The Hornbacks From Holland to America

Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.

McDonalds and Hornbacks Unite in 1848

When William Power McDonald and Martha Ann Hornback married on 28 December 1848 in Menard County, Illinois, Martha could trace her family roots back five generations, while William could only trace his roots back to his grandfather, Daniel McDonald.

The Hornback name was spelled Hoornbeeck or Van Hoornbeeck in Belgium and Holland; in New York records, the variations are Horenbeeck, Hoornbeeck, Hoornbeek, or Hornbeek. In Pennsylvania, the name has a variation Hornback and possibly Horback. It is spelled Hornback in the records of Hampshire County, Virginia.

Martha’s ancestors are discussed on this page and in this order:

★ ★ ★

Warnaar Hoornbeeck (1645-1715) and Margriet Ten Eyck (1658-1710)

There is still considerable debate in the research as to whether or not Warnaar Hoornbeeck was born in The Netherlands or in Kingston, Ulster County, New York. His family most likely came from either North or South Holland (the yellow areas in the map at the left), not from the present-day Netherlands. 2

It is assumed that Warnaar's parents were Joos Van Hoornbeecke and Sarah Warnaar 3 and that he was orphaned at an early age. Despite the difficulties of finding Warnaar on a ship coming to America, it seems clear that he was in America by 1660. Two documents reveal this:

By 1662, at the time of the above-mentioned cases, Warnaar was obviously settled at Wiltwyck (now Kingston) in Ulster County, New York. 4 Wiltwyck was in a part of the territory called "New Amsterdam" and was a colony established near the Hudson River by Dutch "free farmers" in 1652. The name was changed to Kingston in 1669 after the British conquered the area. In 1662 Warnaar is found in a list of Hurley soldiers at Marbleton. Eight years later, in April of 1670, a proclamation was issued to "raise and exercise the Inhabitants of Hurley and Marbleton according to the disciplines of Warr; Whereupon Among the names listed for the town of Hurley was: Wardener Hornbeck."

In 1664, the Dutch surrendered New Amsterdam to the British without firing a shot and it was re-named New York. Warnaar dropped the "Van" from his name at this time and he is found in the records as a member of the Dutch Reform Church at Kingston.

Between 1668 and 1670, Warnaar married his first wife, Anna de Hooges, probably at Kingston, Ulster County, New York. “Anna was the daughter of Anthony de Hooges and his wife, Eva Bratt. Warnaar had probably met Anna when she accompanied her stepfather, Roelof Swartwout, to the Esopus, following his marriage to Eva Alberts Bradt. Eva was a first cousin to Warnaar's employer, from whom Roelof had rented a farm. The exact date of Warnaar and Anna's marriage has not been determined. The area was sometimes without benefit of clergy and a common practice had arisen of a couple announcing their intentions, setting up housekeeping, and making it legal when they had a chance, all perfectly legal according to the times in which they lived.”

It is believed that Warnaar and his first wife, Anna, had nine children:

Warnaar and Anna’s marriage lasted for eighteen years until Anna's death between 1688 and 1693. There is a description of the house which Warnaar and Anna must have occupied for a short time before Anna's death:

"...Warner Hoornbeek [is] to occupy said tract and put it into sufficient fences, to build a sufficient dwelling house 30 foot long and 24 foot wide with breastwork or ye easing; that shod complete as it ought to be with two door cozens and one window middell of the said house and a barn 40 foot long and 28 wide with three leantos on each side and on the one end, the barn must be thatched; also a stack or borgh with six rods of poles according as they are commonly made. Warner Hoornbeek to pay 4 bushells of good winter wheat yearly. At the end of 10 years he is to have 30 sch. winter wheat sowed, and to leave land in good fence with house, barne and stack aforesaid...."

Warnaar married again in 1692, to Margriet "Grriete" Ten Eyck. Margriet had been baptized on 22 October 1658 in New Amsterdam, Ulster County, New York, so she was 33 years old, and at least fourteen years younger than Warnaar. Margriet’s parents were Matthys Ten Eyck and Jannetje Roosa.

