In 1990 George Hockmeyer self published a book about his Hockmeyer ancestors and relatives. This page contains parts of that book that describe his genealogy research and contacts with people who provided information about the family. Other information from the book concerning various Hockmeyer Descendants can be found from the Hockmeyer Descendants page. Some of the family dropped an e so that Hockemeyer became Hockmeyer.
A Brief History of the Family of
One of my earliest memories is of a department store clerk asking my mother if we were related to the Hockmeyers of New England who made corduroy textiles. My mother said we weren't.
Some years later, a playmate's father, who was in the clothing business, also asked me about the corduroys. Then, sometime in the early 50s, we were surprised to see a large ad in The Houston Post advertising "Hockmeyer Corduroy Jackets." By this time, I was beginning to be curious about these "other Hockmeyers" and wondered if we might be related to them.
We never lived near my father's people, who were from Missouri, and I knew relatively little about them. However, my father corresponded with an older brother in Muskogee, Oklahoma, a sister in Fort Smith, Arkansas and another sister in Washington, Missouri. Once in 1936, and again in 1940, we made brief visits to Muskogee and to Washington. Jn the 50s and 60s, my first cousin, Eldon Miller of Washington, visited us here in Houston. And in the late 60s, Uncle Ed's son, Paul Hockmeyer of Enid, Oklahoma, passed through Houston and spent a few hours with us. With him were his wife, Ona, and young son, Rick.
On our 1940 trip to Missouri, we attended a Hockemeyer family picnic at Forest Park in St. Louis. A large crowd of people were there and most were related to me. But, aside from Dad's sisters, Anna and Tillie and some of their children, I wasn't able to sort them all out.
Aside from the "Corduroy Hockmeyers," all the Hockmeyers I had ever heard of were related to me in one way or another. Frequently, when visiting other cities, I would check the phone book to see if other Hockmeyers or Hockemeyers might be listed but I never found any. Until one time in 1956. My mother and I were touring Europe that year and I saw an Ian Otto Hockmeyer listed in the Greater London phone book.
I phoned Ian and he and his wife, Anne, came to our hotel bearing a Hockmeyer coat-of-arms and a family tree dating back to a Jurgen Hockmeyer, who had been born in Hamburg in 1629. Ian's family had left Hamburg and settled in Britain in the 1840s, just about the time our family had come to America. Ian was born in London in 1910. Around the turn of the century, some of Ian's cousins had moved from Britain to Massachusetts and gone into the textile business there. At long last, the mystery of the "Corduroy Hockmeyers" was solved.
Although Ian has been very cooperative in trying to assist me in tracing our family, we have at long last concluded we are not related. At least, not very closely, if at all. For one thing, no one in his family had ever spelled the name with three e's. Also, we could find no record of his family ever having lived in or near Osnabrueck, Germany. Nor could we find any evidence of any of his family having settled in Missouri.
I have since located quite a number of Hockemeyers still living in the Osnabrueck area and once I even saw a Dr. Hockemeyer listed in the Munich telephone directory. I was never able to reach him, however.
Ian had an aunt in Hamburg he had never met but he had corresponded with her through the years. Miss Mosengel had taught English in a private school in Hamburg before the second World War. When Ian learned we planned to visit Hamburg, he gave me Miss Mosengel's address and phone number and insisted that we look her up. Several weeks later, after having toured Britain and the Scandinavian countries, we arrived in Hamburg, where we rented a car. I phoned Miss Mosengel and she invited us to visit her in a new apartment in a rebuilt section of the war-damaged city. She was a small woman in her late 70s and her English was fluent. Her mother had been a Hockmeyer and she remarked that I bore a strong resemblance to members of her family.
Later, when Ian and I decided we were not related, I came to believe that if I did bear a resemblance to Miss Mosengel's relatives, it was only a coincidence. We exchanged Christmas cards with her for several years until one of mine was returned stamped "Deceased."
We saw Ian and Anne Hockmeyer on later trips to London and once his daughter, Barbara, visited us here in Houston. She was touring the United States by Greyhound bus with a girl friend. Ian and Anne have retired and are now living in a small village in Wiltshire and we still exchange cards at Christmas.
