The Parents, Siblings and Birth of Johann Michael Ernst Hörner
(aka Michael Harness, Sr.)

John L. Tevebaugh
With Notes and Addenda:
Important Advice and Reminders from the Compiler of Ortssippenbuch Unteröwisheim, Stadtteil von Kraichthal, Landkreis Karlsruhe For Historians of Families with German Roots
What are Ortssippenbücher?
For over 150 years descendants seeking the birthdate of Michael Ernst, also very often known as Michael Harness,1 turned to an interview with his grandson, George Trumbo, conducted in Bath County, Kentucky, by John D. Shane probably about 1850.2 George was quoted as saying:
" M.g.f. [My grandfather] was born in 1700. Jan. 1." But Shane then notes that Trumbo went on explaining the date of the year, saying: "Died in March, & if he had lived till new-year, he wo'd h.b. [would have been] 85. He went to the S. Br. [South Branch of the Potomac River]: a young man."
Fortunately for us, but unknowingly, Trumbo negated his first statement by his elaboration. We know this because we know when Michael died, something surely his grandson knew and his descendants should have known. Michael's will was proved 08 March 1785 in the Hampshire County, Virginia, Court. The negation was in the logic of Trumbo's "explanation." Simple arithmetic requires that if Michael died in March 1785, and needed to have lived until January of 1786 to become 85, then he must have been born in the year 1701.

George Trumbo doubtless never saw a final copy of his interview to review his negation. Harness descendants obviously have seen the final copy, but this author is unaware of even one who read it carefully enough to notice the negation or to grapple with what it might mean.3 Instead, as so many family researchers do, descendants seized upon the date and ignored the rest.

As it turns out, the grandson's negation leads us in the correct direction. Indeed, Michael was 84 when he died sometime very early in March 1785; and he was born in January, but in a different year. The 1995 publication of a major new source of information about Michael and his family documents those facts and more.4 It was compiled by one of Germany's leading genealogists, Karl Diefenbacher.5 This source is a town resident/ family lineage book for the village of (7527) Unteröwisheim on the Kraich River in the valley of the same name. It is in northwestern Baden [today Baden Württemberg] between Karlsruhe and Heidelberg, about 28 kilometers south of the latter. The principal basis of this book are the Unteröwisheim churchbooks, many of which are damaged or missing significant portions due to destruction in the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as to epidemics and the Plague. Fortunately, chronicles and other extant local records are available to help fill the gaps. Everything considered, this publication probably contains as much sound data as will ever be found for those who were residents of this village, either those who were there for generations or for just a few years.

It was among the families of the latter type where we found Michael and his family.6 His father was described in the book as "Hintersass," meaning later arrival among the residents of that village, not a native. From whence he and his family came we don't yet know.

Although the information is brief, it contains data never known before or used by Ernst/Harness researchers. It is this:
"family of man & wife: Joachim Ernst Kraft Hörner, Hintersass and Apollonia (surname unknown),
3 Kinder (children):
Regina Magdalena b. ______, d. 2.5.1701 [02 May 1701] age 4/4/2
Michel Ernst b. 2.1.1701 [ 02 Jan 1701]
Susanna Barbara b. 17.12.1703 [17 Dec 1703]; d. 6.1.1704 [06 Jan 1704]"
The way the data is used by the compiler allows us to make sound deductions that add to our knowledge of this family.7 By using just the dates and events presented in the book, and the strictures placed upon such usage, we see that Joachim and Apollonia arrived in Unteröwisheim sometime before January 1701, but probably after 1695.8 Daughter Regina Magdalena was with them but died in the new village 02 May 1701 at age 4y, 4m, 2d [indicating birth elsewhere on 30 Dec 1697]. In the meantime, their son, Michel [Michael] Ernst Kraft Hörner was born there on 02 Jan 1701. Later records in North America indicate he had been given the baptismal name of Johann, which eventually, like most young German men, he ceased to use.9 Michael's younger sister, Susanna Barbara, also was born there, on 17 December 1703, but lived only 3 weeks, dying on 06 January 1704.