Warnaar and Margriet may have had at least eight children:

In the court records of the time, Warnaar is involved in numerous violations and requests for payment. Perhaps others would not have been involved in so many cases, but they help the historian/genealogist prove his existence. They reveal several things about his personality: He was honest but often in debt, perhaps a bit outspoken, and a family man. At one point in his life, he apparently learned the trade of wagonmaker. To read some of these records, see Hornback Court Records.

Margreit, Warnaar's second wife, died after 1710, probably in New York. It is known that Warnaar Hornback died about five years later — outliving both of his wives and several of his children — in approximately 1715 in Rochester, Ulster County, New York. He would have been 75 years of age. At that time he was a farmhand of Geertrude Andriessen Bratt, daughter of Andires Bratt, apparently a working man until the last of his days.

★ ★ ★

Jacobus James Hornbeck (1700-1757) and Anna Margaret Helm (1713-1745)

The Dutch colony of New Netherland began in the 17th Century — nearly a century before the birth of Jacobus James Hornbeck, and nearly half a century before the arrival of his father, Warnaar Van Hoornbeeck. It was established between the South River (later known as the Delaware River) and the Fresh River (later known as the Connecticut River) with its center on the North or Great River (later Hudson River). It included parts of the states we now know of as New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and New Jersey. 5

In September 1609, Henry Hudson, an English Captain looking for the Northwest Passage, discovered the river which was eventually named after him. He returned to Holland — not finding a Northwest Passage — but the value of the fur trade was not lost on the Dutch merchants. They sent out new expeditions almost immediately to trade furs with the native populations.

By late 1614, the first Dutch settlement in North America was built on Castle Island (on the Hudson River below the site of present-day Albany). This first trading post was called Fort Nassau, but it was abandoned in 1617 because of frequent floods. In 1624, about thirty families, sponsored by the West Indische Compagnie (WIC), reached the Hudson (Great) River, anchored near the abandoned Fort Nassau, and established a new fort called Fort Oranij which was built on the west side of the river where Albany now stands. In the same year, two other forts were built.

Two years later, in 1626, Fort Amsterdam was built on Manhattan Island at the mouth of the Hudson River; this eventually became the town of New Amsterdam, and it was destined to become the capital of the Dutch colony. By 1664, when Jacobus's father was living there, the population of New Amsterdam was 1600 and of New Netherlands, ten thousand.

The following description of New Netherlands (New York and Albany) was written by Father Isaac Jogues in 1643:

“This called Fort Amsterdam; it has four regular bastions, mounted with several pieces of artillery. All these bastions and the curtains were, in 1643, but mounds, most of which had crumbled away, so that one entered the fort on all sides. There were no ditches. For the garrison of the fort and another which they had built still further up against the incursions of the savages, their enemies, there were sixty soldiers. They were beginning to face the gates and bastions with stone. Within the fort there was a pretty large stone church, the house of the Governor, whom they call Director General, quite neatly built of brick, the storehouses and barracks.

“On the island of Manhattes...the Director General told me that there were men of eighteen different languages; they are scattered here and there on the river, above and below...All the others are exposed to the incursions of the natives, who in the year 1643, while I was there, actually killed some two score Hollanders, and burnt many houses and barns full of wheat.

“...besides the Calvinists there are in the colony Catholics, English Puritans, Lutherans, Anabaptists here called Ministes (Mennonites), etc.

“When anyone comes to settle in the country, they lend him horses, cows, etc.; they give him provisions, all of which he returns as soon as he is at ease; and as to the land, after ten years he pays to the West India Company the tenth of the produce which he reaps.

“There are two things in [the second Dutch] settlement:...first a miserable little fort called Fort Oranije...formerly on an island in the river, it is now on the mainland towards the Hiroquois.... Secondly, a colony sent here by Renselaers [a rich Amsterdam merchant] who is the patron. This colony is composed of about a hundred persons, who reside in some twenty-five or thirty houses built along the river.... In the principal house lives the patron's agent; the minister has his apart, in which service is performed. There is also a kind of bailiff here, whom they call the schout, who administers justice. All their houses are merely of boards and thatched, with no mason work except the chimneys. The forest furnishing many large pines, they make boards by means of their mills, which they have here for the purpose.

