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This Changing World

The Columns of Will Ball

Hackenbehmer Family


A year of so ago, while leafing through an old city directory, we came across the name Hackenbehmer.  The owner of the name was a tailor living at 26 Market Street,  We have known the family which lives at that address for over sixty years but they did not spell the name like that.  It was spelled “Hockenbeamer”.

Paul, the youngest son of Frederick Hockenbeamer, Sr., who has just passed away, was at that time a neighbor of the writer and a very good friend.  The next time we saw him we spoke of the change of the spelling of the name.  He laughed and said “well, I don’t know what my name is”.

He then told of a trip he had made to his father’s old town in Germany.  We have forgotten the name of that town or its location but Mrs. Merle Hockenbeamer tells us she believes it was not far from Dantzig, the Baltic seaport.

Paul was not able to find any trace of the family in the old town and had to leave without being able to satisfy his curiosity regarding his ancestry. 

Searching through old directories reveals eight distinct spellings of the name, beginning with the 1874 directory, when the name first appears:









We understand that the present spelling was adopted when Gus, the oldest son, started high school.  He insisted that his father take court action to have the present form legalized.

It is not known just when the elder Hockenbeamer came to America except that it seems to have been about the time of a revolution in the fatherland.  Such a revolution of major importance occurred in 1848, at which time many thousands of Germans emigrated to America.  Mr. Hockenbeamer passed away about the year 1900, aged 80 or more, which would fix the year of his birth in the second decade of the last century, about 1815-1820.  He therefore would have been about thirty years old at the time of the revolution and of mass migration to the new land across the sea.

Neither does anyone know when he came to Logansport.  It is known, though, that he bought the lot on the north side of Market between First and Eel River and built the double house that was just razed this last summer to make way for another filling station.  The east side of the old house was occupied by some of the family from the time of its erection until its sale this year to the oil company.

The west side of the house was occupied by one tenant for 26 years which is a pretty good indication of the kind of citizen the Hockenbeamers were.  When they remodeled the house, the tenant, Herbert A. Brown, vacated while the alterations were in progress, then moved back in, remaining until he removed his family to New York early in the present century.

Five children were born to the Hockenbeamers:  a daughter, Lydia, who died quite young; Gus, who began his business career in the local office of the Pennsylvania Railroad and later, after his marriage to Ethel Pryor, going to the Pacific coast, where he became president of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the largest public utility on the west coast; Fred and Ernest, twins, the former becoming a Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive engineer, living in the home until his passing a few years ago; and Ernest, going to Arizona where he became a clothing merchant up to the time of his death in 1913; and Paul, who has just left us, a banker all his active life.



Logansport Press, November 19 and December 17, 1950


Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April, 2009

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