Most Honakers in America descend from 1749 Swiss-German immigrant Hans Jacob Honaker, whose family is known back to the 1530s, and is the subject of two books, one presently in print, our 1998 Honaker Family in America, 1,437 pp., $66.50 plus $3 tax if you are in Virginia, shipping included.
William Sheffer Honaker, b. 20 Sep 1869 in Mercer Co., W.Va., m. Clarie E. Stump, daughter of J.B. Stump and Sara Unknown, 22 Apr 1897, was the tenth and last known child of William Crockett (called Billy) Honaker and Sarah Ann French of Raleigh Co., W.Va. Billy was a gunsmith and son of Abraham Honaker, of the first American generation. Abraham was one of about 14 children of the immigrant and his second wife.
The immigrant was an indentured carpenter, not known to have gunmaking skills, but his son Abraham was a gunsmith master, making fine rifles for the carriage trade.
Abraham's son James A. is the best known mountain rifle gunmaker in the family. These were utilitarian pieces turned out by the dozen, usually signed Jas. A. Honaker. There is an appendix on them in our 1998 book. We have never seen a Billy Honaker rifle, don't know what they looked like. May have been utilitarian pieces like those made by his brother James.
Colonial Williamsburg has an Abraham rifle they date to 1825, saying that it is one of the first four or five rifles ever made completely in America. It is a masterpiece and we sell a $6 photocopy of views of it. (It cost us $500 to do the job and we're a long way from making our money back.)
Of Billy Crockett's ten children, we know of descendants from only two, John Henry and James B. We have no information on any descendants of William Sheffer and would appreciate very much whatever you may have found that may bring us up to date. The middle name Sheffer is not previously known in the family. It could come from Schaffer (spelling then wasn't what it is now), a gunsmithing family known to the Honakers, possibly the source of Abraham's knowledge; could also have actually been Sheffey, surname of a well-known evangelist of the period who subsequently had descendants who were Honakers; possibly neither of these.
If you would like a copy of one of our family newsletters, published every other month, send your mailing address. We investigate and preserve the family's history.
Kind regards, Tom Hanlin, volunteer, Honaker Family Assn., Inc., P.O. Box 3636, Alexandria VA 22302-0636, 703-751-7321.
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