Tombstone Tuesday–Johann Bienz

Johann Bienz, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2019 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Johann Bienz, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Johann Bienz
Gest den 13 Juli 1898
75J, 3M, 20 T

Johann Bienz died 13 July 1898, aged 75 years, 3 months, 20 Days.

The records of Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm, indicate that Johann “John” Bienz was born 23 March 1823 in Gerlingen, Oberamt Liesberg, Wuerttemberg. [1]

John was the son of Balthas and Catharina Barbara (Weidlin) Bienz and was baptized in Gerlingen on 25 March 1823. [2]


Johannes Bienz, birth/baptism, Gerlingen, Wuerttemberg, 1823.

John Bienz married Louise A. Billmann 7 November 1848 near Schumm. John and Louise were from Zion, also according to Zion’s records. In addition, their marriage is recorded in Van Wert County Probate, although that record indicates they were married on 1 December 1848, married by Zion Schumm’s Rev. Streckfuss. [3] A notation on their church marriage record indicates that Louise died 18 June 1849. This is the only place her death is recorded in the church records and may be the only record of her death. There appears to be no surviving tombstone and deaths were not recorded in county probate until 1867. I found no mention of children born to John and Louise in the church records and you might speculate that Louise died from complications of pregnancy or childbirth.  

John Bienz married Magdalena Schueler 15 April 1852 near Schumm and both were from Zion’s parish.  Zion Schumm’s records indicate that John was a widower.

Magdalena was the daughter of Michael and Maria Katharina (Schumm) Schueler (1810-1838). Her mother Maria Katharina (Schumm) was the daughter of immigrant Johann Georg Schumm and she was also an immigrant.

In 1860 the John Bienz family lived near Schumm, with Christoph Kreiselmeyer and Michael Geisler as neighbors. The John Bienz family as enumerated in 1860: John, 36, born in Wuerttemberg; Rose AM, 24, born in Ohio; John F, 7; George E, 5; Catharine R, 4; Anna BC, 1; and Alfred Geier, 20, born in Bavaria. The children were reportedly all born in Ohio, except for the youngest, Anna, who is shown as being born in “Sonomy.” [4] I am not sure where this meant because she was likely born in Van Wert County.  

The John Bienz family in 1870, spelled Bence in this enumeration: John, 47; Magdalena, 35; John F, 17; George E, 15; Rosina C, 13; Anna BC, 11; John JC, 9; Henry W, 5; and Mary, 1. The father John was a farmer. [5]

The John Bienz household in 1880: John, 55; Magdalena, 45; Catharine, 21; John, 19; August, 17; Henry, 14; Mary, 11; Christian, 8; and Martin, 4. Her father, a farmer, was born in Wuerttemberg and her mother and siblings were born in Ohio. [6]

John Bienz died of brain fever on 13 July 1898, at the age of 75 years, 3 months, and 20 days, according to Zion Schumm’s records. He was buried on the 16th. His death is also recorded in Van Wert County Probate, which gives his age as 74 years and 4 months, his birthplace as Van Wert County, his residence as Schumm, and that he died of dropsy. [7]

Not all the dates on all the records add up, particularly John’s age when he died. His tombstone is weathered and very hard to read. The church records and probate records are sometimes not accurate. Surviving relatives sometimes gave the wrong information, not remembering or knowing the correct information. Therefore it is hard to determine his exact age.

John Bienz is buried next to their daughter Maria, who died the year before. John’s wife died in Adams County, Indiana, in 1916 and is buried there.

Johann and Magdalena (Schueler) Bienz had the following children:
Johann Friedrich (1853-1918), married Mary “Virginia” Bleichner
George Emanuel (1855-1954), married Lucinda “Cindy” Fox
Rosina Catharine (1857-1940), married Charles Carl Meyer
Anna Barbara Catharine (1859-1943), married Henry Linnemeier
Johann Jacob Andreas (1861-1935), married Caroline Dueker
August George (1863-1938), married Lena Strubel
Heinrich Wilhelm (1865-1926), married Mini Winte
Maria Barbara Elizabeth (1868-1897)
Christian Andreas (1872-1947?)
Ludwig Eberhart Ferdinand (1873-1876)
Martin Gottfried (1875-1954)
Wilhelm C (1878-1879)
Magdalena Anna Margaretha (1881-1965), married Charles Hobrock


[1] According to Sutton’s 1882 History of Van Wert and Mercer Counties, Ohio, p.258, one John B Bientz immigrated in 1838 with his wife and ten children. The family settled in Tully Township and about 1850 two of the sons, John and Jacob, settled in Willshire Township. The son John is today’s subject, as confirmed by the church records of Gerlingen.

[2] Lutheran Taufen, Tote, & Heiraten, 1564-1875, [Baptisms, Deaths & Marriages], Gerlingen, Wuerttemberg, 1823 baptisms, Johannes Bienz, 23 Mar 1823;, tree of klicen, viewed 2 Apr 2019.

