Samuel Bentz

 

BENTZ, SAMUEL
(1792–1850)
made fraktur records that show minimal graphic accomplishment, but with bold lines. He was born in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and was theson of Reverend Peter Bentz and Anna Maria Caffroth Bentz. Bentz’s mother raised him alone after her husband committed suicide. He became a schoolmaster in thearea of Ephrata, and because his father had some theological training, Bentz could write at least the
tetragrammaton,
the four letter Hebrew name for God as revealedto Moses, usually written YHVH and commonly found on the title pages of Bibles—a striking feature in otherwise pietistic fraktur drawings. Bentz was also a member of the German Reformed church.In 1813, shortly before he died, Bentz’s father with some relatives and friends established a school on part of the family land, where Bentz taught for most of his life,living in the schoolhouse. He produced fraktur, mostly birth records, no doubt to supplement his income. Because some pieces refer to Mount Pleasant, Bentz wasknown as the “Mount Pleasant Artist,” until a signed bookplate was discovered. When he died, a box with eighteen frakturs survived.Bentz’s work is frequently decorated with architectural elements, almost Greek Revival in style in their precise design. Occasionally, a human face is included and,more often, a clock face, with a thinly veiled religious message that implied of the importance of a work ethic and the value of time.
See also
Fraktur; German American Folk Art;

Pennsylvania German Folk Art; Religious Folk Art
.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Weiser, Frederick S. “Samuel Bentz, the ‘Mount Pleasant Artist.’”
Der Reggeboge,
vol. 20, no. 2 (1988): 33–42