The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (396+397)

Of my known 5th great-grandparents, Hans Jacob HONEGGER (1718-1796) was the only one of his generation on my paternal side to have not been born in America.

[Note: This is excluding the possibility of an immigrant in my unknown DEMPSEY line. The parents of my 2nd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY, born abt. 1822 in Virginia, are still unknown. He did not live to be enumerated on the 1870 census which included columns for mother and father of foreign birth or the 1880 census which included the birthplace of mother and father. It is therefore unknown if his parents were foreigners.]

The Harbor of Philadelphia seen from New Jersey Shore, based on Scull’s Map of 1754 (From Etching in The Historical Society of Pennsylvania) published in “Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Volume II” (Strassburger, 1934) Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Few families know their history as well as the descendants of Hans Jacob Honegger (Honaker), a Swiss-German immigrant who sailed to Philadelphia in 1749. ~ Honaker Family in America

Hans Jacob HONEGGER came to America in 1749. He traveled from Basel, Switzerland to Rotterdam where he boarded a ship to Philadelphia by way of Cowes with his young wife and baby son. When he debarked from the Crown he was alone as his wife and child perished during the journey. Only three years later my sixth-great-grandparents Johann Jacob RUPP and Maria Barbara NONNENMACHER would arrive in Philadelphia in 1752 also coming from Rotterdam via Cowes with three young boys. Similarities in the lives of the HONEGGER and the RUPP family were helpful in my research for this post.

Not a brick wall!

I wrote Hans Jacob HONEGGER – not really a brick wall in 2013. A short piece in which I included a wish for the Swiss records to be available online at FamilySearch. To this day, I am still waiting to be able to follow up on the research done by Nadine W. Larson.1

The National Association of Hans Jacob Honegger Families has been sending their newsletter to me since the end of 2000. With a PDF collection of the newsletters from 1992-2008 found online, my collection is complete. I also have a PDF of Honaker Family in America edited by Frieda Patrick Davison2 as well as several updates to the book.

With all of this information, what is there left to write about? Then I realized I don’t have a single original document to show Hans Jakob HONEGGER even existed. Everything I have is based on information found by others.

I went in search of records – original records or close-to-original records – that would at least document a few things in the life of my immigrant, Hans Jacob HONEGGER.

The 1749 signature of Hans Jacob HONEGGER

I followed the directions in my post from February 2016, How to Find Your 18th Century Immigrant’s Signature to find the facsimile of the signature my immigrant left on the oath of abjuration (List C) when he landed in Philadelphia on 30 August 1749.

The introduction of the book Pennsylvania German Pioneers in which it was found includes this explanation on how the facsimiles were made.

A brief explanation is herewith offered by the editor as to the manner in which the lists were reproduced. There were two methods of reproduction available, either by half tones or by line etchings. After some experimenting the latter method was chosen, as it seemed to offer several advantages. In the first place, it was possible by this method to remove most of the numerous inkspots, which deface so many of the lists. Then, it enabled the editor to strengthen many thin, hardly discernible lines, which would not have appeared on the half tones at all. And lastly, in the case of many names, which could be read only with great difficulty, with the help of the magnifying glass, the editor was able to trace these names and thus make them stand out from the mass of surrounding inkspots. The latter were then removed by Japanese white. But no names were touched until the whole list had been deciphered and gone over again and again. Many hours of tedious and painstaking work were thus spent in making the lists readable.3

I located the ship List C for the Crown4 in the book and zoomed the page out to get a good screenshot of the signature. I then used PicMonkey to erase the signatures above and below his. I also cleaned up along the lines of the loop of the letter J in Jacob as the next signer had signed his first name Martin with the t in the loop. I used Amberly’s Amazing Signature Silhouettes for the signature presentation.

Hans Jacob HONEGGER marries Maria GÖTZ in 1753

Following several years of working off his debts from the crossing, Hans Jacob HONEGGER, a widower, married Maria GÖTZ (Goetz) on 8 July 1753 in the First Reformed Church in Philadelphia.5

The parents of Maria GÖTZ were not named in the transcription entry. There may be a mention of her in Nadine W. Larson’s book but I have not been able to obtain a copy of this spiral-bound book or the scanned copy on Multimedia CD as the vendor doesn’t ship to my area.

I leave this question open to any of my readers who may have more information on my 5th great-grandmother Maria GÖTZ.

The last document in the life of Hans Jacob HONEGGER

The Last Will and Testament of Jacob HONEEKAR6 was found in Wythe County, Virginia. I used a backdoor link to a collection on Ancestry which is not in the catalog. I credit Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees for sharing the tip in a post on her blog.