“They found some pieces of ground all ready...and in which they sow wheat and oats for beer, and for their horses, of which they have great numbers. There is little land fit for tillage, being hemmed in by hills, which are poor soil. This obliges them to go separate, and they already occupy two or three leagues of country.

“There are many [Indian] nations between the two Dutch settlements, which are about thirty leagues apart.”

Just one year before Father Jogues wrote his account of the area, Peter Stuyvesant had become director general of all Dutch possessions in North America and the Caribbean. The son of a Calvinist minister, he had begun his career in the Dutch West Indian Company. The citizens considered him dictatorial and completely devoted to his company (which was not always in their best interests).

In 1653 Stuyvesant appointed an advisory board, establishing the first municipal government for New Amsterdam, but this did not change Stuyvesant’s domination. As a result, the citizens did not support Stuyvesant against the British, and he was forced to surrender New Netherland in August of 1664.

Jacobus' s father, Warnaar, was in New Amsterdam when the English took possession of it and renamed the city New York. English as well as Dutch settlers agreed that representatives of the British crown were almost as bad as Stuyvesant: there were small rebellions between 1689 and 1692.

Jacobus James Hoornbeeck (Hornbeck) was baptized on 9 June 1700, at the Dutch Reform Church in Kingston, New York (Ulster County). Located in the southeastern part of the state, the English now ran the country and presumably the estates of wealthy patroons were no more.

Jacobus grew up here and then met and married (Anna) Margaret Helm on 16 Sept 1733, in Rochester, New York. Jacobus was 33; it was Margaret’s 20th birthday. Margaret was the daughter of Peter Helm, born in about 1679 in Holland. She was born on 16 September 1713, in Dutchess County 6, New York.

The couple had possibly seven children, six sons and one daughter. They were:

Jacobus was living at Wawxarsing, New York, in 1742, according to some records. Sometime after that it is assumed that some of the family moved to Hampshire County, Virginia 7 as their fifth child, Michael, was born in that county in 1744. This area (which would eventually become West Virginia) was considered “too dangerous” because of the French and Indian War. But Jacobus, like other Hornbacks to follow, was apparently not concerned about the dangers.

Margaret died in 1745 in Hampshire County, Virginia about one year after the birth of her son; she was only 32 years old. Thirteen years later, Jacobus died in about 1757— also in Hampshire County, West Virginia; he was about 57 years old.

★ ★ ★

Simon Hornback (1735-1800) and Margaret Alkire (1740-1800)

Simon Hornback — the oldest child of Jacobus Hornback and Margaret Helm — was baptized on 2 February 1735, probably at Ulster County, New York. He was Martha Hornback’s great grandfather.

Sometime before 1744, when Simon was about nine years old and before his youngest brother Michael was born, Simon went with his parents to Hampshire County, Virginia. This would not have been an easy trip and it was a considerable distance for a family to take with young children.

Fur traders had first entered western Virginia in the mid-1600's with explorers getting across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains by 1671. By 1712, the eastern side of the state had been reached by Swiss settlers. The first settlements in the early 1740's were made by Welsh, German, and Scotch-Irish; Simon was a part of that migration, although not a member of those particular groups. The Hornbacks probably migrated southwest to Virginia simply to find a "better life": the Bluegrass region had the best agricultural land.

It was in Hampshire County, West Virginia, that Simon married Margaret Alkire in 1759. Margaret had been born in Hampshire County, Virginia, in about 1740. At the time of their marriage, Simon was 24 years old; Margaret was 19.

Over the course of 22 years, Simon and Margaret had eleven children. She was twenty years old when her first was born, and 42 when her last was born. These children were:

Family legend has it — and there is some evidence to support it — that Simon was an associate of the famous Daniel Boone, born in December of 1734. 8 As a youth he moved with his English Quaker family to the North Carolina frontier, and for most of his life he was a hunter and trapper, hunting in the Cumberland Gap by the fall of 1767. He led several parties of settlers into the region, and was also employed to make a road through the Cumberland Gap which became the main route to the region and helped make possible the immediate opening of the first settlements in Kentucky. Later, Boone took his family to Boonesborough and became a captain in the county's militia. Although obviously courageous and resourceful, Boone did not succeed financially. He also rarely stayed in one place; he worked, at various times, as surveyor, hunter, trapper, and road builder.

