What’s in a name? Avery Lentz '14 discovers he has deep historical roots

"I have a Pennsylvania Bucktail and a North Carolina Tarheel in my family history, both of whom fought at Gettysburg."
 Avery Lentz ‘14

What’s in a name?

Shakespeare asked that question with regards to a rose, but in the last year Avery Lentz '14 found himself asking that question about his own name and was surprised to learn that it holds a lot of history.

A few years ago, Lentz looked up his last name in a Civil War database registry to see if anything would come back. The results were surprising.

“Private Henry Lentz lived in Tioga County at the time he was recruited into Company C by Alfred J. Sofield. The Lentz family is on my mother’s side of the family and she told me that the Lentz family lived in Tioga County at the time of the Civil War before moving south to Lycoming County in the late Nineteenth Century, where I live now,” Lentz wrote in a blog post on the Civil War Institute blog, The Gettysburg Compiler.

When Lentz came to Gettysburg College, he had the resources and time to dig in and find out more. He discovered that in fact one of his ancestors is Henry Lentz of the 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers. As a history major with an interest in the Civil War, Lentz was in awe of this historical connection.

“When I walk out on the battlefield, I always make sure I go to the monuments of the units where my ancestors served, so I can pay my respects to the fallen. One of my ancestors was Henry Lentz in the 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers,” he wrote.

During this unfolding, Lentz couldn’t help but think back to conversations he had with his mother and extended family over the years regarding his first name, Avery. He decided to dig in again.

“I found out that I don’t just have an ancestor on the Union side, but also, one who fought for the Confederacy. From what my grandmother has told me, my first name comes from her maiden name, which in turn, comes from the Avery Family of North Carolina. This family has an old history tracing roots to colonial New England as well as being prominent cotton planters in North Carolina. Isaac E. Avery is one of the many from the Avery family in North Carolina. He died while fighting at Cemetery Hill on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg,” he wrote in another blog post for The Gettysburg Compiler.

“It is very interesting for me to have ancestors on the Confederate side of the war. I can claim that I have a Pennsylvania Bucktail and a North Carolina Tarheel in my family history, both of whom fought at Gettysburg,” he wrote.

This summer, Lentz is fully immersed not only in the historical connection of his name but in person, too. He is interning at the Gettysburg National Military Park as part of the Pohanka Internship Program, which provides frontline experiences for students to Civil War history. Students give public tours of iconic Civil War sites, gain hands-on experience with original artifacts, conduct research, and engage visitors in conversations about the legacy of the Civil War.

With the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg this summer, Lentz has had many opportunities to engage with visitors and share his own personal connection to the conflict on the grounds he walks each day.

To read more from Lentz and other Gettysburg College students and faculty on topics related to the Civil War, read The Gettysburg Compiler.

To catch up on the action surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, check out the highlights, photos, and videos from the 10-day anniversary period.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college, which enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students, is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Kendra Martin, director of communications and media relations, 717.337.6801

Posted: Thu, 11 Jul 2013


Fascinating story! I love these kinds of "human interest stories", especially concerning Gettysburg which is my favorite "home away from home." Congrats to Mr. Lentz for caring enough about history to dig deeper into his family tree! http://skiesofblueandgray.blogspot.com

Skies of Blue and Gray | Posted Jul 12, 2013 07:59 PM

Avery Lentz, Class of 2014. My name is Chuck Lentz, Class of 1961.My Lentz family came from Germany in 1832. Settled in Philadelphia, Pa. They were Surgical Instruments Makers. The doctor who performed President Lincoln's autopsy, Alfed Wilson used "Lentz" instruments. They are in the National Museum of American History devoted to the artifacts of Lincoln. I sure would like to talk with you some time. My E-mail is: xifiji@yahoo.com. Take care Avery.

Chuck Lentz - 1961 | Posted Jul 23, 2013 08:29 PM


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