George G. Beck was born in Lancaster, Ohio, January 30, 1816, on the spot of ground on which he resided to the close of his life and where his father’s family had lived since 1810. He was a son of Jacob Beck, born in Wurtemberg, Germany, in 1777, while his mother, who bore the maiden name of Anna Goss, was a native of Basil, Switzerland, born in 1784. The parents were pious Christians and donated the lot on which the first Lutheran church was built in Lancaster, the ground now occupied by the A. Getz shoe factory. He was the youngest of four children: Jacob, born in 1804 and died in 1898; Anna, who was born in 1808 and passed away in 1890; Mary, whose birth occurred in 1812, and who died in 1872; and George G., born in 1816 and died in 1885.

The early education of George G. Beck was effectually adapted to fit him for that eminent degree of usefulness for which his life was distinguished. His exalted religious character and his great worth as a wise and safe counselor were known and recognized far beyond the limits of the community in which he resided. No trust was ever committed to him that he did not faithrully discharge. He was a stanch Lutheran, and the new St. Peter’s Lutheran church, at the croner of Broad and Mulberry streets, stands as a monument to him and the members of the building committee, who not only contributed most liberally of their means but zealously devoted their time and strength to its upbuilding. Mr. Beck learned the trade of a tanner but did not follow that vocation. In 1835 he entered the drug store of Bury & Dumont and learned the business. In 1840 he purchased the interest of Dumont and carried on the business on an extensive scale, wholesale and retail, in the building now owned by Beecher White, as partner with his brother-in-law, Joseph Bury. Mr. Bury died in 1846, when Mr. Beck became sole owner of the store, and later purchased the building of the heirs of Christian King. With only a short intermission in which he was connected with the Lancaster Starch Factory, as superintendent, he remained in the drug business to the close of his life—from 1835 until 1885,—first under the name of Bury & Beck, then  George G. Beck, and finally as George G. Beck & Son. In 1859 he took charge of the drug store in the Frederick A. Shaffer building, corner of Main street and Fountain square, which property he purchased in 1881.

On the 17th of September, 1842, Mr. Beck was joined in wedlock to Maria Louise Wagenhals, the eldest daughter of Rev. John and Maria Barbara (Poorman) Wagenhals. Six children were born to them, as follows; Anna Mary; Maria Louise and Gertrude, who passed away prior to the father's death: and John W., B. Ellen and Julia E., together with his wife, survived him. B. Ellen passed away on December 16, 1890, after a long and painful illness, caused by injuries received in being thrown from a carriage. She met death with the same quiet, Christian resignation with which she had met the issues of life.

John Wagenhals Beck, who was born January 28, 1845, and died September 20, 1900, was the only son of George G. and Maria Louise (Wagenhals) Beck. He was born on the old family homestead in Lancaster and when a boy entered his father's store. He continued at the same stand where he first entered upon his life work until the close of his life. He received his early education in the public schools and prepared himself for college in the private school of Dr. John Williams, the celebrated instructor and lexicographer. Later he entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in pharmacy in 1868, after which he became a partner in his father's store under the name of George G. Beck & Son. He survived his father nearly sixteen years but never changed the name of the firm. On September 19. 1900, he was attacked with a violent hemorrhage of the stomach, from the effects of which he never rallied, and died at three o'clock A. M., the following day, September 20. Thus the names of George G. Beck & Son were stricken from the list of Lancaster's prominent and successful business men, after serving the public for more than sixty consecutive years. J. H. Moody & Company are successors to the business. John W. Beck was a member of the Lancaster Lodge of Elks and was elected as first treasurer of the order in this city. Like his father, he was a stanch Republican and was always loyal to his party.

Mrs. George G. Beck, nee Maria Louise Wagenhals, is a descendant of the Stantz, Hufford, Snyder and Poorman (formerly Purman) families, who settled in Dauphin and York counties. Pennsylvania, prior to 1744 and 1750. A number of these sturdy people took part in our nation's struggle for liberty in the  revolutionary war. Her maternal grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Snyder, was born June 4, 1775, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and her maternal grandfather, Bernard Poorman, was born April 7, 1777, in Franklin county, Pennsylvania. Her grandparents, Mary E. Snyder and Bernard Poorman. were married near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1801. In 1808 they removed to Perry county. Ohio, near Somerset, and settled om the farm which was their home until death. Their second child was Maria Barbara, born May 25, 1803. In October, 1822, she was married to Rev. John Wagenhals. and on September 17, 1823, their oldest child, Maria Louise, was born in New Lisbon, Columbiana county, Ohio. In 1829 he received a call from St. Peter's Lutheran church of Lancaster, Ohio, where he labored until 1859, when he accepted a call from the church in Circleville, Ohio. In 1868. on account of throat trouble, he was compelled to retire from the active duties of the ministry. The mother died March 2, 1827, leaving three small children: Maria Louise; Philip Melancthon and Elizabeth. Maria Louise was married on the 13th of .September, 1842, to George J. Beck, of Lancaster, Ohio. The home he prepared for her as a bride has been her place of residence ever since. Although seventy-eight years old at this writing, she is in possession of all her faculties. She lives with her only surviving child, Mrs. Julia Beck Fromlet.