From approximately 1744 to 1784, Simon Hornback lived with his wife and growing family in Hampshire County, Virginia. It is not known if Simon knew Daniel Boone at this time, but he certainly would have known of him. After Boone moved his family to Boonesborough in 1775, more people followed. Simon moved his wife and family to Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1784 (nine years after Daniel's family had gone there). 9 Since Boone left Boonesborough in 1799, it would appear that Simon and Daniel would have associated with each other for about fifteen years (from 1784 to 1799).

Simon lived in Bath and Bourbon counties of Kentucky until his death in December of 1800, only a year after Boone left; Boone would live another 20 years, but Simon was only 65 at his death. In Simon's will (probated 17 January 1801), he named his wife and ten of his children. Margaret's death was in Bourbon County, Kentucky also in December 1800 — so one wonders if they died together of an illness or by an attack. Children who were younger than 18 when their parents died were considered "infant orphans" in the eyes of the law. George Hornback chose Abraham Hornback, an older brother, as his guardian. Barbara Hornback chose Michael Hornback, also an older brother, as her guardian.

★ ★ ★

Abraham Hornback (1761-1833) and Elizabeth Trumbo (1773-1810)

Abraham Hornback — son of Simon Hornback and Margaret Alkire (see above) — was born on 21 October 1761 in Hampshire County, West Virginia. (See map above.) Abraham was Martha Hornback’s grandfather, and he would play an important role in her life.

Abraham enlisted in the Army when he was about fifteen years of age, participating in the American Revolutionary War. This is what we know about his time in the war:

Sometime after the close of the war, probably around 1784, Abraham accompanied his father and mother, Simon and Margaret, to the new frontier — what would one day become Kentucky.

Abraham Hornback and Elizabeth Trumbo were married in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on 16 August 1791. Abraham was 30 years old, Elizabeth was 18. 10

Abraham and Elizabeth were typical pioneers, moving from one county to another, raising tobacco and struggling for a living along the frontier. Their home was in the wilderness; the trip from Virginia to Kentucky was full of many dangers, and had to be made with oxen-drawn wagons and on horseback. The Hornbacks evidently drifted about for some time after arriving in Kentucky.

Nine children were born to Abraham and Elizabeth in Kentucky. They were:

The hardships of frontier life and many pregnancies took its toll on Elizabeth, and she died at the age of 37 in September of 1810; it is possible that she died giving birth to a girl also named Elizabeth who also died. Abraham was left with eight children, ranging in age from two to nineteen. The oldest daughter, Peggy, had already married, but 15-year-old Dollie may have taken over some of her mother’s duties — at least until her father remarried.

About a year after Elizabeth’s death, Abraham Hornback married Elizabeth “Betsy” Mappen Bracken on 20 September 1811 in Bath Co, Kentucky. Betsy Mappen was the widow of Robert Bracken, who had been a good friend of Abraham's and had died on 29 August 1806. The Brackens had accompanied the Hornbacks from Virginia to Kentucky. These two families remained close and three of Abraham's children from his first marriage would also marry into the Bracken family: His daughter, Dorothy, would marry Walter D. Bracken; his son John would marry Abigail "Abby" Bracken; and his son Jesse would marry Elizabeth Bracken.

By 1825, the new Illinois territory was being opened for settlement. Kentucky was becoming busier as more and more came to the area following the end of the Revolutionary War. Thus, in the fall of 1825, the Hornback/Bracken clans packed their belongings and headed for Illinois. Their destination was Hannah Johnson's cabin at Indian Point, Illinois.

They went in four horse-wagons and were thirty days on the road, reaching Indian Point on 22 October 1825. They used the wagons to carry their supplies and household goods, but the men, women and children either walked behind the wagons or rode horseback. Three of the oxen yokes used in the move remained in the possession of the family for many years.

The following came from various Hornback family stories:

“The traveling party killed deer and other wildlife for food, once sighting 57 deer at once. Turkeys and wild geese were plentiful, too. They fought mosquitoes, gad flies, horse flies, and rattlesnakes. Horse flies were sometimes so thick that the stock could not stay on the prairies in the day time. After a drizzly, cloudy day, when the sun came out warm, a person could not ride three miles without killing a horse. The horses had to feed at night and the pioneers hunted them in the morning. The men always carried a stick while hunting the horses, and sometimes killed four or five rattlesnakes during the morning.”

