A Guide to the

Henkel Family Papers, 1801-2008

SC 0253

Compiled by: Tiffany Cole, December 2017


Descriptive Summary


Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Henkel Family Papers, 1801-2008

Collection No.: SC 0253
Creator: Henkel Family

Extent: 3 boxes; 1.08 cubic feet

Language: English, German

Abstract: The Henkel Family Papers, 1801-2008, document the influential Henkel family of Rockingham and Shenandoah counties in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The collection, primarily documenting the Siram and Margaret Koiner Henkel line of the family, is comprised of correspondence, personal and financial papers, and genealogical research materials.


Administrative Information


Access Restrictions: Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box #, folder #], Henkel Family Papers, 1801-2008, SC 0253, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Acquisition Information: Acquired from Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates’ November 10, 2017 Americana & Fine Antiques Auction, Featuring Virginia and the South auction.
Provenance: Material was property of a Henkel family descendant, presumably Mildred Renalds Wittig, great-granddaughter of Siram and Margaret Koiner Henkel.
Processing Information: Much of the collection was received in three-ring binders with the manuscripts in plastic sleeves. The correspondence was generally arranged in chronological order. The documents were removed from the binders and plastic sleeves and placed in Mylar when necessary.

Bio/Historical Note:

Several complete and thorough genealogies have been written about the Henkel family and their contributions as doctors, printers, entrepreneurs, millers, and religious leaders. As such, this biographical note does not serve as an exhaustive rehashing of previous scholarship. Researchers are encouraged to review published secondary sources for additional information on the Henkel family.

The Henkel Family of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley descends from Rev. Paul Henkel (1754-1825) and Elizabeth Henkel (d. 1843). Siram Peter Henkel, who along with his immediate family is primarily documented in this collection, was the fifth child of Dr. Solomon Henkel (1777-1847) and Rebecca Miller Henkel (1780-1854) and grandson of Rev. Paul Henkel.

Siram was born March 16, 1809 in New Market, Virginia. In an attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps, Siram attended, but did not complete, medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He married Margaret Koiner (variously spelled Coiner) Henkel (1820-1899) of Augusta County, Virginia on June 30, 1835. The couple settled at “The Plains” – located between New Market and Timberville – in September 1835 and their thirteen children, many of whom are also documented in this collection, were born and raised there. Siram farmed various crops and also operated a store and mill at The Plains. The Plains Mill was erected between 1847 and 1849 under the direction of Siram and his father Solomon, prior to his death in August 1847.

During the American Civil War, two of Siram and Margeret’s sons served for the Confederacy. Lewis Philip (1837-1904) served in the Ordance Department of the Confederate Army. Around 1863, Lewis became a member of Co. H (Valley Rangers) of the 10th Virginia Cavalry. Luther Melanchton (1841-1919) was also a member of the Confederate Army and wrote home to his father from various camps. Lewis and Luther’s brother Samuel Augustus (1840-1885) was exempt from military duty due to medical reasons. He became epileptic after sustaining injuries from run-away horses in 1855.

In 1878, one year prior to Siram’s death, he sketched the plans for a new house at Plains Mill. The house was built in 1882 and served as the residence for Siram’s widow, Margaret, until her death in 1899. The aforementioned sketch and photographs of the completed house are found in this collection.

Scope and Content:

The Henkel Family Papers, 1801-2008, document the influential Henkel family of Shenandoah and Rockingham counties in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The collection, chiefly documenting the Siram and Margaret Koiner Henkel line of the family, is comprised primarily of correspondence written to Siram P. Henkel and includes letters from his sons Lewis and Luther during their service in the American Civil War. The collection also includes personal and financial papers of various Henkel family members including Siram’s children and genealogical research materials, much of which was used to inform Mildred Renalds Wittig’s Henkel – Renalds Connection: with Ancestral Scripts and Collections (2014).

The collections is arranged in four series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1827-1913
Series 2: Personal Papers, 1801-1881
Series 3: Financial Files, 1832-1959
Series 4: Genealogy and Research Files, 1890-2008

All series are arranged chronologically.

