“Nany” Benitz / Mahrer Page last modified:

“Nany” Benitz & Urban Mahrer
1819-1880   &   1802-1891

Nany Benitz was born Maria Anna Bönitz (1819, Endingen, Baden, Germany), the youngest child of Anton Böniz (master cooper) and Maria Anna Wagner.  It is likely she immigrated with her brother Anton to the US in about 1838, settling in or near Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania).  In the 1840 census, she is married to Urban (Arban) Mahrer, living in Lawrenceville (later part of Pittsburgh).  They also, for a short time, may have lived in Cleveland (Ohio), close to her brother Franz X. Benitz.

In 1874, Urban & Nany, likely heavily influenced by Franz, went with him to New York city to join their brother Wilhelm and his family as they emigrated from California to Argentina.  Nany and her husband remained only two months in Argentina.  They arrived in Buenos Aires on 9 October and departed from Rosario on 13 December.  They sailed via Rio de Janeiro to Baltimore (Maryland), arriving on 12 March, 1875.

They returned to their home in Pittsburgh, for that is where she died 14 April, 1880, 60 years old.  Apparently, she had been ill for some time, dying of "exhaustion".  She never had children.  [Note: A Mahrer descendant is almost certain that the “Mary Anna Mahrer” buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Pittsburgh, is Nany Benitz.]

Urban remarried in 1888 (to Mary Ann Snyder).  He died 16 April, 1891, 79 years old, and was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Pittsburgh.

Event Timeline - Combined

Year Age Event
1812 0 Urban Mahrer – Per his enlistment in 1841, Urban was 29 years old (i.e. born in 1812), in Argan, Switzerland.
Note 1: Birthplace: matches that of his sisters’ who said they were born in Möhlin, Kt. Aargau, Switzerland.
Note 2: He also said he was born in Alsace-Loraine (repeated in his obit.) in 1802; & also in Germany!
1819 0 Maria Anna “Nany” Benitz was born 12 May, 1819, in Endingen, Baden, Germany; the youngest child of Anton Böniz (master cooper) and Maria Anna Wagner.
1831-1832 19-20 Urban Mahrer immigrated to the U.S.
1833-1837 21 -25 Per US Army: Urban Mahrer served: 7th January, 1833 – 31st December, 1837; in Ordinance.
1837 25 Urban became a U.S. citizen June 1937 (per arriving passenger list, Baltimore, March 1875).
1837-1838 18 Nany Benitz immigrated to the U.S., very likely with her brother Anton Benitz, settling in Pittsburgh, PA.
1840 28 & 21 Pittsburgh census: Urban is married to Mary Anna (i.e. Nany Benitz; no record of marriage found).
Per his obit.: In 1840, Urban arrived in Lawrenceville (now part of Pittsburgh), where he built himself a home on 39th Street.
1841-1846 29-34 Per US Army: Urban Mahrer (enlisted as 29 years old), born in Argan, Switserland, carpenter by trade, served 4th January, 1841 – January 1846; in Ordinance as an Armorer at Allegheny Arsenal, Pa.
Per his obit.: In 1840 he designed and built machinery for the manufacture of cartridges.
1850+ 38+  After retiring (yr?), Urban devoted his time to making his many and various inventions.  He made clocks as a hobby.
1865-1872 53-60 Per US City Directories (via Ancestry.com) for Pittsburgh, Urban Mahrer’s occupation was:
  1865: Pattern Maker; Pike, L (employee?)
  1868: Pattern Maker; Pike n River, L (employee?)
  1871: Pattern Maker and carp.; Thirty-Ninth (his home)
  1872: Pattern Maker; Thirty-ninth n Railroad (his home)
1873 61 Urban was visited by a delegation of German scientists very interested in his inventions.
1874 62 & 53 Urban & Nany travelled to Argentina with her brothers William (Wilhelm) & Frank (Franz) Benitz.  Sailing from New York city, 29 August 1874, to Southampton (England), then Buenos Aires, arriving 8 October.  Two months later, the Mahrers returned to the US, sailing from Rosario on 13 December (on the brig “Blitz”) to Rio de Janeiro, continuing 17 January, 1875, to Baltimore, MD (on the German brig “Emmi & Otto”) arriving 12 March, 1875.
1876-1879 64-67 Per US City Directories (via Ancestry.com) for Pittsburgh, Urban Mahrer’s occupation was:
  1876: Carpenter; Thirty-ninth AV RR (his home)
  1879: Carpenter; Thirty-ninth bl South (his home)
1880 61 Nany died of “exhaustion” on 14 April, 1880, at 39th Street & was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery (Pittsburgh, PA).  She was 61 years old.  Urban’s obit mentions she had been unhealthy for some time.
1880 69 US Census listed Urban Mahrer as: pattern-maker, widower, age 69, born: ca.1811 Switzerland; home: 193 39th Street, Pittsburgh.
1882-1890 70-78 Per US City Directories (via Ancestry.com) for Pittsburgh, Urban Mahrer worked at his home (on 39th Street), his occupation:
  1882: Pattern maker; Thirty-ninth, n RR
  1885: carpenter; 136 Thirty Ninth St.
  1887: carpenter; 136 Thirty Ninth St.
  1890: carpenter; 136 Thirty-ninth
1888 76 Urban Mahrer re-married, to Mary Ann Snyder, she was originally from Germany.  He had no children of his own; he did have stepchildren, the children of his second wife.
1891 79 Urban Mahrer died 16 April, 1891, of bronchitis, at at his home: 136 Thirty-ninth Street, & was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery (Pittsburgh, PA).
1895 81 Mary Ann Mahrer (wife #2) died 12 August, 1895, of cholera, in Pittsburgh.  She had moved out of Urban’s house and was living at 38th & Butler.  She was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery (Pittsburgh, PA).