The absence of further data in the book tells us that Michael and his parents left Unteröwisheim sometime after Barbara's death. It could have been months or as long as 5 years. We can extend this saga through the use of records of the arrival of the Palatine Germans in New York in 1710, for in them we find Michael and his father.10 When we do, we are first struck by the absence of any reference to the mother, Apollonia. Her name never appears in Governor Robert Hunter's Palatine Subsistence Lists, 1710-1712,11 so we must conclude she died between 1704 and 1710. How and when we do not know, but we know it was after they left Unteröwisheim. It could have been on the usual Rhine journey down to Rotterdam, in England while awaiting transport to New York, or, very likely, on the voyage itself. In any event, the father was in New York in 1710 with three children.12

The one child shown on the New York Subsistence lists as under age 10 would have been Michael, then only 9. Two other children listed were both over 10. They turned out to be an older sister and brother, Anna Margaretha and Johann Conrad Mattheus.13 Margaretha, who married at West Camp, Ulster County, New York, 05 September 1710,14 must have been nearly 20 at that time, placing her birthdate about 1690, a decade before their arrival in Unteröwisheim. Conrad was apprenticed on 23 November 1710, his age given as 15, making his likely birthyear 1695, also before the move to the village.15

Margaretha's marriage record provides us with vital information about her father, who is described there as "the late Ludwig Ernst Horner of Unter-Owisheim in Wurtemberg." His death would have occurred between 04 August and 04 October 1710, probably up the Hudson at West Camp. Whether his given name had been the Joachim of the village lineage book or the Ludwig of the Hunter Rolls perhaps is moot . Neither was used for any of his known grandchildren. We will use Joachim here because it was the first recorded and because there were many more opportunities for mistaken entries in the Hunter Rolls. Joachim's additional surname, Kraft, in the village book entry has caused some question among some descendants and several researchers.16 We are uncertain about the original significance of this surname. A scholar who researches this aspect of German culture suggests that it might have been the surname of a family which intermarried with the Hörners at an earlier date.17

Using the documents and other evidence from the three accounts noted above, we can for the first time accurately describe in some sure detail the family of Johann Michael Ernst [Kraft] Hörner, known in the American Colony and State of Virginia usually as Michael Harness:18
Father: Joachim Ernst Kraft HÖRNER, b. prob. ca1660 in Germany; d. betw. 04 August and 04 October 1710 in New York.
Mother: Apollonia [surname UNKNOWN], b. prob. bef. 1670 in Germany; d. betw. 1704 and 1710 [place unknown]. [Marriage date unknown]
  Anna Margaretha HÖRNER, b. ca1691 in Germany; d. aft. 1744 in New York, prob. near Stone Arabia.
m. Johannes KAYSER, 05 September 1710 in West Camp, Ulster County, New York. [for probable 10 children see Jones, I, p. 440] [Johannes said to be from Unteröwisheim, but not found in Ortssippenbuch.]

Johann Conrad Mattheus HÖRNER, b. ca1695 in Germany; bound as apprentice to an Enoch Freeland of New York on 23 Nov 1710.

Regina Magdalena HÖRNER, b. ca31 December 1696 in Germany; d. 02 May 1701 in Unteröwisheim, Baden.

Johann Michael Ernst [Kraft] HÖRNER, b. 02 January 1701 in Unteröwisheim, Baden; d. prob. March 1785 in Hampshire County, Virginia.
m. Maria Elisabetha Dieffenbach, in early 1720s in New York or Pennsylvania. She was baptized 08 July 1705 in Wiesloch, Baden; d. prob. 1796 in Hardy County, Virginia. 13 children (dates very uncertain).

Susanna Barbara HÖRNER, b. 17 December 1703 and d. 06 January 1704 in Unteröwisheim, Baden.

These research results are dedicated to the Harness descendants of Michael Ernst, in the ardent hope that they will abandon their unsupportable ideas about Michael's origin and get on with serious research to determine credible vital statistics for each of Michael's children. That has taken far too long.