United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Plains Mill, VDHR File No. 082-5403, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. 2014.

Wittig, Mildred Renalds. Henkel – Renalds Connection: with Ancestral Scripts and Collections. Harrisonburg, Va.: Custom Printing, 2014.

Related Material: Henkel Family Papers, 1783-1916, SC 0099, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Henkel Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Henkel family records, 1838-1903. Business records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond.

Henkel-Miller Family Papers, 1793-1910, #14434, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Henkel Plain Mills Store Daybook, 1835-1849, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

Multiple collections under the accession number 8653, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library.

Many of the documents in this collection are copied and transcribed in Mildred Renalds Wittig’s Henkel – Renalds Connection (2014).

Separated Material: Several issues of serials including the Lutheran Church Visitor and the Southern Churchman have been removed from the collection and cataloged as part of Special Collections’ rare book collection. Additionally, the facsimile publication of the Day Book for Solomon Henkel at the Plains Mills, Rockingham County, Virginia (2013) and Mildred Renalds Wittig’s Henkel – Renalds Connection: with Ancestral Scripts and Collections (2nd ed., 2014) were removed from the collection and cataloged separately.


Series 1: Correspondence, 1827-1913

Series 1: Correspondence, 1827-1913, chiefly contains letters written to Siram P. Henkel with correspondents including members of the Koiner/Coiner family of Augusta County, the Miller family of Winchester, and the Rupert family of Augusta County. The correspondents report on family and community news, marriages, health and illnesses, deaths, weather, harvest and planting updates, crop yields, and include fellow merchants requesting advice on the market of certain goods and numerous requests for Dr. Henkel’s pills. Of particular interest are the letters written to Siram by his sons Lewis and Luther while serving in the American Civil War. The sons, and Luther in particular, write about camp life and general updates related to the war. In a December 21, 1861 letter to his father, Lewis P. Henkel writes from Winchester and mentions General Stonewall Jackson. He also refers to General Gilbert S. Meem as “Genl. Drunk.”

This series also contains correspondence to/from other Henkel family members including Dr. Solomon Henkel, Samuel G. Henkel, Solomon D. Henkel, Maggie Henkel Renalds, Lillian Henkel, and Margaret Koiner Henkel.

The documentary record confirms that Margaret Koiner Henkel’s family were slaveholders and given the date of much of the correspondence, a portion relates to slavery and slaveholding. Delia Koiner Overholt wrote to her sister Margaret Henkel on May 28, 1847 relaying the news of their grandfather’s death. She goes on to write that “eleven or twelve blacks are to be sold and a great deal of property.” In a January 24, 1857 letter to Siram Henkel, Delia Koiner Overholt writes again to describe in detail describes the sale of slaves from her grandfather’s estate. A similarly noteworthy letter, dated August 13, 1835, was penned by Siram Henkel to his wife Margaret in which he describes a large “drove” of slaves that passed through the Valley. He describes the scene as follows: “There were eighty-four chained together to one long chain; there were also a great many women and children that were also in company; the whole number of men, women & children was two hundred and forty.”

All correspondence addressed to Dr. Solomon Henkel and/or Solomon Henkel P.M. is filed with Solomon Henkel (1777-1847), who was a practicing physician and served as Shenandoah County’s first postmaster. A concerted effort was made on behalf of the archivist to not confuse his papers with those of his son Solomon David Henkel (1815-1872).

Much of the correspondence includes envelopes or address leaves. The correspondence is arranged primarily by recipient, but in cases where the recipient is unknown (e.g. non-specific salutations and greetings or lack of return address), the correspondence is filed with miscellaneous correspondence. Some of the letters have non-original annotations on the address leaves relating to content or the correspondents.