Mentioned in family letters:

Nany’s older brother Thaddaeus remained in Germany.  He kept the letters he received from his brothers living in the U.S.  Nany is mentioned in several:

Anton Bz’s letter, 6 May, 1852
...As for the rest, Xaver and Nany are, as far as I know, healthy and doing well.  Our brother in law and the sister also want to go to William.
Wilhelm Bz, 27 June, 1853
...From our sister and brother in law Mahrer, I have only had 2 letters with the same date.
Wilhelm Bz, 5 April, 1854
Only from brother in law Mahrer I got 2 letters, from which I infer that he does not agree with Anton.
Franz Xavier’s letter, 15 January, 1863, regarding an inheritance from H. Benitz:
..I will authorize you to send me my share, I see that Nany of Pittsburgh is not satisfied with you as by your letter but I think you are unable to commit an injustice, and will give every one his share, especially to the ones who are absent.

Bits & Pieces:


M. Aña Bönitz

Birth & Baptism Record 44: 12 & 13 May, 1819
Sankt Petri-sankt Martin-katholisch
Endingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

(Source: James Bell)

On May 12, 1819 at five o'clock in the evening a girl was born at this location.  She was baptized at St. Martin's church on May 10 at eleven o'clock in the morning May 13.  She was named Maria Anna Bönitz.
Parents: Anton Bönitz (master cooper) and Maria Anna Wagner.
Sponsors: Joseph Peintner (master saddler) and Maria Anna Müller (married).
Witness: Anton Halbling (farmer).
Endingen, May 13, 1819
The chaplain Wild performed the baptism.
witnessed by: Martin

Translation of church record 44, at left.
(Translator noted May 10 clearly should be May 13.)
(Source: James Bell)


M. Aññ Bönitz

Birth & Baptism Record: 12 & 13 May, 1819
Staatsarchive, Freiburg
Baden-Württemberg, Germany

(Source: P. Benitz)


Urban Mahrer
(Source: Brenda Paulo, 2003)


(Source: Brenda Paulo, 2003)


One of Urban’s clocks
(Source: Brenda Paulo, 2003)

