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The Wives of Conrad Hockensmith

Peg Hockensmith Kwadrat

Those of us who have been searching this family for many years believe that just about everyone in America who has an ancestor with the surname Hockensmith, Hockersmith, Hawkersmith, etc. is a descendant of Conrad who arrived in Philadelphia on August 27, 1739.

We don't know if Conrad was married or how old he was when he arrived in America. The only clue as to his age comes from a deed recorded in Frederick County many years later. This 1780 deed says that Conrad Hockersmith aged about 60 appeared and affirmed some land boundaries. From this, albeit not precise item, we can estimate that Conrad was about 19 or 20 in 1739. Hence he was an age when he could have been single or married. Unfortunately none of the women aboard the Snow Betsy have been identified nor have we been able to connect Conrad with any of his shipmates.

The first indicator we have that Conrad married is November 13, 1741 when his son George, born May 10 1741, was baptized. The baptism was performed by John Casper Stover, an itinerant Lutheran pastor who traveled widely among the 18th century German communities. We don't know where the baptism was performed but the record ended up in the church records of the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Holland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Conrad's wife is not mentioned in the baptism record. The witnesses were Michael Rein and wife. There are no further Hockensmith references in these church records but Michael Rein does appear many times and apparently lived in the New Holland area although his connection to Conrad is unknown.

On August 3, 1743 another son of Conrad, Michael (born July 14, 1743) was baptized. Again there is no clue as to the identity of Conrad's wife. And again the baptism was performed by pastor, Valentine Kraft who was associated with many different Lutheran congregations. This time the baptism record is found in the Trinity Lutheran Church of Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pa. On the same day Conrad and his wife were witness to the baptism to Martin Adam Erbin, child of Billi Erbin's widow Elisabeth, after the father's death. Neither Michael Rohner, nor the Erbins appear to have established ties to the Trinity Lutheran church or the Lancaster area and their connection to Conrad is also unknown.

Conrad Hockensmith had two other sons, Jacob and Conrad Jr. in addition to the above mentioned George and Michael. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is the generally accepted that a single woman was the mother of all four sons.

In 1770 we get our first clue as to the name of Conrad's wife. On May 12, 1770 a deed was recorded where Conrad Hockersmith of Frederick County sold 25 acres of land to Stephen Brunner. Maria Christiana Hockersmith, wife of Conrad Hockersmith released her right of dower. In a November 20, 1774 deed, another sale, she was identified as Mary.

Mary or Mary Christiana may have died by August 28, 1780 when Conrad transferred goods he had purchased from Thomas McClain in 1765 to William McClain. No wife was listed on that deed. She was certainly dead by 1787 when Conrad married the widow of Frederick Weinholtz.

The first known record of Mary Anna Christina Hearse is from the probate records of her father. When Conrad Hearse wrote his will on August 24, 1774 he didn't mention his children by name. He just said that he had a son and three daughters. However they are later identified in his estate distribution record as Harmon Herse, Catharine Lawrence, Christiana Wenholtz and Mary Scarth[?].

Frederick Winholts wrote his will on May 28, 1778 and mentioned his wife Anna Christina and children Elizabeth Fishborn, Catherine, Barbara, Mary and Frederick Winholts. Frederick was still under age 14 at the time and Anna Christina was one of the executors. The will was proved June 22, 1778. Settlement of Frederick Winholtz's estate dragged on for years. A suit was filed in the March 1787 Frederick County court term by Samuel Chase against Ann Christina Wineholtz, administrator of Frederick Wineholtz. The case was carried through the August term and in November was amended to include Conrad Hockersmith whom Ann Christina had married.

When the deed was recorded on November 19, 1788 for 211 acres that Conrad transferred to his son George for 200 pounds and the "natural love and affection" he bore toward his son George, Christina, wife of Conrad Hockensmith released dower.

For the first census taken in 1790 Conrad's household consisted of one free white male age sixteen and over and one free white female. And on October 3, 1791 Anna Christina Hockersmith finally reported the distribution of Frederick Wineholtz's estate.

When Conrad Hockensmith write his will May 31, 1793 he called his wife Mary, made provisions for her and mentioned goods he owned prior to his marriage to her. Conrad's will was probated May 15, 1795. No further estate records were filed.

We have no knowledge as to where Mary Anna Christina Winholtz Hockensmith was living when the 1800 census was taken. She wrote her on November 17, 1806 and named her daughters Elizabeth Landis, Catharine White and Mary Orr and granddaughter Elizabeth Mesler. She gave a legacy to the heirs of Frederick Winholts to be paid to Catharine Winholts and appointed daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law, Henry Landis as executors. Her will was presented for probate on August 24, 1809 to the Frederick County court.

If you have any additional information to add to this story, please contact Peg at mkwadrat@aol.com

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