Copyright 2002 by John L. Tevebaugh

  1. He also was referred to as Michael Harness, Sr., and as "old Michael Harness" especially by later descendants. Actually, he was born Michael Ernst Hörner, and was given the baptismal name of Johann. See John L. Tevebaugh, Johann Michael Ernst Hörner and His Harness Children; What the Documents Say (Grand Haven, MI, 2001)
  2. Draper MSS 12 CC, 113-115 [originally headed: Bath, Historical Collections, No. 19 G. Trumbo, pp. 101-103]. Trumbo, said to have died in 1851, would have been about 80 at the time of this interview, and his memory for detail affected by age. Shane, who conducted similar interviews with scores of other Kentucky pioneers, found Trumbo "weak of memory" and having difficulty putting items in order of importance. Trumbo was the first child of Michael's daughter, Margaretha (called "Grate" from her nickname of Greta) and her husband, Andrew Trumbo.
  3. The Draper Manuscripts were first made available for public research in 1893, were first microprinted in 1949 for widespread use, and done again in the 1980s.
  4. Ortssippenbuch Unteröwisheim, Stadtteil von Kraichthal, Landkreis Karlsruhe, 16. Jahrhundert bis 1900 [roughly: town family book of Unteröwisheim, Kraich valley town, Karlsruhe District, 16th century to 1900], compiled by Karl Diefenbacher (Frankfurt am Main, Zentralstelle für Personen- und Familiengeschichte, [1995], 846 pp.). Additional information about ortssippenbücher is appended at the end of this essay.
  5. This is only one of several volumes compiled by him. Other German genealogists have been active as well. By 1995 there were over 70 such books [bücher] for Baden alone, and over 300 for villages throughout Germany. Their numbers have increased each year, and show no signs of decreasing. This particular volume was discovered by Henry Z. Jones, Jr., in researching the three new volumes in his monumental series on the Palatine German families who came to New York in 1709-1710: Henry Z. Jones, Jr., and Lewis Bunker Rohrbach, Even More Palatine Families; 18th Century Immigrants to the American Colonies, and their German, Swiss and Austrian Origins (3 vols., 2600+ pp., 2002).
  6. Ortssippenbuch Unteröwisheim, p. 376. See footnote No. 4, above, for full title. Family surnames are arranged alphabetically.
  7. Karl Diefenbacher, and the other compilers, used only events and dates that occurred while the persons and families were resident in the village. So, data about children and adults who were born, who died or who were married before or after the family lived in the village were not recorded in a town lineage book.
  8. Subsequent consideration of the New York subsistence records for this family will show that there were at least two somewhat older children. They would have been born before the family arrived in this village, the younger born about 1695, the older about 1690.
  9. See Tevebaugh, pp. 1-2, the work cited in footnote No. 1, above.
  10. A sound and most efficient presentation of this data is that found in Hank Jones's earlier work, The Palatine Families of New York; A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710 (2 vols., Universal City, CA, 1985), I, p. 378, and II, pp. 1207-1211(his description of sources).
  11. op. cit., I, p. 378; II, 1208.
  12. Ibid..
  13. They were not listed in the Unteröwisheim Ortssippenbuch because they were neither born, married or died there. Their rather earlier birthdates create a possibility that these two were Joachim's children by a first wife, but no documents or strong hints of that were found.
  14. West Camp was located on the west side of the Hudson River, above Saugerties and opposite what now is called Germantown, Columbia County, New York, which was the site of the East Camp German towns of 1710-1712 and after.
  15. Jones, I, pp. 378, 439-440.
  16. Kraft here is considered a surname, of which German men of that time may have had any number between 1 and 4. On only two occasions have we found Kraft used in a formal listing for a member of this Hörner family.
  17. Don Heinrich Tolzmann to the author, Cincinnati, Ohio, 18 October 2001. Professor Tolzmann also is very active in research on Palatine German emigration in the 18th and 19th centuries. He and others point out that German men of that time chose which of their family surnames they would use during their lifetimes. This would explain why Michael did not use Kraft, and probably also why he did not use his father's Hörner in his "mark" signature in Virginia.
  18. Bear in mind that "Harness" was an imperfect translation of his Ernst surname, and should generally be used only parenthetically as an identification of him. He might be best referred to as Ernst [aka Harness] or as Ernst/Harness, but never without the Ernst, which he adopted as his proper surname for life.