“They had not a dollar with them, but would sometimes work for pay or for food. They husked corn and got two bushels for a day's work. At that time, a cow would sell for $7.00, a calf for a dollar. Pork was a cent a pound; corn was five cents a bushel. Butter was five cents a pound and eggs were four cents a dozen. Horses sold for $30 or $40, colts were $6.”

The hardest year they experienced was 1830, the year of the deep snow. 11 It started snowing between Christmas and New Years and they "never saw the sun nor the moon shine for 40 days and nights." They brought their “cow, three eye sheep with lambs, a sow and eight pigs, into the house with them. The family subsisted on corn pounded in a mortar, or cooked in lye and mashed and made into bread. Their 18 x 20 cabin would have six inches of snow in it each morning and all the hickory wood they could burn would not melt it off.”

By the time of the terrible deep snow, Abraham was 69 years old, his youngest child, Tabitha, twenty-two years old and married the previous year. At this time, at least one of his daughters — his unmarried child Mary Elizabeth "Polly" — lived with him as well as her child, Martha (Abraham's granddaughter).

Abraham Hornback died in Menard County, Illinois, on 29 January 1833; he was 72 years old. He was the first Hornback to be buried in the Hornback Cemetery. It is reported that Abraham had one time killed a deer in the timber where the Hornback Cemetery was eventually established and he stated that he wished to be buried there. He apparently laid out the area before he died. “Graham and Center made the coffin for Abraham for $18.00 and Dr. John Allen of New Salem was the attending physician; his fee amounted to $22.00.”

“Betsy” Mappen, Abraham's second wife, died on 13 Aug 1856, twenty-three years later. She is buried beside him. They are in the far southeast corner where two monuments bear their names. Hornback Cemetery, if it can still be found, is about five miles east of Petersburg, Illinois, one-half mile off State Route 123.

★ ★ ★

Mary Elizabeth Hornback (1803-1884)

Mary Elizabeth Hornback was born 28 March 1803 in Montgomery County, Kentucky, one of the daughters of Abraham Hornback and his first wife, Elizabeth Trumbo. Her mother died in 1810, when Mary was only seven years old. Mary remained in the care of her father and her new stepmother when he remarried. She migrated with her father and stepmother to Illinois in 1825 when she was 22 years old.

Although she never married, it is believed that Mary gave birth to two daughters, perhaps three. She was never banned from being a part of the Hornbacks, however, and as the census records indicate, she was almost always living with family. Mary’s first daughter was named Martha Ann, and she was born on 29 June 1828. 12 Her second daughter was Mary Jane, born on 2 June 1833. There may have been a third child, Catherine, born in about 1834. All three daughters were born in Sangamon (later Menard) County, Illinois. Mary's two oldest daughters both married and both died in Menard County, Illinois.

It is not known for sure who the father or fathers of Mary's children were, but there were family rumours. Based on the oldest daughter's appearance (the only known photograph of Martha is at right, but there is no photograph of Mary), it was thought that she might have "had Indian blood with her dark eyes, straight hair, and high cheek bones." Another story was that Mary's daughters were the children of her brother-in-law, Elisha Bradley, who had married her older sister “Patsy”. The story goes that Mary lived with her sister and brother-in-law and gave birth to a first child without difficulty and even named the child after her sister, Martha. When it was discovered, however, that Mary was pregnant with a second child, and that both children were fathered by her brother-in-law, Elisha, it is said that a ‘council of war‘ was held in the Bradley cabin, and “Patsy” Hornback Bradley refused her sister further lodging in her home.

In an attempt to either prove or disprove the brother-in-law rumour, I did the following research:

No one will ever know what happened (though perhaps DNA could solve it), but it is clear that Mary was never ostracized by her family, as she moved to Illinois with her father and sometimes lived with her brother. Later in life she lived with her daughter and son-in-law.