From Hamburg, we drove down along the banks of the Rhine River to Uerdingen, a small town adjoining the industrial city of Krefeld. This had been the home of my German correspondent during my high school days.
As a child, I ate from a child's plate, which was decorated with German verses. Each evening Dad painstakingly read the verses to me until I could recite them from memory. My mother was always amused because Dad and I were the only ones who could pronounce the German words. She simply couldn't and said it was because she had no German blood. Actually, "German blood" had nothing to do with it. It was the age at which I first tackled German pronunciation that made it easy for me. My yard man speaks acceptable English and I doubt if he has any "English blood" or ancestors, for he is from Mexico. Nevertheless, although I was never a particularly good student, I found German easy and took four years of it in school.
It was in 1937 that I began corresponding with a boy just my age who was studying English in Uerdingen. Werner Reiners and I exchanged letters and photos until his induction into the German army in 1939. After the War, I wrote to him and received a sad letter from his mother telling of his death. In the final days of the War, while a prisoner of the French, Werner stepped on a mine. When news of his death reached his home, his father suffered a fatal heart attack. We found Mrs Reiners in Uerdingen living with her 19-year old daughter, Helga, who was a five month old baby when Werner and I began our correspondence. Mrs. Reiners died some years ago but Helga is now married, owns a small dry goods shop and has a teenage daughter of her own. We correspond regularly. Helga has no memory of her brother, Werner, as she was so young when he entered the German army. When the War began, she and other children, were evacuated to the Black Forest and missed his visits home. She recently wrote me that much of her knowledge of Werner had come from me.
After a half day in Uerdingen, we drove on down to Osnabrueck, to see if we could find any Hockemeyers. Osnabrueck is situated in the southwest tip of lower Saxony in West Germany. It has a population of around 125,000 and a historic past. A busy industrial city, it is especially prominent because of its iron production and iron products. In addition, Osnabrueck has a significant paper, textile, electrical and machine manufacturing industry, as well as numerous other industries which give proof of its economic activity. The court house was a well built and sturdy building that had survived the bombing and I wasn't aware of it at the time, but this is where my great grandfather had come in 1846 to get the travel pass that enabled him to bring his family to America. A clerk gave us the name and address of the only Hockemeyer then residing in Osnabrueck.
Hermann Wilhelm Christian Hockemeyer was born on November 25th 1887 in the village of Linne in the Osnabrueck area. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been born in this same general area. A retired railway employee and a widower, he was living with his married daughter in a nice apartment on a street too new to have been included on our street map. It was some time before we were able to locate him. He was home alone at the time of our visit and gave us a most cordial welcome. Since he spoke no English and my mother spoke no German, I was pleased at the opportunity to act as an interpreter. Herr Hockemeyer was convinced we were related but wasn't sure just where the connection was.
In 1957, the year after our first European trip, I contacted a genealogist near Hamburg, who wrote me our family had actually come from Bissendorf, a tiny village some 5 miles southeast of Osnabrueck. I corresponded with Herr Hockemeyer of Osnabrueck for several years. He made a number of trips to the Evangelical Church at Achelnede, near Bissendorf, where both his and our family records were kept. However, because of the 1944-1945 bombing, the records were in a state of disarray and not yet open to the public. In 1988 I received a letter from Herr Hockemeyer's daughter, Mrs. Grete Siegmund of Osnabrueck. She informed me her father had passed away in 1961 but her family was still interested in tracing the Hockemeyer family tree.
You can read an extensive account of the family's emigration to the U.S.A.
When I began this project, I knew the names of all of John Henry's nine children and their descendents, except my father's older sister, Charlotte Emilie, or Lottie, as she was called.
I came across an obituary from a German language newspaper, which stated Lottie had died on December 11, 1899 and was survived by her husband, Peter Schlueter and two small children. The obituary also stated she had been buried at Ballwin, Missouri, a town situated between St. Louis and Washington.
