In genealogical research we are told to “research the relatives, neighbors, and associates” of our family member in order to learn more about them and hopefully take our family line back another generation. Richard Hayden wrote an excellent article that used relationships to establish a connection between his ancestor Casper Hoover (bef. 1755—1824) and Michael Hoover (?—1789), Casper’s father.1 Since German immigrants often moved and settled in groups, researching neighbors and associates—those people named as sponsors, witnesses, etc.—makes good sense. However, when are recurring surnames or individuals a connection and when are they merely a coincidence?
For instance, Michael Hoover purchased 75 acres of land from the “Third Resurvey of Sarah’s Delight” in Frederick County, Maryland from Christopher Shockey on 21 Oct 1769.2 Andrew Huber, John Huber and Henry Huber—presumably those Hoovers who moved to Fayette County, Pennsylvania—were named as witnesses to Valentine Shockey’s last will & testament, dated 8 Jun 1773.3 Additionally, Christopher Shockey sold 183 acres of “Third Resurvey of Sarah’s Delight” to Johannes Hoover, possibly the son of Ulrich Huber of Conestoga County, Pennsylvania, on 31 May 1773.4 All of these men lived or had lived in the area between Leitersburg and Ringgold in what is now Washington County, Maryland near the Pennsylvania border.
On 7 May 1776 Jacob Hoover, son of Michael Hoover, and Jacob Harbaugh, both farmers of Frederick County, Maryland, took out a mortgage together for 200 acres of the “Third Resurvey of Sarah’s Delight” which they purchased from Valentine Shockey, son of Christopher Shockey.5 On 28 Nov 1778, Jacob Hoover, now of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, assigned his share of the property to Jacob Harbaugh.6 Jacob Harbaugh’s daughter Susanna married a John Jacob Hoover, born 1762 in Conococheague, Frederick County, Maryland, on 20 Jan 1787 at the Graceham Moravian Church.7 Andrew Huber’s daughter Maria Catharina married John Harbaugh, son of George Harbaugh (a brother of Jacob Harbaugh) also at the Moravian Church at Graceham.8
So, do these constitute connections or coincidences? To date no relationship has been determined between the Hoovers—except as noted. The men lived in the same general area and some of them at least may have been Mennonites. They were all German immigrants or German-speaking, 1st generation Americans. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they would have dealings with some of the same people.
But is it enough to suggest a deeper relationship? Probably not. But it’s interesting enough to suggest further research is necessary. Who knows what I might find.
What do you think? When does coincidence move into the realm of connection? Have you seen this in your own research? If so, what conclusions did you come to?
- Hayden, Richard A., “Using Relationships to Establish Origins: Casper and Catherine Hoover of Pennsylvania and Maryland,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 91:298-313 ↩
- Christopher Shockey to Michael Hoover (1769), Frederick County Deeds, Liber M:560-561 ↩
- “Abstracts of Wills of Westmoreland, PA,” Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Vol VIII, page 57; Although the will was probated in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Christopher Shockey was of Frederick County, Maryland when he wrote it. ↩
- Christopher Shockey to John Hoover (1773), Frederick County Deeds, Liber S:401 ↩
- Valentine Shockey to Jacob Harbaugh and Jacob Hoover (1776), Frederic County Deeds, Liber W:612-616 ↩
- Jacob Hoover to Jacob Harbaugh (1778), Frederick County Deeds, Liber WR-1:217-219; Deed names Jacob’s wife as Elizabeth ↩
- Hoover, Joanne M., “Hoover Three Generations: An Update,” Mennonite Family History, Oct 2005, p.144 ↩
- Barnes, Robert, compiler, Maryland Marriages 1634 – 1777 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company Inc, 1995), page 79 ↩