Biography of John Irving Wendell

Son of Jacob Wendell and Magdelena Snyder

Herkimer County, New York

First child born to Jacob Wendell and his first wife, Magdelena Snyder was John Irving Wendell. Beings his mother was of German descent it is sometime found as Johannes/John. He entered this world in Minden, Montgomery County, New York on 3 July 1802. He would grow up in a large family of brothers and sisters. Not much is actually known about his very early life, but with his father a shoemaker, he did learn the trade and for a period of time in his life pursued it.

As a child he was raised in the church of his mother, the Lutheran church. He was christened in St. Paul's Lutheran Church. As most families of the era, church and church activities played a lot within a family and community. It was in St. Paul's Lutheran Church that he was united in marriage to Nancy Diefendorf, the daughter of John Diefendorf and Maria Failing, on 30 January 1823. Their wedding ceremony was performed by Nancy's own uncle, Rev. Jonas Diefendorf.

Their own family would start in 1824 with the birth of their first daughter Marion, followed by twin sons who both died within a few days of birth. Next would be Amos John who only lived until about age 3. Their next son would be Rufus, followed by Harvey, Emory and Harmon. The last children would be Charles, Laura Ann, John Henry, Arthur Bowen and Nancy Katherine.

Though raised in the Lutheran Church, by 1827 he had become a Methodist and at age 30 became a Methodist minister. He could be found serving the Freysbush Methodist Episcopal Church in 1831 and again in 1842 and 1843. In 1846 he prepared plans to repair the Freysbush Church. He could be found as late as 1870 serving on the board of trustees at the church. He served at other churches through out the area.

In 1825 he had purchased a Bible from a man named Sylvanus Pasinger and he kept very correct records of his family within that Bible from then on and thankfully so.

It has been suggested that possibly he was involved in the Underground Railroad. It has been indicated that his brother-in-law Rev. Benjamin Wendell of the Freysbush area used a building in close proximity to the church for a safe haven for southern runaway slaves until they could be transported into Fort Plain where they made their journey north via the Erie Canal.

He lived out his life in the general area of his birth in the Freysbush and Minden areas, passing away on 19 June 1873. He was laid to rest in Freysbush Cemetery. His wife Nancy would depart on 2 May 1874, being buried in the same cemetery.

Living to be 71 years of age, he lived long enough to see his children do well in their lives. Son Rufus would go on to be a religious leader in his chosen form of worship, though very different in thoughts than the traditional Wendell families beliefs. His son Harvey would pursue piano manufacturing in Albany in the firm of Marshall and Wendell and also serve as a lay minister within the Methodist Church. Photography would become the profession of his son Emory, first in Albany, later going to Detroit, Michigan where he apparently followed that, but also become involved in the First National Bank. After serving in the 115th New York Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, as a hospital steward, his son John Henry would eventually become a very successful and wealthy business man in Detroit, Michigan, being involved in the grain exchange and other business ventures. He was asked to run for mayor of Detroit, but due to all his other involvements declined. Son Harmon would be a druggist in Amsterdam and go on to own and operate a coal business along with a knitting mill. Also served as a director of the First National Bank.

John had not only a long life, for that time, but a very productive one, being a very esteemed man in the area.

John Irving Wendell was the half brother of my great-great grandmother, Imilda Leona (Wendell) Berrian.

Charlott Wells Jones

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Created: 4/28/16
Copyright © 2016 Charlott Wells Jones
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