(Taken in part from chapter IV of "The Grishams" by James F. Henderson.)
Lentz is a German name whose source is baptismal. It means a descendant of Lonzo, a nickname for Lando (land). There are several variants of this name including Lenz, Lanz, Lentz, and Lance. Foreign equivalents are Lando (Italian) and Landowski (Polish).
The latest census records indicate that are 20,900 people in this country named Lentz. This makes it rank as the 2,184th most populous name. Knowing how prolific the Lentz' have been, we can assume that 20,900 number is incorrect, or most of the Lentz' changed the spelling of their name.
There has been a great deal of family research done by John Paul Lentz of North Carolina. He published a book, The Lentz Heritage, in which he very thoroughly listed each of the four Lentz brothers and their descendants. His book was a treasure trove of information on this branch of the family.
The Lentz Family dates back to Heidelberg, Germany where the four brothers came from. Peter and John arrived first, about 1750 in Charleston, South Carolina. Next to come was Bastian who arrived in Philadelphia on Sept. 14, 1753. Dewalt Lentz Sr. followed him, arriving in Philadelphia in November, 1764.
Our ancestor, Peter Lentz, almost immediately sent back to Germany for his sweetheart. While on board the ship to America, Chloe sewed her wedding dress from materials given to her by her family. After the marriage of Peter and Chloe, they sold the wedding dress and used the money to buy a cow. From the cow they got milk for their first born child, John Henry.
Peter's family and John's family lived in South Carolina for a few years before settling in Rowan County, North Carolina. Dewalt and Bastian proceeded them to North Carolina. All four brothers lived within eleven miles of each other while there and helped to build the Organ Lutheran Church. Also living in Rowan County at this time was Coleby Jackson and Andrew Jackson.
Peter moved his family to Buncombe County where he and Chloe lived out their lives and are buried there in unmarked graves.
John Lentz moved back to South Carolina. Dewalt and Bastian remained in Rowan County, and both are buried in the cemetery at Organ Church. Their graves are marked with monuments honoring their service as Revolutionary War veterans.
It has been reported that around the mid 1770's, John Henry married a Cherokee Indian by the name of Sevilla _____. Recent e-mails from Lisa Lentz (Lovetto@aol.com) report that John married Sevilla Helsey in Shenandoah Co., VA on 5 Feb. 1792. John saw service in the Revolutionary War. The couple continued to live in North Carolina until 1810 when they moved to Alabama. They had fourteen children, of which apparently, ten of them reached adulthood. The entire family, plus the spouses of the adult children, moved to Alabama.
Even though John Henry had land grants in what is now Limestone County, they were forced to settle in Madison County (Cluttsville) near the Indian Lands boundary lines. Indians were living on those lands, and the Army troops from nearby Fort Hampton were under orders not to let white people on the land. It was 1818 before they got possession of the land. The community of Lentzville was named for John Henry Lentz and he is buried in the Lentzville Cemetery. In 1996 the Sons of the American Revolution placed a marker on his grave honoring his Revolutionary War service.
Solomon, one son of John Henry and Sevilla, was my favorite ancestor (James Henderson's quote.). From the time of early childhood until his death, he was a very independent and strong-minded individual. At age twelve, he joined Andrew Jackson's Army when it stopped in Huntsville, Alabama on the way to Horseshoe Bend. He went with Jackson to Horseshoe Bend and took part in that battle. This made him a Veteran of the War of 1812. Solomon lived his life out in Limestone County, and as so many of our ancestors did, he remained loyal to the Union during the civil war.
This loyalty almost cost him his life. In his pension application, Solomon tells of much harassment by Southern troops. One time, soldiers came to his house to burn him out and take his livestock. He was in his sixties at that time. He told of the Southern soldiers threatening to, "Hang that dam'd old Union fellow, but they did not do it, for I told them to go on, but I allowed to hurt them if they undertook it, for I had my hands on an axe and I allowed to use."
Solomon was the father of Melinda Caroline Lentz who married Abraham Bud Casteel. The were the parents of Flora Vienna (Casteel) Rose who is the present writer's grandmother.
A very good friend of Solomon and a close neighbor was Willis P. Grisham. Included in Solomon's pension application was an affidavit in support of him by Willis P. Grisham. Some of the Grishams migrated to Arkansas in the 1880's and were the ancestors of the present writer's father, Kenon Parham.
Some of our Lentz cousins were quite famous. Two
names you'll recognize who also descended from Peter Lentz, but changed
the name spelling to Lance, are Bert Lance, Budget Director for Jimmy Carter,
and Philip Lafayette Lance. Sure, you recognize the name; he founded the
Lance Peanut Company.