Thursday, November 29, 2018

Johann Jacob Bunstein, 1755-1840, a Hessian soldier

That is all to be seen marking the gravesite of our ancestor Jacob Bonstein on the Armed Forces Memorial stone at Dryland Reformed Cemetery, Hecktown, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA. But there is certainly more to his story than a few figures etched in stone. 

To begin with, this ancestor of ours arrived in America as a member of the Regiment von Knyphausen.  He was a Hessian Soldier hired by the English to fight against the American patriots. He arrived at Staten Island in New York on August 15, 1776 and took part in the Battle of Long Island.

Drawing, A Hessian Soldier;
Published by Charles Scribner's Sons;
Remember learning about Washington crossing the Delaware when you were in school?  In the infamous Battle of Trenton, Jacob Bunstein was captured along with upwards to 1,000 other of his fellow Hessian troops in the early morning of December 26, 1776. The prisoners were paraded through the streets of Philadelphia, after which Jacob was marched off to Lancaster and later given a "work release" of sorts.  Like many other Hessian soldiers he was allowed to work off the cost of his prison confinement on a local farm.

Johann Jacob Bonstein and his brother Paulus Bonstein were  born in Grossropperhausen, Germany where they were trained to be soldiers from an early age.  During the American Revolution they both became prisoners of war, serving confinements in various locations. After the war,  Johann Jacob Bonstein stayed in America and Paulus returned to Germany.

Jacob married Katerina  Schabel, a daughter of George and Margaret Barbara Schabel.  Katerina was born March 4, 1763 and baptized April 22, 1764 at the Dryland Union Church. Census records for Moore Township, Northampton Co. Pennsylvania  indicate that Jacob and Katerina lived in close proximity of her parents.  1790 Census, Moore Twp., Northampton Co., PA lists Jacob Bunstine with a family of 1 male over 16 years, 3 males under 16 years, 2 females. While the 1790 Census, Moore Twp., Northampton Co., PA  lists the family of George Snable,  with 4 males over 16 years, 0 males under 16 years, 2 females.

According to records at the Pennsylvania Archives our Hessian soldier later fought on the American side in the War of 1812, which is hard to believe as he would have been an old man.  But, Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-1999, Record of Burial Place of Veteran, Northampton County shows this information:  Jacob Bonstein, born 12 Feb 1755, died 12 Apr 1840. A Veteran of War of 1812 - 1814 serving in the Army from  July to  December of 1814 in Capt. Dornblaser's Co., 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division. Buried in the  Dryland Union Cemetery, Hecktown (Lower Nazerath Township), PA.  Section: Middle, Cr. Sec. E-29.  

Jacob Bonstein and Katerina became the parents of nine children, eight of whom were  Jacob, Polly, Marie, Elizabeth, Margaret, Catherine,  John and  George Bonstein. George, who was born August 22, 1784, married Rosina Bilheimer who was born November 28, 1792.  Their daughter Caroline Bundstein  married Valentine Smith on May 18, 1834 in Bethlehem, PA.  They had a son named Edmund who married Camelia Engler whose son Arthur married Estella Kunkle. Art and Estella's son Russell was Ronnie's grandfather thus making  Jacob and Catherine Bunstein Ron's 5X great grandfather.  There ya go!

  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 30 October 2018), memorial page for Jacob Bonstein (12 Feb 1755–12 Apr 1840), Find A Grave Memorial no. 70128281, citing Dryland Reformed Cemetery, Hecktown, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Paula Koehler (contributor 46839152) .
  • John Humphrey, Gravestones of Northampton County
  • History of Northampton County [Pennsylvania] and the Grand Valley of the Lehigh Vol. 2, William Jacob Heller, American Historical Society, 1920, page 230  
  • First Reformed Church (Easton, PA), published by H. M. Kieffer in 1902 under title “Some of the first settlers of the Forks of the Delaware”
  • Dryland  Church Records
  • Auerbach, Inge and Otto Froehlich. HETRINA (Hessische Truppen im Amerikanischen Unabhangigkeitskrieg = Hessian Troops in the American Revolution) 6 vols. Marburg : Archivschule Marburg, 1972-1987, a listing compiled from original German records of all who served from the principalities of Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Hanau, and Waldeck. HETRINA III, 3181 [Page 64] The HETRINA is now available as an online database at: 
  • Ken Miller, Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (Cornell Univ. Press, 2014)as found at Wikipedia, "Hessian Soldier"
  • Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, Inc. online at
  • Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, Easton, Pennsylvania

       Please see this list of all My Revolutionary War Ancestors.

       Please see  the Index to my  "Who's Your Grammie"  Blog

                                             GENEALOGY IS A WORK OF HEART

Your comments and suggestions below are appreciated. It is with pleasure that I am able to present this information here for you to see. If you discover a relationship here, I would very much enjoy hearing from you. 

This page  © 2018, Cynthia H. Smith
Send email to

This site may be linked, but not duplicated in any way without consent. The copyright on this page must appear on all copied and/or printed material.

No comments:

Post a Comment