Johann Diel Wentz--A Brief Biography

Information for this biography is from Handel Vance (Johann Diel Wentz, the Immigrant, 1728-1797) HIS ANCESTRY AND DESCENDANTS compiled by Shelley T. and Emogene Riherd and Margaret Vance Anderson [Heritage Books, Inc. 1991]. Mrs. Riherd and Mrs. Anderson have graciously given their consent to allow us to use information from their book in order to share the Vance genealogical line with others seeking their Vance ancestors.

Johann Diel Wentz born 1728 in Germany came to America in 1748 from the part of Germany that is called the Lower Palatinate. Other Wentzes arrived in Pennsylvania before Johann arrived on October 28, 1748 at the age of 20 (as he was listed in the records of the ship Patience and Margaret). In 1761, he is found living in Lancaster Co., PA. with his wife Elizabeth and their five sons (born between 1752 and 1761) William, Handel, Jr., John, Solomon, and Christopher. In 1772, Johann and his family migrated to Augusta Co., VA (which became Rockingham Co., VA in 1778). He bought 170 acres on Linville Creek in the Lower Shenandoah Valley and lived in Rockingham Co. until his death in 1797. At some point, Johann Diel Wentz was called Handiel and Handel. Remembering that the German pronunciation of "W" is the "V" sound, Colonial English clerks spelled names as they sounded; thus, Wentz became Vence and Vance (which is an English name and very confusing to genealogists researching Vance lines). Elizabeth died in 1811. At the time of Handel's death, his sons William, Handel, Jr., and John had migrated (or would soon migrate) to Kentucky. Solomon went to East Tennessee on Big Limestone (now in Washington Co., TN) and Christopher was in Rockingham Co.