Johann Jakob Lenz (1712-1793), Grenadier & Captain of the Roman Company – 52 Ancestors #279

Johann Jakob Lenz was born in Beutelsbach, Germany among the vineyards on Saturday, July 25, 1712 to Johann Georg Lenz and Sibilla Muller.

Johann Jakob b 1712 crop.jpg


Born 25 July and baptized same day

Parents: Joh. Georg Lentz & Sibylla, wife.

Child: Johann Jacob


1. Joh. Jacob Hahn, barber

2. Joh. Jacob Schmid

3. Maria Margaretha, wife of Joh. Jacob Schwartz(en).

It’s interesting that he was baptized the same day he was born. It might just have been convenient or easy to do, or, the baby might have been weak or considered at risk.

Unlike other Lenz men for generations, he is not referred to as a weingartner, or vine tender in the vineyard. Instead, he appears to be a captain of the Roman Company – a military man.

Johann Jakob died in Beutelsbach on March 8, 1793 at 81 years of age – quite a remarkable achievement before the days of modern medicine.

Jakob Lenz family report.png

We find information about Johann Jakob Lentz in the Beutelsbach local heritage book, here.

Martin Goll, local historian, reports additional information in the notes, as follows:

Kann lesen und schreiben. Hat ettlich Jahr lang allhier und in Stetten gedient. Ist 1734 in die Außwahl als Grendadier kommen. Hat sich 1742 losgekauft.
Todesursache: Halsentzündung
Gefreyter und hrn. Hauptmann von Roman Compagnie. Hat seinen Trauschein von Herrn Obrist Lieutenat Pentz vorgezeigt, welcher von dem Herrn Specialis von Schorndorf durch mich geschickt worden, darauf er die Conzesion zur Copulation erteilt.

Auto-translated to English by Deepl, they read:

Comments: (notes)
Can read and write. Served here and in Stetten for several years. Was elected grenadier in 1734. Bought himself out in 1742.

Cause of death: throat inflammation.

Marriage book: Corporal of Herr Captain of Roman Compagnie. Has shown his marriage certificate from Lieutenant Colonel Pentz, who was sent by the Specialis von Schorndorf through me, after which he gives the permission to marry.

Does this suggest that perhaps Johann Jakob was serving elsewhere and had to return home to marry?

What is a Grenadier?

According to this research, grenadiers were elite assault troops chosen for being the most physically powerful soldiers and would lead assaults in the field of battle. Grenadiers would also often lead the storming of fortification breaches in siege warfare.

A drawing, here, shows a grenadier from Upper Saxony in 1734. Johann Jakob may have looked much like this in uniform. Perhaps Catharina found him to be quite handsome! She wouldn’t be the first young woman to be smitten by a man in uniform.

Jakob Lenz grenadier.jpg

This painting shows Prussian Grenadiers with mitre hats advancing on foot during the Battle of Hohenfriedberg in 1745, just three years after Johann Jakob “bought himself out.”

Jakob Lenz mitre cap.jpg

The grenadiers were distinguished from other soldiers by their distinctive headgear, mitre caps, the ones above being from Prussia.

It appears that Johann Jakob served in the military for at least 8 years, and probably longer. He was elected to grenadier in 1734, which means that he was already serving. Born in 1712, he would have been 22 by that time. I wish there were German military records or some way to discover what he was doing during those years, and where.

A timeline of Germany history shows that there was no warfare from 1716 to 1740. In December 1740 the Prussian King Frederick the Great issued an ultimatum to Austria demanding the cession of Silesia and a week later, Prussia invaded Silesia beginning the Silesian Wars.

Beutelsbach was part of Wurttemburg, the Holy Roman Empire, which was apparently not directly involved in the Prussian invasion of Silesia. However, assuredly, soldiers were militarized with war so close to their borders, ever vigilant, if not more.

Johann Jakob apparently “bought himself out” in 1742, perhaps before the treaty was signed in July. I was unable to discover information about how German soldiers “bought themselves out” of military service, which suggests perhaps that he was serving either mandatory service or maybe he had signed a contract of some sort. Or maybe “bought himself out” means something else entirely, like bought himself out of that specific position.

Regardless, what we can take away from this is that he was a large, strong man, based on the fact that he was elected as a grenadier.

Ironic that a tough soldier died of “throat inflammation.” I suspect that throat inflammation or sore throat was actually something else. One did not simply die of a sore throat, so perhaps his final illness included a sore throat which could have been a strep infection that evolved into something much more serious.

Johann Jakob couldn’t have been stationed too far away in the military, because he married his first wife, Catharina Beerwarth, on April 25, 1741. Catharina was from his hometown, Beutelsbach.

Unfortunately, that marriage didn’t last long.

Johann Jakob Becomes a Widower

Johann Jakob married his first wife Catharina Beerwarth while he was still in the military service. They had one son Johann Jacob Lenz who was born August 25, 1742, 16 months after they were married. This child died a few days later, on September 2, 1742. It was also in 1742 that Johann Jakob “bought himself” out of the military. Was Catharina experiencing problems during the pregnancy that eventually took the life of their child, and then her own life as well?

Catharina was born October 24, 1708 and died four months after her child, on January 16, 1743, of steckfluss which translates to either pneumonia or bronchitis. It was the middle of winter.