Folder Title
Miscellaneous Henkel family correspondence, 1827-1913
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1829
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1832
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1834
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1835
Margaret Koiner Henkel correspondence, 1835, 1837
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1836
Dr. Solomon Henkel correspondence, 1836-1846
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1837
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1838
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1840
Margaret Koiner Henkel correspondence, 1840-1849
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1841
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1842
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1845
Solomon D. Henkel correspondence, 1845-1859
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1847
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1848
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1849
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1850
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1851
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1852
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1854
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1855
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1856
Margaret Koiner Henkel correspondence, 1856-1896
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1857
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1858
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1859
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1860
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1861
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1862
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1863
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1864
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1867
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1868
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1869
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1870
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1871
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1872
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1873
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1874
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1875
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1876
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1877
Siram Henkel correspondence, 1878
Heleah Margaret “Maggie” Henkel Renalds correspondence, 1883-1896
Siram Henkel correspondence, undated

Series 2: Personal Papers, 1801-1881

Series 2: Personal Papers, 1801-1881, includes miscellaneous papers from the immediate family of Siram Henkel. School papers and writing assignements from Siram and Margaret Henkel’s children, Lewis, Samuel, Julia, Martin, and Maggie are included. The documents include a January 17, 1881 essay on politeness written by Maggie Henkel.

The series also includes a manuscript music book penned by Siram’s mother, Rebecca Miller Henkel, a grammar copybook belonging to Siram’s brother Slyvanus Henkel, and Siram’s 1878 plans for his family’s new home place at Plains Mill.

Folder Title
Rebecca Miller Henkel manuscript music/song book, 1801
Sylvanus Henkel grammar copybook, 1822
Lewis Henkel school papers, 1849
Samuel A. Henkel school papers, 1849
Miscellaneous Henkel family papers, 1856-1891, undated
Julia Henkel school papers, 1867
Martin M. Henkel and Julia A. Henkel copybook, 1873-1874
Siram Henkel sketch of Plains Mill house, 1878
Heleah Margaret “Maggie” Henkel Renalds school papers, 1881

Series 3: Financial Files, 1832-1959

Series 3: Financial Files, 1832-1959, contains receipts, ledger pages, and promissory notes. Included in Siram Henkel’s financial papers is a form of the estimate and assessment of agricultural products to be taxed by the government of the Confederate States. Of particular interest is Paul P. Henkel’s 1844-1872 daybook entitled “Sawmill Book No. 3” documenting the sawmill owned by Solomon Henkel. The daybook records prices for sawing and details sawing activities. Elizabeth Garber Renalds’ account book and journal documents egg business and other farming and day-to-day activities while the family was living at the Lincoln Homestead on Linville Creek south of Broadway.

Folder Title
Miscellaneous Henkel family financial papers, 1832-1873, undated
Paul P. Henkel daybook/sawmill book no. 3, 1844-1872
Siram Henkel financial papers, 1845-1884, undated
Solomon D. Henkel financial papers, 1847
Dr. Solomon Henkel financial papers, 1847-1848
Samuel A. Henkel financial papers, 1861
Heleah Margaret “Maggie” Henkel Renalds financial papers, 1885-1890
Heleah Margaret “Maggie” Henkel Renalds account book, 1893-1894
Elizabeth Garber Renalds account book/journal, 1932-1959
OV 1

Series 4: Genealogy and Research Files, 1890-2008

Series 4: Genealogy and Research Files, 1890-2008, is comprised of research material, much of which was used to inform Mildred Renalds Wittig’s Henkel – Renalds Connection: with Ancestral Scripts and Collections (2014). Documents include family trees, facsimiles of correspondence and manuscript material not otherwise found in this collection, photographs of Henkel family members and properties including Plains Mill and the Plains School, newspaper clippings, Henkel family reunion materials, and blank postcards. An oversize reproduction of a blank family register printed by Ambrose Henkel & Comp. is included.

Folder Title
Photographs, 1890-2007
General genealogy and research files, 1891-1998, undated
2:19, OV 1:1
Newspaper clippings, 1953-2003, undated
Rev. Anthony Jacob Henkel Family National Association and reunions, 1972-2008
Correspondence and manuscript facsimiles, undated (1822-1910)
Postcard, undated