WENRICH, FRANCIS, retired, was born near Linglestown, Lower Paxton township, Dauphin county, Pa., September 9, 1810. He is a son of Peter and Susanna (Umberger) Wenrich. His paternal grandfather came from Germany and settled in Lebanon county. He was a soldier in the Revolution, participating in the battles of the Brandywine and of Germantown, served in the military operations on the frontiers against the Indians, and was subsequently at the massacre of Wyoming. He married Elizabeth Greiger; they had two sons, Peter, father of Francis, and Philip, besides several daughters. The elder Francis Wenrich died about 1825, and, with his wife, is buried in the Wenrich graveyard.
Heinrich Umberger, ancestor of Susanna Umberger, mother of the younger Francis Wenrich, came with his wife and two sons, Michael and John, to this country in the ship Hope. They landed at Philadelphia, August 28, 1733, and took up six hundred and forty acres of land, near where the city of Lebanon now stands. Michael Umberger had four sons: John, Henry, Adam, and Philip. John and Henry were soldiers of the Revolutionary war, serving as captains under Gen. Anthony Wayne. John was in the battle on Long Island, and was either killed or captured by the British, as he never returned or was heard of. Henry served through the war and returned home. He died aged one hundred and three years.
Adam Umberger, third son of Michael, had two sons, John and David, and two daughters, one of whom, Susanna H., is the mother of Francis Wenrich, having married Peter Wenrich, afterwards high sheriff of Dauphin county. The other daughter, Margaret, was married to Peter Heckert, of Linglestown, and died in Dauphin, aged ninety-two. John Umberger, son of Adam, married Elizabeth Wenrich, sister of Peter Wenrich, the high sheriff.
Peter Wenrich, son of Francis and Elizabeth (Greiger) Wenrich, was born near Linglestown, Dauphin county, Pa., in 1773. He was brought up on his father’s farm, and received a rather limited education. He removed to Halifax township, where he resided until his election to the office of sheriff of Dauphin county; he then removed to Harrisburg. His official term was from October 19, 1818, to October 16, 1821. He also became proprietor of the hotel which formerly occupied the site of the Lochiel House. Peter Wenrich was of moral character, a public-spirited citizen and a conscientious and efficient public servant. He died in Harrisburg, February 27, 1825, in the fifty-second year of his age. His marriage with Susanna, daughter of John Umberger, took place February 2, 1796. They had eleven children: John; Peter; Samuel; Francis; David; Joseph; Mary, wife of Henry Sheafer; Elizabeth, wife of Isaac Minshall; Susan, wife of Mr. Sloan; Sarah, wife of William Scott, and Rebecca, wife of Albert Umberger.
In 1816, when Francis Wenrich was six years old, his parents removed to the borough of Halifax; two years later, his father being made sheriff, the family removed to Harrisburg. There he attended a private school taught by Patrick McCushion, was afterwards a student in the Harrisburg Academy, until he was fourteen, and later attended a private school at Halifax. After his father’s death in 1825, Mr. Wenrich assisted his brother-in-law, Henry Sheafer, in the management of the hotel. Shortly after Mr. Sheafer took the contract for building the turnpike across Peters’ Mountain, and employed Francis Wenrich to superintend the work. This being completed, Francis engaged in contracting on his own account, and at sixteen years of age secured the contract of constructing two sections of the Lykens Valley railroad, projected and located some time before. Having finished this job in about a year, he was for some time employed as manager of the large store of Sheriff Samuel France, at Millersburg, Pa. He was next engaged in superintending the construction of the railroad from York, Pa., to Baltimore, Md., which occupied about one year. In 1846, in connection with his brother-in-law, Henry Sheafer, and Mr. Ehrman, he entered into a contract for the rebuilding of the Lykens Valley railroad and completed the work in about two years.
Mr. Wenrich afterwards returned to Millersburg, and was employed as shipping agent for the Lykens Valley Coal Company, the company then consisting of Simon Gratz, George Thompson, Rock Thompson, Henry Sheafer and Henry Schreiner. In this position he remained until 1861; he shipped over 225,000 tons of coal per annum for the Summit Branch Railway Coal Company. In 1864 he contracted with the Summit Branch Coal Company for the excavation and construction of the famous canal basin at Millersburg. After completing the basin he was employed by the company as shipping and sales agent. Since 1869 Mr. Wenrich has not been actively engaged in any business excepting the management of his extensive private interests. He was active and largely interested in the establishment of the Millersburg Bank, of which he is now the president. Mr. Wenrich began his business career at the age of fifteen without any money capital. His enviable success is due to his sagacity and foresight in business, and his correct and able methods. Young men will find in the record of his life encouragement and inspiration, and will learn from his history how one may rise from lowly conditions to honor and affluence.
Francis Wenrich was married, May 29, 1838, to Mary, daughter of Adam and Mary (Ditty) Light, born in Upper Paxton township, January 17, 1814. They have had four children: Joseph, born April 14, 1841, died September 12, 1842; Ellen, born August 11, 1849, died March 30, 1863; Mary, born April 2, 1844, died October 16, 1864, and Isadore, their only surviving child, born March 8, 1839. Mrs. Wenrich, the beloved wife of Francis Wenrich, passed peacefully away, June 5, 1896, after a brief illness of four weeks, in the eighty-third year of her age.
Mr. Wenrich is a Republican, and was unanimously nominated for the office of county treasurer by the county convention of his party, but declined the honor. In matters of religious faith his preferences are with the Presbyterian church.
Pages 1051 & 1052
Transcribed by Judy Warner Bookwalter, for the Dauphin County,
Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project – http://maley.net/transcription