1796 Last Will and Testament of Jacob Honeekar, image from Ancestry.com

In the name of God amen This twelfth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety (six crossed out) five Jacob Honeekar of the County of Wythe and State of Virginia being at present in a low state of health but of perfect soundness of mind and memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body that it is appointed once for all men to die and to return to the earth out of which they were taken do make and ordain this my last Will and testament. (That is to say) First and principally I recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty god that gave it having firm faith and hope in the resurrection of both soul and body at the last day and next. I leave my body to care and discretion of surviving friends to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner And as touching such worldly estate God hath blessd me with I give and bequeath in manner and form following (to wit) And whereas I have disposed of my Lands and plantation where I now live by Deed in fee simple to Henry Honeekar and his heirs forever the same being hole of Lands I possessed I can make no further mention for the same more than Rank his bo?? for the same amongst my outstanding debts.
My will and desire is that after my discease my beloved wife Mary shall enjoy and possess all and every of my remaining estate during her natural life to her own use and behoofe at her own discrestion and after her discease what is then remaining to be divided amongst all my children and their legal representative of such as might in this time Die (in the following manner) That is to say to my sons Henry Honeekar, Jacob Honeekar, Nicholas Honeekar, Joseph Honeekar,

and Martin Honeekar. These are to have and possess double as much as these children not yet mentioned (that is to say) Frederick, Peter, Benjamin, Isaac, Abraham, Elisabeth, Mary, Christiana, and Anna. And as to my outstanding debts the principal that is Due me is in the hands of my son Henry who hath purchased my Lands (as taken notice of above) my will and desire is that my wife may be supported out of sd bonds due from my son Henry Honacker in and sums not exceeding the tenor of the bonds given one from my said son Henry which was thirty (fifty-five crossed out) pounds per annum lawful money of the State above mentioned which bonds is to have due credit for any sums drawn for the support of my sd wife and if any of those moneys be remaing (sic) in the hands of my said son Henry at the decease of my sd wife that then the balance due thereon shall be brought into the estate according to the laws and usuages of the sd state of Virga. and be disposed of as above mentioned amongst all my children and their legal representatives.
I likewise appoint Mrss. David Sayer and Francis J. Carter of the sd County of Wythe Executors of this my last Will and Testament and I do hereby revoke and disannul all and every other former will or wills ratifying and confirming this and confirming (crossed out) no other to be my last WIll and testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Seale this day and year above written.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jacob (his mark H) Honeekar Seal
Signed Sealed and acknowledged
by the above Testator Jacob Honeekar 
in presence of
Geo. Carter
John Allen
James Foster
William Foster

At a Court held for the County of Wythe on Tuesday the 10th day of May 1796. This last Will and Testament of Jacob Honeekar Decd. was exhibited in Court and proven by the Oaths of George Carter, James Foster and William Foster three Witnesses thereto and ordered to be Recorded.
Teste
Samuel Crockett (Clerk)

Hans Jacob HONEGGER, here seen as Jacob HONEEKAR, mentioned his fourteen living children in his will making further research so much easier for his descendants.

His first and last signature in America

I began this post with the first signature, albeit a facsimile, of my 5th great-grandfather when he landed in America in 1749 and ended it with the last, his mark – the letter H, on his will in 1795. Between these two, he produced land records which may also include his signature.

Stay tuned for the transcriptions of two land deeds I found for Hans Jacob HONEGGER while he was living in Maryland in 1758 and 1765.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Nadine W. Larson, Hans Jacob Honegger: From Switzerland to America, Stevenson’s Genealogy Center, 1987 – 247 pages. 
  2. Frieda Patrick Davison, ed., <I>Honaker Family in America</i>, copyright 1998 by The National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families; Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, 1998. 
  3. Strassburger, Ralph Beaver, and William John Hinke, Pennsylvania German pioneers: a publication of the original lists of arrivals in the port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, Norristown, Penn: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934, Introduction, page v (digital images); Archive.org,  (https://archive.org/details/pennsylvaniagerm04penn_1/page/n12/mode/1up: accessed 26 January 2020). 
  4. Ibid., page 439. 
  5. Pennsylvania German Marriages, Marriages and Marriage Evidence in Pennsylvania German Churches, (compiled by Donna R. Irish and published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Maryland, 1984), page 333, “185: Hoonecker, Jacob, wid’r, Maria Götz 8 Jul 1753.” Ancestry.com, Transcription of microfilm records of First Reformed Church, Philadelphia, 1748-1831: Vol. I Marriages by Rev. Michael Schlatter, Part 8, Roll 136-137. The seventh item on film. Copied 1939. The microfilm rolls are not available. 
  6. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Wythe County, Virginia, Wills, Vol 1-3, 1790-1831, Volume 1, page 39-41, image 181+182 of 863. 1796 Last will and testament of Jacob Honaker. (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/9085/007645718_00236?pid=1556387&backurl=https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=9085&h=1556387&ssrc=pt&tid=11910416&pid=12782146987&usePUB=true&ssrc=pt&treeid=11910416&personid=12782146987&hintid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true#?imageId=0034224-00180 : accessed 22 January 2020). UPDATE (18 February 2020): The database on Ancestry is not showing images of the records. Unknown if this is a temporary issue or the images have been removed permanently as it is not a collection found in the catalog.