Family Memory

Last night over at Geneamusings, Randy Seaver had for his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun a game of ancestor roulette. The ancestor he landed on was his great-grandmother about whom he had this to say:

I called her “Nana” – as did my mother. She was the earliest born person that I remember being with.

She was born in 1868, so I was impressed by that. The earliest born person I remember is my Great-Uncle Milt who was born in 1900. I had some great-uncles born in the 1890’s whom I probably met but don’t remember. My Uncle Milt had no other family living besides us. He never had children and his only brother, my grandfather, had only my mother. So, Uncle Milt would join us for Thanksgiving and other holidays. When he passed away, I went with my mom to his house and it was like stepping into another time. I came away with a penny from 1919, an old fountain pen and three old 78 records. None of those things have survived to present day, I am sad to report.

Compared to 1868, 1900 is not that long ago. My grandmothers were born in 1904 and 1905 and I knew them better than Uncle Milt. Through the stories of my grandmother Naomi Carman Garrison especially, the early twentieth century was not so far removed.

What about my grandmother? Who was the oldest person she knew? My mind went immediately to her grandmother Catherine Hornef Carman. This was not likely the oldest person in her family my grandmother ever met, but she is the only one my grandmother told me about. It is not much, but this may be all that is ever “remembered” about my 2nd great-grandmother. My grandmother told me she remembered her grandmother as a large, happy German woman and remembered her cooking in the kitchen. My grandmother was only seven years old when her grandmother passed away, so one can forgive the vagueness.

Some things I have learned about Catherine Hornef Carman since:

  • She was born 1 July 1845 in Otterberg, Germany to Jacob Hornef and Katharina Faber.
  • She was christened at the Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche in Otterberg shortly thereafter.
  • They immigrated to Philadelphia when she was a baby and they left Germany “secretly.”
  • She had two sisters Eva Amelia who married Andrew Mahla and settled in Marcus Hook and Mary who has proven elusive.
  • Her sisters were both born in Pennsylvania.
  • She was married in 1862 to Elon Carman at the First Independent Christian Church in Philadelphia.
  • She died 9 April 1913 and is buried in Mt. Moriah cemetery in Philadelphia1

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.