Sunday, July 5, 2015

52 Ancestors: Another Patriot

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

It is timely and appropriate this week as Americans are enjoying 4th of July picnics and fireworks that we celebrate those patriots in our family who fought for this country’s independence. Most of the patriots in my family that I have already written about survived long enough to apply for pensions. However, there is at least one exception:  George Hinkle.

George Henckel/Hinkle was my 6X great-grandfather. He was born August 30, 1727 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, son of Johann Gerhard Anthony Henckel and Anna Catherine. About 1752 or 1753 he married Barbara Rowland.  Together they had a large family.

Pennsylvania Revolutionary War Battalions and Militia Index George Hinkle
A card on file with the Pennsylvania Revolutionary War Battalions and Militia Index indicates George served the colony. However, a search for service records on Fold3 produced nothing. Supposedly George died not long after attending the wounded at the Battle of Brandywine. This battle was fought between the American army under General George Washington and the British army under General Sir William Howe in September 1777. A decisive victory for the British resulted in heavy losses for the Americans forcing them to retreat. Whether George himself had been wounded or whether he had contracted a disease is not known at this time.

But it is not service in the war that George Hinkle is known for. There’s a mill – an inn – a bridge – and a town. According to Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society, “George Hinkle should be regarded and remembered as a great public benefactor. . . .” For years he operated a mill and an inn on his land lying on both sides of the Conestoga Creek not far from Ephrata in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The road passing through there was the one followed by travelers and Conestoga wagons traveling from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Often the creek was difficult to cross, sometimes even dangerous due to ice in winter and heavy rain in summer. Drownings were common. Travelers were often delayed for days and weeks at a time.

Map of Hinkletown, PA
The bright pink arrow marks the intersection of Route 322
and the Martindale Rd where the Hinkle mill was located
until recent years when it was torn down to widen Rt. 322
Even though bad conditions were good for the inn business, George unselfishly erected a bridge of wood and stone on his own property at his own expense. Although it is not known when he started or finished the project – best estimates indicate as early as 1760 – according to Deed Book P in the Recorder’s Office in Lancaster, it was March 26, 1772 that he conveyed the bridge to the county of Lancaster. The county commissioners decided to compensate George Hinkle for both the bridge and the land, so grateful were they for the “convenience and usefulness of the bridge.”

And the town? It is Hinkletown, an unincorporated town not far from Ephrata and Lancaster. George Hinkle is considered the founder.

George Hinkle died March 13, 1778 at the age of 51. He is buried in the Bergstrasse Cemetery in Ephrata.
George Hinkle tombstone Ephrata, Pennsylvania
photo by KMcCrea

In Memory of
George Hinkle
Who Departed this Life
March 13th 1778
Aged 51 years
My Life is done my Glass is run
Here I ly under Ground
Surrounded in clay until the day
I hear the Trumpet sound.

Battle of Brandywine. Wikipedia. Web. 29, June 2015.

Lancaster County Historical Society (PA).  Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society. Vols 23-24. Harvard University: 1918. Google Books. Web. 1 July, 2015.

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I love the way you can trace your ancestors way back and I suppose living in to your 50s was quite an achievement back then.

    1. You're right -- George was probably considered an old man.

  2. George was a fascinating man!! I too love the way you trace back your ancestors; so much family history you have!


    1. It is amazing to learn things like this.

  3. I love the epitaph on his tombstone. And you can read it pretty well for almost 250 years old.

    1. It is quite readable. It makes me wonder why some younger/newer stones can't be read at all. Material? Weather? Direction it faces?

  4. Such cool information! I am so impressed girl! Best find, can't wait for more!

  5. Oftentimes, those who are now "remembered as a great public benefactor" were only doing the things that needed to get done at the time. Interesting how those things become seen by future generations. Provides some encouragement to see what we, ourselves, are doing in a different light.

    1. I guess today the government might have just taken George's land by eminent domain, but he gave it willingly to help others. It looks like it bought him some good will too.

  6. I dont live far from this area if you would like photos of anything...

    1. Thanks -- but since the mill was torn down, I'm not sure what there is to photograph except the intersection. I'd like to see that if you are near there sometime. Thanks for the offer.

    2. Here are some photos. :)

      I'll try to label them soon - but as you can see, the intersection isn't too scenic anymore but it is deep in the heart of PA Dutch Country.

  7. Well how fun is that! Hinkletown! I love those old headstones.