Jacob Hornef was my third great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s (Carman) line*. He was born in Otterberg, Germany and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 3, 1894. His death certificate is available on FamilySearch.
He was an immigrant and a laborer from a humble background. When Ancestry.com added Wills and Probate recordsÂ from Philadelphia, he was the last person I expected to find, considering that I have found few Last Wills & Testaments for my ancestors and those I have found have been for men with land or who had some wealth. So far, Jacob Hornef is the only ancestor I have found in that database.
I have transcribed his Last Will & Testament. It was signed in 1876 and probate was filedÂ in 1895. His wife is named as executrix. His children are not mentioned. Both he and his wife signed their names using old German script:
* Jacob Hornef (m. Katharina Faber) — Catherine Hornef (m. Elon Carman) —- Joseph Elon Carman (m. Anna M. Funston) —— Naomi Evelyn Carman (m. Orville W. Garrison) ——– Carol Lucille Garrison (m. Charles E. Conrad) ———- Me
My great-uncle, Frank Alexander Todd, was born 120 years ago this week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was my grandmother Susan L. Todd’s oldest sibling. Even though according to the Social Security Death index he passed away in 1981, I don’t remember him. My grandmother came from a large family and there were 11 years between her and her brother. He was born April 16, 1893.
I have two pieces of evidence for his birth. The first is his application for a social security number. The second is his World War I Draft Card. According to the draft card he was a machinist, an occupation he shared with his father, John Alexander Todd.
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!
Finding my Hornefs in the 1850 census was more difficult, for reasons I will simply illustrate:
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 familysearch.org 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 genealogybank.com 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.