Important Advice and Reminders from the Compiler of
Ortssippenbuch Unteröwisheim, Stadtteil von Kraichthal, Landkreis Karlsruhe
For Historians of Families with German Roots

In the Introduction, p. xi, the compiler states: "Since the spelling of family names developed strong fluctuations even in our century, the most current common spelling was taken to organize the family names in our list. The form of the names used commonly in former times and the deviations of the name are presented as they appeared in the source." [In short, surname spelling in Germany has always varied considerably; so don't look for uniformity or be put off by variety. The same was true of both spelling and choice of which given and surname to use.]

"Remarks about the Index [p. 798]: Since the spelling of family names here is as finally fixed over the centuries, when searching for one's surname, the following must be kept in mind.
  1. When pronounced, the letters b, c, d, f, g and z can be mistaken for [stand in place of] letters p, k, t, v and tz. The correct/actual letters depend upon the spoken word, and therefore the dialect of the writer or speaker.
  2. Vowels in similar-sounding names can actually represent different spellings. Instead of an e for example, one might find an ä or ö, or even an i, a, ü, j or y.
  3. In this index all similar-sounding surnames are given under a single spelling. For example, under Maier will be also such spellings as Meir, Majer, Meyr, Meyer, etc.; and under Schmidt will be also Schmitt, Schmid, etc.
  4. In the text we tried to retain the spelling used in the Churchbooks or in other original documents.
The town names given in churchbooks are not always correct, but we used the spelling which was in the original document. In the following town index we use today's correct spelling as found in the Ortsverzeichnis Post, 1980 [German Postal Town Index, published 1980; these are the "zip" numbers found in Hank Jones and others to pinpoint church locations]. Some town names were not found in any index because we either misunderstood the churchbooks [problems reading old script and/or handwriting], or that over time the original villages were absorbed by larger municipalities or disappeared. Town names such as Neustadt, Kirchheim, Weiler, etc., are very common in German-speaking lands, and often are found without the name of the larger political unit. These we must leave for the laborious work of the family researcher. Old terms such as Diocese, principality [Fürstentum] and others are given when even a vague hint might help."
[translated by John L. Tevebaugh, February, 2002]

What are Ortssippenbücher?

Ortssippenbücher are a relatively new breed of town and village record books being compiled by the dozens throughout Germany, and even in a few other central European countries with substantial German-speaking populations. The publication rate in the last 10-15 years has skyrocketed. At least 72 such town resident lineage books were published for villages and towns in Baden alone, and over 300 in all before 1995. More are compiled and published every year. The name, ortssippenbuch, has become a virtual generic publishing term covering town resident family books (Ortssippenbücher), family lineage books (Familienbücher) and churchbooks (Kirchenbücher).

These are compilations published by individual villages and towns throughout Germany that contain rather detailed vital records for families of that community over long periods of time, usually beginning in the 16th century and continuing to 1900 or beyond. Most are arranged alphabetically by surname, each given a sequential number for cross reference to allied families. The size of the surname entries varies greatly. Many may occupy but two or three lines while others may occupy most of a page or more. Of course, this depends upon the amount of data found in that town's records. Nevertheless, they are a delight for a family historian with German roots. Even the print is in modern German type!

They contain birth, marriage and death data from the town's vital records over sometimes three centuries. Church records, as one might expect, are the most productive sources, but significant use also is made of tax lists, local censuses, lists of local officials, pastors and other citizens, and chronicles where they exist. Regrettably, the source of particular data usually is not specified; but the quantity of data is larger than in the churchbooks alone.

Bibliographies and actual library holdings of these valuable books can be accessed by means of WorldCat [usually through your local library], by using the Library of Congress Online Catalog, Ancestry, or one of several accesses to German genealogical library sites. An easy one is Your search keys would be ortsfamilienbucher, ortssippenbucher, or familienbucher [they don't require umlauts during the search].

Recently, Dan C. Heinemeier wrote a short but informative article about Ortssippenbücher in the NGS Newsmagazine; it deserves to be read: "Ortssippenbücher: a Useful Tool in German Genealogical Research," National Genealogical Society Newsmagazine, Nov/Dec, 2001, pp. 350-352.

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