Catharina’s mother was Katharina Lenz born in 1675 in Schnait, the neighbor village, daughter of Caspar Lenz and Anna Maria Baur, so she and Johann Jakob were very probably related in some fashion, although it may have been several generations earlier, assuming they were only related on one line, which isn’t a safe assumption at all in these small, intermarried, villages where residents had lived for countless centuries.

Johann Jakob Remarries

Johann Jakob’s second wife was Katharina Haag, born April 25, 1716 in Heiningen to Jorg Haag and Anna Hofschneider.

Katharina and Johann Jakob Lenz were married on November 2, 1744 (corrected to 1743) in Heiningen where she lived with her parents. Katherine was 27 when she married, had never been married before and had always lived with her parents, according to Martin Goll’s notes. Interestingly,  another note reveals that she had endured a 6 weeks long headache, which causes me to wonder about closed head injuries as well as either meningitis, meningismus or encephalitis – all diseases or injuries which would cause a severe protracted headache.

Jakob Lenz Heiningen.png

Heiningen was not close to Beutelsbach. In fact, it was some 20 miles away. Twenty miles today is a quick trip in the car, but 20 miles then required a horse or a mule, both in short supply, or a very long walk – roughly 7 hours at 3 miles per walking hour, assuming flat terrain.

Johann Jakob would have had to have the opportunity to meet, court and get to know Katharina.

That distance might help explain why their first child was born three months or so before they were married. It’s also possible that one of the years recorded is incorrect.

Katharina would have gotten pregnant about November 6, 1743, roughly 10 months after Johann Jakob’s first wife had died. Did he visit Heiningen in November 1743 and not know that Katharina was pregnant? I’m sure there is more to this nearly 300-year-old story, and I surely would love to know what it is.

Update note: Indeed, there was more to the story – a transcription error. Nothing nearly as exotic as my theory. My friend, Chris, checked the original marriage record that I can’t publish due to restrictions by, and discovered that the marriage actually look place on November 12, 1743 and their child, Anna was born on July 30, 1744. Mystery solved!

I also wonder if the reason it was noted that Katharina had always lived with her parents is that perhaps she had some residual issues due to the cause of the extended headache. Both of those facts seem so odd to note, especially in combination, making me wonder if they are provided as a subtle explanation for something.

Katharina and Johann Jakob only had 4 children, which too is unusual. Adding to the mystery, their first child, Anna is noted as having been born in Beutelsbach, but if Katharina and Johann Jacob weren’t married, Katharina certainly wasn’t living with him at the time and her parents were living 20 miles away. Another note in the records stated that she had always lived with her parents. Of course, the note regarding where Anna was born could simply be wrong, too.

  1. Anna Lenz born July 30, 1744, died January 31, 1810.
  2. Johann Georg Lenz born Sept 27, 1745 died June 3 1834
  3. Jakob Lenz born February 1, 1748, died July 2, 1821 (my ancestor)
  4. Georg Friedrich Lenz born January 13, 1750

Katharina’s last child was born when she was 34 years old, but she did not die until 1791, 41 years later, two years before Johann Jakob passed over.

We don’t know where Johann Jakob and Katharina are buried, although it was almost assuredly in the Beutelsbach Protestant church’s churchyard, probably only a few steps away from their home where lived their entire married life.

Jakob Lenz Beutelsbach church.png



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8 thoughts on “Johann Jakob Lenz (1712-1793), Grenadier & Captain of the Roman Company – 52 Ancestors #279

  1. While Wikipedia’s overview of German history shows no warfare 1716-1740 there were the “War of the Polish Succession” ( ) 1733-1735.

    In 1733 Karl Alexander (engl Charles Alexander) inherited the Duchy of Württemberg (,_Duke_of_W%C3%BCrttemberg ). At that time he had already been a military commander in service of the Holy Roman Emperor and he fought in the war of Polish Succession which in part took place in Rhineland. Although he might fought “alone” in the sense that he commanded foreign troops I think it’s more likely he took the army of the Duchy with him especially since the war was taking place nearby. The German version of his Wikipedia entry states “Wars and extensive housekeeping led to the high financial needs of the Duchy of Württemberg”.

    So this is from a bit of “research” in German wikipedia.

  2. I was born in Canada to 2 German-born parents. My DNA matches are overwhelmingly in the USA, to mostly people who have German ancestry. In the past, I have attempted to build trees for them. I can rarely take these trees across the ocean back to Germany, for a variety of reasons. It was interesting tor read this account, which is based on records as evidence. (A lot of trees out there where the source is someone else’s tree.)

    • These trees are rather unique in the German history site because they are built on original records from the church books.

    • Also, the church records are at Archion. De but you are not allowed to publish them, so my hands are tied unless I can find the same record elsewhere.

  3. I wonder if “throat inflammation” might have been diphtheria, after watching the last episode of CALL THE MIDWIFE.

  4. In some villages most brides were pregnant because that way the groom could be satisfied that he had not married a sterile woman. Children in traditional times were considered an asset so that they could work in family business and take of care parents in old.age.

  5. Pingback: Sibilla Muller (1672-1746), Midwife and Typhoid – 52 Ancestors #319 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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