Monday, February 12, 2007

BACKENSTO Family History: From Switzerland to PA to Ohio

By Randi Bowles Meentzen 2007
pictured above Luella May Backensto and husband Charles M. Tucker about 1905
The Backensto Family of Olivesburg Ohio
The Backensto family association is an active one with family experts such as Elwood Backensto and J.Hall Backensto keeping the webpages and family publications in order.My line of the Backensto family has needed a bit of attention and this is my attempt to add what information I have gleaned over the last several years.
The Backenstoss are first seen in America in Berks County Pa. in the early 1700's. After arriving from Rafz, Switzerland , Hans Uhlrich Backenstoss Sr. and wife Susanna nee Baur, along with other Swiss immigrants followed the Schyulkill Riverfrom Philadelphia to settle in Center Twp., Berks County, PA, It was formerly a part of the old Bern township. An excerpt from the will of Hans Ulrich gives insight into their life :
Wills, ., From History of Berks County, Pennsylvania, Compiled by Morton L. Montgomery, 1909 ... among the list of taxables in 1752, we find the name of this pioneer settler. His long will is on record in Will Book B, p. 347, in which he disposes of a very large estate. It is written in English, the signature alone being in German "Ulrich Backenstoss." The document was made Nov. 20, 1793, and was entered for probate Jan. 20, 1794, therefore it is evident that his death occurred between those two dates. In item No. 1 in the will he makes abundant provision for his wife Catherine, among the things mentioned being: "Plenty of grapes from the one-acre vineyard; flax; one gallon apple-jack; one gallon run; plenty of potatoes; plenty of cider and vinegar; plenty of winter apples and wood; plenty of everything she needs." This she was to receive annually, in addition to money and a home. Other items were: son John to receive the plantation; son Henry to receive the plantation in Bethel township, Dauphin, now Lebanon, county; and Jacob to receive the other plantation of 100 acres situated in Bethel township. The will, which also mentioned children Elizabeth, Susanna, Catherine Eckel and Christina Moyer, was witnessed by Jacob Runkel and Jacob Himmelberger and the executors were John Bagenstose and George Sharff.
In the early part of the 1800's a group of pioneers traveled by covered wagon, probably following the National Road. They included my 4th great grandparents Jacob Sr.Backensto and wife Rebecca nee Boeshore,and their eight children. Accompanying them was the family of Christian Uhrich, the Boeshore family and others. They took up farming in the fertile land of Richland County Ohio. It was rigorous work to clear the land for farming ( Plat maps can be seen in the pictures section of the "top page" as well as family tombstones). Their son Jacob Jr Backensto settled with his wife Hannah Fox in the area of Shenandoah , Richland Co Ohio and their son Uriah Pierce Backensto took up land in Olivesburg Ohio.
Beers History of Ohio has this to say about Jacob's brother Henry
BACKENSTO, HENRY, pioneer and retired farmer, was born in Dauphin Co., Penn., Oct. 31, 1825; his father came to Ohio about the year 1830; brought his family by wagon, and settled in Franklin Township, Richland Co., where he remained until he died in 1851. Henry was the fourth of eight children; he received his education in the subscription schools of the county ; at 16 years of age, be took charge of a thrashing machine, which he followed for six years ; his father gave him an 80 acre tract of land, which was covered with timber; he built a cabin on it, and moved into it in the fall of 1847; he in a few years purchased several other tracts ; bought a tract of land near Shiloh, and then sold his farm in Blooming Grove Township; in the year 1863, be moved to Shiloh, where he now liven; in 1873, he built a brick block in Shiloh, which he still owns. He came of a thrifty stock of Pennsylvania farmers; when he paid for his dwelling where he now resides, he had $15, which he earned when a boy between 8 and 12 years of age, making broom-handles and whipstocks. He was married to Miss Sarah Clayburg Oct. 28, 1847; they have nine children, four of whom are living.
