This Week in My Genealogy – Jacob Hornef

Jacob Hornef listed on daughter's death certificate
From Catherine Hornef Carman’s death certificate (1913)

I first discovered Jacob Hornef 1 on his daughter’s death certificate. His name and his birth place were the only clues. Not even his daughter’s mother was named.

I went searching for census records. Complicating matters, there were other Horneffs in the area, mostly in New Jersey, including another Jacob. I kept asking myself, how could they not be related? Hornef(f) is not a common name. This would turn out to be a distraction.

I knew my great-great grandmother Catherine Hornef was born in Germany. The 1900 census said she immigrated in 1846. I found her with her husband Elon Carman from 1870 forward.

I could not find her or her father Jacob in 1850 or 1860.

This is where I encourage persistance and revisiting brick walls. 2

After wasting time pursuing Jacob and Wilhelmina Horneff in New Jersey, I found my Jacob. I had searched various spellings, of course, but I had started before the internet and somehow either I or the indexer of the print index had missed my Hornefs, or as they were recorded by the enumerator in 1860, Harnoff. I found that thanks to the advances in internet search technology. Believe me, I did not type that in. I entered something much closer to Hornef, I am sure, and Ancestry found it. Magic!

Hornefs in 1860 census
Jacob Hornef, his wife Catherine and their three daughters, Catherine, Amelia & Mary, and his mother-in-law Eva Farver (Faber) – 1860 Census

Finding my Hornefs in the 1850 census was more difficult, for reasons I will simply illustrate:

Hornefs 1850 Census
Jacob, Catherine and Catherine “Orneff” 1850 Census

Jacob and Catherin “Orneff” are on lines 25 and 26. Their daughter is on line 32. The household and family numbers are all mixed up as well. I am thinking there may have been language issues involved here.

I did not get much farther with Jacob for quite some time. I found a naturalization record, but could not be certain it was my Jacob and not the other one. Then began uploading their records databases. First, I found Jacob’s death certificate. Then, as discussed in an earlier post, I found his wife’s obituary on and her death certificate, which gave me her parents’ names: Leonhard Faber and Eva Huber.

With this new information, I returned to familysearch and found indexes of Otterberg church records and a whole slew of information on my Hornefs including Jacob’s christening:

name: Jacob Horneff
gender: Male
baptism/christening date: 03 Jan 1819
baptism/christening place: EVANGELISCH, OTTERBERG, PFALZ, BAVARIA
birth date: 02 Jan 1819
father’s name: Georg Peter Horneff
mother’s name: Catharine Cherdron
indexing project (batch) number: C97881-1
system origin: Germany-VR
source film number: 193110
reference number: 2:1GJM5M2

I still have not looked at the microfilm of the original records3, so I consider this information provisional. (Indexing is difficult and it is easy to make mistakes with names and dates.)

So, provisionally, this week in my genealogy, one hundred ninety four years ago, my 3rd great grandfather Jacob Hornef was born in Otterberg, Germany.

Jacob Hornef
From Jacob Hornef’s death certificate. I realized every record I used in this post had Horneff. This is to illustrate the Hornef spelling.


  1. I have decided to use a standard spelling of Hornef for my ancestors, although Horneff has also appeared in records.
  2. It has taken me almost twenty years to get this far with my Hornefs. If the internet  did not exist, this would probably have been a lifetime search.
  3. I keep hoping they will add the images some day

Leave a Reply