I was curious to know if Lottie's two children were living and, if so, where they might be. Robert L. Miller, my cousin Logan Miller's son, had sent me a group photograph that had been handed down to him but no one he knew had been able to identify anyone in it.
I suspected the group included the Schlueter family but wasn't sure. I sent copies of this picture to number of people I thought might recognize the people in the picture but none could.
My oldest known living cousin on my father's side was Olinda Gerding, of New Haven, Missouri. She was the daughter of John Henry's oldest child, Mary Hockemeyer Althoefer. Olinda was less than two when Lottie died and she had no memory of her mother ever having mentioned her.
At the Houston Public Library, I studied microfilms of the 1900 Missouri census and found the following listing for Ballwin:
From this listing, I learned the names and birth years of Lottie's two children. A letter to the St. Louis Genealogical Society brought a prompt reply from a Mr. Herman Radloff, who told me he was unable to help me but he gave me the name and address of a genealogist residing in Ballwin.
Mrs. Virginia Guinther, of Ballwin, wrote she was so involved with tracing her own family tree, she wasn't able to take on another project at this time. So it appeared I had reached a dead end.
But acting on the assumption that if the Schlueter family had remained in Ballwin, Frank and Esther would have most likely attended the schools there. A phone inquiry to the Rockwood School District at Eureka, Missouri, which serves Ballwin, was disappointing because I was informed their records went no further back than about 1910. Another dead end.
Donna Scott, of that school district's office, gave me the names and addresses of two of the older churches in the Ballwin area. Each had cemeteries dating back to the 1800s. In addition, Ms. Scott gave me the phone numbers of three Frank Schlueters from the St. Louis telephone directory. I phoned these people but none of them had connections with Ballwin.
A gentleman I talked to at the St. John's Lutheran Church Ellisville, Missouri gave me the name and phone number of a long time resident of Ballwin, who might possibly remember the Sohlueter family.
Mr. Vic Reincke, now of Chesterfield, Missouri, was most helpful. He told me on the phone that he recalled having played ball with a Frank Schlueter in Ballwin many years ago. He was even kind enough to visit the cemetery of the Salem Methodist Church at Baliwin and locate the tombstones of Peter and Lottie Schlueter. But beyond that, we could learn nothing. So I was now prepared for a blank page in my Hockemeyer book.
My cousin, Milton Miller, of Washington, Missouri, put me in touch with Agnes Hockemeyer Brehe, also of Washington. Agnes is from the John Frederick Hockemeyer side of the family. She is the daughter of Martin Emiel Hockemeyer, John Frederick's next to oldest son. Agnes has been most helpful in supplying me with names and addresses of other family members on the John Frederick, or Fritz, side. Among the names she gave me was that of Lloyd Frederick Rathert of Ellisville. Lloyd is the son of Meta Christine Hockemeyer Rathert, who was Fritz's youngest child.
When Milford was a boy living in New Haven, Missouri, the postman attempted to deliver a letter from Germany to his father. The letter was addressed to a Hockemeyer, New Haven, U.S.A. There was no mention of the state. The letter had been sent to other New Havens throughout the United States but no one had claimed it. Perhaps an early German settler had written home that New Haven was a very suitable place to live in America but had failed to name the state. My Texaco atlas shows no less than eight American New Havens.
After Milford received the Beatrice Bayley list of Hockemeyers, he wrote to a Ross Ferdinand Hockemeyer of New Haven, Indiana. Shortly thereafter, Ross was on an elk hunt in Colorado and looked Milford up and they have been corresponding ever since.
An Indiana dairy farmer, born in 1916, Ross's family had come from Germany and he too was interested in tracing his family tree. Ross's grandfather, also Heinrich Hockemeyer, was born in Minden, Germany in 1837 and came to the United States in 1845, the year before our people left Bissendorf -- 30 miles away from Minden. Ross doesn't know where his grandfather entered the United States but believes he might have landed in New York.