I visited the village of Olivesburg in 2006. It is a lovely countryside with gently sloping hillsides. Time has stood still in regards to the scenery . The Amish horse and buggys which make their way to the Olivesburg General Store for feed and supplies only add to the aura of days gone by. Here is an excerpt which relates to this Olivesburg General Store and the Backenstos. The John Backensto mentioned here is the brother of my gggrandfatherUriah Pierce.
Olivesburg, Neighborhood News, A very exciting runaway occured here Thursday
evening. John Backensto drove to the store and left
his wife to hold the the horse while he went into the
store. Just as he returned and got the lines the
horse became frightened and ran quite a
distance,dragging Mr Backensto, when finally he lost
control of it and ran over the church hill and ran
against a telephone pole where it threw Mrs.
Backensto (nee Emma Crosier) out and freeing itself
from its haness ran a distance where it was caught by
C.D.Wolfe. Mr Backensto was badly bruised. Mrs
Backensto received no injury. May 23 1900
BEERS History of Ohio has this to say about Uriah Pierce's brother Anthony
BACKENSTO, ANTHONY J., was born in this county April 20, 1851, where he has since resided, and has lived in this township for a period of six years; his occupation has been that of farming all his life, In the year 1871, June 15, he was married to Miss Jane Eller; they have two children, both of which are still living, and named Ira E. and Ernestus C. The health of his family, together with himself, is not very good, and has not been since he removed to this place, he being troubled with the heart disease, while that of his wife and that of the oldest child is good, but the youngest has never been very rugged, although Mr. Backensto lives in one of the healthiest localities in his township, as well as one of the most pleasant ; although the Land of disease has laid its hood upon him, he has the satisfaction to know that himself and family enjoy the respect of all in the community where he resides.
Uriah Pierce Backensto and his wife Elizabeth nee Edmonds, daughter of Civil War Soldier David Edmonds and grandaughter of Rev War Soldier Sgt David Edmonds Sr., were the parents of 4 children, Luella May, (my great grandmother,pictured above ), Blanche, Omar and Levi . I found a wealth of information in the Mansfield News and the Mansfield News Journal about the Backensto family. Rarely would a month go by without a mention of the social happenings of this family in the "Neighborhood News" section of the papers. Luella appears to have been a lively and popular girl, active with the Epworth Society and attending frequent parties and events. In the weeks leading up to her marriage to Charles M. Tucker, a flurry of articles noted her comings and goings with freinds and family. After her marriage in 1901, she and Charles eventually moved to Savannah in Ashland County which was a only a matter of few miles from Olivesburg. Their eldest son was my grandfather, Frend Donald Tucker. His Siblings were Muriel Marie born in 1904, Nellie Ruth Tucker in 1910 and Ted in 1915.The four of them are pictured above. Ted was born in Guy Mills Pennsylvania during a family visit there. GGrandmother Luella May Backensto Tucker died unexpectedly at the age of 48. It was a shock to her friends and family and was initially listed as a heart attack. It was later discovered the cause of death was thyroid disease. Luellas son Ted Tuckers,later married Marguerite McCuen . She is now 90 years old tells me that it was a terrible sadness to all to loose Luella so early in life. She said that Luellas husband Charles Tucker was probably the most kind and gentle man she had known and raised the children on his own after Luella passed.Luella and Charles are at rest in the Ashland Cemetery on Main Street.
Luellas father,Uriah Pierce Backensto ,well known for his farming, his buisness acumen and community involvement, lived another 10 years after his daughter Luellas death. He was 80 years old.He is at rest with his wife Elizabeth in the Olivesburg Cemetery.
As noted in the above excerpts the Backensto's are called Dutch or German. As we know from other research ,they where Swiss. However at that time in History it seems the terms were viewed as interchangable .
John Hall Backensto's webpage is here
My family tree can be seen at the following link on WorldConnect at Rootsweb Freespace