Urban Mahrer, The Inventor

  The light of a Pittsburgh genius has gone out.  Mr. Urban Mahrer, a veteran inventor, scholar and man of mechanical ideas died yesterday [16 April, 1891] at 6:30 AM.
  Though in life, practically unknown to outside world, in scientific circles he received prominent recognition.
  Mr. Mahrer was born in Alsace-Loraine.  Being wedded early in life to a lady of delicate health, he devoted several years to travel with her.  He visited every city of prominence on the globe.
  In 1840, he located in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh.  He built his home on Thirty-ninth Street, doing all the work himself.  Shortly after the completion of the Arsenal, he drafted and made all the machinery for the manufacture of cartridges.  This was the last public work he was employed in.  Soon after he retired he made a workshop of the upper portion of his residence.  Here he devoted all his time to the numerous inventions which now bear testimony to his skill.  An idea can be formed of his collection when his machinery and tools comprise everything from the rough tools used by the stone cutters to those of a watchmaker.  He had implements for drawing, engraving wood and brass turning, and patterns for hundreds of mechanical devices, not considering some fifty completed inventions that no one save himself has feasted his eyes upon.
  One of his hobbies was clocks.  There are some twenty-seven of them scattered in all parts of his house.  At striking times their alarms sound from the ponderous nine footer to the tiny silver piece that hangs over his bed.  They are all his own handiwork, every particle being made in his own workshop.
  Some years ago he was asked to devise and make a clock for the interior of the Allegheny Observatory.  He completed the one that now ornaments his sitting room.  It is a perfect model of the globe, showing the time, and the position of the sun at any moment.  He refused to sell it for less than $900, and when in one of his eccentric moods concluded to not accept any price.  It was one of his notions that his genius could not be bought.  His mechanical ideas such as would have made him independently wealthy, but he never cared to put them into execution for profit.
  In 1873, a delegation of German scientists, who were visiting in Pittsburgh called on him.  He entertained them a whole day.  The wonders of his workshop were marvels to them.  One of the party offered him a salary of $3000 to over see and design in his mechanical department in Berlin but he refused.  He presented each of the party with a unique memento that had taken days and nights of his inventive time.
  Eight years ago he married his second wife.  He has no children.  One of his step-grandsons, Charles Thalheimer is carrier in the Pittsburgh Post Office department.
  In the office of Engineer Lindenthal lies a portion of the last work of the deceased genius.  It is a model in brass of the immense bridge to be erected across the North River, New York.  After Mr. Lindenthal’s plans were completed they were given to two different parties to produce.  The efforts of Mr. Mahrer, bringing out the ideas of Mr. Lindenthal were recognized by compliments.  However the old gentleman was then on the verge of his last illness, and unable to complete them.  Mr. Herman Daub, assistant to Mr. Lindenthal, said today that his genius was shown in every particular.  His equal does not exist in this country.   Pittsburgh Post

(Source & Transcription: Brenda Paulo, 2003)


The Pittsburg Dispatch
October 31, 1889
(Source: RABzGrabz)


Urban Mahrer – 1st. Enlistment in the US Army: 1833-1837
(Source: RABzGrabz)


Urban Mahrer – 2nd. Enlistment in the US Army: 1841-1846
(Source: RABzGrabz)


List of passengers
SS Wesser (for Bremen)

New York Times, 28th August, 1874
(Source: RABzGrabz)

“This afternoon we all were astonished by Mahrer saying he was going in the brig Blitz to Rio Janeiro, and then to the United States.  The Blitz is going tomorrow morning early, so he has to be on board tonight. After supper we went with him to the wharf to see him & wife off.  We had to wait until 8:30 P.M. and then he was in a boat to the ship.  Good Bye Mr. Mahrer and Aunt.”

Diary of Alfred A. Benitz (Nany’s nephew)
12th December, 1874 — Rosario, Santa Fé, Arg.
(Source: P. Benitz)


Passengers arriving Baltimore
from Rio de Janeiro
Germ. Brig Emmi & Otto
March 12, 1875

(Source: RABzGrabz)


Nany – died 14 April, 1880
Mary Ann (Benitz) Mahrer
Pittsburgh Registration of Deaths, pg. 320
(Source: RABzGrabz)


Urban – died 16 April, 1891
Urban Mahrer
Pittsburgh Registration of Deaths, pg. 192
(Source: RABzGrabz)


Mary Ann – died 12 August, 1895
Mary Ann (Snyder) Mahrer
Pittsburgh Registration of Deaths, pg. 515
(Source: RABzGrabz)


Urban Mahrer
Born in Mahlin Canton
Aarau Switzerland
May 22, 1812
Died April 16, 1891
(Source: Findagrave.com)


Urban Mahrer
Death Notices

(Source: RABzGrabz)


Will of
Mary Ann (Snyder) Mahrer

(PDF - 2mb)
(Source: RABzGrabz)

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)