Bechtel Reunion of 2014 — Recap

20140719_124243About a month ago my husband and I attended the Bechtel Family Reunion at the Swamp Picnic Grove near New Hanover Lutheran Church in Gilbertsville, PA. While the focus of this reunion was on the descendants of the six Bechtel men who (along with their families) immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early to mid 1700s, it was open to all who trace their ancestry to any Bechtel ancestor — including any variant spelling. We had a very enjoyable afternoon meeting and speaking with distant cousins and sampling all the wonderful PA Dutch side dishes and desserts that attendees brought to accompany the catered main course.

20140719_124318Judy Gilson, the organizer, brought quite a large assortment of memorabilia, documents and photographs, and others did as well. The day was rounded out with music, games for the children and a professional photographer. It was especially nice to hear the family stories from the various attendees.

I was personally excited to find that among Judy’s Bechtel memorabilia was a copy of the John George Bechtel family tree produced by great-grandson Franklin Bechtel Gilbert in the early to mid 1860s. Franklin Gilbert was born in Montgomery County in 1826 to Matthias Gilbert and Hannah Bechtel. He grew up in Philadelphia and became an upholsterer. He joined the Union Army in the Civil War and later became a physician. In 1867 he traveled to Europe. One of the purposes of the trip was to secure any inheritance related to the estate of his great-great grandfather Bechtel. Family lore is that John George Bechtel, the immigrant and the great-grandfather of Franklin Gilbert returned to Europe to settle his father’s estate circa 1748. He never made it back to Pennsylvania as it was said that he died on the return voyage.

Thus, about 120 years later, Franklin Bechtel Gilbert was on a mission find what became of the Bechtel estate. Prior to his trip Franklin made an effort to identify and contact all of John George’s descendants for written authorization to act on the entire family’s behalf in securing the inheritance due them. I can only assume that he was unsuccessful in his endeavor as no family stories exist that speak of his success.

Fortunately for the John George Bechtel descendants who are family historians, Franklin Gilbert published an ornately detailed family tree depicting three to four generations of descendants. I have been trying to find a copy of this tree for several years and was absolutely thrilled to find it among Judy’s documents. A photograph of the tree appears below. Please contact me if you would like to view a hi-resolution copy.

Doc - 07-19-2014, 12-13 PM


11 responses to “Bechtel Reunion of 2014 — Recap

  1. My family has this family tree in our home. It was handed down to my Dad who is a descendant of the Bechtels. I believe his great great grandfather is shown in one of the upper right branches. It’s in what looks to me like the original frame. Large, about 30 x 40″

  2. Wow! That is wonderful that you have an original of the tree!
    I would love to exchange information with you. Both of my lines are on the left side of the tree. The Hannah who married John Bell was my 4x’s great-grandmother. She is on the bottom branch on the left side. My other line goes through all the Georges. (i.e. John George, then son George, then his son George, then his son George.) The last George is my 3x’s great-grandfather.

  3. Elizabeth Bectell

    Hello, My husband’s family has been searching for a Bechtel link for many years. His 2nd Great Grandfather was Levi Bectell, ( His wife spelled it how it sounded to her) who ended up in Grantsville, Utah. The family stories say that his parents may have been a John and Elizabeth. A census record shows that he was born in Illinois, and his parents in Pennsylvania. We haven’t been able to get farther than that. I see that there are some Levi’s on the family tree. Any further information that you might have would be great.

  4. Elizabeth Bectell

    The birth dates I have are about 1847, in Illinois, death date is 25 Sept. 1909 in Grantsville, Utah.

  5. Elizabeth Bectell

    Do you have any information on the Bechtels or Beghtols that are from Kentucky and Illinois? I may have found some information that would place Levi as having the birth place of Kentucky instead of Illinois, but his family may have moved between Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.

  6. Hi Elizabeth. At this point I don’t see a connection to my John George Bechtel line, but I will check into it a little further and get back to you.

  7. Pingback: 7 Generation Family Tree | Janis' Genealogy Blog

  8. My family is trying to learn all we can about the Bechtel’s family and where we fit in! Is there any way to get a copy of the family tree?

    • Hi Sarah. If you click on the above image it will open in a new window and then you can click again to enlarge it. It is a very bare bones tree with just names (no dates) and only the first few generations from the immigrant. If you are on Ancestry, I have a public tree with more information on the John George Bechtel descendants. If you email me directly with some information on your Bechtels, I can check to see If I have any information that might be relevant to you. Most of my info is on the John George Bechtel line, but I also have info on some of the other Bechtel lines. This is primarily in order to distinguish them from individuals of the same name and place as those in my John George line. My email is jmdt1129 [at sign]

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