to attempt to reach the Henkel cemetery without making prior arrangements.)
One reason often mentioned for the move of the Henkels from Rowan County was to escape Indian problems associated with the uprising among the Cherokees in 1760. This explanation seems implausible since the land on which they settled in Germany Valley was adjacent to the Seneca and Shawnee Indians trail along which much Indian traffic still passed between the northern and southern tribes. The first task facing the family upon their arrival was the erection of a fort large enough to protect the large extended Henkel family from Indian attack. It seems unlikely that John Justus Henkel would not have known that Indian problems existed in Germany Valley prior to his arrival there.
A more logical explanation suggested by some for his move to Germany Valley, was his concern about the legacy he would leave his large family of children and grandchildren. He was past fifty years of age when he decided apparently that sufficient fertile land could not be acquired in Rowan County to insure the future security for his children and grandchildren. He was attracted to the more fertile limestone soil in Germany Valley where cheap land was abundant. His decision then sprang apparently from that same impulse, common to all early settlers of that period - the desire for more and better land that would provide economic security for his immediate family and future descendants.
John Justus Henkel and members of his family are buried in a grave on the hillside overlooking the site of the fort. The dimensions of the character, intelligence, and accomplishments of John Justus Henkel are revealed in part by his great courage and skill in safely removing such a large number of family members from Rowan County to Germany Valley and building a historic fort. Equally revealing was his concern for his families future, and his acquisition of much land to insure that future. Perhaps the major revelation about this remarkable man was the transmission of the essence of his own character and moral values to his children and grandchildren