[3] “Ohio Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : viewed 1 Apr 2019), John Bienz & Louisa A. Billmann, 1 Dec 1848; Van Wert Marriages, Vol. 1:55.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.150 (penned), dwelling 1071, family 1065, John Bientz; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 1 Apr 2019).

[5] 1870 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.439B, dwelling 135, family 136, John F. Bence; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 24 Mar 2019).

[6] 1880 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 145, p.452C, family 162, John Beinz; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 24 Mar 2019).

[7] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, Family Search ( : viewed 1 Apr 2019), John Bienz, 13 Jul 1898; Van Wert County Deaths, Vol. 2:13.




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    • Linda Duff on April 2, 2019 at 8:10 am
    • Reply

    I’m enjoying reading about the Bienz family. My maternal Bienz grandparents lived in Willshire & are buried in Willshire cemetery. They seem to be from a totally different branch of The Bienz family that you are posting about. I’m surprised as Bienz is an unusual name and living so close to each other. I was able to go back to my great great grandfather & could find no connection. Interesting. We have really enjoyed your Willshire1904 posts.

    1. That is interesting that there does not seem to be a connection to your family. From the 1882 Van Wert County History, it appears that a Johann “B.” Bientz immigrated in about 1838 with his 10 children and settled in Tully Township. It goes on to say that John and Jacob moved to Willshire Township about 1850 and I wonder if they didn’t change the spelling of their surname, so that the John and Jacob Bienz mentioned in Zion Schumm’s records were from that family. In the 1850 census, Tully Twp: I wonder if this is that same John “B.” Bientz family, enumerated as “Baldis” Bienze, 60; Catharine, 56; Barbara, 22; Jonathan, 26; Jacob, 24; Christiana, 23; Elisabeth, 3; John, 2; Christian, 21; Fredrick, 17; Margaret, 13; Mary, 12; Philip, 10. Germans often went by their middle name and the “Baldis” [Balthas?] could be the middle name of the Johann B. Bientz mentioned in the 1882 history. There are 11 younger people in this family, which makes me wonder, did the mother have more children or are some of them grandchildren or other relatives? Plus there are 2 Johns. There was a Jacob Bienz living with a Schumm in Willshire Township in 1850. Did he come from the above family? It is very interesting, especially since you have Bienz ancestry. Do you recognize any of the names in the 1850 enumeration as your ancestors? What is the name of your Bienz ancestor, as far back as you know in Van Wert County?

    • Linda Duff on April 2, 2019 at 9:42 am
    • Reply

    Kermit Elmo Bienz is my grand father who lived in Willshire. He was born in Adams County.

    Abram Walter Bienz born in Mercer County 1873-1919

    Christian H Bienz Germany 1829-1900

    Balthas Johann Bienz Germany 1790-1857

    All very interesting.

    1. Thanks! That helps. They “may” have all been from the same family, the descendants of Balthas Bienz. The history says John and Jacob moved to Willshire Township. Both John and Jacob are in Zion Schumm’s records and the records show they were both born in the same town. My *theory* is that they were brothers and were the sons of Balthas. Other Bienzs intermarried with some in the Schumm area (Roehm, Muntzinger, Pflueger, Schueler, Miller) and are mentioned in Zion’s records. Yes, it is all very interesting, and it’s not even my family! Although Jacob Bienz married Elisabeth Pflueger, daughter of Christian Pflueger. Elisabeth Pflueger was a sister to my great-great-grandmother Barbara Pflueger, who married Ludwig Schumm. Small world. We are almost related! On the other hand, there are some duplicate names, so there is still much research to be done. A lot of conjecture… Thanks for writing!

      (Later that same day) I found Johann’s birth/baptism record on, a German church record from his home town in Germany, confirming that he is the son of Balthas. I inserted a photo of this record in the blog post. Now we know. Very interesting family.

    • Raymond Hertz on October 29, 2019 at 6:33 pm
    • Reply

    I have found another reference to Louisa Billman: the Mortality Schedule for the 1850 Census (). FamilySearch gives her date of death as June 1850; however, this is almost certainly wrong, as the Mortality Schedule lists people who died in the year ENDING June 1, 1850. Therefore, it is likely that she died during June 1849, consistent with the church record. Her age at death is given as 18, so his would place her birth about 1831.

    The same Mortality Schedule gives the date of death for John G[eorg] Bienz as September 1849 (NOT 1850) (). He was killed by a falling tree. Strangely, I was looking for a cemetery in the woods where Catherine (Bienz) Roehm (1819-1858), John Georg’s sister, is buried. Since I was trespassing, I hid my car behind a cornfield. I got to thinking that, if a tree fell on me, I wouldn’t be found until harvest. John Georg is probably also buried in that cemetery.

    1. Thanks for that information! Those Mortality Schedules are helpful and interesting. That is a good story about being in the wooded cemetery. You sometimes think about those things. I was by myself in a remote old cemetery once and was so excited to get to a particular tombstone that I wasn’t watching where I was walking. I stepped in a hole and fell and was lucky that I didn’t break anything. At the time I was more worried about breaking my new camera than breaking any bones! Thanks for writing!

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