The Erie Barge Canal was formally opened in 1825 and ran 356 miles from Albany on New York's Hudson River to Buffalo on Lake Erie. During the decade 1840 - 1850, one could arrive at Toledo, Ohio from Buffalo by lake steamer and then proceed up the Maumee River and eventually reach Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Ross believes his people came to Indiana by this route, for he knows his grandfather had worked on the section of the Erie Barge Canal at New Haven, Indiana. He purchased the farmland along the canal where Ross was born and has always lived. It is interesting to note that in the list of 116 Hockemeyers throughout the United States, 42 of them are in Indiana!
By way of the old Wabash and Erie Barge Canal, travelers on the Maumee could reach the Wabash River and enter the Ohio River near Uniontown, Kentucky. Then, by traveling westward on the Ohio, one could reach the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers led to other settlements in the Midwest. Later, with the coming of the railroads, the canal system was, for the most part, abandoned.
Ross Hockemeyer has recently learned that his grandfather had started a second family in Nebraska in the area of Staplehurst.
In 1984, several people called my attention to an article in the August issue of the SMITHSONIAN Magazine. A story about midwestern farms had featured a picture of a silo owned by a Glen Hockemeyer of Holland, Iowa. I wrote to Glen and received a cordial letter from him, although he knew very little about his origins, other than his ancestors had come from Germany. Feeling that an uncle in Indiana would be in a better position to help me, Glen forwarded my letter on to him. The uncle, it turned out, was none other than Ross Hockemeyer and we have been corresponding regularly ever since, either by mail or by phone.
In February of 1989 Ross's son, Ron, paid me a visit here in Houston. With him were his wife, Jane, and his cousin, Walt Werling and his wife, Pam. Walt's mother had been a Hockemeyer and he bears a strong resemblance to Chris Hockmeyer, my brother Ted's son. Many of the Indiana Hockemeyers on the Beatrice Bayley list were related to Ross.
Several years ago my attention was brought to a Hockmeyer Equipment Company of Harrison, New Jersey. I wrote to this company and received a friendly letter from the president, another Herman Hockmeyer, who told me his father had been born in Eystrup, Germany in 1907. Eystrup, by the way, is also in the Minden - Osnabrueck area. Herman's father came to the United States in 1921 and in 1940 changed the spelling of his name from Hockemeyer to Hockmeyer, as my father and Uncle Ed had done earlier. Herman and I exchanged several letters, which he passed on to his sister, Mrs. Margeret Hookmeyer Schmidt of San Diego, California. Mrs. Schmidt and I have also corresponded but have been unable to find a family connection. She was one of several people who called my attention to the SMITHSONIAN article.
I have written to a large number of the Hockemeyers on the Beatrice Bailey list but most did not reply. Many of my letters were returned to me marked "Unknown." Some who did reply were widows of Hockemeyers, who knew little or nothing of the Hockemeyer family. However, I did receive a reply from Mr. William W. Hockemeyer of Fulton, Missouri, who wrote me he had heard of two Hockemeyers who had gone to the Fulton area from Franklin County, Missouri around 1825. They had migrated to the central part of Callaway County, Missouri, about one hundred miles west of Franklin County.
I was surprised to learn there had been Hockemeyers in Franklin County as early as 1825 for the history of that county has it that German settlers didn't arrive there until some years later. At any rate, our branch of the Hockemeyer family did not reach Franklin County until much later than 1825. I am wondering if William Hockemeyer could be mistaken about the date. William was born in 1917 and has a brother two years his junior. He also stated he has two Hockemeyer cousins living in St. Charles County, Missouri. William once met a W. W. Hockemeyer in St. Joseph, Missouri but they were unable to establish a relationship.
It is something of a coincidence that Fritz's oldest son, Frederick Wilhelm Hockemeyer, lived in Fulton, Missouri from 1917 until 1926.
I have also corresponded with an Albert (Jake) Hockemeyer, of Mokane, Missouri, also in Callaway County. Albert is a guitarist and Milford once wrote me he had heard of a record album by him on which there was a short biographical sketch. Albert has two sons living in Texas, Barry in Fort Worth and Dan in Burleson. In 1988, Dan and his wife, Elvira, drove down to Houston one Sunday afternoon to visit me. However, they don't know where in Germany their family originated.
