Hope Lodge

The Wentz Family, 1832 to 1921

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• The First Real Farmers at Hope Lodge

For almost ninety years the Wentz family owned the property known as Hope Lodge. This family was the only one whose primary interest was farming. Jacob Wentz had been a tenant on the property when it was owned by the Watmoughs, and he was a direct descendant of Peter Wentz the Elder who is said to have arrived in Pennsylvania prior to 1704. Jacob, who was born in 1785, the youngest of four boys, apparently grew up in a farming environment in Worcester Township, Montgomery County. He was affiliated with the German Reformed Church and at his death gave one thousand dollars to the Union Church of Whitemarsh where he and his wife are buried.

Jacob served as a captain with the Montgomery County militia in 1814 when the Philadelphia area was preparing for the possibility of an invasion by the British forces by way of the Chesapeake or Delaware Bays. Jacob married Catherine Heller, probably in 1815, and together they had eight children, the four oldest being daughters. In 1831 Jacob and his family became tenants at Hope Lodge and purchased the property from the Watmoughs in 1832 for $18,000. Wentz at the time was a man of some means. In 1832 he was taxed $3,500 for his investments as well as for a pleasure carriage.

Wentz apparently had a small dairy herd, and raised grain, hay and straw as cash crops. He had an orchard. In 1855, when he died, he owned ten cows, a bull, six horses and twenty-six swine. He also owned and operated the lime quarry and kilns south of Hope Lodge on the Bethlehem Pike. The will that Jacob drew up was a complicated one in which the sons would not receive their inheritance until the youngest one, who was 17, reached the age of 21. In 1859 the estate was divided and Thomas Jolly Wentz received the mansion and 38 acres. One year later, his younger brother John sold Thomas over 21 additional acres. It is believed that Thomas continued to farm.

Thomas married Mary Lightcap Streeper and together they had two sons. Thomas soon ran into financial difficulties and was forced to sell the property at a sheriff's sale in 1886. It was purchased by his mother-in-law, Sarah Streeper, who, upon her death, left it to her daughter, the aforementioned Mary Streeper Wentz. Mary remained the owner of the property for more than ten years. Details of how the land was used during this period are missing but it is probable that Mary Wentz rented the land until the sale of the property in 1921.

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