The Following Backenstos are buried in the Old Olivesburg aka the Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Backensto, Bertha F. 1889 1968 w/o Omar A. Backensto, Charles E. 9/22/1920 4/13/2002 h/o Iva V. Backensto, Christine 1910 1985 w/o Howard P. Backensto, Elizabeth 1854 1907 w/o U. Pierce Backensto, Francis E. 1908 1975 WWII Backensto, Howard P. 1906 1995 h/o Christine Backensto, Leo 1881 1950 h/o Mary A. Backensto, Lila M. 1921 1971 w/o Omar L. Backensto, Martha 1916 1918 d/o Omar A. & Bertha F Backensto, Mary A. 1886 1966 w/o Backensto, Omar A. 1882 1959 h/o Bertha F. Backensto, Omar L. 1911 1975 WWII; h/o Lila Backensto, U. Pierce 1853 1933 h/o Elizabeth
More Backensto Records here:
Names from the Bible of Jacob Backensto
This is taken from the Ohio Genealogical Society Webpage. I have ordered copies of the Bible pages and when they arrive I will post the dates and images of the pages in the pictures section:
Backensto Almeda F. Backensto Benjamin Morelan Backensto Benjamin Morris
Backensto Derward
Backensto Eliza L
Backensto Eliza M Backensto Elizabeth Backensto Frederick Backensto George S Backensto Guy Backensto Jacob G Backensto John Hangen
Backensto John W
Backensto Joseph Backensto Lloyd c Backensto Mahala Backensto Mary Backensto Rollen Backensto William Hooks Backenstoes Anthony J Backenstoes Hannah Backenstoes Idy Niora Backenstoes Irne Backenstoes Jacob Backenstoes John Elmer Backenstoes Leila Ada Backenstoes Lilly May Backenstoes Mary M Backenstoes Mary Meliss Backenstoes Uriah Pierce Backenstoes Anthony J Backenstoes Hannah Backenstoes Idy Niora Backenstoes Irne Backenstoes Jacob Backenstoes John Elmer Backenstoes Leila Ada Backenstoes Lilly May Backenstoes Mary M Backenstoes Mary Melissa
One significant connection to Richland Co Ohio is Donner party survivor Virginia Backensto Murphy Reed.
She is well known for her article and book Across the Plains in the Donner Party. An excerpt about her follows
REED(-MURPHY,) VIRGINIA BACKENSTOE Though only 13 in 1846, when the Donner party departed,Virginia Reed has become one of the most prominent of Donner Party survivors. Most families in the party were very prejudice against the Reeds, James Reed being a wealthy, Irish emigrant, and Virginia Reed has contributed a great deal to what we know was more likely to have happened among the Party, through letters and the famous interview in Century Magazine.
She is a cousin of the Richland Co Backenstoes and would have been a generation older than my ggreatgrandmother Luella May Backensto Tucker. 1879-1923
Virginia Elizabeth Backensto was the daughter of Illinois tailor LLoyd Backensto who died several years after her birth. Her mother remarried and it was with the wealthy Reed stepfather and family that she traversed the frozen plains.
Here is a nice website about the Donner party
and here is a link to read more about the Richland County Ohio Backensto family
Randi Bowles Meentzen
Civil War Records of Ohio Backensto's
List is from the OGS webpage
First Name Company Regiment Beginning Rank Ending
Light Artillery Artificer Backenstoe Frederick W. A 1st Regiment, Ohio Cavalry Private Backenstoe George A. C 1st Regiment, Ohio Heavy Artillery Private Backenstoe John A 1st Regiment, Ohio Cavalry Quartermaster Sergeant Backenstone Edward 1st Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery Artificer Edward/Backenstoce Original filed under Edward/Backenstoce Backenstore, George A. C 1st Regiment, Ohio Heavy Artillery Private Private George A./Backenstoe Original filed under George A./Backenstoe Backenstos Henry I 126th Regiment, Ohio Infantry Corporal Sergeant Backenstos William I 123rd Regiment, Ohio Infantry Private Backenstose Edward 1st Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery Artificer Edward/Backenstoce Original filed under Edward/Backenstoce Backenstots Benjamin S. G 31st Regiment, Ohio Infantry Private B. S./Backenstots Backenstow Frederick W. A 1st Regiment, Ohio Cavalry Private Frederick W./Backenstoe Originaly filed under Frederick W./BackenstoeBackenstow John A 1st Regiment, Ohio Cavalry Quartermaster Sergeant John/Backenstoe Original filed under John/Backenstoe Backenstoe Frederick W. A 1st Regiment, Ohio Cavalry Private Backenstoe George A. C 1st Regiment, Ohio Heavy Artillery Private Backenstoe John A 1st Regiment, Ohio Cavalry Quartermaster Sergeant

1 comment:

John H. Backensto said...


My name is John H. Backensto, son of Miles A. Backensto, grandson of John H. Backensto and Ruth Backensto (Atkins). I would love to meet some Backensto family! My email address is