Thinking I might have better luck with the phone, I hit another dead end. I talked to several Hockemeyers in Florida and found that most had come from Indiana. None had knowledge of their family history beyond their grandparents, who were all born in the United States.
In 1986, a woman in Oklahoma City asked me if I was related to Leo Hockemeyer of Cushing, Oklahoma. She said that he was a crop duster who had done work for her. I wrote to Leo and received a friendly letter from his wife, Pat, who told me Leo had been born in Cushing but his family had come from Nebraska. Leo's great grandfather, John Henry (Johann Heinrich) Hockemeyer was born in Hannover in 1835 and died in Auburn, Nebraska in 1910.
My own great grandfather, Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer, who was also born in Hannover, had a half-brother named Johann Heinrich who could have possibly been the father of Leo's ancestor. Leo's grandfather, George William Hockemeyer, was born in Auburn in 1865 and died in Cushing in 1939. Since Leo's family went to Oklahoma from Nebraska, it is possible that he could be related to the branch of Ross Hockemeyer's family that had gone from Indiana to Nebraska. It would be interesting to know.
Webmaster note: Leo Hockemeyer's cousin, Twyla Shuler, found this web page and wrote me;
I was thrilled to find someone else looking for the Hockemeyers. I have been working on the Hockemeyer line for several years. I found a copy of George Randolph Hockemeyer's History of the Family of Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer. When I saw the picture of the Johann Friedrich Hockemeyer family I recognized it as the same one I have in my files.
In March 1989 my German genealogist, Herr Falk Liebezeit of Diepholz (about 60 miles from Osnabrueck), wrote me he had seen a letter at the Oldenburg archives requesting information about a Frederick Hockemeier from a woman in Glendale, California. Frederick Hockemeier had been born in Oldenburg, Germany on September 18th, 1862. I wrote to Mrs. Margaret Canfield of Glendale and received a phone call from her. She told me she was from Leigh, Nebraska and that it was her grandfather, Frederich Hockemeier she had inquired about. She stated that in her family records she had seen the name spelled Hockemeier and Hockemeyer and she agreed that the variation could have been the result of a clerical error. Mrs. Canfield said further that many years ago her attention had been called to a Margaret Hockemeyer at the University of California, although she had never met her. This could have been Margaret Hockemeyer Schmidt, mentioned earlier.
In December 1989 I received word from Herr Liebezeit that there is a Hockmeyer Restaurant in the town of Vechta, some nine miles north of his home at Diepholz, Germany. He mentioned, however, that the owner no longer bears the Hockemeyer name. Oldenburg is about 60 miles north of Osnabrueck and Vechta is about halfway between these two cities. Herr Liebezeit also informed me that a newly published tax record for the Oldenburg area shows that in 1744 there were no Hockmeyers, Hockemeyers or Hokemeyers listed. So it is apparent, that people by that name moved into the area after that date.
Some years ago, another German genealogist advised me that it was not reasonable to assume that all persons bearing our name were related to one another. He said the name could have originated in any number of different places in Germany. While it may be true that not all Hockemeyers are related, it is quite possible that some of those on the Beatrice Bayley list are related to us. They could be persons descended from Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer's half brother. Some of these people could have come to the United States either earlier or later than 1846. Also, some of the Hockemeyers still living in the Osnabrueck area could belong to our family.
This is the last and most extensive of several editions of this book. To make it more complete would require more waiting and delays. Several times the book was ready but more data arrived, causing me to postpone the printing.
I would like to hear from anyone who has anything to add and would also like to meet those in person who have been so helpful. For those who have toyed with the idea of constructing a family tree of there own, this can be a start.
Those desiring to trace the Hockemeyer family before their arrival in the United States might want to consider working with Herr Falk Liebezeit. His address is: Hindenburgstr. 31 1 2840 Diepholz / West Germany.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The descendants of Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer are scattered far and wide today --- from New York to Hawaii.
Following is a list of some of the people who have been more than generous with their time and have supplied me with the information needed for this book about the Hockemeyer family.
George R. Hockmeyer|
10114 Chevy Chase
Houston, Texas 77042