Rev. John Wagenhals, a son of Daniel and Louise (Hornung) Wagenhals, was born April 16, 1799, in Gueglingen, kingdom of Wurtemberg, Germany. He attended the parochial school of his native city and received preparatory training in classical studies in the Latin school of the same place and afterward pursued his studies in the city of Stuttgart. In 1818 he emigrated to America, and landed in the city of Philadelphia, where he became acquainted with eminent ministers of the Lutheran church, who. in view of his literary attainments, induced him to devote himself to the service of the church. He continued his studies under the direction of several reputable clergymen of that early period and was licensed as a minister of the gospel September 12, 1821. On Trinity Sunday, in 1826, he was ordained at New Philadelphia, Ohio. His first pastoral charge consisted of a number of congregations in Columbiana, Carroll and adjoining counties, which he served with great self-denial and faithfulness. In 1829 he received a call from St. Peter's Lutheran church of Lancaster, Ohio, where he labored until 1859, when he accepted a call from the church in Circleville, Ohio. In 1868, on account of throat trouble, he was compelled to retire from the active duties of the ministry.

Rev. Wagenhals was one of the founders of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Columbus, Ohio, and was for many years a director and a most zealous supporter of the same. In his intercourse with men he was invariably courteous and candid. and was deservedly held in high esteem by all who knew him. As a preacher of the gospel he was eloquent, plain and instructive; as a pastor he was affectionate and sympathetic, and possessed the confidence, respect and esteem of his parishioners to an eminent degree.  In 1870 he returned to Lancaster, where he spent the last years of his life. He died September 12, 1884, at the advanced age of eighty-five years, four months and twenty-six days.

Philip M. Wagenhals. a son of Rev. John Wagenhals and Maria Barbara (Poorman) Wagenhals, was born March 1, 1825, in Carroll county, Ohio. He received his early education in Lancaster. Ohio, and at the Greenfield Academy, which was conducted by Dr. John Williams. He read medicine under Dr. G. W. Boerstler, Sr., and later attended the University of Baltimore, in Baltimore, Maryland, from which he was graduated in 1846. On June 14, 1847, he was united in marriage to Susan E. Shaeffer, of Lancaster, Ohio, and located in Somerset, Perry county, Ohio, where he resided several years. He was a prominent and successful physician of this city from 1854 until 1874, when he removed with his family to Columbus, Ohio, where he died February 16, 1881. His wife and eight children survived him.

Julia A. Wagenhals, a daughter of Rev. J. and Margaret (Miller) Wagenhals, became the wife of Rev. C. Albrecht, deceased, who for many years was pastor of the Lutheran church at Miamisburg, Ohio. She passed away on the 3d of March, 1893, being survived by her seven children.

Rev. Samuel Wagenhals, D. D., a son of Rev. J. and Catherine (Ludwig) Wagenhals, was born in Lancaster, Ohio, on the 17th of January, 1843. He received his early education in the public schools of his native town and also under the instruction of Dr. John Williams. He graduated from Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, in 1862, and soon afterward enlisted in the One Hundred and Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a private. At the end of the Civil war he was mustered out as first lieutenant of Company B, and immediately entered the Theological Seminary, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1868. He is a prominent minister of the Lutheran church and is president of the board of directors of the Lutheran Seminary at Chicago, Illinois. He is still serving his first pastorate at Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he has resided since 1868.

Katherine Wagenhals, a daughter of Rev. J. and Catherine (Ludwig) Wagenhals, married Rev. George Harter, and they are living in Akron, Ohio.

Mary Wagenhals, the youngest daughter of Rev. J. and Catherine (Ludwig) Wagenhals, married David M. Emmitt, of Waverly, Ohio, where she is now living with her son, her husband having passed away in 1895.


From A Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Ohio, J. S. Clarke Publishing, New York and Chicago, 1902