I recently came across a reference to a Christopher Hocker who was living in Ohio in the early 1800s. As you recall, Johann George Hacker’s son Christopher was allegedly “of a rather headstrong disposition; he left his wife here in Montgomery county and went to Ohio, lived and married there a second time.”1
Christopher was born about 1772 in Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, son of Johann George and Anna Margaretha (Weidman) Hacker.2 He married Catharine Daub, daughter of Henry and Christianna (Wohlfarth) Daub, 10 April 1792 at Saint Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown.3
The couple lived in Whitemarsh Township until about 1800. In 1805, he purchased a tavern and acreage from his father-in-law in Sandy Run.4 According to deed records, Christopher (Innkeeper) purchased a lot in Whitemarsh Township from the daughters of Jacob Edge on 1 April 1807.5
About 1808, Christopher apparently ran into financial troubles. On 5 April 1808, Christopher (Farmer) and Catharine Hocker sold this land to Daniel Hitner.6 He also gave up the tavern to assignees John Wentz, George Price, and Samuel Maulsby.7 According to family legend, Christopher found himself in debt and fled to Ohio.
I haven’t been able to track Christopher down in Ohio. His son George, who later returned to Whitemarsh Township, was said to have been born there in 1814. And we know Christopher was still alive as of 1821 as he was named as one of the surviving children in his father’s estate files.8
So, just where did Christopher go?
Maybe he was living on Licking Creek in Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio. I found reference to a Christopher Hocker living there in a Cumberland County Historical Society journal article about Jacob Fought, a Carlisle tavern keeper. About Christopher, it says:
“In April 1814, Christopher Hocker, who lived on Licking Creek in Falls Township, Muskingum Counry, Ohio, bought a sorrel horse from Martin Varner for $85.6 The horse, sixteen hands high and six years old, had a round white star on its forehead the size of a dollar coin, and a small saddle mark. Hocker also bought a light dun horse from Jacob Morris of Licking Township, Muskingum Counry, Ohio, also for $85, on 10 January 1815. This horse, the same size and age as the sorrel, had a bald face, white feet and hams, and black streaks on the forelegs above the knees and on its back to the tail.
Hocker hired a young man, Asher Nichols, to help take the horses to Philadelphia. Hocker agreed to pay Nichols $15 plus all expenses during the trip. They set out on the long winter trip on the same day Hocker purchased the dun, January 10. Nichols had his own horse, a sorrel, slightly smaller than Hocker’s horses and perhaps a little older. Nichols’s horse had a bald face and spavined hind legs. It had a lofty bearing and carried its head and tail high.
Josiah Simpson accompanied them as far as Wheeling, Virginia. Their eastward trip passed through Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they arrived on the sixth or seventh of February 1815. In Carlisle, they stayed at Jacob Fought’s inn, Sign of the Plough and Harrow, located only two blocks from the town center where the courthouse, market, and two established churches were. Fought’s inn had a stable for horses and a blacksmith shop where iron parts of saddles could be repaired or manufactured, and horse shoes could be made and fitted.
On 9 February 1815, Nichols left the inn and stable along with Hocker’s two horses, and without Hocker’s permission. He arrived at Hummelstown, probably the town by that name near Harrisburg. Nichols was found and brought back to Carlisle to stand trial for horse stealing. A great effort was made to seek evidence for this serious accusation. This included sending prosecution and defense interrogatories to the Muskingum County court, which deposed four key Ohio witnesses.
Asher Nichols was indicted on a charge of larceny, for horse stealing, on oath of Christopher Hocker, in the summer of 1815. The trial occurred in August 1815, and Jacob Fought was one of the witnesses. Asher Nichols was found guilty and sentenced to hard labor. The bills or taxes for witnesses and the docket session findings do not state the term of the sentence.”9
This is the first reference I’ve found to a Christopher Hocker in a specific location in Ohio at a time when Johann George’s son was alleged to have been there. 1814, the year Christopher’s son George was said to have been born in Ohio. This passage also provides several sources to follow-up with—Cumberland County court records and Muskingum County court records—regarding the theft of Christopher’s horses in Carlisle.
Time to get crackin’.
- William A. Yeakle, “Erdenheim and John George Hocker,” Historical Sketches: a collection of papers prepared for the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1921-1925 (Norristown, PA : John Hartenstine, 1935), page 111; online, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 20 Mar 2017). ↩
- Christopher Hocker entries, “Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County Tax Lists 1785-1847,” microfilm, Pennsylvania State Archives, Records of County Governments, Records Group 47, Roll 2527; The fact that he appears in the 1793 tax list means that he was aged 21 years or over. That places his birth by 1772. ↩
- John Linn and W.H. Egle, editors, “Marriage Records of St. Michael’s and Zion Church, Philadelphia, 1745-1800,” Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd Series, Volume IX (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: E.K. Meyers, 1890), page 442, Christopher Hocker and Catharine Daub entry; digital image, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com/image/#246|3074818 : viewed Jul 2012). ↩
- Montgomery County Pennsylvania, Deed Book 21:404, Henry Daub to Christopher Hocker, 1 Oct 1805; microfilm, Pennsylvania State Archives, Records of County Governments, Records Group 47, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ↩
- Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 30:100, Ann Tompkins et al to Chrisn Hocker (1814); microfilm, Pennsylvania State Archives, Records of County Governments, Records Group 47, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ↩
- Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 30:94, Chris Hocker to Daniel Hitner, 5 Apr 1808; microfilm, Pennsylvania State Archives, Records of County Governments, Records Group 47, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ↩
- Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 27:35, Trustees of Christopher Hocker to John Roth, 2 Apr 1810; microfilm, Pennsylvania State Archives, Records of County Governments, Records Group 47, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ↩
- Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Orphan’s Court Book 4:189, Geo. Hocker dec’d partition petition, 12 Nov 1821; digital image, FamilySearch, “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994” (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 5 Jul 2012); citing Register of Wills, Norristown. ↩
- Stephen B. Hatton, “Jacob fought, Carlisle Tavern Keeper, 1815-19,” Cumberland County History (Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, 2004), Volume 21, Number 1, pages 4-5; PDF, Gardner Digital Library (http://gardnerlibrary.org : accessed 25 Feb 2017). This article cites Commonwealth vs. Asher Nichols, April sessions 1815, Criminal indictments. ↩