Mary cannot be found in the 1830 and 1840 censuses, though she was likely living with her father and stepmother, as her children were born during this time. In 1850, she is listed as living with her brother, John Hornback, and his wife, Abby (Abigail Bracken). With them are John and Abby’s children: Robert, 21; Abram, 18; Andrew, 12; William H, 10; and Artemisia, 8. Mary is 46 years old. Also living in the household is a young woman of 16 named Catherine. Also in the household (a total of ten people) are John and Mary’s mother, Elizabeth Trumbo Hornback who, at 74, was a widow.

In 1860, Mary, age 58, is living with her daughter, Martha, and her husband William Power McDonald. They are in Township 18, Range 6, of Menard county. William, a farmer who values his property at $2400, and Martha, are also raising four children. Living with them is Jacob, age 22 a farm labourer. Living nearby is Mary’s younger brother, Andrew, and his wife, Mahala, and three children.

Mary’s daughter, Martha, died on 1 June 1867, and in the 1870 Census, Mary is still living with her son-in-law, William Power McDonald, and his new wife, Mary D. Bracken Brady. Mary might very well have been helping with her grandchildren. Still living with their father were Mary Elizabeth, 19; Daniel, 17, George, 15; and William Thomas, 11; Mahala, 9; and Charles, 5.

There is a Polly Hornback listed in an 1880 Census as being with a Howe family in Madison, Illinois. She is listed as 77 years old. This may or may not be Mary, but the name and age are appropriate.

Mary outlived all of her siblings, as well as at least three of her brothers-in-law Elisha Bradley, Asa Canterbury, and Walter Bracken, and her two daughters, Martha and Mary Jane. She died in about 1884, at the age of 81, obviously an independent-minded woman to the last (apparently never giving up her secrets). She was buried in the Hornback Cemetery in Menard County, Illinois.

Sources: The McDonald Family History and from a Hornback web site. This web site gives the following sources: Warnaar Hornbeck Descendants; Hornbeck Hunting and Descendants of Warnaar Hornbeck Born c 1645; Baptismal and Marriage Records of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York, transcribed and edited by Rowell Randall Hoe pub 1891; New York Calendar of Wills compiled and edited by Berthold Fernow, p 188, Will of tobias Hoornbeck of Rochester, NY dated 5 June 1767, probated 10 April 1771; Calendar of NJ Wills, Administrations, etc. Vol III, p 164-164, published as Documents Relating to Colonial Hist of the State of NJ, 1st Ser., Vol. XXXII; and other documents.

[This page researched and written by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of the Hornbacks through Martha Hornback who married William Power McDonald. This page last updated on June 23, 2019.]

Return to Table of Contents for Exploring Ancestral Roots: Overturfs, Hansens, McDonalds and Mahoneys

★ ★ ★

  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. Map courtesy of Wikipedia. 

  3. Joos was born in 1604 in the Ghent, Flanders, and Sarah in 1617 in Stoick, Zuidholland. They married on 21 Jan 1635 in Slterdijk, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Sarah was 18; Joos, 31. They had several children, but Warnaar is the only one known to have gone to America. Sarah died in 1645 at the age of 28. This was the same year her son, Warnaar, was born, so she may have died in childbirth. It is believed that Joos died a year later on 21 November 1646 at the age of 42. If these dates are accurate, Warnaar would have been orphaned at two years of age. [^10] It seems unlikely that their final child would have been born back in Virginia. It would not have been a trip that a mother carrying a child would have taken lightly. The stated birthplace of George may be inaccurate. 

  4. Map courtesy of Wikipedia. 

  5. Information regarding the history and establishment of New Amersterdam comes from a web site about New Amsterdam written by Marco Ramerini, 1998. 

  6. Yes, it was actually misspelled by a clerk at the very beginning, and never changed. 

  7. Map courtesy of Wikipedia. 

  8. Most of the information about Daniel Boone comes from the Encyclopedia Britannica Online

  9. Map courtesy of Wikipedia. 

  10. She had been born on 14 February 1773 in Moorefield, Hardy County, West Virginia, and was the daughter of Andrew Trumbo Sr. and Margaret Kate Harness. 

  11. See Past and Present of Menard County, Illinois, page 24, for a description of this blizzard. 

  12. For more about Martha's life, click on her name.